This Walnut Taco Meat is the easiest, quickest vegan taco meat! This flavor-packed walnut and mushroom meat cooks up in just 15 minutes with simple ingredients that you likely already have on hand. Plus, it makes a great make ahead meal or freezer meal!
We originally created this taco recipe when we were craving tacos, but wanted to switch it up from our go-to Sheet Pan Tofu Taco Meat. I (Jasmine) basically took an old family recipe, made a few adjustments and used walnuts and mushrooms for the “meat” option.
They turned out PERFECT in consistency, moisture content, AND flavor. It had everything we wanted, plus it was easy to make and healthier than store-bought options. And since publishing, this recipe has since become extremely popular, even with people that don’t love mushrooms!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Walnuts: An essential for walnut meat! Walnuts are the perfect substitute for beef because they are naturally high in healthy fats, softer than nuts like almonds, and turn into a nice ground beef-like crumble when processed in the food processor. Make sure to use raw walnuts – roasted walnuts will have a very different flavor profile and aren’t recommended.
Aromatics: All you need is the classic foundation of onions and garlic and we’ll bet you’ve already got it stocked in the kitchen.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms are another great plant-based, umami packed ingredient to replicate meat. The mushroom flavor in these tacos is subtle, but it is still there. Readers who don’t love mushrooms have shared that they still loved this walnut taco meat!
Spices: This taco meat is made with ground cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Simple and easy.
Tomato paste: Adds depth of flavor and acidity that really helps it taste like Mexican-inspired taco meat.
Tamari: Adds a salty, umami flavor to the taco meat. If not gluten-free, soy sauce works equally well. Or, if sensitive to sodium, try coconut aminos.
Chopped cilantro: Cilantro is optional, but adds a bright pop of freshness that compliments the meaty texture.
Lime juice: Similar to the tomato paste, fresh lime juice adds an acidity that balances the savoriness and fat in the walnut meat. You won’t regret a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Medium nonstick pan
How to Make Walnut Taco Meat
Soak the walnuts. Place the walnuts in lukewarm water and soak for 20 minutes to soften. Drain and set aside.
Cook the aromatics. In a medium nonstick pan over medium heat, add the onions, garlic, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Cook until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant about 3 to 4 minutes.
Make the walnut meat “crumble.” Add the walnuts and mushrooms to a food processor fitted with the “s” blade and pulse until they have broken down into a meat-like crumble.
Transfer the walnut meat mixture to the pan. Season with cumin, chili powder, tomato paste, soy sauce, oregano, liquid smoke, and ¼ cup of water. Mix until combined and cook for an additional 8 minutes or until the walnut meat begins to brown and the mushrooms are softened.
Season to taste. Remove from the heat and season with salt, pepper, cilantro, and lime juice.
Enjoy! Add walnut meat to tacos or serve as desired!
This walnut meat will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer and makes a fantastic meal prep or make-ahead meal! For best results, store in an airtight container such as a Tupperware or reusable bag with as much excess air removed as possible.
Reheat leftover taco meat in the microwave until warmed through. If reheating from frozen, you may need an additional splash of vegetable broth to rehydrate it a bit!
Tips for Success
Avoid over-processing the walnuts and mushrooms. If you process it for too long, the walnut meat mixture will turn into a paste and will not be a favorable texture. Instead, pulse the mixture until a crumble forms. Using a large-cup food processor can help this because the mushrooms and walnuts will have ample room to process together.
Adjust the seasonings. Depending on your spice preference and tolerance for salt, don’t be afraid to make adjustments. This walnut meat is straightforward to adjust.
Buy tomato paste in a resealable tube. We often find it hard to use up a whole can of tomato paste at a time. To avoid food waste and save money, purchase the tomato paste in a resealable tube! It is slightly more expensive but will keep well for longer than an open can.
Is walnut meat soft?
Yes! Our secret to making delicious soft walnut meat is soaking the walnuts in lukewarm water before starting. This helps make it soft and avoids crunchy taco meat.
How can I make walnut meat without a food processor?
No food processor? No problem. Simply finely chop your walnuts and mushrooms using a sharp kitchen knife and cutting board. You may also have success pulsing the walnuts and mushrooms together in a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix.
Can I eat this walnut meat raw?
Technically yes, it is safe to eat this walnut meat raw, but we do find it is better when warmed on the stovetop.
This easy and flavor-packed Mushroom Walnut Vegan Taco Meat will cook up in about 15 minutes of your time and requires simple ingredients that you might already have on hand! Plus, it is both vegan and gluten-free!
1 cup unsalted walnuts, soaked in lukewarm water for 20 minutes
1/3 cup diced yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/3 + 1/4 cup water, divided
10 ounces baby Bella mushrooms, washed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoonliquid smoke (optional but recommended)
Soak walnuts in lukewarm water for 20 minutes to soften. Drain and set aside.
In a medium nonstick pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic along with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add 2-3 more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning. You can also use oil instead if you would like.
Add the walnuts and mushrooms to a food processor and pulse until they have broken down into a “meat crumble”-like texture. Add them to the pan along with the cumin, chili powder, tomato paste, soy sauce, oregano, liquid smoke, and 1/4 cup of water. Mix everything together until well combined. Cook the mixture for 8 minutes, or until it beings to brown and the mushrooms soften. If you would like it more moist, add a few additional tablespoons of water as desired.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper as desired. Mix through the cilantro plus lime juice to taste.
Assemble your tacos as desired and enjoy!
To speed things up, you can also chop up the onions and garlic in the food processor! Add them to the pan, and then chop up the mushrooms and walnuts.
We warmed our tortillas over the open flame on our stove to soften them up.
Although we recommend walnuts for this recipe, if you would like a substitute, we would suggest trying pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, or just leaving the nuts/seeds out all together and using additional mushrooms. We haven’t tested these and we cannot guarantee results, but they are what we would try if we wanted to make this nut-free.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.