These slow cooker lentil and quinoa tacos are a super low effort dinner that's also healthy, full of flavour, and endlessly customisable!
I need to use my slow cooker more often! It made these lentil and quinoa tacos an absolute doddle to prepare. Just cook the tasty filling in the slow cooker, then wrap it up in some tortillas or taco shells, pile them up with your favourite toppings, and you've got yourself an easy, healthy, delicious dinner.
Summer slow cooking
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that slow cookers are only good to use in the winter. To be fair, I do love making slow cooker soups, slow cooker stews, slow cooker curries, etc. - all hearty, warming winter dishes.
But they're good for so much more than that.
Just use your slow cooked ingredients in a more summery way, that's all it takes.
No pre-cooking required
As always, I made sure there was no pre-cooking or major prep work required to make these slow cooker lentil tacos - just dump everything in the pot, turn it on, and come back in a few hours.
I can't stand it when I find a slow cooker recipe that required loads of pre-cooking - at first glance it seems easy, but when you look closer, you realise you need to cook all the veggies on the stove first, and soak the beans, and make the sauce from scratch...
There's none of that here. In my opinion, slow cooker recipes should be easy. And that's exactly the case with these vegetarian tacos! Chopping up a few veggies is all you need to do.
Healthy vegan tacos
Tacos probably aren't the first thing that come to mind when you're thinking of healthy dinner ideas, but these lentil and quinoa tacos are actually a pretty good choice!
With the lentils and quinoa, and plenty of veggies, the vegan taco filling is full of goodness. Pile them up with some fresh toppings, and you're ticking all the right boxes. If you're not a fan of the white flour tortillas I used, use wholemeal ones, or corn tortillas - or just skip them altogether.
These lentil tacos are vegan too, as long as you swap the grated cheese I added for a vegan version!
The vegetables in this taco filling cook right down into the lentil mixture, so they're not hugely obvious in the finished dish. The pan above contains a couple of peppers, a whole onion, and a big handful of mushrooms, but you'd never know it at first glance!
I never consciously try to hide vegetables in my cooking - luckily my toddler eats most things anyway (she's inherited my love of food!).
But if you do have some picky eaters in your family and you like hidden vegetable recipes, these tacos are a great option. Just cut the vegetables up a bit smaller than I did (I used big chunks!), and they'll be even less visible.
You can also give everyone the chance to add their own toppings from a selection, so everyone can end up with a taco they're happy with.
Big batch slow cooking
This recipe makes a fair few portions of the lentil and quinoa taco filling - I figure if you're going to go to the effort of cooking something for 4 hours, you may as well make a decent batch of it, right?
Slow cooking lends itself so well to batch cooking - it's basically no extra effort to throw a few more lentils into the pot, but it can be so handy to have those leftovers, either for future meals, or to keep in the freezer.
This recipe makes around 6 decent portions of the lentil and quinoa taco filling.
How can I use up the leftover taco filling?
If 6 portions of taco filling is too much for one meal for your family, you have loads of options:
- use a smaller slow cooker and halve the recipe
- freeze the leftovers in a tub, ready for an easy meal another day
- have tacos a couple of nights running (it's hard to complain about extra tacos!)
- reinvent the lentil taco filling to make a different dish the next day
I went for the fourth option - it always feels quite satisfying to repurpose my leftovers into something new!
A few ideas for using up the leftover taco filling:
- cheesy lentil quesadillas (this is what I did, it worked really well!)
- a topping for a jacket potato
- stirred through pasta with a dollop of cream cheese
- a topping for nachos
- top with mashed potato and bake to make lentil shepherd's pie
Let me know in the comments if you have any other bright ideas! And in the meantime, enjoy these slow cooker lentil and quinoa tacos.
Slow cooker lentil and quinoa tacos
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- 1 onion, sliced or diced
- 2 bell peppers, sliced or diced (I used green and red)
- 6 medium mushrooms, sliced or diced
- 200 g (~ 1 cup) dried brown lentils
- 100 g (~ ⅓ cup) quinoa
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes (~ 1 ⅓ cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon chilli powder (mild or hot)
- 3 teaspoon ground cumin
- 850 ml (~ 3 ½ cups) vegetable stock
- Black pepper
- To serve: mini tortillas or taco shells, plus your choice of toppings (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, etc.)
- Add all the ingredients to a large slow cooker (mine is 6.5 litres / ~ 7 quarts), and mix well to combine. Cook on high for around 3 ½ - 4 hours, until cooked to your liking. You can stir once or twice during cooking, but don't leave the lid off for any length of time, or the heat will take a while to build up again.
- Adjust the seasonings before serving if necessary - add more salt and pepper, or more chilli powder if it's not spicy enough.
- Serve on mini tortillas or taco shells, with your choice of toppings.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.