Vegan Mexican picadillo (made with lentils)

Picadillo is a classic Mexican dish; every household has its version of it, this lentil picadillo is my vegan version, my home's version.
Three Mexican vegan picadillo corn tortilla tacos with avocado and salsa.

About this recipe

The name of the picadillo comes from the verb picar (to chop) in Spanish. Picadillo is when everything is chopped small. The original recipe for the classic Mexican dish is made with minced meat or ground meat. Some families use ground beef or a combination of ground pork and beef.

Mexican picadillo normally has potatoes and can be cooked in red or white sauce, depending on the Mexican state you are in. It was always made with potatoes, carrots, and peas cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce at my house.

Different versions of Picadillo

You can find different versions of Picadillo in all of Latin America. For example, Cuba makes their picadillo with bell peppers, green olives, and raisins. Some families use cumin to flavor it, others add diced potatoes, and others, like in mine, vegetables are a must.  

This is my version of picadillo, lentil vegan picadillo, and is the recipe I want to pass over to my kids and future generations.

How to make this vegan picadillo recipe?

lentil picadillo in a cast iron leCreuset braiser
  • First step. Sauté the chopped onions and garlic in a tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
  • Second step. Combine lentils, veggies, stock, tomato purée, and herbs. Simmer, stirring often, until lentils are cooked.
lentil picadillo tacos with corn tortilla and a slice of avocado

How to serve Mexican picadillo?

Serve picadillo with rice or in tacos. Use leftovers for empanadas or gorditas.

Finish with a few slices of avocado and a couple of tablespoons of Mexican salsa, whether store-bought or homemade salsa verde or salsa roja molcajeteada.

lentil picadillo tacos

Vegan Mexican Picadillo, Lentil picadillo

Alejandra Graf
Picadillo is a classic Mexican dish; every household has its version of it, this lentil picadillo is my vegan version, my home's version.
3.46 de 22 votos
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6 people
Calories 325 kcal



  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1- 15 oz can tomato sauce or puree
  • 8 oz vegetable broth
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped fine
  • 1-2 potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 in pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 dried bay leave
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • *optional 1 cup water

To serve:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado sliced and peeled
  • chunky salsa


  • Sauté the garlic and onion in the vegetable oil for three minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add the lentils, the tomato sauce, the vegetable broth, the vegetables, the thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, and salt.
  • Cover and let it cook for 20 min or until the lentils are cooked.
    *Add an extra cup of water if it is to dry.

If you want to make tacos

  • Heat the corn tortillas and add two or three tablespoons of the picadillo on the tortilla.
  • To finish each taco, add a slice of avocado and some salsa.



  • Lentil Selection: Different types of lentils have different cooking times and textures. Green lentils are the best choice for this recipe as they hold their shape well. Brown lentils are also good. But avoid red lentils as they become too mushy.
  • Vegetables: Zucchini and corn also go well in this dish.
  • Leftover Love: This picadillo makes excellent leftovers and can be even more flavorful the next day. It can also be frozen for a quick and easy meal on busy days.
  • Faux meat: Use plant-based ground meat to substitute the lentils.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 325kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 14gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 590mgPotassium: 844mgFiber: 18gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 3818IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 107mgIron: 4mg
Keyword lentils, Vegan mexican tacos


Nutritional information of this recipe is only an estimate, the accuracy for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Did you make this recipe?Tag @piloncilloyvainilla on Instagram and hashtag it #alecooks so we can all see your creations.

One of the easiest ways to substitute meat and make vegan dishes is to exchange the meat for lentils or other legumes.
Alejandra Graf
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3.46 from 22 votes (20 ratings without comment)
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