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Vegan Walnut Meat

This vegan walnut meat is a yummy alternative to beef that still packs a punch of protein. Even omnivores will want seconds!

This raw vegan walnut meat is a yummy, healthy alternative to a beef taco filling that still packs a protein punch. It's ridiculously easy to make and is so tasty that even omnivores will want second helpings!

Once you make a batch of this vegan meatless ground "meat," you can use it in tacos, burritos, buddha bowls, nachos, or Walnut Meat Vegan Taco Wraps. You can even stir it into a batch of my vegan queso for a plant-based choriqueso that's sure to bring the house down!

The nuts are blitzed in a food processor until they are in small pieces. When combined with some spices and seasonings, the walnuts magically transform into something that honest-to-goodness actually tastes like taco meat!

The trick to making walnut meat extra delicious is the seasoning. The tamari gives the walnut crumbles a sort of umami, "meaty" flavor, and the cumin and chili powder give it all the taco vibes.

Why You'll Love This Recipe

This raw vegan walnut meat is:

  • Easy to make - it just takes 10 minutes!
  • No cooking involved
  • Super versatile
  • Packed with healthy fats and protein
  • Perfect for meal prep,
  • An amazing plant-based substitute for seasoned ground beef, and

If you're not in the mood for taco meat, simply swap out the seasonings! Read more in the "variations" section below - this walnut meat can also be a substitute for crumbled sausage, added to red pasta sauces for "bolognese," or turned into sloppy joe's.

Ingredients

If you're not already convinced that walnut meat is a good idea, here's some more good news: you only need a handful of ingredients to make it, and most of them are probably already in your pantry! Here's what you'll need:

walnut meat ingredients in an infographic.

Making this "meat" is incredibly easy, and it only takes five (5!!!) ingredients:

  • Walnuts - This is the base of your "meat," and I honestly haven't found another nut alternative. That said, feel free to save some money and buy walnut pieces rather than halves; they're going to get pulverized either way!
  • Garlic Powder - This is one of my favorite pantry ingredients because it adds a ton of flavor without needing to chop or peel garlic.
  • Cumin - You can use ground cumin here, or feel free to use cumin seeds instead. Toasting cumin seeds prior to use will release even more of the flavorful oils.
  • Chili Powder - Feel free to opt for something spicier like cayenne or hot smoked paprika if it's in your wheelhouse to do so.
  • Tamari - I try to remain gluten free, but if that isn't a concern for you, soy sauce will work just as well. If you are avoiding soy, feel free to swap in liquid aminos or coconut aminos instead.

How to Make

Step 1: Make the Meat.

Add all the "meat" ingredients - walnuts, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, and tamari - to a food processor.

walnuts and seasonings in food processor to make raw vegan meat.

Step 2: Chop it up.

Process the walnut mixture until it is finely chopped, but not puréed.

Meal Prep Tip: You can pre-make it a few days before so tacos can be made in mere minutes when you have a hectic day!

processed raw vegan walnut meat for tacos.

Optional Variations & Customization

If you want to make another variation on this raw vegan walnut meat, feel free to swap in other herbs and spices. Be sure to keep the tamari in the equation no matter which variation you prefer.

  • Make your taco meat spicy by adding in more chili powder, or swapping it out for a more intense ground pepper like cayenne or ghost pepper.
  • Give it Italian sausage vibes with some Italian seasoning and fennel seed. You can even add in some sun-dried tomatoes in place of the tamari/soy sauce.
  • Get your curry on with garam masala, turmeric and ginger.
  • Go Mediterranean with some oregano and cinnamon. And then maybe load it into pita shells with some vegan feta, sliced cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and vegan yogurt?!? NOM.
  • Or go for a simple vegan hamburger helper flavor using just garlic and onion powder. This can then be turned into vegan sloppy joe's or a tasty vegan bolognese.

Customization doesn't just apply to the walnut meat, either! You can also customize these vegan tacos by swapping in your favorite veggies or trading out your tortillas. Here are a few ideas:

  • Choose soft corn or flour tortillas, or opt for hard taco shells or tostadas instead.
  • Swap in shredded lettuce for the cabbage.
  • Use some spicy salsa to amp up the Mexican vibes, or make your own pico de gallo to keep things mild.
  • Add some vegan cheese for a little richness.
  • Grab a larger wrap and stuff in some brown rice and refried beans for a vegan burrito.

The options here are pretty endless, so feel free to get as creative as you want!

If you come up with any winning combos I should know about, be sure to let me know in the comments below!

Equipment

There's literally just one piece of equipment that you will need for making walnut meat - a food processor! So long as you have one, you should be able to whip up this amazingly delicious (and very convincing) plant-based ground beef substitute in no time.

How to Serve

Once you've made the walnut meat, feel free to use it however you like. I love adding it to tortillas and eating it like tacos, but you can also use this "meat" in myriad other ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Topping on burrito or buddha bowls
  • Added to nachos (with my vegan nacho cheese sauce)
  • Stuffing in burritos
  • Added to vegan queso for a vegan choriqueso dip
  • Tossed with rice and stuffed into bell peppers
  • Added to salads

Depending on your spice mix, you can also lean away from the Tex-Mex and towards whatever your heart desires. Use:

  • In pasta sauces
  • As a vegan "hamburger" helper
  • In pitas
  • In breakfast scrambles

The options are nearly endless! Simply use this walnut taco meat as you would the ground beef counterpart and revel in all the good you're doing for your body and the environment.

Expert Tips

Making walnut meat is pretty darn straightforward. However, if you have any trepidation about it, I've got you covered!

  • Be sure to use RAW walnuts. Avoid anything that has been roasted and salted. Don't get me wrong, I love eating roasted nuts; they just don't work well for the texture we are going for!
  • Don't over-process. Food processors are awesome pieces of equipment, but they're also extremely powerful. Make sure you don't end up with taco-flavored nut butter on accident! I like to use the "pulse" function once the walnuts get pretty small, which gives me better control over the final consistency of my walnut meat.
  • Play with your food! Once you try making this walnut taco meat, expand your flavor horizons with the suggestions under "Optional Variations & Customizations." If you're anything like me, you'll be playing walnut meat on repeat in no time.

Walnut Nutrition

Walnuts are often touted as being a super food, and with good reason. These little nuggets have been associated with improved brain and heart health; decreased cancer risk; and the reduction of inflammation.

Walnuts are an excellent source of healthy fat including omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty Acids are the main component of our cell membranes. Omega 3s can also have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease and depression.

Walnuts are also a great source of plant-based protein and contain vitamin B6, magnesium, and fiber. Don't believe me? Here's yet another article listing over a dozen ways walnuts are good for you.

FAQS

Do I need to heat the meat?

Nope! The walnut meat is a raw, vegan meal, making it perfect for taking anywhere. Because of this, it is great for picnics or packed lunches. It's also great for making taco salads. All that said, feel free to heat it up if you want a warm meal!

How long will the walnut meat last?

Once made, the taco "meat" should last for up to a week in the fridge, or up to a month in the freezer.

I'm allergic to nuts - what other meat substitutes can I use?

While walnuts might be off the table, there are still lots of options for you. While I haven't done it myself yet, I'd like to try using sunflower seeds to make this meat. If you don't want to be a guinea pig, go a totally different route and use tofu crumbles, tempeh crumbles, jackfruit, lentils, or chickpeas instead!

Does the walnut meat taste good?

Short answer - yes! I have made this walnut meat countless times and every time I get SO MANY compliments. Even omnivores really love this dish.

RECIPE

Author: Mary Ellen Valverde

This raw vegan walnut taco meat is a great alternative to beef tacos and packs a punch of protein!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 4.81 from 21 votes

  • PREP TIME: 10 mins
  • TOTAL TIME: 10 mins
  • COURSE: Main Course
  • CUISINE: American
  • SERVINGS: 6
  • CALORIES: 194 kcal

INGREDIENTS

WALNUT TACOS
  • 1.5 cups walnuts whole or pieces
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari can sub soy sauce if not gf or coconut aminos if you do not do soy

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Add walnuts, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, and tamari to a food processor and process until mixture is chopped finely but not pureed.

NOTES

  • Walnut meat will last in the fridge for about a week, or in the freezer for about a month.

If you want to make another variation, feel free to swap in other herbs and spices. Be sure to keep the tamari in the equation no matter which variation you prefer.

  • Make your taco meat spicy by adding in more chili powder, or swapping it out for a more intense ground pepper like cayenne or ghost pepper.
  • Give it Italian sausage vibes with some Italian seasoning and fennel seed. You can even add in some sun-dried tomatoes in place of the tamari/soy sauce.
  • Get your curry on with garam masala, turmeric, and ginger.
  • Go Mediterranean with some oregano and cinnamon. And then maybe load it into pita shells with some vegan feta, sliced cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and vegan yogurt. NOM.
  • Or go for a simple vegan hamburger helper flavor using just garlic and onion powder. This can then be turned into vegan sloppy joe's or a tasty vegan bolognese.

NUTRITION

  • Calories: 194kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 5g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Fat: 19g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 3g
  • Sodium: 4mg
  • Potassium: 141mg
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Vitamin A: 57IU
  • Vitamin C: 1mg
  • Calcium: 31mg
  • Iron: 1mg

PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.

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About the author

Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen’s recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.

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