Poor Kid Lentil Tacos

Lentil Tacos
These lentil tacos are delicious and affordable, even for poor kids. Tomatoes, adobo cream sauce, and cheddar complete the lentil filling.

Over the past year, I’ve watched my weekly grocery bill rise 20-30 percent.

I haven’t suddenly become extravagant.  I’m purchasing the same things, and in the same quantities.  (Actually, the quantity of many items I purchase weekly has shrunk.)

It’s inflation.  And I’m mad about it.

Lentil Tacos

Positive Uses

I’m mad that my family’s wise spending and meal planning don’t take us as far as they did just over a year ago.

Maybe you’ve noticed the same thing in your life.  And maybe you’re mad about it too.

Sidney Poitier, the first black leading man—and the first black actor to win the Best Actor Oscar, wrote that it’s one thing to be angry about a situation [aff. link].  It’s another if you can take that anger and channel it into positive uses.

Lentil Tacos

That’s what I’m doing.  Frustration and helplessness over rising prices inspired me to create a new recipe series.

I call it Poor Kid recipes.

The recipes in my Poor Kid series are affordable.  With every Poor Kid recipe, I take cheap ingredients and turn them into something delicious.

The first recipe in my Poor Kid series is for lentil tacos.

Poor Kid Lentil Tacos

The filling in my Poor Kid Lentil Tacos consists of lentils, tomatoes, and my adobo cream sauce.  

Simply cook the lentils, sauté the tomatoes, and make the adobo cream sauce by whisking together sour cream, adobo, lime juice, liquid smoke, and maple syrup.  Add the tomatoes and adobo cream sauce to the lentils for a protein and flavor packed taco filling.  

Spread the filling on a corn or flour tortilla—I prefer mini street taco size tortillas, add some freshly grated cheddar, and fry up the taco.


These simple lentil tacos are addicting, delicious, and affordable, even for poor kids.

In fact, the cost of each taco is about 37 cents.

Can’t beat that.

Make Lentil Tacos!

Don’t let inflation get you down.  Add a Poor Kid recipe or two to your weekly meal plan.  Your wallet will feel the difference.

A Few Things About Lentil Tacos

I’ve got tips and variations for every Poor Kid when it comes to these lentil tacos.

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Lentil Tacos

For the Healthy Poor Kid

Don’t fry the tacos. Make the lentil filling, and serve it in a warm tortilla with cheddar, lettuce, and rice, if desired.

These lentil tacos are great with a healthy salad like this one.  Or, just use the cilantro lime dressing from this salad on whatever greens you’ve got on had.  The dressing is a great match with these lentil tacos.

For Snobby Poor Kids

I recommend using sharp cheddar for these lentil tacos.  Sharp cheddar pairs particularly well with the earthiness of the lentils and the smokiness of the adobo. 

And of course, always use freshly grated cheese.  (Read more about that here.)  

Lentil Tacos

For the Poor Kid in a Hurry

Make the lentil filling the night before, or earlier in the day that you plan to serve the tacos.  Keep the filling in the refrigerator, and reheat it on the stovetop or microwave at mealtime.  Then all you’ve got to do is compile (for soft tacos), or compile and fry, the tacos.

For Poor Kids Who Want to Have Fun

If you’ve got extra adobo cream sauce, you can dip the lentil tacos in it.  Or, dip the tacos in your favorite hot sauce.  I recommend dipping these tacos in Sriracha.  It sounds unique, but you should try it. 

chipotles in adobo
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

Adobo Sauce for Lentil Tacos

And in case you’ve never cooked with chipotles in adobo sauce, here’s a picture of what you’re looking for at the grocery store.

For these tacos, just use the sauce the chipotle peppers are packed in (adobo sauce).  Save the peppers for another recipe, like my Chipotle Pesto Pasta.

Lentil Tacos
Lentil Tacos
5 from 5 votes

Poor Kid Lentil Tacos

These lentil tacos are delicious and affordable, even for poor kids. Tomatoes, adobo cream sauce, and cheddar complete the lentil filling.
Cook Time50 mins
Frying time25 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Servings: 24 tacos
Print Recipe


For the lentils:

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp sea salt

For the tomatoes:

  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

For the adobo cream sauce:

  • cup sour cream
  • 2-3 tsp adobo sauce, from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 4 pinches sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup, substitute with brown sugar if you don't have maple syrup on hand
  • ¼ tsp liquid smoke

Everything else:

  • 2 cups freshly grated cheddar, I recommend using sharp cheddar; use more or less cheddar according to your preference
  • 24 mini street taco corn and/or flour tortillas, my tortilla recommendation, but use whatever you’ve got


Cook the lentils

  • Place the rinsed lentils, water, garlic powder, onion salt, chili powder, and smoked paprika in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and bring the lentils to a simmer. Simmer for about 40-45 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and there is no liquid remaining.
  • Once the lentils finish cooking, add the salt.
  • While the lentils cook, prepare the other recipe components.

Cook the tomatoes

  • Add the olive oil, salt, and halved tomatoes to a skillet. Turn the heat on to medium-high, and cook the tomatoes for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. The tomatoes will sizzle.
  • Now turn the heat down to medium, and cook the tomatoes for 2 minutes. Continue stirring occasionally.
  • Turn the heat down to low, add 1-2 tsp olive oil if the pan is dry, and cook the tomatoes for a final 4 minutes. Tomatoes are done, set aside.

Make the adobo cream sauce

  • While the tomatoes and lentils cook, make the adobo cream sauce.
  • Simply add all the sauce ingredients to a cereal bowl, and whisk together until smooth.

Bring it all together

  • Add 2 tsp of the adobo cream sauce to the tomatoes. Mix until combined.
  • Once the lentils finish cooking, add the tomatoes to the pot with the lentils. Stir until the tomatoes are disbursed throughout the lentils.
  • Now add 2 Tbsp of the adobo cream sauce to the lentils and tomatoes. Stir it in, then taste. If you’d like a stronger adobo flavor, add more sauce. Continue adding sauce until you reach your desired flavor level.
  • Last, add 1 tsp of fresh lime juice to the lentils and tomatoes. Stir, and add more lime juice, if desired.
  • Turn the heat on under the lentils once more to medium, and cook for 2-3 minutes to get rid of any extra liquid that came from adding the tomatoes and sauce.
  • Turn the heat off, and mash the lentils lightly with your fork, if desired, to make them more of a ground beef texture.

Compile the tacos

  • Take a tortilla. On one half of the tortilla, spread 1-2 Tbsp of the lentil filling, followed by 1-2 Tbsp of cheddar. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling.
  • Note: Don’t fold the tortilla over just yet if using corn tortillas. If using corn tortillas, I recommend waiting to fold the tortilla until the taco is in the frying pan. The warm oil will help keep the corn tortillas from breaking when folded.
  • Repeat the compilation process until you run out of filling. (Alternately, make as many tacos as you want, and put the remaining lentil filling in the refrigerator for later use.)

Fry the tacos

  • Heat a few Tbsps of olive oil or canola oil in a clean frying pan. Let the oil get warm, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add 1-3 tacos to the frying pan. Fry for 1-3 minutes, then flip the taco over. Fry for an additional 1-3 minutes. Each side of the tortilla should be golden brown.
  • Place the lentil tacos on a plate lined with a paper towel to remove excess oil. Repeat the frying process with the remaining tacos.

Serve and enjoy!

  • Serve the tacos with sour cream, your favorite hot sauce, and a salad like this one. Enjoy!


These lentil tacos are vegetarian.
These lentil tacos are vegan if you use vegan cheddar.
These lentil tacos are gluten-free if you use corn tortillas.
To keep the tacos warm after frying, place them on a standard size baking sheet in a 200 degree oven.  Remove from the oven when ready to serve.
Serve these tacos with a salad like this one.
© Copyright 2024 Vanguard of Hollywood

10 Responses

  1. 5 stars
    You’re right about higher food bills. I’ve noticed it too. I used to eat out a lot, but I can’t afford to do that now, so I’m learning how to cook. I made these tacos over the weekend and they were tasty and easy and cheap! Haha and the name makes me laugh. 😄. I’ll make them again, thanks!

    1. That’s great that you’re learning to cook Cait! These lentil tacos are a great place to start. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, and that it was affordable too!

  2. 5 stars
    Made these for dinner tonight! So good! All of your quesadilla options are so creative and addicting. Love the Affordable Dinner on a Budget option.

    1. Thanks for making these tacos Karen! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed them, and that they were budget friendly!

  3. 5 stars
    Inflation has been a beast for me and my family. This recipe was a lifesaver last week. Thanks for creating affordable and delicious options! Five stars, and I will for sure make these again!

  4. Thank you for this recipe ☺️.
    I heard that Lentils give us
    all the Amino Acids that we
    need, so that’s great , that here
    is a tasty way to use them .
    In U.K, I’m not familiar with
    Adobo sauce : will look up
    if we can get it here, or
    improvise with something
    similar. ☺️. I have Gluten free flour,
    because standard flour has gluten,
    which causes gut inflammation..😢.
    We get tinned green lentils,
    which are already cooked :
    they’d just need draining.
    And I’ve recently been buying
    Red Lentils : if you soak them
    overnight, they become fresh-tasting
    and crunchy : they could go in a salad !
    ( I would think they are more
    nourishing if raw , uncooked ? )
    Otherwise, they can be cooked without
    soaking , Many thanks again ☺️.
    Best Wishes from Inflation-suffering
    England ! 😢. 🇬🇧☺️🐕🌹🌿🥀💕🎈🏞️

    1. Hi Rosemarie, and greetings to the U.K.! I’m happy to meet another lentil fan! They are so incredibly healthy and delicious. 😋. I wish I could be of more help in finding a U.K. adobo sauce alternative. I wonder if Amazon would ship Adobo? (And if so, if it’s affordable!) If you find an alternative let me know, I’m very interested! And if not, here’s my other favorite lentil recipe on the site. Thanks for commenting Rosemarie! And here’s to hoping our inflation troubles are over soon!

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