One-Pot Vegan “Barbacoa

This recipe is so exciting to share with you, my friends! What began as an experiment/failure with “tempeh taco meat” turned out to be a huge success.

I originally wanted to make taco meat out of tempeh. I couldn’t get it right because the tempeh is sweeter when marinated/sauced.

Then I remembered that the combination of lentils and carrots in my Best Vegan Pulled “Pork” Sandwich had me blown away. I decided to turn that recipe into vegan barbacoa. Total success!

This 1-pot Recipe starts with onion, garlic, shredded kale, and lentils cooked (I used canned lentils to save time). Ground smoked paprika is used to add smokiness, along with cumin and cloves. The heat is from the chipotle in adobo, a popular ingredient to add smoky, earthy spices.

Coconut aminos and lime juice were added to balance out the smokiness and spice. I also added apple cider vinegar and coconut acid for a more acidic flavor. After that, I let the sauce simmer until it became more flavorful and richer in color. Whoa.

It would be the perfect topping to go with tacos or tacos, salads, and nachos. It would also be delicious in enchiladas. (Added to my recipe list!) It would also be delicious in enchiladas (added to my recipe list!) ).



  • Use two tablespoons of olive or grapeseed oil (or water).
  • Half a medium yellow or white onion, minced
  • Three cloves of garlic (minced).
  • I used canned lentils, rinsed and drained.
  • I used my food processor and grater attachment to shred/grate 1 1/2 cups of carrots.
  • Use 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar, or coconut sugar
  • Add more salt or black pepper to taste.
  • Ground smoked paprika, 1 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin ground 2 tsp
  • 14 .tsp of ground cloves
  • Oregano dried, 1 1/2 tsp
  • 1 or 2 whole chipotle chilies in adobo (canned/plus 1-3 tsp of adobo as written on the original recipe // more or less according to desired spice level).
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut aminos (or substitute 1 Tbsp or 15 ml of tamari, soy sauce, or GF tamari if you are not GF).
  • Use 3-4 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water (add more as required)
  • Two bay leaves dried ( optional


  • Corn tortillas or flour tortillas
  • Red cabbage shreds
  • Radishes sliced
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Hot sauce / Salsa / Chimichurri


  • A large skillet should be heated on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic. Stir frequently and sauté for 4-5 mins, or until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned.
  • Add the cooked lentils and carrots. Next, add coconut sugar, paprika (oregano), cumin, cloves (oregano), chipotle (or adobo) peppers (start with 1 tsp if you want a milder spice), lime juice, apple vinegar (start with a smaller amount), water, bay leaves (optional). Stir everything together.
  • Cover the pot and cook on medium-low for 15 minutes or up to 40 minutes. Stir frequently and add water if necessary if the mixture dries out.
  • Add more salt, paprika, cumin, coconut sugar, lime, coconut aminos, umami flavor, chipotle, or coconut sugar to taste. I added more paprika and salt. Also, I used more adobo, coconut aminos, paprika, and lime.
  • Optional: Place half the mixture in a food processor. Using the blade with an “s” shape, mix/pulse the carrots and lentils together. This gives the lentils and carrots a more uniform texture.
  • Serve the mixture over tortillas (I heated corn tortillas on an open flame, 20 seconds on each side). Toppings included shredded red cabbage and radish slices, along with cilantro. For more flavor, serve with lime wedges and hot sauce.
  • The leftover “barbacoa,” covered, can be stored in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. It can also be frozen for up to a month. Reheat the “barbacoa” on the stove until it is hot. Add water as necessary to bring back moisture.

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