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These mouthwatering Vegan Nachos are a fiesta of flavor, packed with savory plant-based goodness! Tortilla chips are loaded with toppings from lentil walnut taco meat and flavorful veggies to creamy avocado and vegan sour cream for the ultimate healthy nachos.

An overhead shot of a tray of vegan nachos.

This recipe was written on January 21, 2020. It was updated with additional recipe information on May 2, 2024.

This easy vegan nacho recipe is piled high with Mexican-spiced toppings and plenty of plant-based protein for a hearty and satisfying party appetizer or any-time main dish! Whether feeding a crowd or looking for a fun twist on family taco night, these vegan loaded nachos will hit the spot. Crunchy tortilla chips are layered with savory and smoky homemade lentil walnut taco meat, red onions, rich kidney beans, creamy avocado, zesty salsa, sliced jalapeños, fresh cilantro, and a dollop of vegan sour cream.

The secret ingredient is the lentil walnut meat, the perfect healthy plant-based replacement for ground beef. With the combination of topping textures and flavors, you won’t even realize these are no-cheese nachos! Serve them at your next group gathering or when craving a delicious shareable snack! For more Tex-Mex-inspired dishes, try my instant pot Mexican rice recipe, mushroom carnitas tacos recipe, or vegan burrito bowl recipe

All of the ingredients to make vegan nachos.

Lentil Walnut Taco Meat Ingredients

Cooked Black Lentils: Also known as beluga lentils, black lentils keep their hearty texture when cooked, mimicking the texture of cooked ground beef. Simmer your own black lentils or use pre-cooked lentils from the grocery store.

Walnuts: Walnut halves or halves and pieces both work to add meaty and savory notes to the vegan taco meat. Just check their expiration date for a fresh, pure flavor. Chop the nuts finely or blitz them briefly in a food processor before making the meat.

Canned Tomatoes: Or, use one can of diced tomatoes. If desired, use low-sodium tomatoes; do not drain them before using them.

Garlic: Fresh minced garlic will add the best pungent notes but minced bottled garlic also works.

Olive Oil: For rich flavor dimension and to prevent the lentil taco meat from sticking as it cooks.

Canned Chipotle Peppers: You will need 1/2-1 chipotle pepper, scooped from the sauce and minced plus 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce in which the chipotle peppers are packed. This will add a smoky and spicy flavor to the lentil walnut meat.

Spices: In particular, dried oregano, cumin, and salt. If possible, use Mexican oregano instead of Mediterranean, and always use spices with a good expiration date for the best flavor.

Vegan Nachos Ingredients

Tortilla Chips: Serve as the crunchy base for the veggie nachos toppings. Choose sturdy, thick-cut tortilla chips that can support the weight of the toppings without becoming too soggy. 

Kidney Beans: Opt for canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained, for convenience, or cook dried beans for a firmer texture and fresher flavor. Alternatively, you can substitute for black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, or a mix of beans for variety. 

Avocado: When scattered on top, avocado provides creaminess and a buttery texture for the dairy-free nachos recipe. Choose ripe avocados with a dark green peel that yields slightly to gentle pressure when squeezed. 

Salsa: Use your favorite store-bought salsa or make your own to add a burst of tangy flavor and juicy freshness to the vegan nacho chips. Opt for a mild salsa for a less spicy flavor or add extra heat with a spicier variation. 

Vegan Sour Cream: Choose a high-quality vegan sour cream. Alternatively, you can use cashew cream, tahini sauce, or a vegan cheese sauce. 

Jalapeño: This spicy garnish adds a vibrant color to the nachos. Alternatively, you can substitute for bell peppers or poblano peppers to reduce the heat. 

Cilantro: Fresh cilantro provides a delightful herbaceous flavor and bright green color to the meaty nachos. Or swap it with fresh parsley or green onion for a similar effect. 

Lime: Fresh lime is used as a garnish squeezed over the top of the finished nachos for a zesty citrusy flavor punch. Choose juicy, ripe limes with glossy skin and roll on a hard surface before cutting them open to release the juices. 

Salt: Enhances the flavor of the assembled plant-based nachos and balances the overall taste. Use Kosher salt or sea salt and adjust to taste as needed.

How to Make Vegan Nachos

  • Make the Lentil Walnut Taco Meat. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the chopped walnuts and stir well. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring periodically, or until fragrant. Add the lentils, tomatoes, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, oregano, cumin, and salt. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened and fragrant. Season to taste with salt if desired.
  • Assemble Tortilla Chips. Spread the tortilla chips in a baking dish or on a serving platter. 
An overhead shot of a tray of tortilla chips.
  • Build Nachos. Top the chips with the lentil walnut taco meat, kidney beans, avocado, salsa, sour cream, jalapeño, and cilantro.
A brown hand sprinkling vegan ground meat over the tray of tortilla chips.
Sprinkling beans over the tray of nachos and plant based ground beef.
  • Garnish. Squeeze half of the lime over the nachos and season with salt to taste. Garnish the nachos with lime slices and serve hot.
An overhead shot of a tray of tortilla chips with plant based ground beef, beans, and red onions.
An overhead shot of a tray of vegan nachos.

Recipe Pro-Tips

  • Choose quality ingredients. Opt for high-quality ingredients for the best vegan nachos, including fresh produce and quality vegan meat. 
  • Adjust spice level. For a spicier flavor, leave the jalapeño seeds intact; and remove the seeds for a milder flavor. You can also choose your preferred spice level of salsa. 
  • Evenly distribute toppings. Spread the toppings evenly across the tortilla chips to ensure you get all the goodness in each bite. 
  • Serve immediately. This vegetarian nachos recipe is best served right away so the chips do not become soggy. Dig in while they’re warm! 
  • Add more toppings. Don’t be afraid to experiment with additional toppings to suit your taste preferences, such as sliced black olives, diced bell peppers, shredded lettuce, corn kernels, or vegan cheese sauce.

Recipe Variations

Below are suggestions to adjust this vegetarian nachos recipe to suit your taste and preferences. 

  • Use Plant-Based Ground Beef: If desired, use plant-based ground beef instead of the lentil walnut taco meat. Here’s how to make the most flavorful vegan ground beef: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 of a chopped onion to the hot oil and sauté for 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds to the onion mixture and cook for 1 more minute. Add the plant-based ground meat to the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently to crumble the meat. Season the ground beef with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally or until it is darker in color and firm. Remove from the heat and assemble your nachos!
  • Chips: Add a pop of flavor with flavored tortilla chips or use a multigrain chip for extra nutrition. You can also use a grain-free tortilla chip to meet dietary needs. 
  • Avocado: For added flavor, mash the avocado with lime juice and a pinch of salt to make guacamole. 
  • Vegan Sour Cream: Instead of using a store-bought brand, make a version of homemade sour cream by combining unflavored dairy-free yogurt, lemon juice, and salt. 
  • Lime: Add lime zest with the lime juice on top of the nachos for an extra citrusy aroma and flavor.
A close up shot of vegan nachos with vegan sour cream, avocados, and jalapeños.

Serving Suggestions

Gather your family and friends and dig into these irresistible vegetarian nachos! They are the perfect party appetizer or dish for hosting game days or movie nights – and are extra delicious paired with some of our favorite recipes below. 

Storage Directions

  • Refrigeration: Allow leftover toppings to cool completely before transferring to individual airtight containers and storing them in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. It is best to store toppings separately from the chips so they don’t become soggy, and reassemble the nachos when ready to serve. 
  • Reheating: Assemble all toppings except the avocado, salsa, and sour cream on the chips on a prepared baking sheet and heat in the oven at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes. Then add the fresh toppings and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this nachos recipe vegetarian?

Yes! This recipe is 100% plant-based and uses a vegan alternative to ground beef. 

Can I make these nachos without a ground meat substitute?

Yes, you can make meatless nachos if preferred by omitting the plant-based ground beef. Swap for sautéed mushrooms, extra beans, cooked lentils, crumbled tofu, or tempeh.

How can I make this recipe kid-friendly?

To make these nachos more suitable to kids’ taste, you can omit the spicy ingredients like the jalapeños and use a mild salsa or omit it altogether. Feel free to remove or add toppings you think they’ll like!

More Mexican-Inspired Recipes

For more easy vegan recipes like vegan fried chicken, check out my cookbook.

5 from 2 votes

Vegan Nachos

By: Jenné
Indulge in these better-for-you Vegan Nachos piled high with savory toppings, ready in just 20 minutes! Perfect for game days, movie nights, or a twist on family taco night.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

Lentil Walnut Taco Meat

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked black lentils, or cooked green lentils. Do not use red lentils
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 canned chipotle pepper, minced
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce , from the can of chipotle peppers
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt

Vegan Nachos

  • 1 12 – 16 oz bag of tortilla chips
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed; or 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
  • 1-2 ripe avocados, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 cup salsa, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup vegan sour cream, such as Simple Truth vegan sour cream; plus more to taste
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced; remove the seeds for less spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, halved
  • salt, to taste

Instructions 

Lentil Walnut Taco Meat

  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Add the chopped walnuts and stir well. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring periodically, or until fragrant.
  • Add the lentils, tomatoes, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, oregano, cumin, and salt. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened and fragrant. Season to taste with salt if desired.

Vegan Nachos

  • Spread the tortilla chips in a baking dish or on a serving platter. Top the chips with the lentil walnut taco meat, kidney beans, avocado, salsa, sour cream, jalapeño, and cilantro.
  • Squeeze half of the lime over the nachos and season with salt to taste. Garnish the nachos with slices of the other half of the lime and serve hot.

Notes

Storage Directions
  • Refrigeration: Allow leftover toppings to cool completely before transferring to individual airtight containers and storing them in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. It is best to store toppings separately from the chips so they don’t become soggy, and reassemble the nachos when ready to serve. 
  • Reheating: Assemble all toppings except the avocado, salsa, and sour cream on the chips on a prepared baking sheet and heat in the oven at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes. Then add the fresh toppings and enjoy!
Recipe Pro-Tips
  • Recipe Variation: Use Plant-Based Ground Beef. If desired, use plant-based ground beef instead of the lentil walnut taco meat. Here’s how to make the most flavorful vegan ground beef: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 of a chopped onion to the hot oil and sauté for 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds to the onion mixture and cook for 1 more minute. Add the plant-based ground meat to the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently to crumble the meat. Season the ground beef with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally or until it is darker in color and firm. Remove from the heat and assemble your nachos!
  • Adjust spice level. For a spicier flavor, leave the jalapeño seeds intact; and remove the seeds for a milder flavor. You can also choose your preferred spice level of salsa.
  • Serve immediately. This vegetarian nachos recipe is best served right away so the chips do not become soggy. Dig in while they’re warm!
  • Add more toppings. Don’t be afraid to experiment with additional toppings to suit your taste preferences like sliced black olives, diced bell peppers, shredded lettuce, corn kernels, or vegan cheese sauce.
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Jenne

I’m a Georgia Peach living in Los Angeles (by way of NYC), with an insatiable love of sweet potatoes, travel, animals, and cooking. On Sweet Potato Soul you’ll discover hundreds of delicious and easy-to-make vegan recipes.

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3 Comments

  1. This recipe had a good taste but the Simple Truth Emerge grind will not be in my next making of this. The reason for this change is that the grind is 40% saturated fat, has 14% of your daily sodium allotment, and is very heavy both on top of the chips and in your stomach. Also the Simple Truth vegan sour cream is nearly tasteless. What flavor it does has is not good. The taste of only one avocado is covered up so use more and the small jalapeno that I used needs to be a large one in order for its taste to come through. I also used more lime juice and eliminated the salt. If you have never had cilantro, I would recommend putting it on the side until you can try it. Cilantro tends to be a love-it-or-hate-it food.