Spicy Beef-Style Walnut Meat

This spicy beef-style walnut meat is our go-to plant-based meat recipe for vegan tacos, nachos, crunch wraps, and beyond! Walnut beef is easy to make with only 9 staple ingredients, 3 simple steps, and 5 minutes of active time. The spicy savory flavor will make you fall in love with walnuts forever. Thank you to our friends at California Walnuts for sponsoring this blog post!

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It’s no secret how deep my love for walnut meat runs. In fact, as far as plant-based ground meats go, I’d venture to say walnut meat is my all-time favorite.

But this does strike me as a bit odd because, while walnut meat is AWESOME, the texture is different and less tender than a seitan or soy-based version.

There’s just something about walnut meat that has my heart. Maybe it’s that it’s wildly easy to make and therefore, always there for me when a last-minute taco craving hits. Or perhaps the depth and richness of its amazing flavor has me mesmerized.

It could also partially be that I love the way “walnut meat” sounds. Walnut meat, Walnut meat. WALNUT MEAT! That phrase just sounds so perfectly badass and also kinda fancy at the same time. I love it.

Whatever the reason, I highly suggest you give the whole walnut meat thing a try!

Ingredients in walnut taco meat: raw soaked walnuts, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, oregano, cumin, minced onion, minced garlic, soy sauce, olive oil.

Ingredients in Walnut Beef

A while back, we shared a recipe for sausage-style walnut meat, but the one we’re sharing today is a spicy beef-style walnut meat we love on everything from pastas and salads to tacos and even casseroles in the winter.

It’s flavored with basic kitchen staple ingredients like soy sauce, fresh garlic and onion, optional olive oil, nutritional yeast, ground cumin, and cayenne pepper (for a pinch of heat!)

Process shots of how to make walnut meat. The photo on the left shows the walnuts, onions, garlic, and remainder of ingredients in a food processor before blending. The photo on the right shows the walnut meat after you pulse all the ingredients together.

How to Make Walnut Taco Meat

You’ll start with some fresh California walnuts! And pro tip: Make sure you’re storing your walnuts in the fridge (or the freezer if you’re like us and buy in bulk!). Fresh California walnuts are the KEY ingredient in this walnut meat recipe, so treat them accordingly! 

Once you’ve soaked the walnuts (20 minutes in cool water, NBD), this walnut beef recipe takes about 5 minutes to throw together. 

All you have to do is drain the soaked walnuts and add them to your food processor (use one with a pulse function!) along with the rest of the flavoring ingredients.

From there, you just pulse the mixture about 7-9 times until it looks like a nice ground meat texture (think tacos) and all the ingredients are well-combined.

That’s it – that’s how you make walnut meat! Easy, right?

A head-on shot of spicy beef-style walnut meat in a green and brown striped bowl. A ramekin of raw walnuts is in the background.

How to Use Beef-Style Walnut Meat

This easy beef-style walnut meat recipe is awesome for meal prep because there’s a million different ways you can use it throughout the week to spice up your everyday meals like:

  • Salads – I make a “nacho salad” with this walnut beef and our vegan queso. Or, skip the salad part and make a big pile of vegan nachos! 
  • Casseroles – Like our Spicy Vegan Tater Tot Hotdish. Match made in heaven!
  • Lasagna – This spicy walnut meat would make an incredible meat-free take on classic lasagna or even ravioli.
  • And of course, taco night! Or take it a step farther with a Vegan Crunchwrap
A head-on shot of spicy beef-style walnut meat in a green and brown striped bowl. A ramekin of raw walnuts is in the background.

How to Store Leftover Walnut Meat

Fridge: You can store leftover walnut beef in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Freezer: This recipe makes quite a lot of walnut meat (maybe 1 ½ cups), but leftovers freeze so well. We suggest freezing walnut meat on a baking sheet overnight. Then, you can transfer it to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for at least 6 weeks. Freezing the walnut meat on a baking sheet first will allow it to maintain an element of crumbliness and prevent it from freezing in one big block.

A close-up photo of vegan walnut taco meat in a green and brown striped bowl. There is a single dried red chili on top along with a sprig of oregano. A ramekin of raw walnuts is in the background.

More Walnut Meat Recipes:

When you try this beef-style walnut meat magic, let us know how it goes and how you used it!

You can rate the recipe and leave a comment below or tag us in your kickass photos on Instagram! If you’re not already following along, we’re @theplantpowercouple with the “the”.

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We hope you have fun with this recipe, friends. Until next time!

A close-up photo of vegan walnut taco meat in a green and brown striped bowl. There is a single dried red chili on top along with a sprig of oregano. A ramekin of raw walnuts is in the background.

Spicy Beef-Style Walnut Meat

Brittany Roche
This spicy beef-style walnut meat is our go-to plant-based meat recipe for vegan tacos, nachos, crunch wraps, and beyond! Walnut beef is easy to make with only 9 staple ingredients, 3 simple steps, and 5 minutes of active time. The spicy savory flavor will make you fall in love with walnuts forever. Thank you to our friends at California Walnuts for sponsoring this blog post!
4.93 from 14 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 2 cups raw California walnuts soaked in cool water 20 minutes
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil optional*
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano or 2 Tbsp fresh minced oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper**


  • Once your walnuts are soaked, drain the water and add them to your food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until the mixture achieves a ground meat texture, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.
  • You can use this walnut meat on everything from tacos and salads to pastas and casseroles. Have fun with it! Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in your fridge for up to a week.


*To make this recipe oil-free, simply sub 1 Tbsp vegetable broth for the olive oil. (We like to use our bouillon powder here to add a little depth of flavor!)
**Double the amount of cayenne if you like it really ridiculously spicy. Use 1/2 tsp or omit completely if you're not a spicy fan!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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      1. Very good for keto tortillas! Able to have 2 Low carb tortilla shells are still 10 carbs. Lettuce wraps next. I have eaten this plain..delicious!
    1. Hi, Leah! Yes, nuts are very rich in both fat + calories. It's important to note though, this recipe makes a LOT of walnut meat and the calories you see listed are for the entire batch. And we definitely do not recommend eating the whole batch, lol! Although, I have absolutely been tempted to do so. :)
      1. I can’t eat soy because of inflammation issues. Instead of soy sauce, I use Coco Aminos. It comes in a variety of flavors and is absolutely tasty. I can’t wait to try this recipe! I need more vegan alternatives, I’m a newly medically necessary Vegan! I welcome advice, recipes and anything helpful that will help with this transition.🥗😋
  1. Hi Brittany I would just like to say thank you very much for sharing your recipes. I recently transitioned to vegan keto and was deep in soy overload and unfortunately reaped negative repercussions. However, I desired a healthier protein type food substitute to go with my veggies. I have made the sausage meat and the mince beef and they are both delicious! Looking forward to trying some of your others recipes too. Good health, peace and love you both :-)

    5 stars

  2. I think they ment Worcestershire sauce lol That can contain anchovies I believe but yes soy sauce is vegan.

    5 stars

  3. Just made the Spicy Beef-Style Taco Meat. Tastes amazing. Do you know if you can freeze left overs?

    5 stars

  4. Hi, this was really good! I added it to a vegan moussaka and I loved the results. When I was cooking it I was unsure how the cumin flavor would taste in the moussaka, but the end result was great and the cumin flavor wasn't noticeable. Thanks for sharing!

    5 stars

    1. Hi, Raechel! I'm so happy the walnut meat worked for you! Also, I just Googled Moussaka and WOW - what a fantastic idea. I totally want to make this! Thanks so much for sharing!
    1. You can use it in soup, but it may be a good idea to toast the walnut meat at low heat for 5-10 minutes before you add it to the soup. (Be careful you don't burn it though.) This will help the flavor adhere to the walnut pieces better! Let us know if you give it a try!
  5. This walnut meat is wickedly delicious!! The soy sauce made it way too salty even using low sodium so I'll use less next time or replace with coconut aminos. Can't wait to make this again. Thanks for the amazing recipe!

    5 stars

  6. I must be blind, because I can’t find the nutritional info. Where is it? Also, I made this on Sunday and it was great! Thanks.

    5 stars

    1. Hi, Naomi! I would not recommend walnut flour, as the texture would be waaaay too fine and not meat-like. I've actually never used walnut flour before, so we don't have any recipes for it.
  7. thank you ever so much for posting this recipe, its a great alternative for vegan mince meals. are you on instagram? I would love to follow ye!
    1. Hi, Janice. I don't know if I would suggest using this mixture for a hamburger. If you are looking for a good hamburger recipe, we are very proud of this little beauty: https://www.plantpowercouple.com/recipes/vegan-burgers/ Hope you love it!
  8. Love this so much! Yes, I know walnuts can be fatty and this is fattening. But I make taquitos/enchiladas, using maybe 1 tbsp per wrap, a long with vegan cheese shreds and salsa. You can even add a few slices of avocado. So good. Making the sausage flavored ones tonight
    1. Sounds delicious, Frances!! Yes, walnuts are indeed quite high in fat, but that's all people seem to remember when they think about this highly maligned, poorly understood not-true-nut. It's also very high in antioxidants and omega-3s! (So if someone tells you they're high in fat, tell them about the better aspects.) Thanks for sharing and hope you LOVE the sausage style! Let us know!
  9. I don’t have a food processor. Do you think it would work okay if I pulsed a few times in the vitamix? I don’t want to pulverize it ;)
  10. Easy to make. The spices and taste were spot on. I;d like to make the walnuts a little softer for texture. I assume soaking longer?
    1. Glad you liked it, Douglas! Yes, that's exactly right, but also make sure the water your using is good and hot as well. You may even wish to replenish the hot water after the first cools a bit.
    1. Hi, Jen! The purpose of the nutritional yeast is to help give the final product a nutty, sort of toasted flavor. It's not rising yeast, if that's what you're thinking. Very different.
  11. This is absolutely delicious. I will definitely be making more of this in the future. I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and added red curry paste for more flavor. I had to keep myself from eating this wonderful “meat” mixture. Thank you so much for sharing!
  12. Ah-mazing! Used it for dinner tacos and the leftovers went on tortillas with eggs for a breakfast taco. Super love this recipe- thanks for a meal changer upgrade at my house.

    5 stars

    1. Love that you love this recipe, CJ! It was a game-changer around here too! Speaking of game changers, I will DEFINITELY be using this in some breakfast tacos soon! Thanks for letting us know!
    1. Sorry to hear that, Tanya!! I can't say for certain, but if I had to guess I'd say it sounds as though you may have blended it for too long instead of pulsing. Still would probably be good as a spread or almost a pate.
  13. I love this recipe for tacos and various taco-y flavored things Most recipes are too heavy on chili powder or tomato, but this one hits the target for me. Delicious! Anyway, it works great not just with walnuts, but also for brown rice and for making black bean dip. Very versatile. I subbed coconut aminos for the low sodium soy sauce as other suggested and it was great.

    5 stars

    1. Hi, Jude. The nutritional yeast (it's not regular yeast, just in case there's any confusion there) adds a nutty/umami flavor. You could probably replicate it with a little miso paste, or omit it all together. Hope that helps!
  14. This was incredibly good, despite its simplicity. My carnivore husband was raving about this. I added some chili powder and garlic powder. Next time I might cut the soy sauce in half. Fabulous recipe!

    5 stars

  15. I doubled the batch when making it because I was anticipating how great it would it taste. I was right, the recipe is absolutely AMAZING. I wanted to get away from the processed vegan meats at the grocery store. SuperExcited and I can’t wait the try your other recipes. ❤️😋 Yummers

    5 stars

    1. I'm so very happy you liked it so much!! Thanks for taking the time to reach out and let us know, it's really appreciated. I can't wait to hear what you think of some of the other recipes when you try them! Thanks again, and I hope you have a great day
  16. This recipe is yummy! Just tried it but I feel it needs to be less salty. I used Braggs liquid amino’s instead of soy sauce. How much should I use? I like the health benefits of braggs instead of soy sauce.
    1. My apologies, Priscilla, I thought I had responded to this already and just realized I hadn't. The ratio of Bragg's to soy sauce is usually 1:1. Hope this helps. And thank you so much for the compliment!!
  17. I tried this tonight. Like a previous comment I found this very salty, probably from the Tamari sauce. Next time I will try half Tamari and broth. I also added mushrooms and edamame for added protein and vegetable as my base to shepherd's pie. Was very good. I doubled the batch and will freeze the rest. Thank you !

    4 stars

    1. Glad you enjoyed it over all, Diane. It is a bit salty for some. Perhaps I'll add that as a note in the post. Thank you again and happy you liked it. Have a great day!
  18. Hello! Full disclosure: I did not read all the comments and answers, so I apologize if you've already answered this one: but what is the amount of ground meat this is a sub for: 1 pound?
    1. Hi, Cheryl. Actually, I'd probably go more for cup measurements than weight. So I would think 1 cup of walnut meat equals 1 cup of ground, but I feel like the mass/weight would be different. Hope that helps!
  19. First time making vegan meat. Simple recipe to follow. I love it!!! Even my picky eating family loves it. How 'bout that!!! Thanks

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