These vegan, gluten-free carrot-lentil cakes with garlic-herb tahini sauce are something special. Packed with red lentils, carrots, and kale, they're bursting with savory flavors, hearty texture, and oodles of plant-based protein, boasting a mighty 8 grams of protein per patty. I recommend enjoying 2–3 per serving, which makes for a meal with a whopping 16–24 grams of protein (and 8–12 grams of fiber to boot)!
A little over two years ago, I shared a recipe for sweet potato + lentil cakes with lemony avocado sauce. It became a fast-favorite of mine, and it didn't take long for it to become a favorite on the blog either.
Given that its popularity resurges this time every year, I figured it'd be fun to play around with the ingredients and come up with a new twist on the tried-and-true hit. I certainly didn't intend for the remix to outshine the original, but these carrot-lentil cakes with garlic-herb tahini sauce are something special.
They're bursting with savory flavors, hearty texture, and oodles of plant-based protein, boasting a mighty 8 grams per patty. I recommend enjoying 2–3 per serving, which makes for a meal with a whopping 16–24 grams of protein (and 8–12 grams of fiber to boot).
To make them, you'll start by steaming carrots and simmering split red lentils. Once those two are cooking, you can get to work on gathering and preparing the other ingredients.
When the carrots and lentils are ready, add them to a food processor along with some rolled oats, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, smoked paprika, cumin, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Pulse just 15 or so times until the ingredients are thoroughly combined yet the mixture retains quite a bit of texture. Scoop the mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in finely chopped lacinato kale, pepitas, chives, hemp seeds, and cilantro. The "dough" will be damp but hold its shape well.
Scoop out ⅓-cup mounds of the dough, form into patties, and transfer to a lined baking pan. Once all the patties have been formed, bake them until their exteriors feel gently set with a slight crispness and the bottoms take on a lovely golden-brown hue. Unlike the original recipe, there's no need to flip these beauties—hands-off baking is always a plus, right?!
While the patties bake, you'll get to work on that dreamy, drizzle-worthy garlic-herb tahini sauce. Add all the ingredients—tahini, cilantro, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, champagne vinegar (or ACV), a splash of water, sea salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper—to a food processor and process until the mixture is emulsified and the herbs are very finely chopped.
The chopped fresh herbs offer this creamy sauce a pop of freshness and a soft, soothing green glow.
Once the patties are ready, it's time to serve.
Serve them on their own, atop a bed of peppery greens, in a pita pocket, or even on a toasted bun (à la burger), and be sure to generously drizzle each with garlic-herb tahini sauce.
Added perk: the cakes freeze well and can be thawed as needed for quick, on-the-go meals!
CARROT-LENTIL CAKES WITH GARLIC-HERB TAHINI SAUCE
- 3 cups peeled and roughly diced carrots (about 4–5 large carrots)
- 1 cup split red lentils, thoroughly rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup heaping stemmed and finely chopped lacinato "Dino" kale
- ½ cup raw pepitas, shelled pumpkin seeds
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh chives
- ¼ cup shelled hemp seeds
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, tough stems removed
Garlic-Herb Tahini Sauce
- ⅓ cup tahini
- ¼ cup cilantro, tough stems removed
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, tough stems removed
- 1 cloves to 2 garlic, smashed and peeled
- 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons filtered water, as needed
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the Carrot-Lentil Cakes
- Steam the carrots in a steamer or over the stove for 25 minutes, or until fork-tender.
- While the carrots are steaming, add the rinsed lentils and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. If needed, add more water to keep the lentils submerged. Strain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
- Add the steamed carrots, cooked lentils,½ cup of the rolled oats, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, cumin, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to a food processor. Pulse 15 to 20 times, or until the mixture is chunky and all ingredients are well incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides halfway through pulsing.
- Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, and add the reserved ½ cup rolled oats, chopped kale, pepitas, chives, hemp seeds, and cilantro. Use a spoon to mix well, ensuring all ingredients are evenly dispersed. The mixture should be damp but able to hold its shape.
- Use a ⅓-cup measuring cup to scoop out ⅓ cup of the mixture. Form the mixture into a patty that is 1-inch thick and just shy of 3 inches in diameter, and transfer to the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture. You should have 10–12 patties. (Note: the uncooked mixture is damp and can be a bit challenging to form and compact into patties, but I promise they're worth the effort.)
- Bake the patties for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden-brown and they feel gently set but not firm.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely on the pan before moving. They'll continue to firm up as they cool.
For the Garlic-Herb Tahini Sauce
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until emulsified and the sauce just begins to take on a soft green color. The herbs should be very finely chopped. Transfer to an airtight jar or container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- The patties can be enjoyed on their own, over a bed of peppery greens, tucked into warm pita bread, or on bun. Serve warm with a generous drizzle of the sauce.
Sue Ellen says
Your recipes and photography are so beautiful! I can't wait to try these!
Thanks, Sue Ellen! Hope you enjoy the recipe!
These look amazing - I must make them :)
Thanks, Gill! And yes, please do make them! :)
I just discovered your site (thanks to OSG Instagram account!)... and this is the first recipe I've tried. These carrot-lentil cakes were so tasty and we really loved the tahini-herb sauce (actually our 3 1/2 year old daughter LOVED the sauce!). I look forward to exploring your site and trying more! Thanks.
Hi, Srivani! I'm so glad you found my site through the takeover and are enjoying this recipe! The best compliments are when little ones love a recipe—so exciting that your daughter loved the sauce. Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your feedback. I really appreciate it!
Stella @ Stellicious Life says
These look fantastic! Love the bright vibrant orange and green in them. Also I'm always on the lookout for more veggie burgers/patties and these look stunning. Can't wait to try them for next week's meal planning! :-) (ps. Love the sound of that tahini-lemony-herb sauce!)
Thanks so much, Stella! Isn't the hue so fun? Like a burst of sunshine on a cloudy day. Hope you enjoy the recipe!
Celeste Jackson says
These look delicious! Love the mix of herbs :) I will be making these soon.
Interesting recipe with carrot lentils. I usually use them to cook dahl.
Yes, lentils make a great addition to veggie-based patties! Love them in dahl too!
Tracey @ A Taste of Trace says
I made these last night & they're delicious! I made a few modifications based on what I had/didn't have on hand (a mix of carrots & sweet potatoes; red lentils & yellow split peas; and spinach & arugula). I also baked them for slightly less time as the bottoms almost burnt! Regardless, these are definitely ones to make again (and again!).
So glad you're enjoying the recipe, Tracey! Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your adjustments and feedback—I really appreciate it! Also, the addition of the yellow split peas might have dried the mixture a bit, which would have caused them to bake quicker.
I recently had a friend recommend your website and this is already the 3rd recipe of yours that I have made. And just like the others, these turned out absolutely delicious! Next time, I think I am going to make them when I am not already tired :-) I felt like a complete novice with my knife work for the veggie prep! Thank you for sharing such a great recipe.
This looks delicious and I might make these for a cooking workshop next week. I am wondering if it is possible to omit the hemp seeds, or if there is some kind of cheap substitute (never cooked with them so I am not sure if they are important texture/binding-wise). Thanks!
Hi, Alex! Shelled sesame seeds are a great substitute for the hemp seeds. Hope this helps!
These were delicious! We followed the recipe as-is, with the exception of using some baby kale from a bag that we already had on hand. I thought these were super easy to form into patties, and they were perfectly cooked after 25 minutes in our oven. We ended up with 14 patties. Served with lightly dressed arugula, cucumber, avocado and plenty of the sauce! Perfect for lunch and light dinners for the week. Thanks for a great, healthy recipe! :)
Hi! Just wondering which step would be best for freezing them- before or after they bake? Thank you!
Hi, Tessa! Freezing them after baking is best. Enjoy!
Barbara Alfeo says
I love this! I am writing vegetarian recipe round ups on my blog in 2018 (to encourage people to try meatless monday) and would love to feature you. You can check out my blog (for beginner environmentalists) at sunshineguerrilla.com. Is it alright if I share this link to your recipe?
Thanks, Barbara! Yes, please feel free to pull whichever photo you like and then link back to this post for the recipe. Thanks for featuring—means so much!
Dawn Kazanjian says
Made these tonight. Simply amazing! Fresh, pungent, flavors. Leftovers will be lunch tomorrow. Thank you for the recipe!
So glad you're enjoying them, Dawn! Thanks for taking time out of your evening to come back and share your thoughts—means so much.
Omg - these were sooo good !!! Thank you - I’ll definitely be looking up other recipes!!!
Hi there, I’m wondering if I could use green lentils instead of red?
Hi, Candace! The texture of green lentils is quite a bit different than red, so I wouldn't recommend substituting unless you absolutely have to as I'm not sure how it would affect the moisture level of the cakes.
JO from Crystal palace says
Hi I made these and they were tasty. Substituted kale with spinach and didn’t have hemp seeds so chucked in some pine nuts. I put the pumpkin seeds and pine nuts in when blending, but because didn’t cook carrots enough ended up mixing it with a fork in bowl. Made 12 patties using the third cup measure per Pattie. They held together really well. Thanks!
Hi, JO! So happy to hear you're enjoying the recipe. Thanks for taking time out of your day to come back and share your adjustments and rating—means so much!
I made this recipe tonight for dinner exactly as it was written here and they turned out perfect and amazing!!!! One of my new favorites. These are just superb and the tahini sauce is incredible too!!!! I love the depth of flavors from the hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds and spices. Everything works so well together. I originally don't like lentils very much, but I want to incorporate them into my diet more often, so I am always looking for new and creative ways to cook with them. I was so happy when I found this. Thanks so much for this amazing recipe <3333
So happy to hear you're enjoying the recipe so much, Cassie! Thanks for taking time out of your weekend to come back and share your thoughts and rating—means so much. Happy cooking!
Is there something I could substitute pepitas for? also would the patties hold if fried in a pan with a bit of oil instead of baking?
Hi, there! You can substitute raw sunflower seeds for the pepitas. I think they should hold just fine if pan-fried, but I can't say for certain as I haven't tried it this way myself. If you give it a go, I'd love to know how they turn out! Happy cooking! :)
These were delicious and very easy! I didn’t have hemp hearts so I did 1/2 chia seed and 1/2 flax seed. My obsessively meat-eating husband was a huge fan!
So happy to hear you and your husband are enjoying the recipe, Molly! Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your feedback and adjustments—means so much, and is helpful for me and for others hoping to make the recipe as well.
I made this recipe last night to try to convince my mum to love lentils. My goodness, this was delicious! And she is now a lentil lover!
I'm allergic to pepitas so I subbed in sunflower seeds. I also brushed the patties with a tiny bit of coconut oil before baking to get the tops a bit crispy. My mum and husband ate theirs on a bed of arugula, lightly dressed with ACV and olive oil with blistered grape tomatoes. I put mine in a pita falafel style with greens, tomatoes, feta and a heaping dollop of that amazing sauce.
Thanks for this recipe! Looking forward to trying your others!
Wow. I made this for a fancy dinner service and the crowd went wild. If you are getting a bunch of hits from a tiny corner of Auckland, NZ it’s because everyone who ate these raves about them. Thank you, your website is inspiring and it’s an honour that I could send more people to it as I love reading through it.
I had to make a large quantity, I roughly tripled the recipe so to save time I shredded and lightly fried the carrots. It was still perfect. Didn’t have hemp seeds so subbed it out for sunflower seeds. Cooked each tray 25 mins.
Really really delicious. I never write reviews but this was such a showstopper that I had to say thank you and recommend to others that they cook this.
What lovely, heartwarming feedback, Tanya! Thanks for taking time out of your day to share it and thank you also for sending others in this direction. Really appreciate it. :)
These were very time consuming, made a huge mess in my kitchen, but worth every minute!! Lots of flavor with nothing being overpowering. I liked the combination of crispy outside and more soft and creamy inside ... I just ate them plain (well, with the sauce, of course!), but I could see them being good in a pita bread or wrap of some kind. The kind of meal to make on a lazy Saturday afternoon ... probably not for a busy weeknight!
So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Lisa (despite the mess, of course)! I find they're worthy of the time and love that goes into them, so it's wonderful to know that was your experience as well. Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your thoughts and rating! :)
Absolutely love this recipe. I put some bell pepper in there to sub the kale and sesame seeds to sub the hemp seeds but I’m getting some hemp seeds for next time as this will be a weekly dinner now!
So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Chantelle! Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your thoughts and substitutions—helpful for me to know as well as others making the recipe. :)
I just made these today and I surprised myself. They taste so good and i love the crunch from the seeds. It didn't come out as pretty looking. I would def make these again.
So glad you enjoyed them, Stephanie! Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your thoughts and rating—means so much. :)
I love everything about this recipe! I followed it exactly and it was so delicious. The sauce is addictive and I will be making it often to go on everything lol.
My meat loving husband really liked them as well. And that’s saying a lot! Thank you!
Happy to hear you and your husband enjoyed the recipe so much, Sasha! Thanks for taking time out of your day to share this kind feedback–means a lot to me and is helpful for others considering making the recipe, too. Happy cooking to you!
Very tasty! My husband and I thought the flavor and texture were very good on their own, but were elevated when used as the patty for a veggie burger! The tahini sauce is delicious, and we added pickles and hot sauce for some zing. Thank you for the great recipe!
So glad you and your husband enjoyed the recipe, Cynthia! Thanks for taking time out of your day to come back and share your thoughts and rating—means so much.