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Cauliflower Walnut Vegetarian Taco Meat

145 reviews / 4.9 average

This vegetarian taco meat is made with cauliflower, walnuts, and chipotle peppers. It’s so easy: just mix and bake. Meatless miracle!

Breaking news: vegetarian taco meat is a weirdly delicious thing. Like, all plants. In tacos. That really closely resembles ground beef and possibly even tastes better. This is a miracle of epic proportions.

Do we love tacos or DO WE LOVE TACOS? We – team POY, readers and bloggers and friends and family alike – definitely love tacos. We also love all derivatives of tacos – taco bowls, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, tostadas, nachos, etc., which is good news for the magic of vegetarian taco meat because it goes with everything. All of them. Not one taco relative left behind.

The number of types of tacos I’ve made is beyond counting. It would actually be embarrassing. That number is not slowing down anytime soon, pals. Being a taco fanatic means I am definitely not going to say no to a beef taco if you offer it to me, but I am also a part-time vegetarian and I really love a good meatless alternative.

I have no real explanation for this except that I love to eat plants and I find cooking vegetarian recipes to be easier. And more fun. So chipotle-spiced, easy-to-make veg taco meat was born.

Spicy Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat ingredients in a food processor.

How To Make Some Mind-Blowing Vegetarian Taco Meat:

Here’s what we have going on in this vegetarian taco meat situation:

  • cauliflower
  • walnuts
  • chipotle peppers
  • a few spices
  • salt

Can you handle it? It’s too easy. It should be wrong but it’s so right.

Spicy Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat ingredients in a food processor.

Once that gets all ground up, we’re going to bake it.

You still with me?

Spicy Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat on a spoon.

Serve It Up with All The Things

While it’s baking, since you’re going to have about 30 minutes of down time, this is the perfect opportunity to get into a salsa frenzy and whip up every type of friendly taco buddy that you can think of.

I went with the trifecta pictured here: corn and black bean salsa, pico de gallo, and guacamole because I don’t want to hate my life.

Salsas for vegetarian taco meat.

My taco vision quickly got out of control and I opted for a taco bowl – er, maybe burrito bowl, technically, with the rice and everything – instead of a traditional folded-in-a-tortilla fashion. Which is a callback to what I said at the beginning: that this vegetarian taco meat is ready to go with anybody in the taco family.

Only love for this mountain of glory.

Spicy Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat in a bowl over rice.

What can I even say? My heart is happy. Vegetarian taco meat, please never leave me.

I hope you love tacossss.

Spicy Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat in a bowl over rice.

Ways To Use Vegetarian Taco Meat

Check Out Our Video For How To Make Vegetarian Taco Meat:

Print
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Cauliflower Walnut Vegetarian Taco Meat on a sheet pan with a wooden spoon.

Cauliflower Walnut Vegetarian Taco Meat


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings (about 1/2 cup each) 1x

Description

This vegetarian taco meat is made with cauliflower, walnuts, and chipotle peppers. It’s so easy: just mix and bake. Meatless miracle!


Ingredients

Scale

The Vegetarian Taco Meat Basics:

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups whole walnuts
  • 2 individual chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Optional Add-Ins:

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
  • a pinch of cayenne for more heat

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is evenly ground (see picture).
  2. Transfer to a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through to prevent over-browning.
  3. Serve in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, bowls, and the like!

Equipment

Notes

My salsa-making game is pretty loose. I like to just eyeball it and taste and adjust as I go.

  • Corn Salsa: toss some corn kernels in a pan and saute until roasty-looking. Mix with black beans, jalapeño, salt, lime juice, cilantro.
  • Pico de Gallo: toss chopped tomatoes with chopped onion, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.
  • Guacamole: toss mashed avocados with chopped onion, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.

Freezer Meal Version

  1. Pulse in a food processor to make the “meat”:
    3 cups cauliflower florets
    2 cups whole walnuts
    2 individual chipotles in adobo sauce
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon salt
    optional: lime juice, onion and garlic powder, cayenne to taste
  2. Bake and then freeze: 375 degrees for 30 minutes (stir halfway through), freeze in plastic bag or glass container.
  3. Final Step: Add Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat to a skillet to reheat, or in the microwave. Serve in tacos, enchiladas, rice bowls, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, the usual.
  4. Check out our full freezer meal posts with all recipes and instructions here!
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: vegetarian taco meat, cauliflower walnut meat, vegetarian Mexican recipe, vegetarian recipe, taco bowl

Recipe Card powered by Tasty Recipes logo

View freezer meal version of this recipe here.

You might also like our full freezer meals post.

Frozen meals stored in bags.

Time To Show You Off!

Walnut taco meat being prepared on a baking sheet.

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our best healthy spring recipes page. Check it out!

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Recipe rating

473 Comments

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      I’d be afraid of the cauliflower pureeing if you use a blender. If the blender can pulse the cauliflower in short spurts, it may work! If not, chopping super small will work just fine!

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    DX

    I don’t know…I must have done something wrong somewhere since everyone else seems to love this recipe. For me this was very, very, dry and crumbly–just screaming for some sauce or at least a little moisture. It was like putting sand into taco shells. If I were to make this again, I would try mixing in a little tomato sauce or maybe some refried beans. Thank you anyway.






  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Bella

    Hi!

    Just wondering the serving size? I see it serves 6 people, but is the serving size per person 1/2 cup, 1 cup etc?

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Claire Jackson

    Ohhh man, Lindsay. You’ve done it this time!

    This taco “meat” is absolutely incredible — 12/10 would recommend to a friend. I add a little more pizzazz by chucking in some garlic cloves and cinnamon (a pinch… trust me). Toss onto baking sheet then throw it into some warm tortillas with fresh salsa, guac, and queso fresco (or cotija) with a squeeze of a lime and you are good-to-go my friend. Thank you, Lindsay, for this beautiful creation!






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Wow, thanks for the garlic and cinnamon tip! Totally going to try it. So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Claire!

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Denise de Mier

    I’m becoming more plant based and this is a great alternative. It is low calorie and great for mexican dishes…love love!!!






  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Laura

    I love this recipe!! My husband and I are vegetarians and we were looking to add a little more to our tacos and burritos. This is such a great addition. So easy and quick and delicious. I honestly eat it right out of the pan once it’s done.






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We love hearing this, Laura! So glad you’ve been enjoying the recipe!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sarah

    For a less spicy version I replaced the chipotles with canned tomatoes. It came out great. Thank you so much for the recipe and all the delicious ideas!






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Kate

      Thanks for sharing this idea! My husband and I love this recipe but it’s too spicy for our kids – So glad to Jake it works this way, too!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Gigi

    The texture was spot on but the taste wasn’t there for me… It actually came out sour so I wasn’t able to enjoy it. Any tips?






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Sorry to hear that, Gigi. Check to see if your walnuts are expired. You’ll be able to tell by their smell. Sometimes spoiled nuts can yield a sour flavor.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    DNN

    Reading every food blog can make anyone hungry. I’m glad I’m striving to stay consistent today with my cardio. 🙂

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jana Mroczek

    Any spice ideas for subbing out the chili powder? I love the idea of this recipe, but I am not a chili powder fan.

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    vivian

    Because of the lockdown we get groceries now by pickup, so you sometimes don’t get what you asked for, but a substitute. Because of this I made some changes. Instead of chipotles in adobo I used 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder and two tablespoons of salsa. Instead of whole walnut halves, I used a scant 3/4 of a cup of walnut pieces. It still turned out delicious and will add to the stash of freezer food for my daughter and son-in-law who are expecting their first baby next month. Thanks for this recipe!






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Christie! We don’t recommend using frozen florets because they could become mushy.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Letoya

    We love this recipe! I usually bake it a bit longer and finish it off under the broiler to get some crispy bits. Its very versatile and reheats beautifully.






  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Megan

    Delicious! I made a half-batch to try it out, and it turned out great. It really has the texture of meat. Can’t wait to turn the leftovers into a taco salad tomorrow. Will definitely make again






  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kate

    This is the best meatless taco recipe I’ve come across yet. Thank you for my new go-to recipe!






  14. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Wendy

    Where is the recipe for the “corn and black bean salsa” and your “pico de gallo”??? Looks yummy!

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sue

    This is so delicious and easy. This is my second time making this recipe. We all love it, omnis and vegans alike. Next time I will reduce the cooking time to 20 minutes to keep the “meat” meaty. Thirty minutes was too long and made for a crumbly taco filling. I also made the roasted corn and black bean salsa – I added diced avocado and Tajin seasoning. Thank you so much for your creativity and generosity!






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We haven’t tested this recipe using another nut, but we think it’s worth a try! Pecans would probably work well!

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Katie

    How long does this last after you make it (and do not freeze it). Looking to make it for a salad topping and meal prepping. If I made it on a Saturday would it last all week long in the fridge?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista Teigen

      Sounds like a unique and healthy swap, Andy! If you give it a try, we’d love to hear back!

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo
    mary

    I’m vegan but unfortunately also severely allergic to nuts. can i replace the walnuts with beans?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Stephanie

      Maybe try roasting some chickpeas first and then doing the pulsing thing. Then they would have more of the texture of the walnuts.

  18. Pinch of Yum Logo
    molly

    hello! I’m planning to meal prep these this weekend but I only have a 3-cup food processor…. do you think I can do things in batches and then mix it all together in a bowl? Thanks in advance!