Cauliflower Walnut Vegetarian Taco Meat Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Cauliflower Walnut Vegetarian Taco Meat

168 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.

Prefer To Watch Instead Of Read?

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

There are so many ways! Here are my favorites.

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

Units 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

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!

Looking for more easy recipes with 6 ingredients or less? Check out our go-to list here!

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523 Comments

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    This was amazing. My son is anaphylactic to peanuts and tree nuts so I subbed pepitas, and it was so delicious. Thank you for this recipe!!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Would this hold up in taco soup as a substitute for ground beef? I would make the soup 2 days ahead of serving it. Thanks!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am a vegetarian and love this so much! After making it a few times I decided to add a block of tempeh to the food processor to up the complete protein element of this. Couldn’t even taste the difference! Thanks SO much for this incredible recipe.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Absolutely delicious. I gave it to a bunch of taco lovers meat eaters, none of them could tell the difference, and like it even more than ground meat when they found out what the ingredients were.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Do you think you could use chickpeas as an alternative to cauliflower? Cauliflower is so expensive where I live.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Never made it to the freezer because we ate it all. Tastes much better then the veggie taco “meat” I’ve bought n the store.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    The taco meat recipe is delicious! Can you share your recipe for the pictured corn and black bean?

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve been wanting to try this but Chipotle in adobo sauce aren’t really a thing in my country. Any substitution ideas?

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve come back to this recipe so many times over the years. So simple and so delicious. We will often do a double batch and freeze. The fact that I can take a scoop of this and toss it into a frypan to reheat & crisp is so fantastic! Thanks for a staple in the house that all us meat eaters happily enjoy ❤️

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    What would be a good substitute for the cauliflower? I’m following a lowFODMAP diet.

    Thanks

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I would like to make this for a wedding that is serving tacos on buffet. Would this hold up in a crockpot for several hours?

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Just made this as the picture on Instagram peaked my interest. It is really good! Like real good! Thanks for the recipe!!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve made this recipe countless times and LOVE it. So quick and easy with a large food processor and holds up great in the freezer. We sometimes omit the chipotle pepper and it still turns out great.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow, I was SO pleasantly surprised by this – taste AND texture! So easy and makes so much. I’m not even vegetarian, I just prefer this stuff! Will definitely be making again (and again!).

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi, Joan! We used fresh cauliflower here, but if you prefer to use frozen, you can cook it straight from the freezer – it just might not get as “crispy” as fresh cauliflower.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    WOW! This filling/”meat” was incredible. Perfect amount of spice. If you want to fool some meat eaters, this is what you should use. Will definitely make this again. I am not a vegetarian and I loved it!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Just wanted to add that I used “riced” cauliflower rather than a head of cauliflower.

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is very original delicious but super spicy (and I have a high tolerance for heat).

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Almonds have a very different consistency compared to walnuts. If your son isn’t allergic to pecans, I’d try that. Pecans are more tender than walnuts so I’d be careful when they’re in the food processor to not pulverize too much.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      We haven’t tested this recipe with almonds, so it’s hard to say! It may work out okay!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ok this stuff is fantastic!!! So tasty even right out of the food processor… Made nachos tonight but looking forward to experimenting with other flavors in the future. Yum!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Made this last night for Cinco de Mayo…the flavor/texture was FABULOUS!! I made burrito bowls and my husband kept saying “This is SO good!” It’s a keeper!