Cauliflower Walnut Vegetarian Taco Meat Recipe - Pinch of Yum
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Cauliflower Walnut Vegetarian Taco Meat

161 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.

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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


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


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


  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!



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

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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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Recipe rating


  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

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

  2. Pinch of Yum 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 ❤️

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

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


  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sheri Zander

    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?

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

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

  6. Pinch of Yum 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.

  7. Pinch of Yum 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. Pinch of Yum 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.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Johnny H

    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. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Johnny H

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

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

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

    1. Pinch of Yum 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. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

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

  10. Pinch of Yum 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!

  11. Pinch of Yum 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!

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    THIS WAS AMAZING!! My mom and I were a bit sceptical at first, but it was DELICIOUS!! I was amazing with homemade cassava flour tortillas, cabbage slaw, and salsa!! I love how easy and tasty this recipe is!! I can’t wait to freeze 1 million batches of this. Now onto the vegetarian meatballs…..

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Can I use pecans instead of walnuts? I didn’t know if it might effect the flavor?

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Wow this was exceptionally good even my 9 year old gobbled it up. Sneaky veg for the win!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Also/I’ve cooked this up and then freezed portions for later—super tasty and fresh when I needed it. Thank you for this recipe!

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Trying to replicate the meal prep series. Can this be pulsed ahead of time and cooked a few days later sitting in the fridge a few days?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We haven’t tried prepping and then cooking a few days later so it’s hard to say. I think it’s worth a try, but perhaps you’d want to grind up the walnuts separately and store them separate from the cauliflower mixture. If stored with wet ingredients (saucy cauliflower), the walnuts might become really soft and lose that meaty texture after a few days.

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    A+! Such an easy recipe that comes together quickly. I ended up adding more spices and chilies for flavor (my wife loooooves spice) and it was perfect. This one will definitely be on regular rotation. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Just adding to the chorus of praises for this recipe! This is such a handy recipe to have on hand as I shift more and more plant-based! Thank you!!

    To be honest, I’m unsure I would be able to distinguish this from ‘real’ taco meat, particularly after adding all the extras we always add, like pico de gallo, guac, and queso… might have to do a taste test just for fun, but regardless, this is much more nutritious and more in line with my eating goals, so it’s totally a keeper!

  18. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kathryn Kopach

    I can’t wait to make this recipe for Cauliflower walnut taco meat- may I ask what makes it vegetarian and not vegan? Looks vegan to me 😋