February 26, 2022

Vegan Recipe Taste Test : Cauliflower Tacos

I have no idea what to call these posts--calling this a "vegan recipe experiment" didn't seem right last week. I'm not declaring myself vegan, but I am eating a vegan diet right now (and have been for the last five weeks), so I wanted to try out some new-to-me vegan recipes.

I'd prefer to make recipes that use everyday ingredients that I'm used to (if I have to google what it is, then I'm probably never going to buy it). So far, I've been using the same recipes I always use (like the ones I have on my Recipes page) but I alter a couple of ingredients to make it vegan. It's been really easy so far! And doing it this way makes it easy to cook for my family at the same time--I take out my portion before adding meat/dairy/etc for them.

I have literally never eaten so healthy in my life; and I didn't even intend for it to be that way! I have found that I don't really crave anything at all anymore, especially sweets. Out of the few times I did have a craving, it was gone within a few minutes. I think the only sweets-type thing I've had in the at least the last couple of weeks is a few Sour Patch Kids--I ate them and they weren't as good as I  remembered, so I didn't even eat a whole portion.

Anyway, Bronwyn (a blog reader) sent me a link to a vegan recipe she really likes: Cauliflower Tacos from Brand New Vegan. I LOVE cauliflower, so this interested me right away. I also liked that there weren't any "weird" ingredients.

I chose to top mine with homemade pico de gallo in lieu of cheese and sour cream (what I normally would have used). I LOVE this pico de gallo.

Here is how I make it:

1/2 cup chopped red onion
1-1/2 cups diced roma tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeƱo, minced
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

Just mix it all up in a bowl just before serving (if you do it too far in advance, it gets very wilted-looking and liquidy). Roma tomatoes work best because it's easy to get rid of the seeds; I had some small sweet tomatoes at home already, so I just used those this time.

For the cauliflower tacos, you basically use very finely chopped cauliflower, mushrooms, and walnuts for the texture; then add the spices for taco flavor. (You can find the whole recipe on Brand New Vegan.)

I put the cauliflower, mushrooms, and walnuts in the food processor separately, although I probably could have put them all together. I prepped this in the morning to make it easier when I was cooking taco meat for the family, so I didn't combine the ingredients until later.

I love taco seasoning and I always make my own--here is the recipe for that--but I wanted to try this recipe with the spices as-listed. So I followed the recipe as it's written. I stirred all of the ingredients together until everything was coated with the spices. 

Then spread it all out on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet and put it in the oven. I set the timer and when it was time to pull it out, I immediately thought that I'd burned it. It looked really dark and and basically liked I'd cooked it until it was hard and crusty. Here is the before oven/after oven comparison:

When I moved it with a spoon, though, I was really surprised to find that it was soft and not at all burned. It was perfect! After stirring it together and putting it in a bowl, this is what it looked like:

(It wasn't nearly as dry as it looks!)

When I tasted it, I really liked it. The texture was great and the seasoning would have been great if there wasn't quite so much of it. I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of chili powder (and like I said, I love taco seasoning). I couldn't taste the individual ingredients, though--and I certainly wouldn't have guessed that it was cauliflower, mushrooms, and walnuts. It tasted like taco filling!

Jerry tried a spoonful of the filling and liked it (he agreed that the chili powder was a bit overwhelming, though). He said it wouldn't make any difference to him if I made that instead of meat (I'm not pushing him or the kids to eat vegan along with me; I just wanted them to taste it so they could see that vegan food doesn't have to be really "out there" weird food.

I made three hard tacos which used about half of the filling. For my tacos, I kept them simple: shell, filling, lettuce, and pico de gallo.

I know I'm probably the only person on the planet to say this, but I am NOT a fan of tacos. *gasp* By this, I just mean that I love the taste and texture of them, but they're impossible to eat without getting stuff everywhere. I prefer to make nachos or tostadas (or a taco bowl using rice instead of a shell) because you can get a bite of everything together without it falling in pieces. These were the first actual "tacos" I've had in probably a decade.

Before I announced that dinner was ready, I took two pieces of broken taco shells about the size of nachos and topped them with the cauliflower filling and then the ingredients that my kids like: lettuce, sour cream, cheese, and salsa. I gave one to each of the kids to try and tell me what they think (I didn't tell them the ingredients). Eli asked what it was, and I said it was a vegan taco filling. He made a face, but tried it anyway. His face relaxed as he chewed and he said, "Oh, it's actually not bad!" Noah said that he liked it, too.

Of course, they wanted to know what was in it. They were SHOCKED when I told them cauliflower, mushrooms, and walnuts. One food that my kids hate--and I mean absolutely *despise*--is mushrooms. They also don't like cauliflower. And I think the only time I've seen them eat walnuts is in cookies my dad makes. So I was very interested in their thoughts on this!

The looks on their faces were priceless when I told them the ingredients. They couldn't believe they just ate mushrooms, haha. I would never lie about what's in it in order to get them to eat it (it bothers me when people do that)--but I asked them to trust me. I told them that it's not meant to be a vegan "taco meat" but rather a taco filling.

I think that when meat eaters try something that is supposed to be a meat replica, they'll be disappointed. It's not meat, so it's not going to look, feel, or taste exactly like meat. It shouldn't be a direct comparison. If you think of it as a filling, it's just a different type of taco. There are beef tacos, chicken tacos, fish tacos... and this is just a vegan taco (or cauliflower taco, but you can't taste the cauliflower).

That said, I do think this is a good recipe for meat eaters to try. It doesn't have anything unusual in it and it tastes really good--like a taco! Even my mushroom- and cauliflower-hating boys liked it ;)

The only thing I'd do differently next time is to use less seasoning. I'll use my homemade seasoning and probably start with 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons. I'll also use nachos or tostadas instead of taco shells, but the main thing I was looking to try here was the filling. I'm really glad I made this!


  1. My husband makes lettuce wraps and the filling is ground pork and mushrooms chopped really small. I don't like mushrooms but you can't even tell in the filling. I bet you could use your taco filling for the lettuce wraps, with different spices, and it would be just as good! Thanks for sharing your new recipes. These are interesting!

  2. this sounds so interesting. i'm definitely going to give this a try. i'll use less chili powder.

  3. Okay. Definitely going to try this one. Looks delicious!!

  4. I eat vegan meals every once in awhile, and came across something called TVP (texturized vegetable protein). I use it for nachos and tacos, sloppy joes, chili, etc... Love it! Very easy to prepare and good.

  5. I never use hard taco shells, I always use soft flour or corn tortillas, it makes tacos so much easier to eat. And my preferred non-meat taco filling is either black beans or lentils, seasoned with taco seasoning (I like Penzey's brand taco seasoning).


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