This Walnut Taco Meat is ready in 30 minutes and the perfect plant based meat alternative for any loved Mexican dish. For taco salads, power bowls, traditional tacos and more. A vegan, gluten free and paleo friendly recipe.
Are you ready for your new favorite plant based way to enjoy tacos?! Enter: Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat! Loaded with taco spices, chipotle adobo sauce and baked for crispiness. You will love this!
I’ve been enjoying more and more plant based dishes lately – not only creating them for you but adding them into our regular rotation as well.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
- Great way to incorporate more vegetables into your weekly routine!
- Ready in 30 minutes, and leftovers keep for days.
- Healthy weeknight meal that makes a variety of dishes – add it to tacos, burritos, salads, nachos and more!
Ingredients You Will Need
Ever since I made Meatless Walnut Cauliflower Bolognese where the cauliflower and walnuts are served as the meat replacement, I’ve been meaning to make a Mexican-inspired dish. It’s taken me way too long to do so but we’re here now and that’s what counts. All we need is 6 simple ingredients:
- cauliflower – using about half a head of medium-large cauliflower. Wondering what to do with the other half? Make this Sweet and Sour Cauliflower for another night.
- raw walnuts – the walnuts provide a great source of healthy fats, like omega-3’s!
- garlic – freshly minced garlic is the way to go here. But if you’re in a pinch, 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder works too.
- adobo sauce / chipotle peppers – I used store bought adobo sauce, but you can also use 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (typically canned, like these). A touch of coconut aminos would give it a nice dose of extra umami flavor.
- spices – use a mix of various spices, including chili powder (I used ancho), cumin, regular paprika (or smoked paprika), black pepper and a touch of oregano. Or, swap it out for 2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning instead.
- salt – for flavor! I used a full teaspoon but you may want more or less. You can also taste-test after baking and add more.
Note: A lot of vegan taco meat recipes use mushrooms. Feel free to substitute the cauliflower with 3 cups baby bella (crimini) mushrooms for a chewy texture and earthy flavor.
Find the full recipe with measurements in the recipe card below, at the end of this post.
It’s kind of pretty awesome. And some of you might need some convincing but I promise, plant based taco meat is delicious and offers a similar texture as ground beef (if you’re looking to convince any meat eaters in your life). Here’s how to do it in a few easy steps:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
Make Taco Meat
Place chopped cauliflower, walnuts, chipotle adobo sauce, garlic, spices, salt and pepper in bowl of food processor.
Process into Small Bits
Pulse until cauliflower and walnuts have broken down into small pieces.
Bake for 30 Minutes
Transfer the walnut mixture to the greased baking sheet into a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, giving the mixture a stir halfway through baking time.
Once golden brown and crispy, vegan taco meat is ready for all to enjoy!
The possibilities are endless! This awesome plant based protein version is a great alternative to traditional taco meat! Think vegan taco salad bowls, vegan tacos, nachos, heck – even vegetarian walnut quesadillas! Some of my favorites include:
- Tacos / Burritos: Stuff the walnut crumbles into flour tortillas, corn tortillas or even lettuce wraps. Top off with some pico de gallo, vegan cheese and sliced avocado.
- Power Bowls: Make vegan burrito bowls, with some quinoa, black beans, vegan sour cream and guacamole.
- Nachos: Scatter it on top of tortilla chips with black bean salsa, chopped onion and hot sauce.
- Quesadillas: Fold it into your favorite tortillas with some vegan cheese and bake until warm and toasty.
How to Store, Freeze & Reheat
Leftover walnut and cauliflower taco meat will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freeze: Cool completely, then place it in a single layer on a baking sheet and freezer for 1 hour. Transfer the crumbles to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge (Good idea if you want to make a big batch and store for longer!)
Reheating Instructions: Rewarm in a large skillet over medium heat until warm, adding a splash of water or a little oil if it looks a little too dry.
Recipe Tips & Notes:
Pulse, pulse, pulse! You want to pulse the walnut mixture just until it resembles ground meat. Otherwise, it will turn into a mushy paste.
If you do not own a food processor, chop the cauliflower and walnuts into small bits with a knife. It takes longer, but the results are the same.
More Vegan Taco Recipes You’ll Love:
If you make this Vegan Walnut Taco Meat recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating on the blog! I love hearing from you, and it helps others learn more about the recipe too. Xx AshleyPrint
Walnut Taco Meat
This Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat is ready in 30 minutes and the perfect plant based meat alternative for any loved Mexican dish. For taco salads, power bowls, traditional tacos and more. A vegan, gluten free and paleo friendly recipe.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Vegan
- 1/2 medium-large head cauliflower, chopped (about 3 cups)
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle pepper adodo sauce (see notes)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- Prep equipment: Preheat oven to 375ºF and grease large baking sheet or line with parchment paper; set aside.
- Make taco meat: Place chopped cauliflower, walnuts, chipotle adobo sauce, garlic, spices, salt and pepper in bowl of food processor; pulse until cauliflower and walnuts have broken down into small pieces.
- Bake: Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, giving the mixture a stir halfway through baking time. Remove from oven once finished and let cool on sheet.
- Serve: Enjoy as tacos, taco salad bowls and more.
STORAGE – Store leftovers in covered container in fridge, use within 3-4 days.
FREEZE – Cool completely, then place it in a single layer on a baking sheet and freezer for 1 hour. Transfer the crumbles to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
REHEAT – Rewarm in a large skillet over medium heat until warm, adding a splash of water or a little oil if it looks a little too dry.
Recipe adapted from my Cauliflower Walnut Bolognese and Pinch of Yum.
Keywords: walnut taco meat, vegan walnut meat, vegan walnut taco meat