Craving tacos but don't want to eat ground beef? Try our cauliflower pepita vegan taco meat. It's plant based, healthy, high in protein, and absolutely delicious. Even your meat loving family members will be asking for seconds!
What is vegan taco meat made of?
This recipe is consists of cauliflower, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, pepitas, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, and spices. Only four of the ingredients are fresh, and the rest of the ingredients have a long shelf life. This means that you can create this recipe mostly from pantry staples at the drop of a hat.
What are vegan taco meat alternatives?
Meat alternatives for vegans are substitutes made from plant based ingredients. Some popular base ingredients are lentils, cauliflower, walnuts, and quinoa. The base ingredient you choose can then be mixed with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes for a wonderful umami flavor.
If you don't normally like mushrooms, you might surprise yourself with this recipe since the mushrooms are finely chopped and have a different texture. My youngest daughter refuses to eat mushrooms, but she will gladly eat them in this vegan taco meat.
Is this recipe gluten free?
Yes, since our recipe for vegan taco meat only uses vegetables, seeds, olive oil and spices, it is completely gluten free. It's also nut free and soy free.
What are the calories in this recipe?
For a ½ cup serving size, there are 478 calories and 17.6 g of carbs. It is also high in fiber, protein, iron, vitamin C and healthy fats. For more nutritional information, scroll to the end of the recipe card.
Can I make this on the stovetop?
You can! This recipe makes 13 ½ cups, so you'll have to use two large skillets and cook it in batches so it will brown and not steam. The veggies do cook down, so you'll end up with 9 cups of vegan taco meat in the end.
To cook the meat on the stovetop, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat until it shimmers, then add the veggie mixture. Make sure not to overcrowd the skillet, or vegetables will not brown. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Can I make this ahead?
Why yes, you most certainly can. Feel free to make up a big batch, as this vegan taco meat tastes amazing the next day too. This meat alternative is perfect for meal prep, as it can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
Can I freeze this recipe?
The best thing about this recipe is that you can freeze any leftovers to use for an easy Mexican supper. Allow the meat mixture to cool completely, then freeze in 2-cup serving containers. It will keep in the freezer for up to one month. To use, simply reheat on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
How can I use vegan taco meat?
This recipe can be used as a meat alternative for all your Tex Mex food cravings. It could easily become your go to recipe, it's that amazing. Try it in:
- Taco salad
- Taco soup
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Prep the cauliflower by cutting it into florets. Clean the mushrooms by rubbing them with a damp paper towel, then slice the large ones in half. Peel and quarter the onion, and mince the garlic. Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes. Finish by measuring out the spices and the oil.
Place the cauliflower florets in a colander, rinse with cold water, and drain.
Preheat the oven to 425 F and line two large baking trays with foil.
Place half of the cauliflower (4 cups) into a food processor and pulse until it resembles the texture you want for your meat. Repeat with the other 4 cups of cauliflower, then dump it into a very large bowl.
Place half of the mushrooms in the food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms.
Place the shelled sunflower seeds into the food processor and pulse until they are small, but still have some texture.
Place the pepitas in the food processor and pulse until small.
Place the quatered onion and the soaked sun-dried tomatoes in the food processor, pulse until they are finely chopped, and place in a bowl with the other ingredients.
Mix these 6 ingredients together really well with a wooden spoon.
Pour in the olive oil and mix to incorporate.
Sprinkle on the dried taco seasoning spices (chipotle chili powder, cumin, salt, Mexican oregano, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder), then stir in the freshly minced garlic.
Divide the cauliflower pepita mixture in half and evenly spread out on two large baking trays. Bake one tray at a time in a 425F oven for 15 minutes.
Stir with a wooden turner to make sure all the meat gets browned and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings if desired, stir, and place back in the oven for 5 more minutes. Repeat the cooking process with the second tray.
Serve warm with your favorite taco toppings: skillet charred corn, black beans, red onion, grape tomatoes, jalapeno coins, avocado slices, and freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Don't want to use seeds? Replace the pepitas and sunflowers with walnuts.
- Want it spicier? Increase the cayenne pepper or add crushed red pepper flakes.
- Need this cooked on the stovetop? Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, then cook in batches over medium low heat until browned.
- To get the right texture, pulse the cauliflower and mushrooms in batches.
- Taste after 30 minutes of cooking and adjust the seasoning to your tastes.
Other Mexican Recipes to Try
- Vegan Walnut Taco Meat
- Vegan Burrito Bowl
- Vegan Refried Beans
- Cactus Salad (Ensalada de Nopales)
- Virgin Strawberry Margarita
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Cauliflower pepita vegan taco meat is an easy plant based substitute for ground beef. Learn how to make this homemade meat alternative that is soy free, gluten free, nut free, and dairy free. Its a healthy, high protein dinner idea that is perfect for tacos!
- 8 cups cauliflower florets (821g)
- 1 pound baby bella mushrooms (454g)
- 2 cups sunflower seeds, shelled, roasted, and salted (312g)
- 1 ½ cup pepitas, roasted and salted (227g)
- ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
- 1 large white onion, peeled and quartered (211g)
- ½ cup olive oil (120 ml)
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons chipotle chili powder
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Soak the sun dried tomatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes to soften them.
- Pulse the cauliflower, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and pepitas in a food processor until they are finely chopped and have a meat-like texture. It's best to pulse each ingredient separately, as each one needs a different length of time in the processor. Put the pulsed vegetables and seeds in a very large bowl.
- Finish off by pulsing the onion and sun dried tomatoes, then add to the same bowl. Mix everything together until well incorporated.
- Pour the olive oil onto the mixture and mix together, then sprinkle on the spices and stir until well combined.
- Evenly spread the mixture out on two foil lined baking trays. Bake one tray at a time for 15 minutes. Take out the tray and stir to mix up so it browns evenly. Place back in the oven for another 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary, stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Repeat with the second tray.
- Serve warm with your favorite nachos, tacos, or taco salad toppings.
- Pulse the cauliflower and mushrooms in batches to get the texture right.
- Adjust the seasonings to your tastes, after 30 minutes of cooking.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: Vegan Taco Meat, Cauliflower meat, Vegan Mexican recipe