This Vegan Taco Meat is made entirely of plants! Generously seasoned with spices, it’s perfect for tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas or nachos. Kid friendly!

looking down and to the side at tacos lined up

Not only is this taco “meat” made out of whole plant foods, it’s actually easy to make! It can be ready in about 30 minutes, and is cooked right on the stovetop. If you prefer, you can bake it. I give instructions for both methods.

It’s Kid Approved

No joke, my kids love the stuff. And I truly don’t have the most adventurous eaters, they can be quite picky. If your kids (or yourself) are sensitive to spice, you can substitute the adobo sauce for a little chili powder. That will make it much less spicy and more mild.

We usually eat this vegan taco meat in crunchy shells or soft corn tortillas, with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, vegan cheese shreds and perhaps diced avocado or vegan sour cream.

It’s also perfect for adding to burritos, salads, quesadillas, burrito bowls or nachos. Or mix it into a batch of Vegan Nacho Cheese for a “meaty” nacho cheese. YUM.

hand holding a taco, lettuce in background

How to make it on the stovetop

In a food processor, pulse the cauliflower, then the walnuts and mushrooms until crumbly. Don’t over process and turn it into mush!

Add everything to a large pan or pot, and turn the heat to medium-high. Stir until well combined, and cook for 15-20 minutes. Stir frequently to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom.

pan full of ingredients to make vegan taco meat

How to bake it

You can bake it instead if you’d like. It will be a bit drier, which is not really a bad thing, especially if you serve it with some vegan sour cream, salsa or avocado.

To bake, first add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Lightly grease a large rimmed sheet pan and spread the mixture on it. Bake for 30-40 minutes, giving it a little stir once in the middle of baking.

wooden spoon holding taco meat over a pan

Want more vegan taco/burritos fillings?

close up of 3 vegan tacos close together

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square image of tacos with "meat
4.98 stars (36 ratings)

Vegan Taco Meat

This Vegan Taco Meat is made entirely of plants! Generously seasoned with spices, it's perfect for tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas or nachos. Kid friendly!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 people


  • 4 cups cauliflower florets (1 small head, or 3 cups riced cauliflower)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 4 ounces mushrooms
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (or water for oil free)
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can, see Notes for options
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For serving, optional

  • crunchy corn, soft corn or flour tortillas
  • shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, non-dairy cheese shreds, salsa, avocado slices or vegan sour cream


  • Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor. Pulse several times, creating cauliflower rice, but don't process so much it becomes mushy. Add cauliflower rice to a large pan (at least 12 inches, or use a large pot).
  • Now add the walnuts and mushrooms to the food processor. Pulse a few times until they are a similar consistency as the cauliflower. Don't over process or you will have a paste. Dump them into the pan with the cauliflower.
  • To the pan, add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, adobo sauce (or chili powder), soy sauce, cumin, smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Turn the heat to medium-high, and stir until well combined. Continue to cook, stirring every couple minutes, for 15-20 minutes. Taste; add more salt or spices as desired. 
  • Remove from heat and serve in tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas, nachos or anywhere else you like! We like crunchy or soft tacos with diced tomatoes, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream/avocados and lettuce.
  • To Bake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a large rimmed sheet pan. In a large bowl, mix together the processed cauliflower, walnuts, mushrooms and all other ingredients. Spread onto the pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring once in the middle of baking. Remove from the oven and serve.


  1. You can purchase frozen or fresh riced cauliflower, or use whole cauliflower and blitz it in a food processor.
  2. Nut allergy? You can substitute sunflower seeds for the walnuts, or use 8 ounces of mushrooms instead of 4. 
  3. Adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo (find in the Mexican section at your grocery store) adds a ton of flavor to the "meat". I just use the sauce, not the whole peppers so it's less spicy, but it still adds quite a bit of heat. If you don't like things spicy, or have kids who are sensitive, replace it with 1 teaspoon of chili powder for a milder spiced "meat".
  4. Freezer option: To prepare vegan taco meat for the freezer, place the processed cauliflower, mushrooms and walnuts in a freezer bag along with the rest of the ingredients. When ready to cook, dump in the pan and cook for 20-30 minutes.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 843mg | Potassium: 409mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 453IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

*This recipe was first posted in March 2018 and has been updated with new photos and options.



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  1. This recipe looks great! My kids are very partial to a taco seasoning packet we’ve used for years before going vegan so I’d like to give it a try with the old packet first, just to get them used for the new texture. Besides the walnuts, cauliflower, and onion, what other ingredients would you still use? Garlic and soy sauce?

    1. Hi Andrea. Yes, I would keep all of the ingredients in this recipe as-is but omit the dry spices and soy sauce. If the taco seasoning packet has added salt, then the soy sauce shouldn’t be needed.

  2. Hi Nora, 

    If I’m baking this, do I still sauté the onions and spices before adding to the food processor? 

    1. Hi Margaret. No, you don’t need to saute the onions if you’re baking the taco meat. Just mix them right into the processed cauliflower, walnuts, mushrooms, and all other ingredients.

  3. Would it be possible to replace the mushrooms with lentils, or something else? My husband has an anaphylactic allergy to mushrooms.

    1. Yes, the mushrooms can be replaced with anything “meaty”, like lentils, bulgur, or crumbled tofu.

  4. This recipe was great! All three of us with differing tastes gobbled it up. I did the chili powder route. I have been playing around with a lot of meat free taco choices mostly lentil tacos, but this is now my go to for tacos. Fast enough for week night and super easy. Love it! Thanks so much for this recipe

    1. You are welcome! Thanks for sharing your fantastic feedback, Linda! I’m glad you loved the taco meat recipe!

  5. Wow! I can’t believe how good this is! These have better texture and flavor than the tacos we make using a meat substitute product! I’ll never have a taco any other way. I added a little extra walnut, as suggested, to replace mushrooms. I also don’t like cauliflower and expected to not like these but I couldn’t tell that it was cauliflower.

    1. Thank you so much for your amazing feedback and review, Tracy! I’m so glad you loved the taco meat!

  6. Brilliant! I roasted up some red and yellow bell peppers and made a pot of beans then we topped off our tacos with your Vegan Queso Blanco. Mmmmm…chef’s kiss! I’ll definitely be making this again. Thanks, Nora!

    1. Mmmmm. Your meal sounds delicious! Thank you for taking time to share your fantastic and ‘delicious’ review! I am thrilled you love the taco meat and queso! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  7. Loved it! Easy to make a bunch ahead of time – can use in bolognese sauce, nachos, stuffed peppers very versatile. Even the meat eaters finished their plates!

    1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful review and comments! Sounds like you have lots of plans! I also love the versatility! I’m glad the taco meat was a hit!

  8. I made this last night and it is so good! My partner even liked it. He tasted it and then proceeded to make his taco bowl with it. I love that it is full of veggies and good for you ingredients and that it is easy to make. I will definitely make it again. Thanks for the great recipe! 🙂

  9. Really, REALLY good! My husband and I decided to try preparing this, though we usually just buy the frozen vegan burger crumbles. No comparison—this recipe is tastier and more digestible than the commercial stuff. Brilliant recipe! Tacos yesterday, taco salad today.

    I should note, we could not find the adobo sauce, after a thorough search of local markets, so went the chili powder route. It did not make it taste like chili (my fear) and made a nice, mild taco filling such as we are used to. Yay!

    1. Hi Mary! I’m so glad that you and your husband enjoyed the taco meat! Thank you for taking your time to share your wonderful review and comments!

  10. I’ve made this several times and everybody loves it! Many non-vegans love this and ask for the recipe! I have only baked it, and longer than this calls for, as I like a more firm texture.

    1. I don’t know that it will work, I’ve never tried it. I’m afraid it will get stuck to the inner pot. So I just don’t know how long it would need to pressure cook for, sorry!

  11. I haven’t made this recipe yet but will soon. I’m not a fan of mushrooms (I can deal with them if chopped small and “hidden” in something) How important are they to this recipe and/or is there a good replacement?

    1. I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms either, but you might not mind it here because you really can’t detect them. You could add more walnuts instead if you really don’t want to use mushrooms.

  12. Nora,
    I’ll never go back to ground meat. This taco mix is ten times better! You’re my vegan “go to” gal!

  13. So delicious!  Easy straight forward recipe I made it exactly as recipe instructed. 
    Thank you so much for sharing. 

  14. I’ve been vegan for a long time (20+ years) and this recipe was a pleasant surprise. Overall outstanding. Flavorful. Quick prep with a food processor. Healthy. So much better than processed crumbles. Can’t wait to make again. Thank you, Nora!

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