Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw

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These Crispy Spicy Vegan Cauliflower Tacos are so flavorful that no one will miss the meat! Made with crispy baked cauliflower coated in a buttery hot sauce, a cooling jicama-carrot slaw, and a delicious cilantro crema. Vegan, nut-free, soy-free, and easy to make gluten-free.
Prep 40 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Total 1 hour 25 minutes
5 from 97 votes

These Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw are a little more special than your average weeknight bean tacos. They’re made with crispy baked cauliflower that’s battered and dredged in bread crumbs, then coated in a buttery hot sauce. The cauliflower is crispy and sticky, spicy and a little sweet.

To balance the cauliflower’s spiciness, the tacos are topped with a refreshing jicama-carrot slaw that is summer in a bowl. And finally, topped with an incredibly delicious no-cook 5-minute cilantro crema.

Watch! Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos Video

These tacos are one of THREE vegan taco recipes featured in this Youtube video, so be sure to watch the video below (this recipe begins around the 04:31 mark). And we’ve got separate posts for the Double Decker Black Bean and Corn Salad Tacos and the Vegan Ceviche Tacos with Guacamole!

VEGAN TACOS FOR SUMMER | tacos three ways
VEGAN TACOS FOR SUMMER | tacos three ways

Why you’re going to like this recipe 

Indulgent but healthyish. Crispy fried cauliflower is one of the most popular vegan comfort foods, and for good reason. It’s the perfect texture and extremely delicious. To keep things healthyish, however, I bake the cauliflower, then baste it in a buttery hot sauce. So you’ll feel like you’re eating junk food but it’s still fairly wholesome.

Flavor explosion. This recipe is so packed with flavor that I promise even the biggest vegan skeptics will enjoy it. Max, who isn’t the biggest fan of vegetables unless they’re made decidedly unhealthy, eats this cauliflower by itself and always asks for seconds (and thirds).

Well balanced. The cauliflower is quite spicy (it gets doused in a buttery hot sauce), but the jicama-carrot slaw is the perfect cooling balance. It brings a lovely touch of refreshing summer to these tacos!

PS: If you’re pressed for time but still craving a delicious taco night, try these 20-Minute Chickpea Tacos! Spiced pan-fried chickpeas pair great with cilantro pesto and avocado for a quick weeknight meal.

Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw

How to make crispy spicy cauliflower

First, you’ll need to cut the cauliflower into small florets. If you struggle with cutting florets from a head of cauliflower, I highly recommend watching the Youtube video to see how to easily and cleanly cut cauliflower into the perfect-sized florets for this recipe (it starts around 04:34 mark).

Then, you’ll make the batter for the cauliflower. While eggs are often used for this step, I simply substitute plant-based milk. The batter is quite simply and contains flour, seasonings, and plant-based milk. If you are gluten-free, the best option is white rice flour (I have made a similar recipe with it). Pour the batter on the cauliflower florets, and use your hands to ensure all the florets are well coated.

Pour some panko bread crumbs into a shallow bowl/plate or pie pan. Panko are Japanese-style bread crumbs and I love how flaky and light they are. If you are gluten-free, you can find gluten-free panko.

Working in batches, dredge the battered cauliflower into the bread crumbs to coat well. Then transfer the florets to parchment paper lined baking sheets. Don’t be tempted to overcrowd the cauliflower to fit it all on one baking sheet. Give the florets some breathing room so they can crisp up. If they’re too close to one another, they’ll steam instead of bake and won’t get too crispy.

Bake the breaded florets for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and baste them in the buttery hot sauce. To make the hot sauce mixture, simply combine your favorite hot sauce (I used Cholula) with vegan butter and coconut sugar (or any sugar) and melt together on the stove (or in the microwave). Return the cauliflower to the oven and bake another 10 minutes.

Voilà, your sticky, spicy, crispy cauliflower is done!

Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw. crispy vegan cauliflower tacos. cauliflower tacos food photography.

How to make jicama-carrot slaw

First things first, let’s talk jicama. Jicama is sometimes referred to as a Mexican turnip or potato and is native to Mexico and Central America. It’s starchy yet light and crisp, and is really delicious raw. It tastes sort of like a savory pear or apple (it’s not really like a potato or turnip, neither of which are tasty raw). It’s a also a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and prebiotic fiber.

You can find jicama at well-stocked grocery stores, as well as Mexican grocery stores. I bought whole jicama at Whole Foods, and I believe you can find pre-peeled and sliced jicama there, as well as at Trader Joes. If you can’t find jicama near you, I recommend substituting with Napa cabbage or cucumber.

Peeling jicama is actually quite easy and fun. I recommend watching the Youtube video around the 06:35 mark to see how to peel and cut it.

Carrots make up the other base of this slaw. You can shred whole carrots using a box grater or buy pre-shredded/matchstick carrots.

The rest of the ingredients include jalapeño pepper (remove the seeds unless you love spicy food, as the cauliflower itself is spicy), fresh cilantro, fresh mint, Medjool dates, and a simple lime vinaigrette (lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper).

The sweetness from the Medjool dates helps complement the slight sweetness from the sticky cauliflower and helps balance the spicy flavors. If you don’t have dates, just swirl in a splash of maple syrup or agave nectar into the lime vinaigrette.

Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw

How to make Cilantro Crema

This is one of my absolute favorite condiments. It’s heavily adapted from my Cashew Cream blog post/Youtube video, except I use hemp seeds instead of cashews to keep it nut-free. It’s so good and takes just 5 minutes to make. And unlike cashews, which need to be soaked before using them, hemp seeds don’t require any soaking.

This section is quite short since all you need to do is add a handful of ingredients to a blender and whiz until smooth and creamy!

Note: I recommend using just the cilantro leaves. Sometimes, cilantro stems can be more bitter than the leaves, and since we’re using 1 whole cup of cilantro, I like to err on the side of not including the stems.

Tips for making these tacos

1. To make things efficient as possible, start by preparing the cauliflower. Once you put it in the oven, make the jicama-carrot slaw (20 minutes should be enough time to do this). During the last minute or two, make the buttery hot sauce (just mix three ingredients until melted).

Once you baste the cauliflower with the hot sauce, return the. cauliflower to the oven for 10 minutes. During that time, make the Cilantro Crema (all you need to do is blend up some ingredients). I’ve made these tacos without the Cilantro Crema, and they are still very tasty. But since the Cilantro Crema takes 5 minutes to make (and stays good in the fridge for at least 5 days), I do recommend making it, as it takes the tacos over the top!

2. I use soft corn tortillas for this recipe, but to add extra flavor and to improve the texture of the tortillas, I like to flame-grill them on the stove (instructions are in the recipe). You could also use flour tortillas for this recipe, if you prefer.

3. To keep this recipe gluten-free, (1) use gluten-free flour for the batter (my preference is white rice flour) and (2) use gluten-free panko bread crumbs.

4. Not consuming added sugar? Try swapping the coconut sugar in the hot sauce mixture with a tablespoon of applesauce.

More Cauliflower Recipes

Aloo Gobi: Roasted potatoes and cauliflower are coated in an unbelievably delicious Indian masala.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup: The simplest soup with everyday ingredients that will surprise you with its depth of flavor.

Gobi Manchurian. Spicy, tangy, and devilishly crunchy, this Indo-Chinese appetizer is wow worthy.

If you give these Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!

Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw

Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw

5 from 97 votes
These Crispy Spicy Vegan Cauliflower Tacos are so flavorful that no one will miss the meat! Made with crispy baked cauliflower coated in a buttery hot sauce, a cooling jicama-carrot slaw, and a delicious cilantro crema. Vegan, nut-free, soy-free, and easy to make gluten-free.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Mexican-inspired, New American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4 to 6 servings


Ingredients (Tacos)

  • Crispy Spicy Cauliflower (recipe below)
  • Jicama-Carrot Slaw (recipe below)
  • Cilantro Crema (recipe below)
  • Soft corn tortillas for serving

Crispy Spicy Cauliflower

  • 1 medium cauliflower head
  • 3/4 cup (90g) all-purpose flour (for gluten-free, use white rice flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) unsweetened nondairy milk, such as cashew milk, oat milk, or almond milk (use oat milk to keep nut-free)
  • 2 cups (120-130g) panko bread crumbs (for gluten-free, use gluten-free panko)
  • 4-6 tablespoons hot sauce of choice (I use Cholula; tailor the amount based on (1 how spicy your hot sauce is and (2) your own spice tolerance)
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter (use soy-free vegan butter to keep soy-free)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or any sugar/sweetener)

Jicama-Carrot Slaw

  • 2 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound jicama
  • 3 medium carrots, grated (or you can buy pre-shredded carrots)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, slivered
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and minced (keep the seeds only if you love spicy food, as the cauliflower is quite spicy)
  • 3 Medjool dates, finely chopped (can substitute with a swirl of maple or agave syrup)

Cilantro Crema

  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) water, more to thin as needed
  • 1 cup (130g) hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 heaping cup (15g) fresh cilantro leaves (leaves only, not stems - they can be bitter)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped (remove seeds for mild version, or use 2 peppers for a spicy version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional but adds a nice richness)


Directions (Tacos)

  • Optional. Heat the tortillas over an open flame (I place them directly on the burner of my gas stove) and use tongs to ip them after 30 to 45 seconds or when small brown spots appear, and cook for another 15 to 30 seconds. Stack them in a clean kitchen towel or in foil to keep them warm.
  • To assemble. Top each tortilla with a few pieces of the Crispy Spicy Cauliflower, top with a few spoons of the Jicama-Carrot Slaw, then drizzle some Cilantro Crema on top.

Directions (Crispy Spicy Cauliflower)

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F/218°C. Line 1 or 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper (you might only need 1 if your cauliflower is small).
  • Cut the cauliflower into small florets. For cutting technique, watch the video above at starting at the 4:40 mark. Place the florets in a large bowl.
  • Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, onion powder, and smoked paprika to combine. Pour in the nondairy milk and whisk until no large clumps remain. Pour the batter over the cauliflower florets, tossing with your hands to coat each piece.
  • Place the panko bread crumbs in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Working in batches, dip the battered cauliflower in the panko and toss to coat, ensuring each floret gets a decent amount of breadcrumbs on it.
  • Spread out the coated cauliflower florets on the lined baking sheets, allowing space so that they don’t touch. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the hot sauce. Add the vegan butter, hot sauce, and coconut sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together, just until the butter is melted, then take off the heat. Or melt the ingredients together in the microwave.
  • After the 20 minutes is up, take the cauliflower out of the oven. Drizzle the hot sauce mixture on top of the florets, and toss to coat using your hands or a pastry brush. Return the baking sheets to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is deeply golden brown in some spots and tender when pierced with a fork.

Directions (Jicama-Carrot Slaw)

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Peel the jicama. Slice the jicama into round slices, then cut into thin strips. For a visual on how to do this, watch the video.
  • Place the jicama slices, shredded carrots, cilantro, mint, jalapeño, and chopped dates in a large bowl. Pour the lime dressing on top and toss well to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Directions (Cilantro Crema)

  • Pour the water into a high-powered blender. Add in the remaining crema ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as you go. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt or lime juice as needed.

Calories: 498kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 843mg | Potassium: 682mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 5124IU | Vitamin C: 66mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 7mg

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136 comments on Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw

  1. Jodi

    5 stars
    These tacos were a wonderful and delightful experience to enjoy! The flavors are great with the spicy and sweet notes along with the crunch of the slaw and cauliflower. It took me 2 hours to make all this so not a quick throw together. However i could make the slaw and sauce ahead to save time next time. Made a lot of servings which i like too. Your recipes are always amazing! Thanks so much!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy that the tacos turned out well for you, Jodi. This one in particular is definitely one of my favorite RPL recipes! :)

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for trying out the recipe!

  2. Cherie

    5 stars
    beautiful recipe. the cauliflower was crispy, sticky and delicious. the only negative was that my crema was bitter. I think it might’ve been my lemons though. I didn’t have limes so I used lemons from my tree but they were a bit shabby thanks to the birds!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Cherie, it makes us happy to know you enjoyed the recipe :) And the bitterness can definitely come from bad lemons! We hope you get the recipe just right next time.

  3. Sima

    We love this recipe! its a staple in our house. The kids love it as well. Its healthy, delicious, crisp, and flavorful.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Sima! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  4. Jae

    5 stars
    After making these regularly for over a year, I can confidently say that these are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!! I throw a can of chickpeas in when I bread the cauliflower for a little extra protein. It’s more time-consuming than my typical meals, but the recipe is simple enough to follow – I am actively working for a solid hour (including clean-up, which usually has to happen as I go so that I can reuse bowls), but it is SO worth it! Love love love love love!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for such an awesome review, Jae! Some very smart moves you have there- from breading extra chickpeas to cleaning bowls as you go… look at you! We’re happy you love the tacos :)

  5. Allyson

    4 stars
    I couldn’t prep fast enough for my hunger do i skipped the cilantro cream this time and used original bitchin sauce. Cauliflower is definitely better with the panel breadcrumbs. I didn’t have enough and its not the same without it. I looooveed the jicama and carrot slaw!! I ended up grating the jicama like the carrot and turned out great.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Allyson! We’re glad you enjoyed the tacos.

    2. Jodi

      5 stars
      These tacos were a wonderful and delightful experience to enjoy! The flavors are great with the spicy and sweet notes along with the crunch of the slaw and cauliflower. It took me 2 hours to make all this so not a quick throw together. However i could make the slaw and sauce ahead to save time next time. Made a lot of servings which i like too. Your recipes are always amazing! Thanks so much!

  6. Rebekah

    5 stars
    I made this while pregnant and ate maybe 15 tacos over the course of a week. I LOVED them. Thanks Nisha!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So awesome to hear this recipe was a favorite during your pregnancy, Rebekah! I’m quite obsessed with it as well! :)

  7. TracyK

    5 stars
    I made these for our Cinco de Mayo party. They were a hit for veggie and meat eaters alike. Several guests requested the recipe. A real keeper!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So awesome to hear, Tracy! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Sandy

    5 stars
    So good. I made the slaw and crema 2 days before and so I had the meal on the table in 30 minutes. Just delicious.

    1. Allyson

      Very smart. Too much standing in the kitchen otherwise. Lol.

  9. Nicole Moodley

    5 stars
    I’ve made the crispy cauliflower countless times. Perfectly flavourful! Only wish there was a quicker way to make them but definitely worth it!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      I’m a huge fan of this recipe too, Nicole! Thanks for your lovely review :)

  10. Denise

    5 stars
    My husband and I make this recipe regularly. He LOVES it- and he’s not vegan! We substitute chickpea flour because I’m on a grain-free diet, and it turns out great! This is the only vegan recipe we’ve found that results in perfectly crispy cauliflower that doesn’t turn soggy with toppings.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Denise! Thanks for the lovely review :)

  11. Aleah

    5 stars
    We loved this recipe! It looks complicated when reading, but it’s pretty simple (especially if there are 2 people in the kitchen and you watch the video ahead of time). The taste and texture were amazing. Definitely making this again!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Aleah! So lovely to hear you’ll make it again!

  12. Cait

    5 stars
    Delicious! I went on the spicy end of things and was happy for it. Lots of layered flavors and the cauliflower was so crispy!!

    While there are a few items for this, it really didn’t take too long. I recommend reading the recipe well so you can familiarize yourself with the next steps. And always mis en place when possible!


    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Yum! Thanks for the awesome review, Cait!

  13. Lauren

    3 stars
    I’ve been anticipating making this recipe for weeks, and I’m disappointed. This isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything special.

  14. Daniel Maynard

    5 stars
    I made this for a friend’s birthday party and though it was the only vegan option, it was the most popular dish. The flavors and spices of the cauliflower, the slaw, and the crema layered beautifully. It was a symphony of flavor! Once again, your recipe did not disappoint!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Daniel. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  15. Lucy

    5 stars
    Sounds interesting. Can I substitute hemp seeds (I don’t like them) for let’s say sunflower seeds?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Lucy, soaked cashews may actually be a better substitution in this case if you’re open to eating them!

  16. Rebekah

    5 stars
    Whenever I make anything of yours my husband and I absolutely love it! Last night after making this meal he says “I love Nishas cooking. Literally everything you make of hers is my favorite” This is another winner! And this morning I also made your pumpkin bread, which, is better than any non vegan loaf ive ever made. Thanks for putting out such good recipes!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Aw, what a lovely comment! Thank you for trying the recipes, and we are so happy to hear you’re a fan of them :)

  17. Theresa

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. I have made this a bunch of times now (including for non-vegans) and it is a crowd pleaser. It has definitely claimed a spot in the regular rotation at my house. For the cauliflower, I use Sriracha for the hot sauce and substituted white sugar for the coconut sugar because it’s what I have on hand. I have not been able to find jicama in any grocery stores in my area so I use a bag of rainbow coleslaw mix (green and purple cabbage with some carrot) which works beautifully with the lime dressing (although I am looking forward to trying jicama one day!). I love avocado so I usually opt for guacamole instead of the crema, but when I don’t have a ripe avocado on hand I make the crema and it is also delicious! Highly recommend.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Theresa! You can find jicama at most grocery stores, especially Mexican markets. It’s a tan, bulb-like root vegetable found near the carrots in the refrigerated section. Good luck finding it and we are happy you love the tacos!

    2. Tanvi

      Rainbow coleslaw mix is a great idea to reduce the prep time for this recipe!

  18. Kim

    5 stars
    Incredibly delicious! Made these tacos for dinner and so happy I did. These little babies have it all! The jicama slaw was the perfect balance for the heat of the cauliflower, and I’m so glad I have slaw leftover because that will be breakfast tomorrow morning. Thank you Nisha.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Kim. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  19. Christina

    Love the Crema! Can I freeze it? Thanks!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Christina, can you freeze the crema? Most definitely! Just defrost in the fridge overnight and blend up with a bit of water on high speed until it’s creamy again! Enjoy!

  20. Lisa

    5 stars
    This took me 3 hours to make (I’m a slow slaw-maker, turns out), but DANG if it wasn’t worth every minute! The flavor and textures are perfect and remind me of my favorite fish tacos from before my meat-free days. I’ll have to make these again and again to get faster, because they were a hit all around in my family. The only thing I did differently from the recipe was to only hot-sauce half of the cauliflower for a less spicy option. Delicious!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Lisa :) We hope the next time you make these tacos the slaw process goes more smoothly!

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