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 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 1 hr 25 mins
5 from 79 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 to get the two other taco recipes, head to this blog post.

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 crispy spicy cauliflower 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.

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 79 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 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 25 mins
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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110 comments on Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw

  1. Laura

    I added the hot sauce to the batter and skipped the butter sauce and then cooked in the air fryer for about 12 minutes using no oil. Came out crispy and delicious! The slaw is also excellent and would make a good side salad.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing your tweaks to the recipe, Laura! Glad they worked out well for you.

  2. Crystal Henderson

    5 stars
    WOW – these pack more flavor into a taco then I think I’ve ever tasted. My husband (non-vegan) was raving about how good these were. So much so that we’re going to be having them again this week. :) Complex lovely flavors that just sing together beautifully. Can’t wait to have some leftovers for lunch today!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  3. Ratna

    5 stars
    These were amazing. I loved the mix of flavors and textures with the crunchy cauliflower and slaw, soft taco and creamy saucy. Hot, sweet, salty and sour. Just delicious! Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Great to hear you loved the tacos, Ratna! Thanks for the awesome review :)

  4. Jen

    5 stars
    Insanely good!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks, Jen!

  5. Jacques

    5 stars
    I have this hate relationship with cauliflower but as someone who has just begun its vegan transitioning journey I really wanted a recipe that worked with this ingredient and this delivered perfectly. I felt that I was eating a baja taco, I added more spiciness to the recipe bcs i like the flavour and I feel that the cilantro crema really works as a nice cooling agent; best of all I ate cauliflower and I actually loved it.

  6. Genevieve Peterson

    5 stars
    This is by far one of the most amazing taco recipes! And, I’ll be honest, my first reaction when reading the recipe was, “I don’t want cauliflower in my tacos.” So glad I got past my own bias! Now I’ve made the recipe for friends and family. Even my die hard meat eater friends agree that this is a fantastic, very tasty treat. I make a ton of the slaw and have it left over to serve with another meal the next day.

  7. Jocelyn

    This sounds fantastic and I look forward to making and eating them!
    One thing I would like to mention, though – I get the impression from this recipe and another of yours I once saw a video of that you may not realize that corn tortillas are not meant to be eaten straight from the package. Tortillas are my favorite thing, but they are TERRIBLE that way! To be tasty (if they are not freshly made) they MUST be heated, whether microwaved, steamed, heated on a griddle or in an oven or over a flame, or whatever. Plus, they don’t fold well without some sort of heating. Apologies if you already know this and I just made an incorrect inference from your post! I just hate the thought of someone eating tortillas for the first time straight from a package and wondering how the heck anyone could enjoy such a horrible, dry, tastless thing…

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Jocelyn, one of the first steps on the recipe card are directions on how to heat the tortillas over an open flame! We hope you get to try this recipe :)

      1. Jocelyn

        I know – but it said “optional” – I guess you just meant that heating it in that particular way (over an open flame) was optional – I thought you meant heating it at all was optional – Gotcha!

  8. Heidi

    5 stars
    The cauliflower is soooo crunchy!!! All of it is yummmmm. I substituted fennel bulb for jicama and it was super fine. Thanks for all of your great recipes!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Heidi! We are so happy you love all of the Rainbow Plant Life recipes :)

  9. Jennifer Bugarini

    5 stars
    The jicama I had went bad so I had to think on my feet and substituted red cabbage I had on hand. This was delicious and the whole family loved it! We tried your vegan crunchwraps two weeks a go and those were also a hit. We are 2 for 2 with Rainbow Plant Life! Keep these amazing recipes coming! Thank you!

    1. Jennifer Bugarini

      5 stars
      We are actually 3 for 3 as I made your lentil bolognese this week too! Helping make our vegan transition so much easier.

  10. Meaghen Grace

    5 stars
    Best cauliflower tacos ever! Every other recipe I tried came out so soggy. Not this recipe! Everything is crisp and delicious. I use a sriracha mayo and pickled cabbage with cilantro and lime and it’s a family favorite. Nisha, you are a national treasure xx

  11. Karina H

    5 stars
    I’m a slow poke and I feel like I took 1/2 my day making this but seriously F-ing amazing was totally worth it and that green sauce 🤩 seriously going to be making that just to have on hand I can’t believe that was Vegan soo good and both my kids also loved This which is saying Alot !

  12. Laura

    5 stars
    Made these this evening and they did not disappoint!!! Absolutely delish! I didn’t have all the ingredients for the Jicama-Carrot Slaw (the jimaca) but it was still incredibly delish!!!

  13. Kristen

    5 stars
    This is SO good. I didn’t have jicama so I just made a cabbage slaw but the cauliflower really was the star of this show. Thanks for bringing so much flavor into my kitchen !

  14. M.

    5 stars
    These are so delicious!
    Best taco recipe I have
    ever made🙂

  15. Aimee Love

    5 stars
    Nisha I have to say I am loving all your food! I have your instant cookbook and we have had one awesome dinner after another! I am curious if we can use an air fryer for this crispy cauliflower taco dish?

    1. Karina H

      5 stars
      I Did both in my air fryer and my oven to help save on time air fryer was definitely a bit more crispier my ninja foodi only lets me go to 400 so that’s what I did for 20 min shaking the fryer basket at 10 min and watching the rest of the way sometimes id finish before the whole 20 min And add sauce put back in for recommended time just remember to keep an eye on it incase it crisps faster on some batches or need to shake the basket again

  16. Alanna

    5 stars
    This is low key the best vegan meal I have ever had 🙀. I made homemade tortillas for them and the final product was so good, my judgmental vegetable critic of a brother in law said and I quote, “I can’t believe I’m saying this…but I think I officially prefer cauliflower over chicken.” This recipe has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, sour, creamy, and crunchy. It’s amazing.

  17. Aggie

    5 stars
    I made this recipe the other week and living in France, I could not find Jicama so made the slaw with only carrots. Regardless, this was a hit in my family and I will definitely be making it again. Super good and exciting to have for dinner!

  18. TJ

    5 stars
    I’m obsessed with these. So yummy. Not very spicy! Substituted hard to find jicama for green apple! I want to eat these forever.

  19. Juanita

    5 stars
    I must agree with Grace. We tried the cauliflower panko recipe tonight and we’re floored. We’ve both been heavily flirting with veganism for a long time now, but with this meal my boyfriend was like ‘of course I can be vegan if I eat like this every night’s. Slam dunk!

  20. Grace G

    5 stars
    This is seriously one of the best tacos I have ever eaten! The depth of flavors is absolutely incredible, and the recipe is so clear and easy to follow. I love the unexpected flavors that come through with the mint and dates – everything works so well together. The cauliflower got nicely crispy in the oven and that sauce gives it an incredible richness. I ended up subbing applesauce for the coconut sugar which worked out well. I also made an avocado sauce because I couldn’t find hemp seeds but I’m excited to try that one day too!

    1. Nisha

      Thank you so much, Grace! I am thrilled you love these cauliflower tacos so much. The mint and dates are so fun in this slaw, so I’m glad you thought so too. Glad to hear that subbing applesauce for coconut sugar worked well too – always appreciate feedback like that!

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