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 102 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!

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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

Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Bites: Similar to the cauliflower in these tacos but buffalo-flavored (perfect for game day!).

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 102 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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139 comments on Crispy Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama-Carrot Slaw

  1. Melinda

    Such a great recipe, I did wonder how it would be for dinner, but I trusted the recipe based on having made your lentil bolognese and lentil curry. And so glad I did, this was a spectacular dinner! The crispy cauliflower and two sauces were so great (I left the jalapeno out of the crema only because I am a baby mouth (!) and it was a nice contrast to the hot sauce). Love this recipe & your channel. Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Melinda! 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!

  2. Katelynne

    5 stars
    These are AWESOME, made these for my boyfriends non vegan family and they loved it. His dad said “And here I always thought I was allergic to vegan food” (joking obviously) but they all loved it! The mint in the slaw matched so well and the different textures made it over the top. I added cabbage to the slaw and roasted chickpeas with the cauliflower and it hit.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Katelynne, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  3. Angie

    5 stars
    I made this recipe tonight for me and my meat-loving husband. He was worried when I told him I was making cauliflower tacos. He had his car keys ready, in case he had to go to Chipotle for an emergency dinner. Once the tacos were ready, he said he was shocked because the flavor was amazing. He admitted that he was looking for something bad to say about them, but he couldn’t find anything! I watch your channel all the time. Thank you again for another incredible vegan recipe. These tacos were too good. Can’t wait to make them again. Keep up the great work.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad you two loved the tacos, Angie! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Robin M Dowdy

    5 stars
    This was a delicious meal – my daughter and I made together for a Sunday dinner and it was amazing!! One question – Can we freeze any of the leftovers? Thank you for your flavorful and easy-to-follow recipes!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      From Nisha: “I’m so glad that you both loved the tacos! I’m afraid you’ll lose most of the appealing crispy texture on the cauliflower if you freeze them, but I imagine the flavor would still be good. The crema freezes great. Like most slaws, I don’t think the jicama carrot slaw would freeze well.”

  5. Mark

    Thank you for these amazingly delicious recipes! Over a week made all 3 versions and everybody was blown away by taste. My question is, would EVOO work as a replacement for the vegan butter in the hot sauce? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks again!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so honored you made all three versions! It should work, though you’ll miss some of the buttery flavor. Another option is refined coconut oil which has a slightly more buttery taste than olive oil.

  6. Bruce

    5 stars
    Based on the way you describe this recipe, I will give it five stars!
    Just wondering, what is the fridge-life of the Cilantro Crema?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Bruce! It should last in the fridge for about a week (potentially even a little longer). Enjoy!

  7. Bhairvi

    5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe, these turned out great! My whole family loved them, even my daughter who isn’t a big cauliflower fan. Didn’t miss the deep frying, so crispy & full of flavor! I’ll definitely make this again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Bhairvi, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  8. Xochitl

    5 stars
    This dish is fantastic. It tastes as good as it looks! I did make a few changes:

    Added less pepper to the batter and just sprayed on oil instead of using the buttery hot sauce to keep it kid-friendly.

    Used soaked cashews instead of hemp hearts (they are so expensive in my part of Mexico!) and added an avocado to the cilantro crema.

    I also set aside half of the cauliflower in batter to airfry the next day for supper.

    We are definitely repeating this one!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  9. Martin

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe many times. My wife loves it. For the crema I add a ripe Avacado and it gives some extra richness and thickness. A thought on the recipe layout. I wish the recipe for the crema for example was right below the ingredient list as well each part of the recipe. I find myself having to scroll up and down repeatedly from ingredients to steps. However, if I keep making this I won’t need the recipe! Love this and many of the other recipes you have. Great videos too! Thank you for what you do!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Martin, sorry the recipe card is confusing for you to read. We highly suggest printing the recipe out so you don’t have to scroll up and down a bunch! Glad you and your wife love the recipe though :)

  10. Nicole

    Do you think the coating for the cauliflower would work in an air fryer?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Nicole, yes it would! You’ll obviously need much less time to cook them, though. So we suggest keeping an eye out after a few minutes of cooking!

  11. Jen

    LOVE these! Would it work if you omitted the flour from the cauliflower?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad you do, Jen! Unfortunately the flour is needed to make the batter. If you wanted to keep this recipe gluten-free, (1) use gluten-free flour for the batter (Nisha’s preference is white rice flour) and (2) use gluten-free panko bread crumbs. Good luck!

  12. Mandala

    5 stars
    This is the second recipe from you that I’ve tried( first one was the Tai chickpea butternut pumpkin curry) and they both worked out amazing!! My kids are enthusiastic! Plus I love the fact that you are giving more options in case one ingredient is not available- also I don’t have an instant pot and I’m not exactly vegan, but it all worked out perfectly, thank you so much! Other than that, My dad is Indian, so we love Indian food anyways!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  13. Kylie

    5 stars
    Delicious!!! It’s definitely time consuming to make (not a week night meal) but it’s so worth it. I’ve made this at least 10 times now…obsessed. Sometimes I just batch make the salsa to use through the week too yummmmm!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Kylie! Thrilled you’ve been loving the tacos.

  14. Lyn

    5 stars
    Made these and we loved them. Can these be made or have you done the recipe with broccoli as well? On another note, I love your You Tube channel.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Lyn, you can definitely use broccoli instead it just may have a more distinct taste than the cauliflower. And thank you for following along! :)

  15. Suv

    5 stars
    This was AMAZING. Didn’t even taste like I was eating cauliflower. My parents and boyfriend loved them! None of us had ever tried jicama and we were all thoroughly impressed!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  16. Jacqui Emm

    5 stars
    This recipe was soooo good. It takes a long time to make if you’re not a particularly great cook like myself. My suggestion would be to make the Jicama-Carrot Slaw the night before or right in the morning to save yourself some time when it comes to finishing the rest of the meal.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Jacqui!

  17. Julie Hitchcock

    5 stars
    Yummy! I made this with tofu and broccoli instead of cauliflower and it was delicious! Thanks for the innovative recipes!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Sounds tasty, Julie! So happy you loved the tacos!

  18. Maureen

    4 stars
    Made this tonight and it was delish! The cauliflower was so flavorful. I kept eating pieces of it while finishing the slaw and crema. Two changes I’ll make for next time. I’ll probably use cabbage instead of jicama – just a preference thing for me. I couldn’t find hemp hearts so used chia seeds instead. The flavor was good but it was definitely a little gummy. I’ll probably swap for another one of Nisha’s cremas that maybe uses cashews next time. Can’t wait to make these for company!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Sorry the sauce didn’t live up to your expectations, Maureen! Glad you liked the dish despite the sauce and jicama not being your favorite!

    2. jennifer vigo , RD

      chia seeds have a gelatinous quality to them – they are highly satiating as the soluble fiber creates a gel and a feeling of fullness. They are best used for things that are creamy, not crunchy – ( in this case the liquid batter created the “goo”)

  19. Ralph

    Hello! Can I replace the hemp hearts with cashews ?As hemp hearts are unavailable where we are in.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Ralph, yes that should work just fine!

  20. Alex

    5 stars
    We LOVE these tacos! We make the cauliflower tacos at least once a week with different slaws or just throw some avocado on it. These are by far the best!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      They’re so tasty, aren’t they Alex? Thanks for the review :)

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