Vegetarian Walnut Cauliflower Taco Meat Recipe

Jazz up your taco nights with a healthier twist – plant based taco meat! This cauliflower walnut taco meat blends the robust flavors of cauliflower and walnuts into a tasty meat alternative that’s both nutritious and satisfying for everyone! It tastes great in tacos, nachos, burrito bowls, taco salads and more!

A picture of cauliflower walnut taco meat prepared on a white plate with lettuce

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I wanted to create a vegetarian taco meat recipe that was low carb and had some protein, and that’s how I came up with this version of vegetarian taco meat. The cauliflower combined with walnuts has a nice meaty texture that even meat eaters will enjoy. If you are a seasoned vegetarian or vegan or just trying out meatless Mondays, this recipe is perfect for you.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Flavor—The balance of the walnuts’ nuttiness and earthy cauliflower is the perfect match for spicy seasoning.
  • Easy – You will only need a handful of ingredients and a skillet to make this easy recipe which is cooked on the stove in about 30 minutes.
  • Versatile – This tasty plant-based meat can be easily transformed into other flavors; see the suggestions below.
a picture of the ingredients needed to make cauliflower walnut taco meat: lime juice, walnuts, cauliflower, olive oil, Mexican spices

This is a brief summary of the ingredients needed to make this great recipe and a convenient shopping list from my Instacart affiliate link. For a printable recipe card with exact measurements and detailed instructions, scroll down to the recipe card section.

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  • Olive Oil
  • Cauliflower
  • Raw Walnuts
  • Chili Powder
  • Ground Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • Lime Juice

How to make Cauliflower walnut taco meat

Prepare: Use a food processor or sharp knife to cut the cauliflower into small crumbles resembling the size of cooked ground meat. Chop the walnuts and measure the spices. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.

a picture of raw cauliflower in a skillet

STEP 1: Once the oil is hot, reduce to medium heat; add the cauliflower and cook it until it softens; about 5 minutes.

A picture of vegetarian taco meat in a skillet with the spices added

STEP 2: Add the walnuts and spices; stir until the spices are mixed in with the cauliflower mixture.

a picture of the taco meat prepared in a cast iron skillet

STEP 3: Reduce the heat to low and add the water; simmer for 10 minutes until most of the liquid absorbs and serve in taco shell, corn tortillas, or lettuce wraps and don’t forget your favorite taco toppings.

an overhead view of vegetarian taco meat on a white platter with lettuce and lime wedges

Ingredient notes and substitutions

Walnuts—Walnuts add depth of flavor and a meat-like texture to taco meat. They are also a good source of protein and nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids. If walnuts aren’t available, you can replace them with chopped cashews, pecans, or almonds.

Cauliflower— Cauliflower becomes tender and slightly crispy when cooked for this recipe. Its ability to absorb the flavors of spices is perfect for this vegetarian meat mixture. If you don’t like cauliflower, you can substitute it with chopped portobello or baby bella mushrooms, tempeh or crumbled tofu.

Spices -Chili powder, ground cumin and garlic powder can be replaced with 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning. You can also use 1 chipotle pepper plus 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce for smoky flavored taco meat.

I prefer to use a knife to cut the cauliflower because I can easily control the size. Alternatively, you can easily place roughly chopped cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor and pulse the florets until they are similar in size to cooked ground meat.

This recipe can also be baked in the oven. Mix the ingredients and spread the mixture onto a parchment-lined or oiled baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Walnut cauliflower meat is a versatile ingredient used in various cuisnes and dishes beyond Mexican-inspired tacos. Here are some variations of vegetarian taco meat.

Italian Meat Sauce – A favorite of ours! Use this vegetarian meat mixture as a substitute for ground meat in your favorite pasta sauce recipe. Saute onions, garlic, with the cauliflower and walnuts. Add tomato sauce, and Italian herbs such as basil and oregano and simmer 15 minutes and serve.

Asian-inspired stir fry – Use the walnut meat in a stir-fry with garlic, onions, and your favorite veggies such as bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, and snap peas. Toss in ginger and soy sauce at the end of cooking.

Stuffed peppers – Stuff bell peppers with cauliflower walnut meat cooked with rice and black beans.

A picture of vegetarian taco meat on a platter with a taco in the background

To store leftover taco meat, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it. It will stay fresh for up to four days. Make sure to let the mixture cool completely before storing. When ready to enjoy again, reheat it thoroughly on top of the stove or in the microwave.

This is the perfect recipe to plan for leftovers. I like to make a double batch and use the second half during the week in salads for lunch.

This great recipe can easily be frozen. Allow the mixture to cool off completely and transfer to a freezer-safe container. It can stay in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw it out in the refrigerator before reheating.

Ways to serve walnut cauliflower taco meat

This versatile vegetarian meat isn’t just for tacos – it’s a flexible ingredient that can elevate salads, taco bowls, burrito bowls, nachos, quesadillas, enchiladas.


  • If the meat mixture seems dry while simmering, add a little water. If it’s too wet, you can cook a longer until the water evaporates.
  • For the best balance of texture, you want to cut the cauliflower and walnuts small enough to resemble the texture of ground meat when cooked.
Is cauliflower walnut taco meat gluten-free?

Yes, cauliflower taco meat is naturally gluten-free as long as the seasonings that you use don’t contain any gluten-containing ingredients. Always check the labels of seasonings to be sure.

Can I prepare cauliflower walnut taco meat in advance?

Yes, you can prepare this cauliflower walnut taco meat in advance and store it in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Can I use cauliflower rice to make this recipe?

You can definitely use cauliflower rice, but keep in mind that the texture may vary slightly since cauliflower rice has smaller “grains”.

Do you like this recipe or have a question?

Please leave a comment or question and a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating below. I answer all questions!

A picture of cauliflower walnut taco meat prepared on a white plate with lettuce

Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

A tasty vegetarian taco meat that is perfect for your favorite Tex-Mex dishes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Click on serving size to scale this recipe

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American/Mexican
Keyword: walnut cauliflower taco meat
Servings: 2 People
Calories: 314kcal
Author: Anne


Scale this Recipe 2 People


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 head head of cauliflower 3 cups chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons water


  • Prepare the ingredients: use a food processor or sharp knife to cut 1/2 head head of cauliflower into small crumbles resembling the size of cooked ground meat. Chop 1/2 cup walnuts similar in size to the cauliflower.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet. Once the oil is hot, reduce to medium-low heat and add the chopped cauliflower; cook until it starts to turn soft.
  • Add the walnuts and spices; stir until all of the spices are mixed with the cauliflower-walnut mixture.
  • Reduce the heat to low heat; add the water and simmer for 10 minutes until most of the liquid absorbs.


Serve in taco shells, wraps, burrito bowls, or salad. 
Cauliflower can be replaced with roughly chopped portobello mushrooms, or crumbled tempeh or tofu.
Walnuts can be replaced with chopped cashews, pecans, almonds or chopped pepitas or sunflower seeds for a nut-free version.


Serving: 1.5cup | Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 146mg | Potassium: 711mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1801IU | Vitamin C: 72mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used

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