These vegan, gluten-free crispy cauliflower tacos with slaw & avocado cream are the perfect balance of crunchy, tender, and juicy. Bite-size cauliflower florets are coated in an almond milk and brown rice flour batter, tossed in a mixture of coarsely ground oats + flavorful spices, and baked in the oven until crisp and golden. Then, they're nestled in warm corn tortillas, topped with a tangy purple cabbage slaw, and drizzled with avocado cream. The final touch is a splash of fresh lime juice, and then it's time to bite, savor, and repeat.
These tacos are speaking my food love language, and I just can't quit them.
Tacos are, without even the slightest twinge of doubt, on my list of favorite summer foods. I love their simplicity and the vast array of tasty toppings that get nestled within bites of warm tortilla. Add a spritz of fresh lime juice and... oh. em. gee. I'm done. Death by taco bliss.
Since becoming vegetarian (almost four years ago to the date) and then vegan, my go-to tacos have always been grilled portobellos sliced up and topped with pico de gallo, cilantro, guacamole, and a splash of fresh lime juice. They're easy to throw together and are almost fool-proof, although I once neglected a portobello I was roasting in the oven and it caught on fire. Hence, I say almost fool proof.
While that portobello taco combination is good, the one thing that drives me crazy is how soggy the corn tortillas get from the portobellos and the total absence of crunch within each bite. This is the reason that my go-to portobello recipe has never been shared on the blog; no one wants a soggy, fall-apart taco... except me when no one's watching. Shh. Don't tell.
I've been wanting to create a vegan + gluten-free recipe for crispy tacos for quite some time, and that time ended up being this past Monday. There were actually five other posts waiting in line before this one, but I made the executive decision to hand this recipe a cut-in-blog-post-line ticket, because I'm that excited about these heavenly little handhelds.
Bite-size cauliflower florets are coated in an almond milk and brown rice flour batter, tossed in a mixture of coarsely ground oats + spices, and baked in the oven until they're golden, crunchy, and packed with flavor. While the outside of the cauliflower crisps up, the inside becomes tender and moist <-- note: this word makes me slightly uncomfortable but there's really no better way to describe the texture. Then, the cauliflower bites are nestled in warm corn tortillas, topped with a tangy purple cabbage slaw, and drizzled with avocado cream. The final touch is a splash of fresh lime juice, and then it's time to bite, savor, and repeat.
These tacos are the perfect balance of crunchy, tender, and juicy, and they are packed to their corn-tortilla confines with flavor. I love them a lot, and I hope you do too.
Today's Sound Bite is When I'm Alone by Lissie. I fell in love with this song last fall, and it happened to come on while I was working on this recipe. Something about the energizing tone and fun syncopation in the lyrics makes it impossible not to sing along and put a foot tap and/or head sway to good use. I'm a fan of shameless dancing, singing, and all-around fun in the kitchen, so I hope this one infuses the same behaviors into your kitchen.
Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Slaw & Avocado Cream
For the Crispy Cauliflower
- 1 small head of cauliflower or ½ a large head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
- 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 ¼ cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
For the Cabbage Slaw
- 2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ tablespoon agave nectar or other liquid sweetener
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
For the Avocado Cream
- 1 avocado
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 12 small soft corn tortillas
- Lime wedges
- Cilantro leaves
To Make the Crispy Cauliflower
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the rolled oats to a food processor. Pulse 75-80 times or until a coarse meal forms. You don't want the oats to be a fine flour, but rather a texture similar to panko bread crumbs. Transfer the oats to a large, shallow bowl or dish. Add in the cilantro, chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and sea salt. Gently mix to incorporate spices.
- Add the almond milk, brown rice flour, and lime juice to a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Place about a handful of cauliflower florets into the almond milk batter, toss to coat, shake off excess batter, and transfer to the oat and spice mixture. Toss the pieces until coated and transfer to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remainder of the cauliflower.
- Bake the cauliflower for 25-30 minutes or until crispy and golden, tossing halfway through baking.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
To Make the Cabbage Slaw
- While the cauliflower is baking, make the cabbage slaw by adding the purple cabbage, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, and salt to a small bowl. Toss to coat and let rest, stirring occasionally.
To Make the Avocado Cream
- Add the flesh of the avocado, lime juice, cilantro leaves, and salt to a food processor. Process for 3-4 minutes or until smooth and resembling a texture similar to mayo. You can either dollop the tacos with the cream or transfer it to a ziploc bag, snip off a corner, and pipe the cream across the tacos.
To Assemble the Tacos
- Heat each corn tortilla in a small skillet over medium heat for 20-30 seconds on each side. Fill with 3-4 pieces of the cauliflower, top with a small handful of cabbage slaw, and drizzle with avocado cream. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges.*
- Refrigerate leftovers.
Meredith @ Unexpectedly Magnificent says
Ashley, these look AMAZING!! Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. I love tacos, cauliflower, and avocados, so I'm excited to make these in the future! :)
Thanks so much, Meredith! I hope you enjoy them! No joke, I'm currently enjoying them for dinner :)
Celeste Jackson says
What a pretty set of Tacos! Love all the color and texture. Can't wait to make these.
Thank you! I was thinking of making them next weekend when Amy and Seth are visiting, so maybe you can have them then! :)
Traci | Vanilla And Bean says
Hi Ashley! Beautiful blog you have here! Can't wait to make these mouthwatering tacos! LOL - 'moist'.... !
Thank you for this delicious recipe and beautiful photography!!
Hi Traci! Thank you so much for your sweet words about the blog! I hope you enjoy these tacos and their "moistness" :)
Is there an ingredient that can be used in place of the oatmeal?
Hi Tracie! You can substitute panko breadcrumbs and if you still want to keep it gluten-free, just make sure to use a gluten-free panko. Hope this helps!
The Vegan 8 says
Such a great idea to add the oats to the cauliflower to give them extra chew and crunch! It all sounds fabulous. I'm not a fan of cauliflower, but I'm imagining all of the ingredients combined together, especially with the oats, makes it all taste incredible. Love the pink and green colors!
Thanks, Brandi! You could probably substitute all sorts of veggies for the cauliflower; I bet eggplant, zucchini, and any type of squash would all work well. I'm such a sucker for pink and green together; something about that combination is so appealing to the eye :)
These look really good. I think I'm going to make the cauliflower and use it in a different way other than in tacos. I'd like to showcase them in a plate in some way. Hmmm ...
Thanks, Julia! Honestly, you could skip the tortillas, throw the crispy cauliflower in a bowl, and use the same toppings. It would be just as delicious!
That crispy cauliflower is brilliant... Pinning this! :)
Looks great! I think it's hilarious that on your site there are McDonald's adds. I know you don't control the adds, but it's just hilarious because the type of crowd these types of blogs attract most likely aren't bringing their kids to McDonalds as they advertise. :)
Thanks, Jessi! That is hilarious and a bit ironic that you're getting McDonald's ads when you visit. I usually opt out of those types, so I appreciate you letting me know because now I can do some investigating. If you ever see any other conflicting ads, just let me know and I'll look into having them removed. Thanks again!
I just discovered your site and made these tacos tonight. They were delicious--a vegan version of fish tacos! All three of my kids (9, 7, and 3) ate them up. Thanks for the recipe!
Just made these and they are AMAZING!!!! We love them. Thank you for a great recipe :)
I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed them, Tiffanie! Thanks for taking the time to comment back with your results; I really appreciate it!
Really want to try these, they look delicious!! Think I could use regular milk in place of almond milk, and whole wheat flour in place of rice flour and get similar results?
Thanks, Amanda! You can definitely substitute regular milk, but I would use panko bread crumbs instead of whole wheat flour to keep the texture more consistent with the oats. Whole wheat flour might work as well, but I'm not sure it will get as crispy. I'd love to hear how your substitutions work out if you have time to let me know. Good luck :)
Deryn from Running on Real Food says
How have I not seen this before! I need them, like now. I love tacos, we're super spoiled in Vancouver with a bunch of awesome taquerias, but with these...I think I can eat tacos at home for once :) Gorgeous photos, as per usual!!
Thanks, Deryn! That's awesome that Vancouver has so many tasty taquerias. There are a handful in Chicago but most have menus that are very meat-heavy, so we often opt for homemade which is how this recipe came to be. I hope you have the chance to give it a try (and that it stands up to the Vancouver taquerias)!
Sounds great! Planning to make these but can the brown rice flour possibly be substituted with potato starch??
Hi, Charlotte! I haven't tried these with potato starch, so I can't vouch for the results; however, I think it should work just fine! I'd love to hear how they turn out with the substitution. Enjoy!
We stumbled across this recipe and immediately knew that we had to try it just by looking at your photos. We made a couple of changes but this is our new favorite taco recipe (and we are a meat eating family and unconcerned about gluten free products). Thanks for sharing.
Jessie O'Brien says
My boyfriend and I have been trying to incorporate 1-2 vegan dinners each week as a healthy start to 2015... Multiple recipes left us still hungry, missing flavor and worried that the vegan life just wasn't for us, until we found this recipe. Thank you for restoring the faith with the delicious, filling, flavorful meal! It has been added to my recipe box and will be made again!
Hi, Jessie! That's so awesome that you and your boyfriend have been incorporating vegan dinners into your routine! Starting with smaller shifts is the way to go -- little changes really do add up over time!
Also, I'm so happy to hear that this recipe restored your faith in the vegan lifestyle -- such an awesome compliment to receive! When I went vegan, I promised that I would only share recipes that I believed every single person, regardless of lifestyle choices, would love, so it means a lot that you had such a great experience with this dish. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Jessie!
Do you happen to know the nutritional information on these??
Hi, Riley! Unfortunately, I don't know the nutrition information for these tacos, but I know there are a lot of helpful sites for calculating it. So sorry about that!
Shelby Harrington says
Great recipe, thanks! The spices on the cauliflower, the zing of the slaw, and the creaminess of the avocado made for a delicious combination. I substituted a few ingredients with things I had on hand so I wouldn't have to make a special trip to the grocery store. Brown rice flour --> all purpose flour, almond milk --> lite coconut milk, oats --> panko. Will definitely make this again.
I'm going to try this recipe tonight. A friend directed me to your blog. She makes such wonderful vegan food! Anyhow, wanted to thank you not only for your recipes for the music as well. Just downloaded the song from Lissie and love it! Thanks so much!
I hope you enjoyed it, Geri! Also, please send my thanks to your friend; I really appreciate her sharing. Glad you're enjoying the recipes and music; I've been slacking on adding songs lately but I really need to get back into it. Isn't that Lissie song so great? Such an energy booster.
Julie Vignery says
We love this recipe. It's our "go-to" recipe and we have it at least once a month! I was wondering if I could share this amazing recipe on my blog? I'd love to write about how like it and then share the link to your recipe. Would that be ok? Thanks so much!
Debbi G. says
YUM!! So good! Made these as an appetizer for a party and everyone LOVED them. Kids and adults. Nobody knew it was cauliflower until I told them. Next time I will make them with lettuce instead of the tortilla (the tortilla is too hard when eating the left overs the next day)
These were absolutely perfect! Thanks so much for a great recipe. Wish I would have made more :)
My husband and I just finished these off for dinner. EXCELLENT! I used purple and orange cauliflower :) and topped it with some chopped Fresno chili. These will be a favorite, thanks for posting!!!!
So glad to hear you and your husband enjoyed it so much, Miriam. I bet the purple and orange cauliflower made for some especially vibrant tacos -- so fun! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!
Dieta Alcalina Funciona says
These tacos were so good! A huge amount of flavor and the crunch of the coating on the cauliflower made them perfect. I used Panko instead of oats, but otherwise followed your recipe exactly. My husband really enjoyed them too. We aren't vegan or vegetarian, so I can attest that they're even pleasing to a carnivore :).
So glad you and your husband are enjoying the tacos, Marny!! It's always helpful to know when a recipe is praised by a wide range of palates. Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback!
Would coconut milk work in place of the almond milk? I have a friend coming for dinner who can't have nuts (and we're vegan so regular milk won't work).
Hi, Maria! Yes, coconut milk will work as a sub for almond milk (as will soy and rice milk). If you use coconut, just be sure to use the kind in a carton (as opposed to a can). Enjoy!
The cauliflower was not very flavorful at all, even with so many spices in it. I would not make this again for the amount of work it took.
So sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it. Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback!
Ashley, I know you've received tons of glowing reviews on this, but thought it couldn't hurt to post another one :) I made these tacos yesterday from your cookbook and immediately wanted to know why I waited so long to make them. These were phenomenal- you're right, there was a great crunch from the "breading" and the slaw, but the cauliflower was super creamy inside the "breading". The whole thing took me 45 minutes from first chop to first bite! It was a super easy recipe, and I loved how you had the steps set up so that while the cauliflower is baking, you make the slaw and the crema....everything came together in perfect timing! Also, I just wanted to thank you for the STELLAR editing and writing of the recipes in your cookbook. It's clear that the recipes were painstakingly and carefully edited and written for best cooking execution. When there are multi steps, these are all really well ordered so everything comes together as quickly as possible- as evidenced by these tacos. Sorry for the novel of a post, but I had to give good credit where credit is due! Thank you! (@raqinthekitch on IG) :)
Raquella, this just made my day! Thank you for sharing your review of this recipe as well as your thoughts on the recipes in the book in general. Your feedback means a lot, and I so appreciate you taking the time to share it. Lots of love to you and happy cooking!
I will say I’ve made this recipe at least twice and it was phenomenal. I was kind of blown away with the texture. I’m very happy with simple roasted cauli then maybe tossed in some buffalo, but this brings it to another level! So question for you... the first few times I made it I used WW flour because thats what I had on hand... I’d like to keep it gluten free and I have blanched almond flour, the kind you buy at Trader Joe’s- do you think this will work? I am making for a friend who is coming by this evening. Also, I’ve been a fan of the blog for at least a year or more - first time I’ve commented. Keep up the great work!
Lots of love,
Hi, Brittany! So glad you’re enjoying the recipe. As written, this recipe is gluten-free (rolled oats are naturally gluten-free), so I’d recommend sticking to the recipe as written. Hope this helps!
Hey there, what I was asking was if I could use almond flour instead of brown rice flour for the dipping batter before the oat coating. I decided to try it last night since I did not have brown rice flour and it worked perfectly.
Hi, Brittany! Oh goodness, I'm so sorry for the confusion. Not sure what I was thinking, but so happy to hear that the almond flour swap worked well for the brown rice flour.
This recipe was fantastic! The cauliflower was crunchy with great flavor that was just spicy enough for me, but not too spicy for my kids... just perfection! Thank you!
So glad you and your kids enjoyed the recipe, Kristen! Thanks for taking time out of your day to share your thoughts. Means so much.
Hi! Could I use frozen cauliflower?
If you thaw the cauliflower first, you should be able to use frozen cauliflower. You'll also want to ensure all the pieces are about even in size, cutting and trimming as necessary. I wouldn't recommend using it straight from frozen because it will end up steaming itself in the oven and will likely yield soggy cauliflower nuggets instead of crispy ones. Hope this helps and enjoy!
I’ve made this recipe so many times - it’s one of my faves! My friends commonly request it when I have guests for dinner. The slaw is delicious, cauli is perfectly crunchy and yummy, and the avocado cream is to die for. I like to add roasted chickpeas for some protein :)
Claire, thanks for taking the time to come back and share your feedback and rating. So wonderful to hear that you're enjoying the recipe and that it's even being requested by others!