These crispy cauliflower tacos are a fun, delicious, family-friendly option for a weeknight meal. They are filled with vegetables and homemade spicy mayo sauce. Every bite is flavorful and crunchy. Taco Tuesday will never be the same after you get your hands on one of these!
Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. It is incredibly versatile and can be turned into dozens of fun and delicious dishes. I especially like these vegan cauliflower recipes. Check out my sticky orange cauliflower, buffalo cauliflower, and Gobi Manchurian recipes.
❤️ Why you’ll love it
Tacos are one of those easy meals everyone loves, regardless of age. Most traditional tacos are served with chicken or beef as the star and topped with cheese and salsa. However, this meatless cauliflower taco recipe was inspired by fish tacos.
You’ll love them because they are not only incredibly delicious but also because they are super easy to make. It takes a total time of just 40 minutes to make from start to finish.
I also love how versatile these tacos are. You can dress them up as you please and use the cauliflower florets in numerous ways. The ingredients are more nutritious than a traditional taco and also very budget-friendly. Just like all the other recipes in our Winter Vegan Cookbook!
🧾 Key ingredients
This cauliflower taco recipe uses simple ingredients you can quickly and easily find in your neighborhood grocery store. Many ingredients may already exist in your kitchen!
Cauliflower replaces the fish typically used in tacos, mimicking its white color. I recommend using fresh cauliflower for the best results.
Breading – The cauliflower is coated in a wet and dry batter before deep-fried. The dry batter is rice flour, cornstarch, and salt, but the wet batter has the seasoning to give the cauliflower florets their “fishy” flavor thanks to the crushed nori sheets.
Spicy mayo sauce – To put the finishing touch on the tacos, you will need vegan mayonnaise, minced garlic, sriracha, and lemon juice.
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Preparing the ingredients
Crush the nori sheets using a small food processor. If you do not have a food processor, you can use the chopping bowl of an immersion blender.
Soak the cauliflower florets in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and season with salt.
Making cauliflower tacos
To make the wet batter, mix the chickpea flour, ⅔ cup of rice flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and two teaspoons of crushed nori sheets.
Slowly whisk in the dairy-free milk until the batter reaches the right consistency (approximately ½-1 cup).
Mix ½ cup of rice flour, the cornstarch, and ¼ teaspoon of salt to make the dry batter.
Dip the cauliflower florets into the wet batter, then dip them into the dry batter, ensuring they are evenly coated.
In a deep frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. To test the temperature of the oil, drop a small amount of the wet batter into the oil. If it sizzles, it is ready for deep frying.
Carefully place the covered florets into the hot oil in batches. Do not overcrowd the pan. Fry each batch for 4-6 minutes until the florets turn light brown.
To assemble the tacos, place the fried cauliflower florets with fresh tomato salsa and cilantro on top of the tortilla (you can use flour tortillas or corn tortillas for a gluten-free option), and drizzle the spicy mayo sauce on top.
💡 Expert tip
Do not overcrowd the pan – If the oil has too many pieces of cauliflower at once, the temperature will lower and take longer to cook. In the meantime, while the oil returns to its normal temperature, the breading will continue to soak up the oil. You will know if the pan is overcrowded by the intensity of the sizzling. If it slows or stops altogether, the pan has too many pieces.
To add some extra flavor to the tacos, toss the deep-fried cauliflower florets in spicy buffalo sauce to make buffalo cauliflower tacos.
Skip nori sheets and kick up the flavor by adding different herbs and spices such as cumin, onion powder, and hot chili powder to the breading.
A cauliflower alternative that will give your tacos a more meaty texture is to use oyster mushrooms as I do in my mushroom tacos recipe. Oyster mushrooms will provide a spongy, chewy texture without the mushroom taste.
🍽️ Serving ideas
You can serve your cauliflower tacos in a few ways to make them more fun and flavorful. I surely love some spicy green bean chickpea salad to go with it.
If you want, swap out the fresh tomato salsa for coleslaw salad. It matches this fish taco vibe perfectly.
Or eliminate the tortilla and serve it as a burrito bowl over steamed white rice, cilantro brown rice, or riced sweet potato. Lay it on a bed of fresh shredded lettuce, fresh red cabbage, corn, black beans, vegan cheese, and avocado in true Tex-Mex-style!
Spicy mayo sauce is not your favorite? Add delicious taco toppings like guacamole or vegan nacho cheese sauce. Serve with lime wedges or drizzle on fresh lime juice just before serving to add a bit of zest to the tacos.
❄️ Storing tips
Fried and breaded recipes are always best when served immediately to preserve the heat and its crunchy, crispy, tender texture. However, if you have leftovers, I recommend storing them as follows:
In the refrigerator: Place the cauliflower florets in an airtight container and store them separately from any other ingredients for up to three days. Use within 24 hours for the crunchiest texture.
In the freezer: This dish does not freeze well, and I do not recommend freezing it.
Reheating: Reheat and re-crisp leftover cauliflower in hot oil for a few seconds. You can also use a toaster oven, regular oven, or air fryer. I do not recommend reheating in a microwave.
Pre-cook or blanch them in hot water before breading and deep-frying. Otherwise, the time the florets spend in the oil will not be enough to make them tender. Especially if the florets are too large.
Breaded cauliflower deep-fried until crispy is the way to go if you want crispy tacos with cauliflower. Simple oven-roasted cauliflower will not yield such a result.
To save time, you can make the dry batter and spicy mayo sauce in advance. The spicy mayo sauce can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks. I do not recommend coating the cauliflower in advance. It will last for an hour, but not overnight.
More cauliflower recipes
I love cauliflower. It is such a great and versatile ingredient. Apart from classic cauliflower recipes, you can turn them into mac and cheese, pizza crust, vegan ground meat for spaghetti bolognese, or cauliflower steak. Endless possibilities.
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- 11 oz Cauliflower
- 1 Onion
- ½ tsp Smoked paprika powder
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
- ¼ tsp Hot chili powder or flakes
- ½ – 1 cup Dairy-free milk (homemade cashew milk)
- ⅓ cup Chickpea flour
- ⅔ + ½ cup All-purpose flour or GF flour blend to make it gluten-free
- 1 ½ Tbsp Cornstarch
- 1 tsp Salt
- ⅛ tsp Black pepper
- ½ tsp Garlic powder
- 2 tsp Nori sheet crushed
- 1 cup Vegan mayo
- 1 Tbsp Sriracha
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
- 4 Small tortillas
- Crush nori sheets with a small food processor or use the chopping bowl of an immersion blender.
- Soak cauliflower florets in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain them and season them with salt.
- Make the dry batter by mixing ½ cup rice flour, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, and ¼ tsp salt.
- Make the wet batter by mixing chickpea flour, ⅔ cup rice flour, ½ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp smoked paprika, and 2 tsp crushed nori sheet. Start adding milk and whisk until you get the right consistency.
- Take a deep frying pan and heat vegetable oil over high heat. To test the temperature, drip a bit of wet batter. If it is sizzling, the oil is ready for deep frying.
- Start dipping cauliflower florets first into the wet, then into the dry batter.
- Carefully place the battered florets in batches into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry each batch for 4-6 minutes. It should have a light brown color.
- Add vegan mayo, minced garlic, sriracha, and 1 Tbsp lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir well.
- Assemble the tacos by adding the fried cauliflower florets, freshly chopped tomatoes, and onion. Drizzle some spicy mayo sauce on top.
- The wet batter dries quickly. If it turns too thick, add extra milk or water.
- If you are after an even more “fishy” taste, add half a nori sheet to the bowl when soaking the cauliflower florets.
- The cauliflower florets are small, so double-breading them is unnecessary. Plus, too much breading will take away from the taste.
- If the oil has too many pieces of cauliflower at once, the temperature will lower and take longer to cook. In the meantime, while the oil returns to its normal temperature, the breading will continue to soak up the oil. You will know if the pan is overcrowded by the intensity of the sizzling. If it slows or stops altogether, the pan has too many pieces.