These vegan roasted chipotle cauliflower tacos are absolutely packed with spicy, zesty flavor. They're paired with a creamy slaw and homemade vegan cheese sauce for a flavorful, creative weeknight dinner.
There are a few different components to these cauliflower tacos. They are vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free optional if you omit the cheese sauce.
Here's what you'll find in this recipe:
- Spicy roasted chipotle cauliflower florets
- A tangy coleslaw that balances the spicy cauliflower
- Creamy, 5-ingredient cashew cheese sauce
- Toasted pepitas
The cauliflower roasts in just 30 minutes. While it's roasting the slaw and vegan cheese sauce come together so that the tacos are ready to assemble by the time the cauliflower is out of the oven!
What you'll need
- Cauliflower: One head of cauliflower weighs anywhere from 1 to 2 pounds. Choose one that is about ~1 and ½ pounds. See below for tips on how to use frozen cauliflower.
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce: This can be found in the canned vegetables section or the International section at grocery stores. Chipotle peppers are smoke dried jalapenos and they are canned in the adobo sauce. Use leftovers in chipotle ranch dressing or black bean soup.
- Limes: We're using both the juice and the zest. One lime usually has 1-2 tablespoons of juice. I recommend buying a bag of limes for this recipe.
- Agave syrup is the main sweetener in the chipotle sauce and coleslaw. An equal amount of honey also works.
- Cabbage: Purple cabbage adds a great pop of color but white/green cabbage also works. To save on prep time, use a pre-sliced coleslaw mix.
- Pepitas are my favorite taco topping. You can buy them already roasted or buy them raw and toast them yourself.
- Cashews and nutritional yeast make up the cashew cheese sauce. Choose raw, unsalted cashews.
Making the taco fixings
To make the chipotle sauce, simply combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Easy!
Pro tip: Don't clean out the blender you used to make the chipotle sauce. The chipotle peppers add a LOT of flavor to the cheese sauce.
To make the vegan cheese sauce (this is super similar to the vegan queso I use on my sweet potato nachos):
- If you don't have a strong blender, soak the cashews overnight OR soak them in hot water for an hour.
- Add all ingredients to the blender. Blend until smooth!
Throw the cheese sauce in the microwave for just 30 seconds to a minute. Make sure to stir about halfway through heating. You can also throw it on the stove over medium and heat it that way. Make sure to stir frequently.
To make the coleslaw:
- Mix together the dressing using vegan mayo (or regular mayo), lime juice, lime zest, salt and agave syrup.
- Toss with shredded cabbage. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Making roasted cauliflower
Making roasted cauliflower is very simple and requires just 3 ingredients.
Like any other roasted veggie, we'll start by coating it olive oil and tossing with salt and pepper.
Roast the cauliflower in the oven at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and brush with the chipotle sauce. You can also transfer the roasted cauliflower to a bowl and toss it this way, but brushing it straight on the pan saves on extra dishes.
Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and has some blackened spots.
Expert tips and FAQ
- Spice level: These cauliflower tacos are pretty spicy because chipotle sauce is just smoke dried jalapenos. Add extra agave syrup or sugar to the chipotle sauce to balance out the spice. You can also use ½ of the chipotle sauce for a very light coating on the cauliflower.
- Want to add protein? Try roasting a can of chickpeas alongside the cauliflower or just add chickpeas straight to the tacos.
Yes, this recipe works with frozen cauliflower. Let the frozen cauliflower fully thaw and pat it with a towel to remove extra moisture before tossing it with oil. It will take 20-25 minutes to roast instead of 30-35 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the chipotle sauce. Cook until the cauliflower is ultra tender and starting to blacken.
Yes, this recipe makes 6-8 tacos, depending on how hungry you are. I recommend doubling the sauce and double the cauliflower but not the cheese sauce or slaw.
Keep leftover cauliflower, slaw, and cheese sauce refrigerated for 3-4 days. Reheat the cauliflower in the microwave in just about a minute, or heat on the stove top over medium heat until warmed through and crisped.
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Roasted Chipotle Cauliflower Tacos
- 1 and ½ pounds cauliflower chopped into small florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 chipotle chili peppers from 1 can chipotles in adobo sauce; see note #1
- 3 tablespoons adobo sauce from 1 can chipotles in adobo sauce
- 3 tablespoons lime juice from 2-3 small limes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1-2 teaspoons agave syrup adjust to taste
Cashew Cheese Sauce
- 3 cups shredded purple cabbage ~½ head cabbage
- ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1 medium lime
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6-8 corn tortillas
- ¼ cup pepitas/raw pumpkin seeds
- salt & pepper to taste
- zest from ½ lime
- chopped cilantro for topping
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Prep the cauliflower: Chop cauliflower into small florets. Rinse cauliflower and pat dry. Transfer to the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, tossing until well coated. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Roast on the middle oven rack at 425F for 20 minutes.
- Make the chipotle sauce: Add the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, lime juice, tomato paste, agave syrup to a blender. Blend until peppers are mostly broken down. It will be a chunky sauce. Taste for salt and agave. **If making the vegan cheese sauce, don't rinse out the blender**
- Remove cauliflower from the oven after 20 minutes. Toss and brush with the chipotle sauce so that the florets are mostly coated. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, roasting until the cauliflower is fork tender and blackened in some spots.
Cashew Cheese Sauce
- Add the soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, vegetable broth, and salt to the blender used to make the chipotle sauce. Blend on medium strength until the cashews are smooth and entirely broken down.
- Taste for salt and nutritional yeast. Warm over medium heat on the stove top, stirring frequently OR in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute.
- In a small bowl, mix together the vegan mayo, 1 tablespoon lime juice, zest from ½ a lime, agave syrup, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Add the shredded cabbage to a large bowl. Toss with the sauce. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Heat corn tortillas in a large skillet over high heat until starting to brown. You can toast the pepitas in the same skillet. It will only take 1-2 minutes to toast them.
- To each tortilla, add a base of slaw, top with a few cauliflower florets, a drizzle of cashew sauce, toasted pepitas and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!
- Chipotle peppers are pretty spicy. This recipe uses 1 can chipotles canned in adobo sauce. Decrease to 2 jalapenos for a little less spice.
- Cashews: Cover cashews with an inch of water and soak overnight OR cover with an inch of almost boiling water and soak for an hour. Drain water before using. You can skip this step if you have a very strong blender.
- Limes are used across most of the recipe. I recommend buying at least 5-6 because the amount of juice in a lime varies. I usually just buy a bag of limes.
- Leftovers and reheating: Keep leftover cauliflower, slaw and cheese sauce refrigerated for 3-4 days. Reheat the cauliflower in the microwave in just about a minute, or heat on the stove top over medium heat until warmed through and crisped.
- How to use frozen cauliflower: Let the frozen cauliflower fully thaw and pat it with a towel to remove extra moisture before tossing it with oil. It will take 20-25 minutes to roast instead of 30-35 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the chipotle sauce. Cook until the cauliflower is ultra tender and starting to blacken.
- Nutrition facts were calculated using 2 tablespoons cheese sauce per 2 tacos.