I have a confession to make.
I never make tacos on Taco Tuesday. I mean, I might, but if I do it is totally accidental. I always forget that it is Taco Tuesday until about 10pm when I’m endlessly scrolling my Instagram feed and start seeing all of the #tacotuesday hashtags and the taco emojis and then I think, “why don’t I ever make tacos on Tuesdays?”. So that is why I am sharing this recipe for vegan taco meat on a Friday. Because that’s how together I am.
Let’s be real. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. Taco time is anytime. I came up with a plant-packed taco meat that even a carnivore can love, so let’s get started!
How To Make Vegan Taco Meat
We start with the Vegan Ground Beef, which was formerly called the simply terrible name of Vegetable Meat Substitute. In any case, this is a meat substitute made of vegetables and seeds (or nuts). It consists of cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots, onion, garlic, pepitas (or walnuts), and sun-dried tomatoes. It really does look like ground beef when it’s cooked into things, and thanks to the pepitas, it has almost the same amount of protein! But to make it into taco meat, we need some seasonings.
I did some research into taco seasonings, and there were lots of variations, but the main components stayed pretty consistent, so I stuck with what works. We’ve got chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. These are spices I always have on hand, which makes this easy to throw together. If you want more heat, some cayenne or chipotle powder is a great addition too.
You’ve got your vegan ground beef, you’ve got your spices, now they just need to get married and let things heat up in a skillet with some water. A taco bath? I really should stop writing so late at night. It gets weird so fast.
So there you have it! Doesn’t that look like ground meat? I KNOW, RIGHT? It kind of creeps me out sometimes. And yes, it does taste delicious in a taco salad. But it’s especially good in…a vegan crunchwrap supreme. Oh yes, I went there.
Whether you are a stickler for eating alliteratively according to the day of the week, or, like me, you whip up dinner in a frenzy giving no regard for the calendar, I hope you’ll give this a try for your next taco night! Any excuse to use the taco emoji, right?
Vegan Taco Meat
- 1 head cauliflower, broken into large florets
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 cup raw pepitas or walnuts
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1.5 teaspoons oregano
- 1.5 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch, optional
- 1 cup water, or more as needed
- In a food processor, pulse the pepitas (or walnuts) and sun dried tomatoes until a fine meal forms. Set aside in a small bowl.
- Using the same food processor bowl (no need to wash), switch from the s-blade to the shredding attachment.
- Process the cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic. If you don’t have a shredding attachment, pulse small amounts using the S-blade until finely chopped but not pureed.
- In a large nonstick skillet, cook the shredded vegetables over high heat until the moisture has evaporated and the vegetables are cooked through, about 6 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium.
- Add the pepita and sun-dried tomato mixture into the skillet, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the seasoning mix and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the water and cook for 3-5 minutes until the most of the water has evaporated (it’s ok if there’s a little bit of sauce still in the pan).
- Use in place of ground taco meat with the ratio of 2 cups of vegan ground beef for 1 pound of ground meat. Try it in a Vegan Crunchwrap Supreme!
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Michael Hornback II says
So good! And the nutritional difference between ground meat and this is so huge, This will take no-meat Monday’s to a completely different level!
Or Taco Tuesdays! 😉
Loved it (and so did the kids)! Also loved that I could save half for spaghetti night tomorrow. And I think your new blog name is excellent. 🙂
I’m thinking of making this but I don’t like mushrooms. Do you think the results would be similar if I sub lentils or beans for the mushrooms?
Same here, any ideas on leaving out mushrooms?
Maybe water chestnuts?
Hi Leslie, Jane, and Brandi! First of all, my sincerest apologies for slacking on replying to this question. My humanness is all too real sometimes. 🙂
I think it would be perfectly fine to leave the mushrooms out. They do add to the flavor and texture somewhat, but not so much that the final product would suffer. This recipe is very forgiving in that way. I wouldn’t recommend using beans or lentils in the mix itself, as it could make it more paste-like, definitely impacting the texture. With that said, I’ve experimented with soaking dried chickpeas in water overnight, draining and then pulsing with the pepitas and sun-dried tomatoes. About a 1/2 cup of the soaked chickpeas would be a great addition to this, bulking up the protein too. I hope that helps! And I promise to do my best to reply to comments in a more timely manner going forward. 🙂
Susan Lindenmeyer says
Tasty recipe, Beth. Though My husband and I are omnivores, we are always looking to increase plant based foods into our diet. Took a shortcut by using Trader Jones’s “riced” cauliflower. Also used Mexican cheese blend – made tostadas with this “meat”, lots of lettuce, and fresh tomatoes! Good balance of spices- this is a keeper!
Hi Susan! Sorry it took me a bit to respond. <3 So glad you enjoyed this! Glad to hear that the shortcut of the TJ's riced cauliflower worked out, I've been meaning to try that. I LOVE tostadas! Kind of wish I had one right now. 🙂
If you want your blog to grow you should try responding to the people with questions / those who haven’t tried your recipe. I have went through your comments and noticed you really only answer to those people who have tried your recipe and not to those who are asking for substitutions due to dislikes or allergies to specific ingredients. In all reality no offence you seem like a bit** who only answers tho those who made what you told them to… Try understanding not everyone will like your exact recipe and you might actually gain a following on your blog. Good luck!
PS – this is coming from someone who has a blog with 500k daily visitors.
My hubby and I like to be different so we celebrate Taco Wednesdays! Amazing recipe Beth!
Ha, Taco Wednesdays! I love it! <3
This recipe is INCREDIBLE. My omnivore partner began eating it right out of the skillet before I could even make the crunch wraps. I’ve used these veggie crumbles for a few imitation Taco Bell recipes now and it has helped make a stellar recreation every time, thank you so much for sharing your genius!!
Jessie!!! So glad that you loved this so much! I totally eat it out of the pan, too. 🙂 So excited that it helped you recreate the Taco Bell goodness, veggie style! Makes me so happy.
I can hardly wait to try your this! I just found you through veggies don’t bite on Instagram.
I am allergic to mushrooms, however. Could you recommend a substitute?
I am so excited to have found your site!
Hi Ann! SO sorry I never circled back to respond to this question. 🙁 I’m copying and pasting a reply from a similar question up above. I think it would be perfectly fine to leave the mushrooms out. They do add to the flavor and texture somewhat, but not so much that the final product would suffer. This recipe is very forgiving in that way. I wouldn’t recommend using beans or lentils in the mix itself, as it could make it more paste-like, definitely impacting the texture. With that said, I’ve experimented with soaking dried chickpeas in water overnight, draining and then pulsing with the pepitas and sun-dried tomatoes. About a 1/2 cup of the soaked chickpeas would be a great addition to this, bulking up the protein too. I hope that helps! And I promise to do my best to reply to comments in a more timely manner going forward. ????
Hello! The recipe tastes delicious, however the texture of my ground vegetables was a little off. In your pictures it really does look like taco meat but mine sort of looks too mushy. Would you happen to have any guesses why? Aside from that, it tastes really delicious, I didn’t have some of the seasonings so I used a packet of Old El Paso taco seasoning!
Hi Amy! I’m so sorry I never replied to this comment. I’ve had this happen on occasion, and it’s usually that the veggies have a higher water content. that simply needs to be cooked out longer. In the end the texture definitely shouldn’t be mushy. I’m sorry that happened to you! Lately I’ve been roasting the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet rather than cooking it in a skillet, and the texture is always great, and the veggies brown a bit which helps a lot with both flavor and texture. I updated the main vegan ground beef recipe with the roasting instructions and I’ll do that here as well! Thanks so much for letting me know what happened, I hope it works out better for you next time!
Julia Curcio says
I think you should call it Griund Leaf (thought slightly misleading, since it’s not made of leaf veggies) or Ground Veef.
Looks good and I can’t wait to try the recipe!
Thanks for the suggestions Julia! I ended up calling it Vegan Ground Beef, because that’s essentially what it’s substituting, and more people can find it when searching. 🙂
This recipe is now a standard in my house. The second time I made it, I used shiitake mushrooms, which really added depth to the overall flavor. Excellent, and thank you so much, Beth!
SO late in responding to this, but I wanted to thank you for the comment and also for the idea to use shiitake mushrooms! I love their flavor and texture both, and will definitely be trying this asap! You are most welcome, so glad you enjoy it! 🙂
Deb M says
I was trying to come up with a name for the “substitute meat mixture” and so far came up with
PAR or Protein Par (but I think I prefer PAR) meaning this is at some level on “par” with the protein in meat or possibly better!
Looking forward to trying your recipe!
Hi Deb! Thanks for the suggestions! I ended up calling it Vegan Ground Beef, as in doing a bit of research I discovered that more people are searching for that term than anything else that would have been similar. 🙂
jo Buckmeier says
Hi Beth! Recipe looks amazing. Cant wait to try them on the family. They are being very resistant to this new vegan lifestyle, so at the moment I’m starving. Threw out so much junk food and started buying new ingredients, I’m so excited. A little lost at the moment but you have to start somewhere. But I have a few questions, I’m allergic to walnuts, what do you suggest for a sub? Also, I’m allergic to apples but I love them, maybe you have some thoughts. I know apples are not related to this recipe but just thought you might have some suggestions. Thanks for your time. Keep the faith..
Hi Jo! I have a bad habit of forgetting to reply to comments, but am trying to remedy this! So sorry for the delay in this response. I recommend using pepitas (raw shelled pumpkin seeds) instead of walnuts, and the recipe notes indicate this as an option. I’ve taken to preferring the pepitas to the walnuts whenever I make this, both for the nutritional benefits and the texture. I hope you’ll give this a try and let me know how it goes! 🙂
This recipe was delicious and was devoured by my meat eaters as well as the non-meat eaters.
I’m so happy to hear this!!! My goal is always to please all the eaters, so this made me do a happy dance! Thank you so much for telling me. 🙂
I came across your website the other day, saw this and I knew I had to make it! Off to the grocery store I went and gathered everything together. I made this recipe tonight exactly as you’ve written it and man was it wonderful! Paired with some cashew cream, salsa, cilantro and a squeeze of lime it was exactly what I had hoped.
Easy, delicious, light yet filling. This recipe is a winner and I suspect you and your entire blog is too! Can’t wait to try out more of your recipes.
Hi Rachel! This makes me so happy! Sigh…I love how you described heading off to the grocery store and everything. It’s like I can picture you seeing the recipe, going to the store, heading home to make it, and, after all that effort, loving the result. That’s the best case scenario for me and I’m so glad you told me about it! Would love to hear if you make any of the other recipes or if you have any requests. 🙂
Just made this and I am so in love! I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but it was amazing! Thank you
I was searching for something to use up mushrooms and cauliflower before they went bad and found this recipe. I am soooo glad I did! I’ve been looking for a ground meat substitute that is whole food vegan, gluten- and soy-free but didn’t find any I really liked. This is it! I made both this and the bolognese. Thank you so much!
Denise Nielsen says
This is so dang good! My family gobbled it up! The flavor and texture are perfect. I’m so happy to have a “meat” recipe without black beans or lentils! Maybe this could be tweaked to use as a base for meatballs?
Do you have to soak walnuts ?
Nope! They work better unsoaked, actually. 🙂 Sorry I missed this question!
Lori M. says
Its totally delicious and a great soy and nut free alternative. I can use this for flautas, tostadas, fried tacos, you name it! Its super versatile. My only complaint is the amount of salt, I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out too salty so i added cabbage and one mexican squash to dilute the salt as much as possible. Overall very tasty and will definitely make it again.
This is so healthy and tasty and kid approved! Love that it made a lot as we have been enjoying the leftovers for a few days. I’m not a meat eater myself, but my family did not miss the meat. We left out the mushrooms because the kids don’t like them, and the recipe was still great. Thank you for sharing.
Can this be frozen?
I have tried several versions of vegan “meat” and this is by far the best! It does make a lot so I used half as taco meat then seasoned the other half with Italian spices and used it in a vegan lasagna. They both turned out so yummy!! Even my 10 yr old loved it! Thank you so much for sharing!
Delicious. I love that it makes so much. Do you think it would freeze ok?
Hi Jennifer! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, it freezes very well, but only after it’s been cooked. I tried to freeze the uncooked mixture once, and let’s just say it didn’t go well. 🙂
I Made this Taco ‘Meat’ last night for dinner to go with a CrunchWrap Supreme. It is absolutely delicious! ????
Thank You For The Recipes
This recipe is delicious! It tastes even better after a couple of days when the flavors have settled and the vegetables have gotten softer. I can’t wait to try your Veggie Burger recipe!
Jayme Silvestri says
I don’t like cooked spinach so I wonder if there another vegetable I can use in its place? This is one of the easiest low carb recipes I have seen. I’m single and don’t like cooking just for me, especially after a long work day. This seems so quick & easy that I can see making it even during the week.
Hi Jayme, there’s no spinach in this recipe. Which vegetable are you wanting to swap out?
Garret michaels says
I have made a few adjustments i like to add some brown rice after i cook and bake everything to just chill it out more and ofc some seasonings of my choice. But this is an amazing recipe!!!!!! I would recommended this to anyone I love love love it and this way I dont have to give up tacos ❤❤❤ and many other recipes including ground beef… try it out and you will love it !!!!