Crunchy-Shell Cauliflower Tacos

April 24, 2018
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Makes 8 tacos
Author Notes

Inspired by old-school, ground-beef tacos, these are a best friend to hurried weeknights. Hopefully a cold beer is somewhere close by. Want to make your ingredient list a bit bigger? You could add: hot sauce, sliced or smashed avocado; sour cream or Greek yogurt; black or pinto beans; shaved or pickled jalapeños; or finely diced raw onion. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 5-Ingredient Cauliflower Tacos For Tuesdays—and Every Day —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Crunchy-Shell Cauliflower Tacos
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 8 hard-shell tacos
  • 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two rimmed sheet pans with silicone mats or parchment.
  2. Remove the very bottom of the cauliflower stem, as well as the green leaves. Roughly chop. Add about half to a food processor and pulse until it’s almost riced. Some chunks here and there are good—this is supposed to look like ground beef. Dump onto one lined sheet pan. Process the remaining cauliflower florets and add to the sheet pan. (Psst: Don’t try to process in one batch! It’s too much volume and will chop unevenly.) Add the olive oil, chili powder, and salt to the cauliflower. Toss. Divide this mixture between the two sheet trays. (Spreading the cauliflower out this much helps it brown, not steam.) Roast for about 20 minutes—rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back halfway through.
  3. When the cauliflower is done, remove from the oven and add the hard-shell tacos—either directly on the oven rack or onto another sheet pan—to toast for a couple minutes, until warm.
  4. Assemble the tacos in the following order: shell, cauliflower, lettuce, cheese.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Phyllis Wilson
    Phyllis Wilson
  • Dana
  • Chris Ronis
    Chris Ronis
  • Jessica M
    Jessica M
  • BoulderGalinTokyo
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

15 Reviews

Phyllis W. March 10, 2021
Awesome recipe! Instead of chili, I used taco seasoning and it was the BOMB!!!
Dana December 5, 2020
These tacos took me to a super happy place. So simple and yummy! I added a few more ground spices to the mix, like smoked paprika, turmeric, and oregano. I also added a can of chickpeas and roasted them along with the cauliflower. Perfect for busy weeknights!
scrambled E. December 5, 2020
Quite good. Smell of cauliflower roasting is luscious. Added some Frank's hot sauce when assembling for a little zip and a bit of avocado. The clean-up takes more than the prep of this dish!
Chris R. April 27, 2020
Hi. I’m curious to know what people take “chili powder” to mean? I have some spicy chili powders (chipotle, etc) that would be insane at 3 1/2 teaspoons. Do you mean “taco seasoning”? Chili powder is one of those things that I never understood what to use.

Emma L. April 27, 2020
Hi! In this case, chili powder refers to the spice blend—often made with dried chiles, cumin, garlic, and oregano.
Jessica M. June 25, 2019
This was excellent! I added some lentils to the mix for a boost of protein. So simple, and such a great way to add veggies. I will definitely make this again.
Emma L. June 26, 2019
Thanks so much, Jessica—I love the idea of adding lentils!
BoulderGalinTokyo August 5, 2018
HaHaHa This is one of those recipes, "I'll give it a try, but I don't think it'll be that great..." But it WAS GREAT! Next day made tacos with refried beans and salsa on the cauliflower, cheese and lettuce and some avocado... Thank you for proving me wrong!
Emma L. August 5, 2018
So happy to hear that! And YUM to all the wonderful toppings on those next-day tacos!
Pamela July 22, 2018
This is such a great idea, and a very satisfying meat substitute. Next time I might add some chopped cashews and cumin and see how that is.
Emma L. July 26, 2018
Mmmm, love the idea of adding cashews!
KLD1967 July 18, 2018
I made the cauliflower last night but instead of using it in tacos, it became the base for my "taco" bowl for lunch today. Pretty tasty. I cheated and bought a bag of cauliflower rice from Trader Joe's and it worked pretty well. Will try this again for sure.
FrugalCat May 3, 2018
I used the frozen riced cauliflower(Green Giant or Birdseye, but Trader Joes and Whole Foods has it too). I put more stuff in the tacos (sour cream, salsa, guac) and they were great.
Marjorie June 1, 2020
How many 12 oz. packages of frozen riced cauliflower did you use in this recipe?
FrugalCat June 1, 2020
I used one package, but I did not get 8 tacos worth. I made 3 or 4.