Weeknight style Crispy Cauliflower Tinga Tacos with Honey Lime Avocado Crema. Cauliflower seasoned up with smoky chipotle peppers and enchilada sauce, then mixed with cheese, stuffed into tortillas, and oven-baked. Each tinga taco is crunchy on the outside, but spicy and cheesy inside. Serve with a creamy, salty honey-lime avocado crema sauce, and a mix of your favorite toppings. These come together easily and are so delicious. The perfect vegetarian twist on a classic taco that everyone loves!
So, I’m sure I mentioned this, but brother Red has been in town since a little before Christmas. He’s here snowboarding until the end of the month. We almost never see Red since he’s constantly traveling, but because of COVID, his travel schedule is much mellower this year. It’s a huge bummer of course, but the silver lining is that we get to have him home for more than a few days at a time. Personally, I love having him around. He’s one of those kids that can always bring a smile to your face.
And let’s be honest, I’m a real sucker when he asks anything of me. But especially when it comes to the question, “what’s for dinner”? I cave-in and make him pretty much whatever he asks for.
Unlike my oldest brother, Creighton, Red actually enjoys a meat-free dinner. His all-time favorite…The Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower from the HBH Super Simple Cookbook. I’ve been making it on repeat.
But guys, while I love that recipe, I also love trying new things. Since Red is very, very into cauliflower right now, tacos seemed like a great idea.
Enter these crispy cauliflower tinga tacos…still cauliflower but presented in a whole new way.
I’ve actually had this recipe on my list for a while, so when I realized just how much Red has been loving cauliflower I thought I’d make these while he’s in town. I drew inspiration from my chicken tinga taquitos that I shared last year. We all LOVE that recipe so much. I want to see if I could make something vegetarian, but with those same flavors.
I also really, really wanted to do crispy taco shells, since the cauliflower itself is saucy, not crispy. So I grabbed my hard shell taco recipe from my family’s favorite classic taco. I put the two recipes together, then added the cauliflower tinga. Guys, they turned out even better than I had thought.
I wasn’t sure how the cauliflower would hold up to the tinga sauce, but in all honesty? Everyone said they enjoyed the cauliflower, more than any other meat.
Making these tacos is pretty easy, here are the steps.
Aside from these tacos being delicious, they really are so easy to make. I start with the cauliflower tinga. If you’re new to Chicken Tinga, it’s a Mexican dish consisting of shredded chicken in a tomato-based chipotle sauce with sliced onions. It’s actually very simple, but the flavors from the chipotle peppers are KEY, and what is most traditional with any Tinga dish.
Cook the cauliflower and onion together in a super hot skillet. You’ll want to get a char on the cauliflower, but leave it tender, not mushy. Once the cauliflower starts to char, add in chipotle peppers and enchilada sauce. I use enchilada sauce as the tomato base for my tInga sauce. Once the cauliflower simmers in the sauce for a bit, it’s ready. It shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes, then you can assemble the tacos!
Now onto the crispy shells.
Instead of using store-bought taco shells, I like to take corn tortillas and stuff them with the cauliflower tinga and a sprinkling of cheese. I throw them in the oven to bake until the tortillas are crispy.
This method is my GO-TO. It’s become a staple in a lot of my taco recipes. I love the crispy oven “fried” shells. Nothing beats them!
And finally, the crema.
While the shells bake, make the crema. I wanted something cooling and creamy to balance the heat from the chipotle sauce. So instead of using a classic cream-based crema, I went a little healthier and whipped my avocado in the food processor.
It is so creamy, and a touch of lime plus flaky sea salt makes it so delicious.
Serve up the cream with the crispy tacos and you’ll have the perfect dinner.
If you wanted to take the toppings a step further, I would recommend a pineapple salsa or mango salsa. You all know me, I love a good fruity salsa. The perfect way to liven up an average Tuesday night at home.
Oh, and yes, Red LOVED these (so did the rest of the fam). So I’d say I’m really close to winning that sister of the year award this year. Cool, Cool!
Looking for more simple, Mexican recipes? Here are a few favorites:
Lastly, if you make these, Crispy Cauliflower Tinga Tacos with Honey Lime Avocado Crema, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Crispy Cauliflower Tinga Tacos with Honey Lime Avocado Crema
Calories Per Serving: 503 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 6 cups chopped)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo, finely chopped use to your taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup red enchilada sauce homemade or store-bought
- 8-12 corn tortillas, warmed
- 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- salsa, shredded lettuce, and pickled onions for serving
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- 1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the cauliflower and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is charring, about 5 minutes. Add the chipotle peppers, enchilada sauce, oregano, salt, and 1/3 cup water. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.3. Warm the tortillas for 30 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave, until pliable. On a baking sheet, rub the tortillas with olive oil. Lay each flat and then layer evenly with cheese and cauliflower. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling, gently pushing to adhere (see above photo). Transfer to the oven and bake for 5-8 minutes, then flip and cook another 5 minutes more, or until the cheese has melted and the tortillas are crisp. 4. Meanwhile, make the Honey Lime Avocado Crema. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Season with salt.5. Serve the tacos topped with avocado, lettuce, limes, and any other desired toppings.