Sweet Thai Peanut Cauliflower Tacos

Meatless Mondays aren’t just for Mondays anymore, and Taco Tuesdays are certainly not just meant for Tuesdays! Enjoy these meatless tacos any day of the week.

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The combination of savory and sweet paired with crispy cauliflower is also a win-win at any party. This is my husband, David’s, absolute favorite recipe in the book, and he has tried them all!

Reprinted with permission from Epic Vegan © 2019.

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Sweet thai chili sauce

  • 1 cup packed organic light brown sugar 
  • ½ cup water, divided 
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch 
  • 1 tablespoon  ketchup

Taco sauce

  • 1 batch Sweet Thai Chili Sauce 
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter  

For cauliflower:

  • Canola oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal or polenta
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1½ cups seltzer water
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into tiny florets (see Tip)

For tacos:

  • 8 small (6-inch) soft taco shells, warmed (see Tip)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 2 scallions, chopped (optional)
  •  Cocktail peanuts, crushed (optional)
  • White sesame seeds (optional)


Thai Chili Sauce

1. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, ¼ cup of the water, rice vinegar, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved. 

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining ¼ cup water to create a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the saucepan until well combined. Simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, until thickened. 

3. Whisk in the ketchup and transfer to a serving dish or use as needed in a recipe. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Yield: 1 cup 


1. To make the sauce: In a small saucepan whisk together the Thai chili sauce and peanut butter. Bring to a simmer and heat for 2 to 5 minutes, or until all the peanut butter has mixed in and the sauce is smooth and creamy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. To make the cauliflower: In a wok or large saucepan, pour 3 inches (7.5 cm) of canola oil. Heat the oil 350°F (175°C) when tested with a candy thermometer or a drop of batter bubbles up to the top and fries quickly. Line a plate with paper towels.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal or polenta, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the seltzer water until well combined and a thick batter forms.

4. Working in 2 batches, transfer half of the cauliflower florets to the batter. Mix around until all the pieces are fully coated. Using tongs, shake off excess batter and carefully transfer battered cauliflower pieces, 1 at a time, into the frying oil.

5. Fry in small batches for 4 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower to the paper towel–lined plate. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower.

6. When all the cauliflower has been fried, transfer it to a large bowl and toss with the peanut-chili sauce.

7. To build the tacos: Start with a warm tortilla, 2 tablespoons (about 14 g) carrot, 2 tablespoons (about 9 g) cabbage, 6 to 8 coated cauliflower florets, and a sprinkle of scallions, peanuts, and sesame seeds (if using). Serve warm.


It’s important for these florets to be small so that several can fit on a taco. To make them the size of 1 or 2 marbles, completely remove the stem and cut the floret into smaller florets. Before you fry the cauliflower, warm the taco shells by setting them on a baking sheet (overlapping is okay) and placing in 200°F (93°C, or gas mark ½) oven until time to build the tacos.