Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 7 votes

Sticky sweet potato tacos with creamy avocado cilantro sauce is a simple and quick dinner. Shredded sweet potatoes sautéed with date-sweetened BBQ sauce for the filling and a cool, naturally dairy-free avocado sauce to top.

An overhead shot of a sweet potato taco in a blue corn tortilla, topped with red cabbage, cilantro, and a drizzle of a pale green creamy sauce.
An overhead shot of sweet potato tacos in blue corn tortillas, topped with red cabbage and a pale green creamy sauce.
Two images show the preparation of date-sweetened barbecue sauce, and then the finished product in a bowl.
An overhead shot of shredded sweet potatoes and a box grater to the side.


When I’m in a cooking rut (feels like I’ve been in one for 6 months lol), I usually make tacos. I either go a saucy-sticky filling route or I take the time to do up something crispy that has a slightly fried feel. Always with shredded cabbage and other crisp vegetables on top, and aaaaalways with some kind of creamy and mellow sauce to finish it all off (along with the obligatory hot sauce and pickled veg). That basic formula is easy and fun to freestyle when it feels like you’ve been eating the same thing for a bit.

I’ve been doing versions of this taco filling for a while. It’s basically finely julienned/shredded vegetables (whatever I have around), sautéed with a shallot, and finished with a sticky BBQ-style sauce. In a minor way, it suggests a saucy, shredded meat situation, but obviously it’s lighter and not exactly toothsome. I love “pulled” jackfruit when I’m in the proper mood, but this preparation for sticky sweet potato tacos hits me just right most days. Bonus: I always have sweet potatoes around, so this one is usually within reach at the last minute.

We tried a date-sweetened BBQ sauce recently that’s made by a very popular brand with the Whole 30 set. It is wildly tasty with a good amount of flavor from ground spices and balsamic vinegar. It was hecka expensive though. I knew I could replicate the sauce given how simple the ingredients are, so here we are! (Future edit: I’ve been buying this brand that’s made in Canada lately, and we like it even more!).

We finish these tacos off with a creamy avocado drizzle that’s loaded with cilantro and lots of fresh lime juice. This recipe is super easy if you don’t mind running the blender twice. No judgment if you want to use a store-bought BBQ sauce that you love to cut down on prep time. I do this a lot!

Even though the filling for these sticky sweet potato tacos is everything, tacos in general need a really good tortilla to make it work. Sometimes I make my own out of cassava flour (with this press), but lately I’ve been buying the heirloom corn varieties from Masienda. Minimal ingredients and the flavor is superior to every other brand I’ve tried. I make a trip over the border and pick them up at the Whole Foods in the Buffalo area.

I’ve also shown a little collard leaf wrapped version here for my grain-free people. Some more taco inspiration for you with these Sweet Potato and Pecan “Meat” Tacos and these very high vibe Raw and Vegan Tacos. And for general sweet potato love, check out these Sweet Potato Cake Patties with Lemony Slaw. I hope that you try these! Love and love, and then a little more love to you all :)

Image shows a hand stirring shredded sweet potatoes and BBQ sauce together in a sauté pan.
Overhead shot of the contents of a blender pitcher: avocado, cilantro, tahini, jalapeno, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Two images show a pack of blue corn tortillas and accompaniments for tacos.
An overhead shot of a sauce sweet potato filling, shredded cabbage, and creamy sauce inside of a collard leaf.

Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce

Sticky sweet potato tacos with creamy avocado cilantro sauce is a quick, hearty, flavourful and simple vegan dinner. Naturally gluten-free!
5 from 7 votes
Saucy & Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce - The First Mess
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Servings 3 -4

Ingredients

Date BBQ Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ cup pitted Medjool dates
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from roughly 1 lime)
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free tamari
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
  • water to thin

Creamy Avocado Cilantro Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 medium ripe avocado
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from roughly 2 limes)
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste

For The Tacos

  • 1 teaspoon heat-tolerant oil, such as avocado
  • 1 shallot, fine dice
  • 1 medium (550-600 grams) sweet potato, peeled & grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
  • corn tortillas, warmed (or collard leaves, see notes)
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage

Equipment

Notes

  • I like to get the sweet potato shreds as long as possible, so I grate it with the long side of the vegetable striking the large holes of the box grater.
  • You could use fresh or pickled jalapeno in the avocado cilantro sauce! I’ve tried the sauce with both.
  • You could use collard leaves instead of tortillas for a grain-free option. As a bonus, they tend to hold a lot more filling than a standard tortilla :)
  • If you want to save some time by using a jarred BBQ sauce, you’ll need a scant cup of it for this recipe. I like this one by Good Food For Good.

Instructions

  • Make the date BBQ sauce. In a medium saucepan, combine the dates, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, tamari, tomato paste, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until dates are soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to an upright blender and blend on high until smooth, adding water by the tablespoon if necessary. Scrape the date BBQ sauce into a small bowl and set aside. Rinse the blender pitcher.
  • Make the creamy avocado cilantro sauce. Peel and pit the avocado. Back in the upright blender, combine the avocado, cilantro, garlic, tahini, lime juice, jalapeno, water, salt, and pepper. Blend the mixture on high until completely smooth, adding more water by the tablespoon if necessary. Scrape the avocado cilantro sauce into a separate container and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Make the filling. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot to the skillet and saute until slightly softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the grated sweet potatoes and stir. Season the filling with salt and pepper. Keep stirring until sweet potato shreds start softening and collapsing into each other, about 4 minutes. Add a splash of water if you notice some sticking.
  • Once sweet potato shreds are soft, add the date BBQ sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. The filling should look quite saucy at this point. If it seems dry, add another splash of water. Keep stirring until the filling is saucy, sticking to the sweet potatoes, and piping hot, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Divide the sweet potato filling among the warm tortillas. Top each sticky sweet potato taco with shredded cabbage and plenty of the avocado cilantro sauce. Serve tacos with extra lime wedges if you like.
18/04/2018 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: appetizer, autumn, creamy, earthy, gluten free, grain-free, main course, nut free, quick, refined sugar-free, salty, sauce, side dish, spicy, spring, summer, sweet, sweet potatoes, vegan, winter

35 comments

5 from 7 votes (3 ratings without comment)

Recipe Rating




  • Sheila

    5 stars
    Delicious flavour bomb!!! Super easy and comes together quickly, will definitely make again, thank you!!!

  • Serra Marinelli

    5 stars
    Loved it! I was nervous at first, in terms of thinking it was a big process with the two sauces but it honestly waa so quick, simple and packed a punch in terms of its flavor! 

  • Brett

    5 stars
    Absolutely loved these, but would strongly recommend cutting back a bit on the acid — it was pretty overwhelming. We made it as written but next time we’d cut the balsamic by half, and not add the lime juice to the cilantro sauce (or at least cut it a bit). We topped ours with additional slices of avocado and a little bit of cotija (whoops, not vegan anymore!), and it was great. Thanks for an excellent recipe! 

  • Stephanie

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe three times already and I’ll keep making it! It’s so good! I prefer to make the bbq sauce in the recipe instead of the store bought one that’s mentioned. I pair it with banza “rice” and a side of black beans or corn!

  • Todd

    This is going on my regular rotation.  Amazing!

  • Ann from Chicago

    Social Distancing is great for home cooking!
    These are great!

  • Jessica

    Hi Laura,

    We bought the Tessemae’s a BBQ sauce awhile ago and loved it, but as you said, it is super expensive. I’m excited to see that you replicated it!

    My first try was a bit of letdown though. The consistency was great, you could tell it could have been delicious, but it was just too tangy, I think the balsamic was a bit overwhelming. What do you think would be the best fix? More dates? Less lime? Thank you!

    • Laura

      Hi Jessica,
      If you’re finding the sauce too tangy for your liking, I would reduce the lime by at least half or skip it entirely.
      -L

  • Murielle Banackissa

    Laura, this looks so delicious! When I first saw the photos, I was certain you used jackfruit. I am so pleasantly surprised that it is made with sweet potato! Also, your bbq sauce sounds absolutely heavenly!! I have been trying to cook with as little refined sugar as possible and to incorporate dates in most of the recipes where I use other sweeteners so it is great to find out that your sauce is only sweetened by dates! Yay! I will definitely have to give these tacos a try very soon.

  • Terri Edwards

    First off, your website and pictures are stunning! Second, this recipe looks amazing, and I can’t wait to give it a try. You had me at ‘Avocado cilantro sauce!’

  • Keli

    Laura,
    This recipe looks amazing! Purchased all the ingredients to make it tonight. Just wondering approximately how many tacos this makes? I see it serves 3-4 but not sure how many tacos each that refers to.

    Thank you!

    • Laura

      Hi Keli!
      We wound up with 8 VERY full tacos when all was said and done. In the end, it really depends on how much you want to load up the tortillas!
      -L

  • Sharon

    I’m going to make this tonight! Taco Night has a new flavor!

  • The Modern Proper

    This looks like just the inspiration needed for tomorrow’s dinner. The flavor in those sauces sounds incredible.

  • Cassie Thuvan Tran

    Love that tacos are your go-to if you’re in a cooking rut. For me, if I’m experiencing a cooking rut, I usually try experimenting in the kitchen! Recently, I’ve been water-sauteing red cabbage and saving the purple juice it excretes to marinate my tofu. It helped me re-vamp my love for cooking and tofu! SO GOOD. But anyways, these sticky sweet potato tacos look absolutely heavenly! I miss cooking with sweet potatoes so much. Definitely have to find a new way to use them!

  • Debbie Reynolds

    Made this recipe tonight. My family loved it – my husband said it was the best meal he has had in months, better than the one we had recently at a hipster vegan restaurant! I had it in a steamed collard leaf and the family had it in flour tortillas.

  • Rebecca

    Your photos here are just so, so lovely! The tacos look super fresh and delicious!

  • Saša

    Just made it for my wife and two boys. The boys don’t like cabbage, avocados, dates, or sweet potatoes. They absolutely loved the tacos though. The younger one said: Out of 0 to 10,000 it is a full 10,000 for him.

    Thank you for this awesome recipe.

    • Laura

      A full 10,000! I love it. Thanks for trying the recipe and for leaving this note. Glad your family enjoyed the tacos! :)
      -L

  • shay

    I heard about your blog through your interview on living homegrown and decided check it out. I made this recipe last night for dinner and it was great! I was skeptical about how the BBQ sauce would come out, but have been trying to make my own condiments more, so I decided to give it a whirl. It was delicious, i will be using that recipe from now on! Thank you for the great recipe!

    • Laura

      Hi Shay,
      So glad that you found the blog through Living Homegrown, but even happier that you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for taking the time to leave a note :)
      -L

  • callie

    Laura, you’re amazing! I have loved the recent influx of recipes to my inbox. I have already made the smoky lentil soup and told everyone about it! Looking forward to making these this weekend.

    peace,
    callie

    • Laura

      Thanks so much Callie! So glad that you enjoyed the smoky lentil soup from “Pretty Simple Cooking.” It’s a keeper recipe for sure! :D

  • Amanda Maguire

    Laura! Your photos are always beautiful, but these are really speaking to me. <3 The colors! The light! Your styling! I'll have to keep an eye out for those corn tortillas at WFM. Lately I've been buying Siete, but it's hard to justify $9 for tiny tortillas that, let's be honest, usually just fall apart.

    • Laura

      Thank you so much, Amanda! The Masienda ones will change your life. Sometimes I just toast one up and eat it with hummus. They’re seriously just so pure and yummy.

  • christine

    oh this sounds so good! and actually easy enough for a weeknight :) :)

    • Laura

      Yes totally! Especially if you go with a pre-fab BBQ sauce ;)
      -L

  • mich

    Goddamn! I am so adding these to our weekly taco game.

    • Laura

      Let me know Joe’s feedback re: hatred of sweet potatoes lol.
      xo L

  • Allie

    This looks so delicious, can’t wait to try!

    I cook for just me most of the time so wondering if the leftover saucy sweet potatoes would get soggy in the fridge? Should I make the full recipe of sauce but only cook up half the recipe at a time?

    • Laura

      Hi Allie,
      So in this recipe, you kind of want the sweet potatoes to be soft! I reheated leftovers (sweet potato + sauce mixed) for my man the next day and they were just as good. Honestly thought it tasted a bit better once I threw a bit in a tortilla for myself.
      -L

  • Monica

    This is a wonderful healthy taco dish…I need to try it. Your photos are wonderful as always.

    • Laura

      Thank you so much, Monica!

  • Marsha Gibbons

    Can you share the name of the store bought barbeque sauce? Thanks!

    • Laura

      It’s Tessemae’s :)
      -L