Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce

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.
Saucy & Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce - The First Mess
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5 from 1 vote

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!
PREP TIME25 mins
COOK TIME12 mins
TOTAL TIME37 mins
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 3 -4
Author: Laura Wright

Equipment

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

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.

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.
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