Saucy & Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce - The First Messpin it!Saucy & Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce - The First Messpin it!Date-Sweetened BBQ Sauce - The First Messpin it!Saucy & Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce - The First Messpin it!
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 slight 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.

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!

We finish it 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. Actually, no judgment ever :D

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. Whatever your eating persuasion, I hope you try these! Love and love and then a little more love to you all.

Saucy & Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce - The First Messpin it!Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce - The First Messpin it!Saucy & Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce - The First Messpin it!Saucy & Sticky Sweet Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce - The First Messpin it!
Print the recipe here!
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.

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

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

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

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.

  • Marsha Gibbons11/04/2018 - 7:31 am

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

  • Monica11/04/2018 - 8:13 am

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

  • Allie11/04/2018 - 9:15 am

    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?ReplyCancel

    • Laura11/04/2018 - 10:09 am

      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.

  • mich11/04/2018 - 10:09 am

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

    • Laura11/04/2018 - 4:21 pm

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

  • christine11/04/2018 - 10:33 am

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

    • Laura11/04/2018 - 4:22 pm

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

  • Amanda Maguire11/04/2018 - 11:19 am

    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.ReplyCancel

    • Laura11/04/2018 - 4:23 pm

      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.ReplyCancel

  • callie11/04/2018 - 11:43 am

    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.


    • Laura11/04/2018 - 4:24 pm

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

  • […] 12. My kind of tacos! […]ReplyCancel

  • shay12/04/2018 - 11:42 am

    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!ReplyCancel

    • Laura12/04/2018 - 2:52 pm

      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 :)

  • Saša12/04/2018 - 2:29 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

    • Laura12/04/2018 - 2:53 pm

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

  • Rebecca13/04/2018 - 10:21 am

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

  • Debbie Reynolds15/04/2018 - 7:35 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

  • Cassie Thuvan Tran16/04/2018 - 12:14 am

    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!ReplyCancel

  • The Modern Proper25/04/2018 - 12:28 am

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

  • Sharon27/04/2018 - 2:31 pm

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

  • Keli30/04/2018 - 8:46 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

    • Laura01/05/2018 - 2:36 pm

      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!

  • Terri Edwards03/05/2018 - 10:30 am

    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!’ReplyCancel

  • Link Love - marla young13/05/2018 - 1:09 am

    […]  These sweet potato tacos sound […]ReplyCancel

  • Murielle Banackissa15/05/2018 - 3:25 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

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  • […] here! Serves: 6 Notes: My favourite homemade BBQ sauce is this date-based one that can be found here. -This salad would be just as good over some cold and crisp romaine or iceberg lettuce. -This looks […]ReplyCancel

  • […] the recipe here!SERVES: 4-6NOTES: My go-to BBQ sauce is this date-based one, but any store bought one you like is also great!-I just use cremini mushrooms because the flavour […]ReplyCancel

  • Jessica12/06/2019 - 11:01 am

    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!ReplyCancel

    • Laura12/06/2019 - 11:57 am

      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.

  • Ann from Chicago23/03/2020 - 1:18 pm

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

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