Orange Cauliflower is a vegetarian version of the popular Chinese orange chicken! And honestly, you won’t miss the meat at all. The sticky orange sauce is incredibly addicting, and the cauliflower is baked, not fried.

bowl with white rice and orange cauliflower, green onions on top

Who knew that cauliflower would be such a great swap for chicken? I used to say I didn’t like cauliflower, but I really just meant I didn’t like eating cauliflower raw or steamed. Now? I’m obsessed with the vegetable!

Cauliflower is all the rage these days, and for good reason. It makes a great stand in for chicken, and when prepared correctly is just plain amazing.

I was inspired to create this recipe one day while making my Orange Tofu. It hit me how incredible the sticky orange sauce would be with crispy golden cauliflower and I just had to try it! I hope you love it as much as I do.

pan with orange cauliflower, soaked in sauce

How to make Orange Cauliflower

(this is an overview with photos, the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)

  1. You will have a bowl with a flour/water batter and a bowl with panko breadcrumbs. It’s also a good idea to have your parchment lined baking sheet nearby. Coat the cauliflower pieces in the batter, then roll in the breadcrumbs.
  2. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving space in between or they will stick together when baking.
  3. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and crispy. While they bake, make the sauce on the stovetop, and cook your rice.
  4. Once the cauliflower are done, add them to the pan with the sauce and stir to coat.
  5. The cauliflower will absorb all of the sauce, so if you want them saucier, double the sauce. The cauliflower will also get tender once mixed with the sauce, they don’t stay incredibly crispy but they are delicious none-the-less.
  6. Serve with rice, green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.

collage of how to make orange cauliflower

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To make Orange Cauliflower gluten free, swap a gluten free flour for the regular flour, gluten free panko breadcrumbs and tamari instead of soy sauce.

Want more recipes where cauliflower stands in for meat?

chopsticks holding a piece of cauliflower in sauce

square image of cauliflower

Orange Cauliflower

Orange Cauliflower is a vegetarian version of the popular Chinese orange chicken! And honestly, you won't miss the meat at all. The sticky orange sauce is incredibly addicting, and the cauliflower is baked, not fried.
4.91 from 30 votes

Ingredients

Crispy Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower (about 5 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup flour (see notes for gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs (see notes for gluten free)

Sticky Orange Sauce

  • 1 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed preferred
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (see notes for substitutions)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water

Optional, for Serving

  • 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • chopped green onions
  • sesame seeds

Instructions

Roasted Crispy Cauliflower

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Wash and cut cauliflower into bite sized pieces.
  • In a large bowl, add water, flour, garlic powder and salt. Whisk until well combined. Place the breadcrumbs in a medium sized bowl and set it next to the wet batter bowl. Also place your baking sheet nearby.
  • Add the cauliflower to the bowl with the wet batter and toss to combine, coating all the pieces well.
  • One by one, remove a cauliflower piece, tapping any excess batter off, and roll in the breadcrumbs to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other, or they will all get stuck together as they bake.
  • Bake for about 20-30 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Sticky Orange Sauce

  • In a large pan (large enough to fit the cauliflower and sauce), add all sauce ingredients except the cornstarch and water. Bring to a boil, and cook for a minute or two.
  • Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl to combine, and then add to the pot. Stir over medium-high heat constantly for a couple of minutes, until the sauce thickens.

To Finish

  • Once the cauliflower is done, add it to the pan with the orange sauce and stir to coat. There won't be a lot of extra sauce; if you want more double the sauce.
  • Serve over brown or white rice. Sprinkle with green onions and/or sesame seeds. Serve hot and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Gluten Free: Replace the flour with an all purpose gluten free flour mix, or even brown rice flour. Use gluten free panko breadcrumbs and tamari instead of soy sauce.
  2. For the sweetener, you could also use 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave. Coconut sugar would work as well.
  3. Fresh squeezed orange juice produces the best tasting sauce, but you could use orange juice from a bottle in a pinch.
  4. Air Fryer: You could make the crispy cauliflower in an air fryer. To do so, coat them with the flour/water mixture, then the breadcrumbs and place in a single layer in the air fryer. Air fry at 375 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Remove, then mix with the sauce and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 314kcal, Carbohydrates: 67g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 566mg, Potassium: 541mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 28g, Vitamin A: 99IU, Vitamin C: 81mg, Calcium: 77mg, Iron: 3mg

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