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
4.87 stars (50 ratings)

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.
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 5 servings

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
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. The sauce was way too sweet. I washed the cauliflower and put it back in the oven so I was able to eat it. Other than that, seems to be a good recipe. Just everyone be aware of how sweet it will be it you follow that recipe exactly. 

  2. I made this tonight. It was very delicious! My son loved it, he is vegetarian. I doubled the sauce and had 2 trays in cauliflower. I only sauced one. I will reheat the other tray in the oven tomorrow. Rather than adding the cauliflower to the sauce I will drizzle it on to the cauliflower. I think because I uses gf panko it loses crispness quickly but was still sooo good!
    Thanx for this recipe. I will add this to the rotation 🙂

  3. This is such a great dish! I am not always a fan of cauliflower dishes but the breading and baking made it perfect! I did double the sauce recipe and still had no extra sauce, but the perfect amount.

  4. Just tried this recipe and absolutely LOVE it!! So yummy. I did not have panko bread crumbs on hand so substituted with a mixture of rice flour and seasoned bread crumbs. Seemed to work out. Very tasty. This will definitely be a dish I make on a regular basis. Looking forward to tasting it with the panko too.

    1. I appreciate you taking time to share you great feedback and ideas! I love the orange cauliflower as well! I’m thrilled you’ll be making it lots! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

    1. Hi Nicole. I have not used honey, and am not sure how that substitute would work. I know others have used honey and said it worked well. You could also use 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave. Coconut sugar would also work as well.

  5. So delicious and easy to follow!! I’m shocked that the sauce is so simple yet so delicious!! Thanks for sharing

    1. You are welcome! I’m so glad you find the recipe easy and delicious! Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful review and comments!

  6. This is seriously one of my favorite recipes! The first time I made this (a few months ago) we couldn’t believe how delicious it was! I cook this every couple of weeks because we just can’t stop eating it. 10/10! 

    1. I’m thrilled you love the orange cauliflower, and that it has become part of your meal rotation! Thanks so much for sharing your review and comments!

  7. This is a FABULOUS recipe.   I doubled the sauce and kept a bowl on the table for those who wanted more.
    I also used parchment paper on the baking sheet for the cauliflower.  It is a great way to make things crispy without all the oil.
    I lighted sauteed snow peas and sprouts and served on the side for color. 
    EVERYONE in my family (not all Vegan) loved this dish.  
    Thank you Nora–your recipes never disappoint.

    1. I can just see your meal in my mind, and it’s beautiful! Thank you for taking your time to share your wonderful review and comments!

    1. You can just leave them out if needed. They won’t be quite as crispy. I don’t really know of a good alternative.

  8. These are absolutely delicious and the hit of my vegetarian, gluten-free dinner party. I’ll be making them again!

    1. Thanks a lot for sharing your great review, Carole! I’m glad the cauliflower was a hit! Happy cooking!

  9. This is the second recipe I am trying of Nora’s and it didn’t disappoint. The flavors are spot on! I followed the recipe as is but did cut down on the sugar a bit and maybe next time, I will add half the sugar. I am not vegan but so happy to have found this website, everything seems so full of flavor and I can’t wait to try more! Thank you for giving us easy and tasty dishes!

    1. Welcome to Nora Cooks! I’m really glad you are enjoying my recipes, and are finding them easy and declicious! Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful review!

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