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
4.76 stars (53 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 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 5 servings


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


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!


  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.


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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  1. Great recipe.  It looks yummy and tastes yummy.  My omnivore hubby can’t wait for me to make it again.  Thank you for this!

  2. Thanks so much for this amazing recipe Nora! I’ve never made cauliflower and it tastes like Chinese takeout but way tastier, healthier, and without the MSG. You make being a vegan a whole lot easier. Any chance you can come up a recipe for Korean Fried (faux) Chicken? Thanks!

  3. I made this for the whole family and they all loved it. My husband who is not vegetarian loved the cauliflower and said the texture was really great match to chicken. This will become a repeat in our house! 

  4. Phenomenal 🙂 I used flaxmeal in the breading batter to give it a little more stickyness. I substituted the sugar with 2 Tbsp of honey because I didn’t want it as sweet. This was a really great recipe!

  5. This is such a good recipe! So easy and flavorful. I will definitely be making this again. I substituted 1/4 cup agave for the sugar and ended up only using half the panko and about half the batter. So good!

  6. I love this recipe so much! I kept the cauliflower separate because I knew I would have leftovers. (I am cooking for one.) For leftovers, I heat up the cauliflower in the air fryer to make it crispy again. Then put the sauce on top when I’m serving it. And I’m thinking this will likely be one of my weekly rotation meals because it is so delicious and so easy.

    Thank you so much for adapting a classic recipe into an amazing vegan meal!

  7. This was SO delicious! Thank you Nora, the sauce was just perfect. I didn’t have bread crumbs so I used 1/2 ground oats and 1/2 whole oats instead and it made for a nice earthy flavour and crispy texture.

  8. This was delicious! I have some leftover sauce that will be perfect for tofu. Thank you for another great recipe :))

  9. Can’t wait to try this recipe! Does the Sriracha make the sauce spicy? If I hate spicy things should I leave it out? Thanks!

    1. If you hate spicy things yes I would leave it out for sure. It adds a little spice but not too much. Enjoy!

  10. Just made this with some tofu and brown rice. It was a hit! A little bit of sauce goes a long way. Thank you!

  11. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. It was too sweet when I first ate it but the leftovers the next two days were perfect so I”ll just reduce the amount of sugar the next time I make it. I took the suggestion of other commenters and doubled the amount of sauce and it was perfect for the amount of cauliflower I used. It’s nice being able to have dinner with my family when they want Orange Chicken now!

  12. I made this a few nights ago & my husband & I loved it! The different layers of flavors won us over on this delightful change of pace. I served this over a bed of Jasmine rice.

    We slowly started eating plant based 18 months ago & only wish we would have started this many years ago. We are fortunate to have a family physician who eats plant based himself & really cares for his patients. His approach on the plant base subject was subtle but also fascinating at the same time. Our physician suggested starting out slowly & I believe to this day that is really what helped me to change the way I cook now & to be able to stick to it effortlessly.

    I always look forward to your new recipes coming out, I know they will be easy, full of flavor & ideas I wouldn’t have even thought about. I personally am very thankful for all that you do on a weekly basis in your kitchen for all of us to enjoy in our homes ?

  13. Another winner! This is so tangy and delicious; it looks great too. They charge $13 for a smaller serving than this at my local vegan spot, so…thank you! It feels like I’m getting such a treat, way better than take-out. Yum!

  14. Made this tonight and it is so delicious. I served the orange sauce on the side to keep the cauliflower crispy. This will become part of our dinner rotation. Nora, your recipes never disappoint. 5 stars!!

  15. We love this so much we’ve made it twice in a week! Only slight changes we made were using date sugar and slightly less Sriracha. Now that I’ve made it twice, I think I’ll follow the recommendation above and have the sauce on the side. They are delightfully crispy after the oven, but (maybe I cooked them with the sauce too long?) the breading ended up getting soggy with the sauce.
    BTW, I’m a plant-based physician, and yours is the site I send patients (and family) to when they need recipes to assure them that this is a tasty way of eating.

    1. Wow, I appreciate your comment so much, thank you! I’m so glad you like the orange cauliflower, and yes, it’s quite delicious simply dipping the crispy cauliflower into the sauce as you eat it. Thank you again!

  16. This is delicious! I recommend making extra sauce to pour over rice and use more Sriracha if you want more of a kick. Any tips to make the cauliflower more crispy without frying?

    1. Without frying? You could bake them a little longer, but without frying it’s hard to get that deep-fried crispiness. 🙂 The air fryer might make them a bit crispier though. Thanks!

  17. This was delicious; another winner from your site! I will definitively make again. The only change I made was to the temp & time; each oven is different. I could not bear to put those SUPER crispy crunchy florets into the sauce, so I ladled the sauce at the time of serving. I will also be making these as an appetizer using individual bowls of sauce for self-dipping. Thanks for another great recipe.

  18. This is the second time I’ve made this and boy did we gobble it up! I made double the orange sauce and use fresh squeezed oranges. Delicious!!! And I used a sushi sticky rice just because we love it. Thank you for this amazing recipe. I’ll make it again and again!

  19. Hey! I made this yesterday and it is a winner! I didn’t have the sesame seeds but will get those for next time. Doubling the sauce and even the batter is a great idea. Also about half again the panko breadcrumbs. Great meal, though my family wouldn’t try it. I’ll have it for lunch and dinner tomorrow too. Thanks!

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