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. Thank you for sharing your review, Joy! I’m glad you guys loved the orange cauliflower and will be making it often! Happy cooking!

  1. The flavor of the sauce is delightful! Next time I will plan ahead and double. I love how crispie the cauliflower got, will use this method in the future with other sauces. Nora, I love your site and your recipes. Thank you for including nutrition information. I am so very happy that I found you!

    1. Hi Laurie. Thank you for kind words, they. mean a lot to me. I love creating and sharing recipes! Thank you for taking your time to share your wonderful review! I’m glad you found my site, and thank you for using my recipes! Happy cooking!

  2. Hands down copy cat for Chinese take out but 100 times better and love that it’s vegan.  I tried this recipe with cauliflower and also with tofu (used the same batter and panko recipe) … absolutely delish!
    I also made nora’s fried rice with it! 
    A family fave even for the meat eaters in our family! 

    1. I love the description of your homemade Chinese take out, complete with fried rice! Thanks for sharing your fun and fantastic review! Glad you guys love it!

  3. Hi, this recipe sounds sooo good! Have you had any experience bringing it to a potluck? Or as a dinner guest? I’m just not sure if a 30 minute trip in an insulated carrier would have great results…but would love to!

    1. I think it would be just fine. It might be a little better served immediately, and if you could briefly warm it up again once you arrive, that might be good. I haven’t personally brought it to a potluck, but I probably will!

  4. ALL of your PICTURES are so AMAZING & AWESOME!!!!!

    WOW!!!! THANKS AGAIN for all of your YUMMY VEGAN RECIPES!!!!!!

    YOU ROCK NORA!!!!!


    1. Thanks Brenda! I’m glad you are enjoying the recipes and the pictures! I love food pictures! Happy cooking!

  5. I absolutely had to leave a comment! I made this tonight and it is fantastic, my kids ate it and my meat eating husband loved it!!! Thank you for this recipe, I’ll be added it to my regular rotation. The only substitute I used was maple syrup instead of granulated sugar. 

  6. Making orange chicken right now.  I have been using the bbq recipe  for cauliflower wings.  I do not understand why all your baked caulflower recipes have different oven temps and why you use flour in orange chicken and cornstarch in a different but similar recipe.  I also used cornmeal when making bbq wings which my family loved but I didn’t see you make the sub for orange chicken.  Just wondering if you could take the time to explain the reasoning behind different cooking styles you use.
    Thank you for your recipes.  I have been enjoying  making your recipes.  

    1. Hi there! I created each recipe at a different time with a lot of testing behind each one. There are minor differences, and in the recipes you listed, there are many ways you could go about cooking them. I’m not totally sure what recipes you are talking about, I have an orange tofu recipe and this orange cauliflower, but nothing called orange chicken? If you found what you like, it is of course fine to adjust recipes to that option, such as the cornmeal. Many recipes are quite flexible, with the exception of baking recipes. Hope that helps answer your questions.

  7. I’ve made this a few times. Pretty good! Even more than me, my husband loves the taste of the sauce. I have excluded the sugar entirely though and it’s still a little too sweet for me, just with the orange juice and being paired with white rice. (And trust me, I’m a sugar addict, so that is really saying something!) This time I tried balancing the sweetness by adding more sriracha, which might have helped a little.

  8. This is one tasty dish! We were really happy, enjoying that amazing sauce – even my 16 yr old who dislikes cauliflower ate it !! We have plans for this sauce- Wowwee! We had it with plain rice and some lovely green beans. Very filling!

    The one complaint I could make is that for me, I had way too much left over crumbing and batter- I could have done double the amount of cauliflower with what I had left over. Panko bread crumbs are expensive where I am and the amount of mylk I ended up not using was a bit disappointing. Next time I will make half the amount of the crumbing parts of the recipe. ( and double the sauce because it is so good- it actually made the prefect amount for this recipe though!!) Thanks Nora for a really simple, successful, yummy recipe!

    1. Hi Sharon! I’m glad you and your family enjoyed the orange cauliflower. Sorry you had leftover breadcrumbs that went to waste! I do usually use nearly all of the crumbs, but this does depend on the size of your cauliflower, so you can definitely start with less and add more if needed, that is not a problem at all. Thanks so much for your comment!

  9. I’ve only left a recipe review once before but I had to for this one.  SO YUMMY!  We omitted the sugar but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.  It was perfect.  We served some of the cauliflower without the sauce and that was delicious too.  Easy and (dare I say?) fun to make!  My kids loved that the florets looked like snowballs about to bake in the oven.  It was our first snowfall too so they came in from sledding for dinner!  When I thickened the sauce I left the rinds peel-side down in the liquid to add more orange flavor.  We served it with wild rice and sautéed mixed greens.  We all really loved this.  My daughter is eating the leftovers for lunch as I type! 

    1. Thanks! Is there a reason you gave it 4 stars instead of 5? 5 star reviews help me out a lot, so if you loved it let me know! 🙂 I’m so jealous you have snow! How fun. Thank you!

  10. I made this tonight and it was a HIT! Really delicious. A keeper for sure. When I make it again, I think I’ll add some pineapple to it. Delicious! Love your recipes!

  11. Made this last night! Easy to follow directions and it came out SO GOOD!! Everyone in our family loved it! I was pleasantly surprised that the sauce was actually thick. I want to eat this atleast once a week! We paired it with fried rice. I said it before and I’ll say it again…all YOUR recipes are always so good! When we need a vegan recipe…go to Nora Cooks Vegan!!! You’re amazing!

  12. Just made this for the first time, and it is absolutely amazing. I can’t believe how delicious it is, especially considering that it has no oil in it. My hubby won’t try cauliflower, so I used broccoli for his half and he is raving, too! We will be making this again.

  13. Just made this today with my home grown cauliflower. Hated cooked cauliflower but this was delish.

  14. I’d recommend doubling the sauce ingredients if you’re using a medium-large size cauliflower. I used apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar because I didn’t have any. It still turned out great. Thanks Nora!

  15. I made this today. My kids say 4 stars. I doubled the sauce recipe because I had an extra large head of cauliflower. To save time, I did not individually marinate and coat with the Panko. I simply poured the batter over the cauliflower and used my hands to coat each piece. Then I poured the Panko over it. It was very messy. ?. I will try this with tofu too. 

  16. My daughter gave this recipe to me and it was Delicious.My hubby didn’t even ask for meat.  Will definitely make again next time maybe a lemon version. 

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