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This easy recipe for Black Pepper Cauliflower is a vegan spin on black pepper chicken. Bake the cauliflower, make the sweet and spicy pepper sauce, combine and your meal is ready. Nut-free & glutenfree!

vegan baked cauliflower and celery tossed with spicy sweet sauce in a white bowl

Craving takeout? Make Black Pepper Cauliflower! Ever since  General Tso Cauliflower and Cauliflower Wings recipes became viral on social media, we all know that cauliflower is a fantastic veggie to carry all these delicious sweet and sticky sauces we love and usually get delivered from our local takeout favorite.

This recipe for Black Pepper Cauliflower is a new favorite and a vegan spin on black pepper chicken. Bake, make the sauce, combine and yummy! Your meal is ready.

vegan black pepper cauliflower being tossed with sweet and spicy sauce in a saucepan

Unlike many other cauliflower recipes, this one does not require frying. We simply toss the cauliflower florets in cornstarch and some spices – freshly ground black pepper obviously being the most important one – then bake them.

While the cauliflower bakes we make our spicy, sticky sauce, then toss everything together.

a bowl of vegan black pepper cauliflower coated in sweet spicy sauce

For the sauce, we rely on the magic sweet-salty combination of soy sauce and maple syrup along with white pepper, ginger and red chili for a bit of heat. You will love the combination of spicy, sweet and salty in this dish.

I like to add some chopped celery stalks for some fresh crunch.

overhead shot of a bowl with sweet and spicy black pepper cauliflower

You can serve the Black Pepper Cauliflower as is, or with rice, or as a topping for bowls or as a filling for lettuce wraps.  Any way you serve it up will be delicious.

More cauliflower dishes:

Baked Gobi Manchurian; Cauliflower Manchurian

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower

Bbq Cauliflower Wings

 Nashville Hot Cauliflower Bites

Spicy Baked Cauliflower Bites with Celery Ranch. 

Black Pepper Cauliflower

5 from 36 votes
By: Vegan Richa
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Indian
This easy recipe for Black Pepper Cauliflower is a new favorite and a vegan spin on black pepper chicken. Bake the cauliflower, make the sweet and spicy sauce, combine and your meal is ready. Nut-free & glutenfree! 
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Ingredients 
 

  • 3 heaping cups cauliflower florets, , a small head of cauliflower

For the marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or use tamari for gluten-free
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch, or use tapioca starch

For the sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger minced
  • 2 dried red chilies, , such as cayenne, or use California red for less heat or use Chinese, Indian or Thai for spicier
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce, or use tamari for gluten-free
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon or more freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoons cornstarch, or use tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Green onion and sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions 

  • Chop up the cauliflower into small to medium size florets and add to a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, ketchup, oil, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and toss to coat really well(toss for half a minute). Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cornstarch over the cauliflower and toss again until all the cauliflower florets are coated.
  • If there’s any sauce in the bowl then add some more cornstarch. The cauliflower florets should not be wet and also should not have any dry patches of cornstarch.
  • Once all the cauliflower florets are evenly coated, transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread them around so they are not touching each other.
  • Bake at 400ºF (200ºC) for 24-28 minutes. Check at the 24-minute mark if the cauliflower florets are done, otherwise bake for 5 more minutes or so.
  • Meanwhile make the sauce: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and once the oil is hot add the garlic, ginger and dried red chilies and stir for a few seconds. Then add in the onion, celery and a good pinch of salt. Mix really well and cook until the onion just starts to turn translucent.
  • Then add in the soy sauce, maple syrup, black and white pepper and mix in. Mix the cornstarch in the 1/2 cup of water. Then pour that mixture into the pan and mix well. Once the sauce comes to a boil and thickens, switch off the heat.
  • Take the cauliflower out of the oven and add to the sauce. Toss to coat really well. Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds and serve as it is or with rice or quinoa.
  • Store refrigerated in a closed container for upto 3 days.
    This makes a light dinner as is over rice or a side salad. For heartier meal, serve over quinoa or replace half the cauliflower with tofu  to make black pepper cauliflower tofu.

Video

Notes

  • This recipe is nut-free, gluten-free(with tamari) 
  • To make it without cornstarch use another starch such as tapioca starch or potato starch.
  • Dried red chilies substitute, use 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
  • For added heat, break the red chilies into half
  • Oilfree: omit from cauliflower, add 1-2 teaspoons aquafaba or broth instead. For the sauce, sauté in 2-3 tbsp broth and proceed

Nutrition

Calories: 108kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 0.4g, Sodium: 632mg, Potassium: 441mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 309IU, Vitamin C: 71mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this recipe? Rate and comment below!

a small bowl of vegan black pepper cauliflower with a golden fork on the side

Ingredients:

  • cauliflower florets – a small head of cauliflower makes enough
  • the cauliflower is seasoned with  soy sauce, ketchup, and oil as well as garlic powder and ground black pepper
  • cornstarch helps turn the dry and liquid seasoning ingredients into a breading that coats the cauliflower
  • For the sauce we sautee ginger, garlic and chili
  • veggies:  red onion and celery provide some crunch
  • soy sauce and maple syrup are added to achieve that sweet and salty
  • black pepper and white pepper are added for heat
  • a cornstarch slurry helps thicken the sauce
  • garnish: Green onion and sesame seeds

Tips:

  • This recipe is nut-free and gluten-free.
  • To make it without cornstarch use another starch such as tapioca starch or potato starch.
  • If you don’t have dried red chilies, add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
  • for the chilies, you can use California red for less heat or use Chinese, Indian or Thai for spicier

How to make Black Pepper Cauliflower

ingredients for black pepper cauliflower on a marble countertop

Chop up the cauliflower into small to medium size florets and add to a large bowl.

cauliflower florets in a small bowl being drizzled with spicy sauce

In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, ketchup, oil, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and toss to coat really well.

cauliflower florets tossed with spicy sauce in a white bowl

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cornstarch over the cauliflower and toss again until all the cauliflower florets are coated.

If there’s any sauce in the bowl then add some more cornstarch. The cauliflower florets should not be wet but also should not have any dry patches of cornstarch.

Once all the cauliflower florets are evenly coated, transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread them around so they are not touching each other.

cauliflower florets on parchment lined sheet

Bake at 400ºF (200ºC) for 24- 28 minutes. Check at the 24 minute mark if the cauliflower florets are done, otherwise bake for 5 more minutes or so.

minced garlic and ginger in a pan

Meanwhile make the sauce: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and once the oil is hot add the garlic, ginger and dried red chilies and stir for a few seconds then add in the onion, celery and a good pinch of salt.

minced garlic, dried chili and ginger sauteeing in a frying pan

onion and celery sauteeing in a pan

Mix really well and cook until the onion just starts to turn translucent. Then add in the soy sauce, maple syrup, black and white pepper and mix in. Mix the cornstarch in the 1/2 cup of water. Then pour that mixture into the pan and mix well. Once the sauce comes to a boil, switch off the heat.

celery and onion in a saucepan with soy sauce and maple syrup

black pepper sauce and vegetables in a sauteeing pan

Take the cauliflower out of the oven and add  to the sauce. Toss to coat really well.

baked cauliflower being tossed with sweet and spicy sauce in a sauteeing pan

Garnish with some green onion and sesame seeds and serve as it is or with some rice or quinoa for added protein.

This makes a light dinner as is over rice or a side salad. For heartier meal, serve over quinoa or replace half the cauliflower with tofu  to make black pepper cauliflower tofu.

overhead shot of a saucepan with black pepper cauliflower tossed with sweet spicy sauce

Store refrigerated for upto 3 days.

About Richa

Hi, I'm Richa! I create flavorful plant based recipes that are inspired by my Indian upbringing, including many gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free options.

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5 from 36 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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58 Comments

  1. Vna says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! We are not vegan, but find ourselves eating more vegan and trying more vegan recipes because of delicious dishes like this.

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      Awesome!!

  2. Msmoo says:

    5 stars
    Very tasty, didn’t have fresh chili so used Sriracha sauce, with a little tom paste as I also didn’t have ketchup.would love to know what type/brand of soy sauce you use as mine turned out way darker.

    1. Richa says:

      I think the sriracha and tomato paste added to color. I use low sodium soy sauce whichever I find in the store

  3. Greg says:

    5 stars
    Another big hit with the family Richa! You are such a great cook, and a great teacher as well! Thank you for this delicious recipe!

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      Thank you for your kind comments!

  4. VancouverLover says:

    Fantastico! I did it with half tofu, half cauliflower (but a double batch, using a whole medium sized head of cauliflower) and the esposo went crazy over it… almost as crazy as he went over your butter/chicken-free butter chicken recipe. FWIW, I didn’t have celery on hand while making this recipe so I subbed the thick leaves at the base of cauliflower head, chopped up, plus I didn’t have enough black peppercorns and ended up using black pepper + lots of freshly ground szechuan pepper, and boy was this fabulous. Also, I’ve been using your tip of tearing tofu into chunks rather than chopping it into cube-like shapes and baking it with corn starch/seasonings etc. to get a nice crispy, savoury coating before using it in lots of recipes, and this seems to make tofu even more wondrous for former-omnivores… Thanks for another amazing recipe.

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! Glad you liked it!

  5. Big fan says:

    5 stars
    This is one of my favorite recipes from Vegan Richa! Anytime I see it on her Instagram, I get a craving for the black pepper flavor and I just HAVE to make it again. I’ve tried a few variations, like doubling the recipe with a package of tempeh or half a block of tofu (both turned out amazing). I also subbed store-bought general tso’s sauce when I ran out of soy sauce and it was fantastic.

    I have a copy of her cookbook on my shelf and I keep coming back to this recipe, and so many other good ones, again and again. Thanks Richa!!!

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      Thank you for making my recipes!

  6. T says:

    5 stars
    This was great! It was so good that it prompted me to leave a review! This is, in fact, my first time leaving a review for a recipe I found online. I have several of yours saved that I just haven’t made yet. As tasty as this one turned out, I’m sure the others will be fabulous. 😉

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review!