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Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower. Cauliflower battered and baked and tossed in spicy kung pao sauce. Super hot Appetizer for gameday. Vegan Recipe. Can be gluten-free with gluten-free breadcrumbs. Double the kung pao sauce for larger cauliflower or to serve over rice. 

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Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower. Cauliflower battered and baked and tossed in spicy kung pao sauce. | VeganRicha.com #vegan #appetizer #snack #cauliflower #kungpao #recipe

 Sundays are shaping up for only one thing these days, Gameday! And all that excitement and 4 hours of tv calls for delicious finger food. 

These crispy kung pao cauliflower bites are just that, crispy, spicy, juicy, hot, and super fun. Bake the cauliflower, make the kung pao sauce.  Arrange the cauliflower in one layer in a serving plate/bowl. Drizzle the sauce just before serving. 

The dish can also be served with rice or other cooked grains. The recipe is for snack kung pao cauliflower bites. Double the sauce to serve over rice, or if you have a good large cauliflower head. The sauce can get hot depending on the chilies you use. Taste before drizzling over the cauliflower. If too hot, make another batch of the sauce without the chilies and mix. For a quick recipe, toss cauliflower in salt, cayenne and oil and bake until done, or cook in a pan with a splash of water until tender, then toss in the sauce. Serve with a jar of cold water. 🙂

Whats your favorite spicy gameday food?

Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower. Cauliflower battered and baked and tossed in spicy kung pao sauce. | VeganRicha.com #vegan #appetizer #snack #cauliflower #kungpao #recipe

Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower. Cauliflower battered and baked and tossed in spicy kung pao sauce. | VeganRicha.com #vegan #appetizer #snack #cauliflower #kungpao #recipe

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Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower. Cauliflower battered and baked and tossed in spicy kung pao sauce. | VeganRicha.com #vegan #appetizer #snack #cauliflower #kungpao #recipe

Spicy Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower Recipe

4.83 from 57 votes
By: Vegan Richa
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 4
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian
Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower. Cauliflower battered and baked and tossed in spicy kung pao sauce. Super hot Appetizer for gameday. Vegan Recipe. Can be gluten-free with gluten-free breadcrumbs. Double the kung pao sauce for larger cauliflower or to serve over rice.
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Ingredients 
 

For the Baked Crispy Cauliflower

  • 5 tbsp corn starch , or other starch
  • 6 tbsp bread crumbs, use gluten-free crumbs to make gf
  • 5 tbsp or more water
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne, use a 1/3 tsp for less heat
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into florets

For the Kung Pao sauce:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 8 to 10 dried red chilies, chinese red chilies, or arbol or cayenne, or use california red for less heat
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely crushed sichuan peppercorns, or use a mix of coarsely crushed black pepper and red pepper flakes
  • 2 to 3 tbsp chopped cashews or peanuts
  • 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger minced
  • 2 tbsp scallions, chopped

Sauce mix

  • 2.5 tbsp low sodium soy sauce/tamari, use certified gluten-free sauce to make gf
  • 1.5 to 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp chinese rice wine, optional
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water, use 1/2 cup for more sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Instructions 

  • Chop up the cauliflower and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F / 220ºc. Mix the cornstarch breadcrumbs, and the rest of the ingredients to make a batter. Let the batter sit for 10 seconds to thicken if it isn't thick. The cornstarch continues to thicken the batter, so as soon as it is a good not too watery consistency, start dipping the cauliflower in the batter, tap to drop excess and place on parchment lined baking sheet. If the batter thickens too much while working, add a tsp or more water and mix in and continue.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or longer until the florets are cooked through. Check with a toothpick/knife
  • Meanwhile make the sauce. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the red chilies and peppercorns and cook until the red chilies are fragrant, but not overly brown, or someone starts sneezing. (For more heat, break some of the chilies into half and add to the skillet.)
  • Add the nuts and mix for a few seconds. Add the ginger, garlic, reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until the garlic is golden. 4 to 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Add in the scallions, and 2 to 3 tbsp finely chopped green peppers or other veggies if using and mix in. Increase heat to medium. Cook for a minute.
  • Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl and add to the skillet. Continue to cook until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens slightly. 2 mins. Carefully taste and adjust salt, sweet and spice. If the sauce is not hot enough, break a few of the chilies open or add in red pepper flakes to taste and mix in.
  • Arrange the baked cauliflower in a shallow bowl in one layer. When ready to serve, Drizzle the sauce over each floret. Serve.
  • To store, store the baked cauliflower and sauce separately. Heat the sauce, pour over the florets. To serve with rice/cooked grains, double the sauce mix and bring to a boil to thicken, toss in the cauliflower and serve immediately over rice.

Video

Notes

Its easy for the sauce to go from mild to super hot with the broken chilies. Whole chilies add a smoked mild heat flavor and you can adjust the heat using pepper flakes later. I usually break half the chilies and use hot cayenne or thai and the sauce easily gets to 5 star heat. 🙂
Nutritional values based on one serving

Nutrition

Calories: 189kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 6g, Sodium: 690mg, Potassium: 200mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 230IU, Vitamin C: 30.1mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 1.5mg

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

Did you make this recipe? Rate and comment below!

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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4.83 from 57 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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170 Comments

  1. T says:

    I am salivating at 3:38 in the morning :’) nice

  2. Suzanne says:

    I would like to try to replace the corn starch and the bread crumbs in this recipe. I am thinking maybe a chia egg and some coconut or chickpea flour. What do you think?

    1. Richa says:

      chickpea flour would be too strong a taste and coconut flour will not work as it doesnt make a good batter. Make a batter with wheat fjour and water or a gluten-free blend and water until it is thick and doesnt flow off the cauliflower too quickly. You can also roast just the cauliflower (no batter, just salt + cayenne), or cook it in a pan with some water until done, then toss in the sauce.

      1. Iris says:

        I followed the recipe exactly just cant get the sauce right

        1. Richa says:

          Can you elaborate on right? does it thicken too much, is it thin, too spicy?

  3. Cassie says:

    5 stars
    Awesome recipe–it looks so flavorful, crispy and delicious!

  4. Susan says:

    3 stars
    Made this dish. Cauliflower are really tasty. Struggled with recipe for batter! Mine looked like dry and crumbly. Had to add a lot of water to make it batter consistency. Right off the bat I’m concerned. Struggled with sauce. By the time I had followed directions and put everything in, I only had about two large spoonfuls of sauce. Sauce also needed quite a bit of fiddling to balance. My suggestion is include more veggies as suggested, like bell pepper and carrot. Then double or even triple the sauce! Worst that could happen is you have a lot of it. Then serve everything on basmati rice as an entree. I’m not giving up but this needs tweaking. I find this a lot in vegan recipes. They can be fiddly and then need tweaking. No such thing as “easy” vegan unless three ingredients or less!

    1. Richa says:

      Hi Susan, the recipe was missing 1/4 cup water, it said 1/4 before, so that might explain the water needed in the batter.
      I am not sure about what happened to the sauce. There is more than 1/2 cup liquid to begin with. maybe the sauce was cooked too long and the liquid evaporated? you can add more water to the sauce if it reduced too much, and bring to a boil and use. Hope you make it again.

    2. Jacqueline says:

      One small critique, I do agree about the batter. Although the consistency ended up being ok, the quantities listed didn’t make much batter at all. I even made a double batch of it and it was barely enough to cover the florets one smallish-medium head of cauliflower, and the coating was pretty thin, so it’s not like I was gobbing it on. I’ve got it in the oven though, and I’m sure it’ll still be delicious! I absolutely love your recipes, Richa — the butternut squash burger with sriracha mayo still makes my mouth water, even though I’ve made it over and over 🙂 Thank you so much for everything!

  5. AK says:

    My mouth is watering… Thank you for making great food so accessible!!

  6. Ann S says:

    This looks delicious! Kung Pao veggies is my standard order at my local Chinese takeout place :). I’m not sure I understand the measurement for the water in the batter. Is it 1/4 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp, or is it 1/4 some other unit of measurement + the 1 Tbsp. If the former it doesn’t seem like enough water to make a batter. Can you please clarify? Thank you!

    1. Richa says:

      1/4 cup + 1 tbsp water. updated.

      1. Faye says:

        Recipe above says 5 TBSP water for the batter?

    2. Vicki Bartlett says:

      5 stars
      I just put the cauliflower in the oven, to bake! I used enough water (more than 1/4 c.) to make a paste. Poured the paste over the cauliflower in a large bowl, and mixed well. Spread it out on a parchment paper lined pan…we’ll see how it goes!

  7. Ann S says:

    This looks delicious! Kung Pao Veggies is my standard order at my local Chinese takeout place :). I’m not sure I understand the amount for the water in the batter. Is it 1 Tbsp + 1/4 Tbsp, or is it 1/4 of some other measurement plus the 1 Tbsp? If the former, it doesn’t seem like enough water to make a batter. Can you please clarify? Thank you!

  8. Cadry says:

    Oh, my gosh! This looks fabulous, Richa. What a great use of cauliflower.

    1. Richa says:

      Thanks Cadry! it is spicy and crispy and so good!

  9. Heidi Kokborg says:

    This looks so good. It’s been way too long since I last had cauliflower!

    1. Richa says:

      You must change that 🙂

  10. Amelia Littlejohn says:

    Cauliflower is one of my favourite foods – I must try this way of cooking it, looks fab.

    1. Richa says:

      Mine too!