Crispy Breaded Cauliflower

This crispy breaded cauliflower is salty, tangy, sweet, spicy, and crunchy all at once! It’s 100% plant based and 100% delicious.

Breaded Cauliflower | Crispy Cauliflower

How often do you eat meatless? Maybe for Meatless Mondays? Maybe vegan or vegetarian during the weekdays? More and more research is showing that not only is eating less meat good for physical health, it’s gentler on the planet too. Which, is why Alex and I started this website in the first place! Today we eat a mainly whole food plant based diet (most of the time, but we flex a little, too!). So, we’re always interested in new ways to make eating plants fun and exciting: like this crispy breaded cauliflower recipe.

Breaded Cauliflower | Crispy Cauliflower

The inspiration behind the recipe

When you eat a lot of veggies like Alex and I do, there’s a lot of room for creativity. Learning to cook vegetables in delicious ways has been a huge learning curve for us. But after 10+ years of cooking this way and writing a book about it, we now feel like experts. Still, there are millions of ideas yet to explore, like this baked and breaded cauliflower recipe. We are HUGE cauliflower fans, and we typically coat it in olive oil and roast it. We’ve never had a crispy breaded version at home.

Alex came up with an idea for a breaded cauliflower recipe that’s baked, not fried. I didn’t believe that he could do it baked, as I thought it would come out all soggy. Alex took it as a challenge and I said, go for it! He set about to make a baked and breaded cauliflower recipe that would be totally crispy and crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.

And it turned out so, so delicious that I was instantly a believer! What I love about this recipe is that it is so many things at once: savory, tangy, sweet, and spicy. And, it really is crunchy after being baked, not fried! Your palate is simply overwhelmed by the complexity.

Breaded Cauliflower | Crispy Cauliflower

How to make breaded cauliflower

A few notes on the basic concept here. When you cut the cauliflower, make sure to cut it into large florets to make them easy to bake. Then, instead of mixing the cauliflower with olive oil like a typical roasted cauliflower recipe, you mix it with a heated mixture of peanut butter, soy, maple, and hot sauce, which helps the breading to stick. Then, you’ll add the breading: panko, cornmeal, and a bunch of spices. Using cornmeal here on Alex’s part was genius: it gives a big crunch to the cauliflower.

After you bake 30 minutes in a hot oven, it’s good to go! The cauliflower is best right out of the oven — though it still tastes crunchy after sitting for a while at room temp. If you refrigerate leftovers, however, the moisture in the refrigerator takes away the crunch.

Breaded Cauliflower | Crispy Cauliflower

How to serve this crispy cauliflower

OK, now the question: how to serve it? Because we loved this breaded cauliflower so much, we decided to make it into a few different recipes. Our favorite: this crispy cauliflower tacos recipe! And we’ve got another bowl meal coming soon. It’s a fantastic side dish or appetizer as well. If serving as an appetizer, you could add a drizzle of Yum Yum sauce or another sauce. Or, kids love this cauliflower with ketchup!

Cauliflower Tacos | Easy Cauliflower Tacos

Looking for cauliflower recipes?

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This recipe is…

This crispy breaded cauliflower recipe is vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free. For gluten-free, use gluten-free panko and tamari.

Breaded Cauliflower | Crispy Cauliflower

Crispy Breaded Cauliflower

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (209 votes, average: 3.97 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This crispy breaded cauliflower is salty, tangy, sweet, and spicy all at once! It’s 100% plant based and 100% delicious.



  • 1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds whole)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (use gluten free panko as necessary)
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)
  • 1/2 tablespoon hot sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Chop the cauliflower into large florets. Place them in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the panko, cornmeal, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, turmeric, and kosher salt.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the coconut oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, soy sauce, and hot sauce until fully combined and slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the sauce onto the cauliflower and stir several times until the cauliflower is well coated.
  5. Pour about 1/3 of the dry mixture into the bowl with the cauliflower and mix. Repeat twice to stir in the remaining dry mixture to coat all of the cauliflower. Then remove the breaded cauliflower from the bowl with your hands and place it onto a parchment lined baking sheet. About 1/2 of the crumbs will remain in the bowl; you can discard these.
  6. Bake the cauliflower for 30 minutes total, flipping the cauliflower with a spatula at the 15 minute mark. Serve immediately. If serving as an appetizer, you could add a drizzle of Yum Yum sauce or another sauce. Or, kids love them with ketchup! (If you have leftovers, you can store them refrigerated and then reheat them in a 350F oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 10 minutes, flipping once.)

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Breaded Cauliflower, Crispy Cauliflower

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    January 30, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    Very curious to try this version of breaded cauliflower! Is the peanut butter noticeable in the flavor, or is it used moreso for making a sticky bindy mixture…?

    • Reply
      January 31, 2019 at 10:22 am

      The peanut butter isn’t super noticeable, it is more for texture! But you can taste some richness and body from it too!

    • Reply
      July 12, 2020 at 6:24 pm

      Is it possible to make this without the peanut butter?

      • Reply
        Sonja Overhiser
        July 13, 2020 at 9:24 am

        We suggest using some kind of nut butter, like almond butter or sun butter for a nut allergy, to help hold it all together!

  • Reply
    Beth Weston
    February 1, 2019 at 11:27 am

    I made the Crispy Cauliflower Tacos last night (actually turned them into a bowl vs. placing them into tortillas). The base was chopped romaine, cabbage and kale. Added chopped peppers, jalapenos, black beans, and your pickled red onions (that were in an earlier post this month). Then topped with the cauliflower and the yum yum sauce. Crunched up some tortilla chips on top. It was UNBELIEVABLY good! I even took to eating several of the uncooked cauliflower bites covered in the panko mix before they went into the oven they were that good!! My husband went wild for this, especially the sauce!! I wasn’t sure if I needed to space the cauliflower out on the baking sheet to make sure it crisped up, so I used 2 pans, but realized afterward I could have probably squeezed them onto one. I used parchment on one sheet and a silicone baking mat on the other and they both came out the same. I will keep this on the rotation. Thanks for another awesome recipe guys!!

    • Reply
      March 23, 2019 at 11:13 pm

      Oh you are so welcome! I LOVE your bowl idea — it’s making me hungry just thinking about it! So glad your husband loved it too. Yes, we were able to squeeze all of ours onto one pan — but it’s never bad to have more space between things on the sheet just in case. Thanks again for the kind comments!

  • Reply
    Katie VK
    February 23, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Yum! Made these with the yum yum sauce. My husband and I ate a whole head of cauliflower standing at the kitchen counter! The peanut butter/maple syrup combo is a brilliant way to make breadcrumbs stick to cauliflower – so often it just falls off – not the case here. I microwaved the sauce because I was lazy, and that method worked just fine. I am curious to see if I can use this concept with other seasonings and sauces for other breaded cauliflower snacks. Thanks ACC – another interesting, successful recipe.

    • Reply
      February 25, 2019 at 8:59 pm

      Ahhh no way! I’m so glad to hear that you accidentally ate a bunch of cauliflower. That’s when we know a recipe was a success! Thank you for sharing this! Let us know if you try this concept with other recipes too!

  • Reply
    July 24, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I made the “crispy” (not really) breaded cauliflower and the chipotle sauce. They were way to sweet tasting for me and I have a sweet tooth. Granted I used more breading than the recipe called for but next time. I would use much less and use half the maple syrup. The chipotle sauce had an overpowering tahini taste. Which for me, I don’t like the taste of.

  • Reply
    August 17, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Do you use course of fine cornmeal for this recipe?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      August 17, 2019 at 1:32 pm

      We usually use medium, but I think fine would work!

  • Reply
    October 2, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Can you use frozen cauliflower?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      October 2, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      I think it would work if you thawed the cauliflower and patted it dry! We haven’t tried it.

  • Reply
    Amy Darrah
    October 20, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Any suggestions for a substitution for the cornmeal? I have a corn allergy (also gluten allergy).

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      October 21, 2019 at 11:21 am

      Hi! I would just do 1 cup of GF panko without the cornmeal.

  • Reply
    October 29, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Is there anything I can use in place of the peanut butter?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      October 29, 2019 at 5:17 pm

      Hi! Tahini would be good.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    So easy! I made these for lunch and ate them with smashed avocado, diced onion and garlic salt.

  • Reply
    Margrethe Mummert
    December 4, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Hubby has peanut and sesame allergies. You suggest tahini as a substitute for Pnut butter but that won’t work for us. You also say the pnut butter is more for texture than flavor. Would Honey instead maple syrup do the trick? I’m trying to think of what could substitute for pnut butter texture.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      December 4, 2019 at 8:57 am

      Hi! The creaminess of the nut butter is really useful here. Would sunbutter work?

  • Reply
    Leona LaBine
    December 13, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Hi, I was wondering if you are crunched for time, can the cauliflower be made ahead and frozen?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      December 14, 2019 at 8:33 am

      We haven’t tried this, so I’m not sure!

  • Reply
    Kimmy K
    December 24, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    This was delicious!!! A huge hit with my family!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    Going to try this – would almond butter work fine?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      January 7, 2020 at 8:36 pm


  • Reply
    February 3, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    Could the maple syrup be left out, or is that essential for the breading to stick? I am trying to avoid added sugars to my meals, and additionally I’m currently living in Argentina where maple syrup is ridiculously expensive.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      February 4, 2020 at 10:16 am

      If you increase the peanut butter it should work out ok!

      • Reply
        February 4, 2020 at 12:04 pm

        Awesome! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Debs Fellowes
    March 12, 2020 at 9:02 am

    We made this last night to have with yum yum sauce, while I loved the coating which did go crispy-ish, we did not like so much the actual inside of the coating, the cauliflower bit, and I found it went cold very quickly. I think the coating would be wonderful on chicken though, sort of home-made chicken nuggets! The sauce was a winner though!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Mind blown. We made these last week as we wanted to stretch a cauliflower for a couple of meals. Sooo good! Already got another cauliflower so we can make them again soon! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      April 6, 2020 at 11:46 am

      Aren’t they so good?! Glad you enjoyed!

  • Reply
    April 21, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Love love love this recipe! The first time I made it, it didn’t come out crunchy, but was still delicious. I made it again, but with tofu and it came out perfect! I think I had too much cauliflower and the pieces were too big. This is a keeper! Oh, and i drizzled the leftover sauce over broccoli. :-p

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      April 21, 2020 at 12:20 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    April 28, 2020 at 3:58 am

    Wondering if this would work in an air fryer instead of baking?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      April 28, 2020 at 8:07 am

      I think it would, but we haven’t tried it! Let us know if you do :)

  • Reply
    May 8, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Can you use corn grits instead of corn meal?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      May 8, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      It might be a little crunchier, but it should work!

  • Reply
    May 12, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    I ate half of them in one night. It was great even without the yum yum sauce! I didn’t have panko so I used normal breadcrumbs, prob why they’re not super crispy. Still amazing tho and I’m already planning on buying another cauliflower. Thanks Sonja and Alex!

  • Reply
    Steve and Dana
    May 17, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    We’ve been vegan for a long time and have always enjoyed cauliflower tacos. But this was next level. If folks are saying it was too sweet, they didn’t follow directions and if others think this would be better for chicken nuggets… please don’t. No animals were harmed with this absolutely brilliant recipe. It was so good, we cooked it all up from scratch and made more the very next night. Thank you!!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      May 17, 2020 at 7:43 pm

      Haha! So glad you enjoyed :)

  • Reply
    May 22, 2020 at 1:29 am

    Hii, this looks amazing I will definitely try it out. Is it 151 calories for the whole plate?? Or per individual piece. Thank you!!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      May 22, 2020 at 10:23 am

      That’s per serving for 4 servings.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    Love this recipe!! Every time I make tacos with this cauliflower recipe, my non-vegan dad is totally delighted. Thanks for sharing the awesomeness. :)

    I have made a few tweaks. I make a pretty large batch, probably 2.5-3 pounds of cauliflower, and I doubled the sauce and breading recipes. It definitely punches up the flavor but we really like it. Also, I find that the cauliflower doesn’t get properly crispy in my oven when baked for just 30 minutes, so I leave it in for closer to an hour. Gets crispier and a little blackened, but not overdone.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      June 29, 2020 at 10:08 am

      So glad you love it!

  • Reply
    Lee Anne
    June 29, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    Any suggestions for subbing out the cornmeal for a corn allergy?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      June 29, 2020 at 7:49 pm

      Hi! You can just do all panko instead of 1/2 and 1/2.

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