This crispy breaded cauliflower is salty, tangy, sweet, spicy, and crunchy all at once! It’s 100% plant based and 100% delicious.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Looking for cauliflower recipes?
Aside from this crispy cauliflower, here are a few top cauliflower recipes:
- Golden Cauliflower Soup
- Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
- Cauliflower Casserole with Gnocchi
- Veggie Burrito Bowl with Cauliflower Rice
- Tomato Coconut Cauliflower Curry
- Grilled Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwich
- Buffalo Cauliflower with Blue Cheese Dip
- Roasted Cauliflower and Apples with Dill
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.Print
Crispy Breaded Cauliflower
- 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)
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs (use gluten free panko as necessary)
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter*
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)
- ½ tablespoon hot sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Chop the cauliflower into large florets. Place them in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, mix together the panko, cornmeal, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, turmeric, and kosher salt.
- 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.
- Pour about ⅓ 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 ½ of the crumbs will remain in the bowl; you can discard these.
- 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.)
*Substitute tahini or sunflower butter for nut allergies.
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Breaded Cauliflower, Crispy Cauliflower
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…?
The peanut butter isn’t super noticeable, it is more for texture! But you can taste some richness and body from it too!
Is it possible to make this without the peanut butter?
We suggest using some kind of nut butter, like almond butter or sun butter for a nut allergy, to help hold it all together!
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!!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Do you use course of fine cornmeal for this recipe?
We usually use medium, but I think fine would work!
Can you use frozen cauliflower?
I think it would work if you thawed the cauliflower and patted it dry! We haven’t tried it.
Any suggestions for a substitution for the cornmeal? I have a corn allergy (also gluten allergy).
Hi! I would just do 1 cup of GF panko without the cornmeal.
Is there anything I can use in place of the peanut butter?
Hi! Tahini would be good.
So easy! I made these for lunch and ate them with smashed avocado, diced onion and garlic salt.
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.
Hi! The creaminess of the nut butter is really useful here. Would sunbutter work?
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