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
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
- 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 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.
- 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
About the Authors
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 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.