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

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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.

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Breaded Cauliflower | Crispy Cauliflower

Crispy Breaded Cauliflower


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

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

  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 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.
  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.)

Notes

*Substitute tahini or sunflower butter for nut allergies.

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

Keywords: Breaded Cauliflower, Crispy Cauliflower

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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68 Comments

  1. 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…?

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

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

  2. 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!!

    1. 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!

  3. 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.

    1. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. 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!!

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

  13. 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.

  14. I am on a low salt diet. Thoughts on leaving out the sit sauce? I would probably use almond butter or fresh ground peanuts instead of peanut butter to get the side in down. Do you have an idea of total sodium per serving the way it is now? I live your site BTW, any favorite low salt recipes?

    1. Hi! I think that would be fine to leave it out.

      Our nutrition calculator doesn’t do sodium well. A 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt has 960‬ mg of sodium, so it would just depend on how much salt is in your peanut butter and panko. We don’t have any other low sodium specific recipes, but we try to use whole foods as much as possible and add kosher salt to taste. These are some of our favorite quick dinners: https://www.acouplecooks.com/easy-dinner-ideas/

  15. This recipe is AWESOME. Make sure to follow the right amounts for breading otherwise you’ll end up with a breading too heavy that doesn’t quite crisp up. I always have to make this with the biggest head of cauliflower I can find as my 10 year old son devours it. And don’t be worried about it being too sweet – unless you use a lot less cauliflower than called for or sweetened peanut butter – it’s only a tbsp maple syrup. Great recipe!

  16. This looks good but have you tried making crispy cauliflower bites without breading? I bought a bag at Costco yesterday and I really like them but they were expensive and a bit too greasy for me. They are by a company named Rhythm… Organic Cauliflower Bites… They are very crispy and delicious. I would LOVE to learn how to make them at home.

    Any ideas?

  17. I saw beautiful cauliflower at the store and bought some. Usually I hesitate – I’m sad to admit the head usually goes into the garbage after a couple of weeks. Well I found this wonderful recipe and made it for lunch. I’m sitting here munching as I type. I’m right now trying to prevent myself from eating an entire head of cauliflower in one sitting! They were also really delicious before going into the oven – I never thought to add peanut butter. I will be making these again. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  18. This is a winner and it’s the first recipe of yours I have tried! I didn’t have coconut oil so subbed with Canola – I am sure coconut would add more flavor. But no matter, this was delicious! Finished to the last crumb with family requests to make again this weekend. Thanks for the great idea – I will be trying out more of your recipes.

  19. I’m so glad I found this receipe! I made it into cauliflower tacos. My family luved it! Thank u!

  20. Definitely not my cup of tea. The breading didn’t really soften enough; I don’t think I’d use the cornmeal next time. In general, too much work for the payoff. (I do think the leftovers will be better today, when they’ve had a chance to soften a bit.)

    1. You can substitute tahini or sunflower butter for nut allergies! We updated the recipe accordingly.

  21. Thank you for this recipe! My wife had been struggling to find foods that literally do not hurt hurt to eat. She indicated she may have to try vegan. Having been a meat and potatoes man my whole life I had no idea what to do but I needed to make sure she was getting good nutrition. I looked up easy vegan recipes, not having a clue what to look for, and your site was my first hit. The first thing I came across was your Cauliflower Tacos with Yum Yum Sauce. I figured, why not? Everyone loves tacos. After milling around a grocery looking for ingredients I’ve never heard of for an hour I managed to find everything. After the mixing and cooking (which was quite easy) I managed to whip up these little gems and they were delicious! It had been a long time since my wife had been able to eat a full meal of anything without discomfort. Not this time! She was so thrilled (and full!) and I am extremely excited about having delicious and nutritious options to make in the home. Thank you for what you provided and we are excited about trying other dishes from your site. Sincerely, Scot and Aranda.

    1. Scot — we are thrilled to hear this! We are so glad your wife enjoyed the meal without digestive pain. So so happy you enjoyed it and please send our regards to Aranda!

    1. Good question! I don’t think they’d stay crunchy but you could definitely reheat in a cast-iron skillet and they’d still be tasty.

  22. Wow!!! This recipe really works – produces truly crispy, delicious cauliflower. Our hot sauce of choice for cooking is sriracha, and I admit I sneaked a little extra into the coating. I used about 3/4 T of brown sugar instead of maple syrup. (I do a lot of stir-fry, and brown sugar is my favorite way to add the little bit of sweetness that accents the savory.) An extra 5 minutes in the oven (every oven’s different; mine is elderly). Otherwise, exactly as the recipe is written. Fantastic crunch, lovely layering of flavors, and sure to be a favorite go-to recipe whenever I find a nice head of cauliflower in the market. Thanks!

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