Orange Cauliflower is a vegan version of the classic Chinese takeout dish Orange Chicken. Rather than being fried like the traditional recipe, this Orange Cauliflower recipe is made with cauliflower florets that are coated in panko and baked to crispy perfection.

orange cauliflower topped with sesame seeds and scallions

Vegan Orange Cauliflower “Chicken”

We’ve all probably heard of the Chinese dish orange chicken. It’s breaded and fried pieces of chicken coated in a sweet and tangy orange sauce. Well, say hello to the vegetarian/vegan-friendly version of the dish, Orange Cauliflower!

Cauliflower is truly a *magical* food. It can be turned into rice, wings, soup and now even crispy delicious bites coated in orange sauce.

I love Chinese food but ordering takeout isn’t always the healthiest. It’s often deep-fried and the sauces are loaded with tons of sugar. And while I have no problem indulging once in a while, on a typical weeknight I prefer to keep things a little bit on the healthier and more nutritious side.

That’s where this orange cauliflower comes in! It’s baked rather than fried, is oil-free and is made with a refined sugar-free sauce that is just lightly sweetened.

The best part? It’ll totally satisfy your Chinese takeout cravings!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Chinese takeout, healthified. Orange cauliflower is baked, oil-free, dairy-free, vegan and can easily be made gluten-free if needed. It’s a healthy dish that doesn’t comprimise on flavour.
  • Easy to make. Toss cauliflower in batter, dip in panko, bake and top with sauce. This recipe is easy to follow and easy to make. Plus it makes minimal mess.
  • Flavour explosion. each bite is packed with tangy orange flavour and you’ll love in every bite!

Recipe ingredients and substitutions

Crispy Baked Cauliflower

  • Cauliflower: the star ingredient! White cauliflower works best for this recipe. You could also make it with broccoli if you prefer!
  • Flour: regular flour, gluten-free flour, whole wheat flour or even chickpea flour will work here.
  • Almond milk: or any type of milk you prefer to use.
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper and garlic powder. We’re keeping it simple for this one.
  • Panko: these Japanese breadcrumbs are light and crispy. You can substitut with regular breadcrumbs if needed but panko works best. You can also use gluten-free panko.

Orange sauce

  • Orange juice: freshly squeezed works best for a delicious flavour! But you can also use packaged.
  • Soy sauce: gluten-free if needed or you can substitute tamari.
  • Rice vinegar: this adds some tanginess to the sauce. You can substitute with white vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice.
  • Coconut sugar: you can also use brown sugar, maples syrup or honey.
  • Garlic: fresh minced garlic.
  • Ginger: fresh minced ginger.
  • Cornstarch: this is an important ingredient to thicken the sauce, so don’t leave it out! You can also use arrowroot starch or tapioca starch.

How to make baked Orange Cauliflower

Step 1

Mix the flour, almond milk, salt, garlic powder and pepper together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cauliflower florets and toss until evenly coated.

Step 2

Dip each piece of cauliflower into a bowl of panko breadcrumbs, making sure to coat each floret on all sides. Then place onto a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Step 3

While the cauliflower cooks, prepare the sauce by mixing the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan on the stovetop. This will help thicken the sauce. Then remove the cauliflower from the oven, transfer it to a bowl and cover in the orange sauce.

Step 4

Serve the cauliflower immediately while it’s still crispy. You can optionally top the Orange Cauliflower with some sliced scallions and sesame seeds which I recommend for extra flavour!

How to serve Orange Cauliflower

There are many different ways you can serve up this Orange Cauliflower recipe. You can serve it on its own, serve it as a meal over rice, or serve it one of a variety of dishes served “family style.” It would also be great served with a side of grilled or steamed vegetables. This Orange Cauliflower would go great with:

Can I make this recipe gluten-free free?

Absolutely! To make this recipe gluten-free you’ll need to substitute the soy sauce for gluten-free soy sauce or tamari, the flour for gluten-free flour, and the panko for gluten-free panko.

If you can’t find gluten-free panko you can also use any type of gluten-free breadcrumbs you have on hand.

How to store leftovers

Store leftovers of this recipe in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the cauliflower evenly. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes until warmed through. Keep in mind that the cauliflower will not be as crispy as it was originally.

This recipe does not freeze well and I don’t recommend freezing Orange Cauliflower.

Tips for making this recipe perfectly

  • Shake any excess batter off the cauliflower before dipping it into the panko. You don’t want too much batter on the cauliflower, it should just be lightly coated.
  • The batter should be thick enough to coat the cauliflower, but not too thick. Depending on the type of flour you use (regular, gluten-free etc.) you may need to add slightly more or less flour. If you find the batter is very thick and chunky, add a bit more almond milk. It should resemble a thick pancake batter.
  • Toss the cauliflower in the orange sauce right before serving. Once the cauliflower is coated in sauce, it will start to lose its crispiness. If you’re not ready to serve the cauliflower right away, wait until you are to add the sauce.

Can I make this orange cauliflower ahead of time?

If you want to prepare this recipe ahead of time, you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and prepare the cauliflower ahead of time by coating it in the batter and panko. Then when you are ready to serve, bake the cauliflower and toss it with the sauce.

If you prepare the entire recipe ahead of time, by the time you serve it the cauliflower will be cold and it will become soggy.

More delicious cauliflower recipes to try

a piece of orange cauliflower being held by chopsticks

If you tried this Orange Cauliflower or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!

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orange cauliflower topped with sesame seeds and scallions

Orange Cauliflower

  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Orange Cauliflower is a vegan version of the classic Chinese takeout dish orange chicken that is made with crispy baked cauliflower bites in a delicious orange sauce!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Cauliflower

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup flour (can sub gluten-free flour or whole-wheat flour)
  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup panko (can sub gluten-free panko)
  • Sliced scallions and sesame seeds to top (optional)

Orange sauce

  • 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar (can sub brown sugar)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, almond milk, salt, garlic powder and black pepper together in a bowl until smooth.
  3. Toss the cauliflower florets in the batter, then dip each piece of cauliflower into a bowl of panko breadcrumbs, making sure to completely coat each piece in panko. 
  4. Place the breaded cauliflower florets on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  5. To prepare the orange sauce, whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan. Raise the heat to medium-high and continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. Then remove from heat. 
  6. Toss the cauliflower florets in a large bowl with the orange sauce until evenly coated.
  7. Serve immediately and optionally top with sesame seeds and sliced scallions.

Notes

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheat in the oven at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. 

This recipe is best enjoyed right away. The cauliflower will lose its crispiness after sitting in the sauce for a while. 

Shake any excess batter off the cauliflower before dipping it into the panko. You don’t want too much batter on the cauliflower, it should just be lightly coated.

The batter should be thick enough to coat the cauliflower, but not too thick. . It should resemble a thick pancake batter.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6th of recipe
  • Calories: 150
  • Sugar: 6g
  • Fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 3g

Keywords: vegan orange chicken, orange cauliflower, Chinese cauliflower