Make your own Chinese food at home with this Sticky Sesame Cauliflower with a healthy twist. Vegan, baked, and made with no refined sugar!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.
I've been so excited to share this recipe with you, my friends! For weeks I've been teasing you with pictures on Instagram. I really couldn't help myself.
Why, it's Sticky Sesame Cauliflower, for crying out loud!
If you're a vegan that lives on or has traveled to the West Coast, then you are probably familiar with the ever-loved vegan chain, Veggie Grill, a fast-casual restaurant that focuses on bring veggies to the center of the plate. If you are unfamiliar, please check it out next time you're visiting.
You'll find a full vegan menu with some of your favorite comfort foods: sandwiches like Buffalo Chick'n, appetizers like Mondo Nachos, and tacos like Tres "Fish" Tacos. And I can credit Veggie Grill for first teaching me about the wonders of crispy cauliflower.
Recommended Ingredients & Equipment
I think you’re going to like this one as much as the other cauliflower wings recipes. Sweet, tangy, super saucy, melt-in-your-mouth cauliflower wings with a crispy battered outside for a healthier take on the classic Chinese dish, Sticky Sesame Chicken.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Cauliflower – Crispy cauliflower has now been buzzing around for a handful of years as a popular vegan alternative to chicken. Not only does the cauliflower provide a healthy, whole food option, it also absorbs any flavor you give it. Beyond that, the texture is out of this world. With crispy battered skin and a melt-in-your-mouth buttery inside, crispy cauliflower is a game-changer.
- Chickpea Flour – This is used as an egg replacer, binding the breading to the cauliflower. While I do recommend trying this recipe with chickpea flour, I have had some readers have luck with using regular all-purpose flour.
- All-Purpose Flour – Use 1:1 gluten-free flour blend for a gluten-free alternative.
- Spices – Salt, Garlic Powder, White Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes
- Oil – You will use two different types of oil for this recipe, one for cooking (I recommend either coconut oil or canola oil for this) and sesame oil for the orange sauce.
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Maple Syrup – This is the sweetener of the recipe. Brown sugar or coconut sugar would also do.
- Rice Vinegar – You could also use mirin or white wine vinegar.
- Soy Sauce – Use Tamari for a gluten-free option.
- Rice – White or brown will do. Just note brown takes 2x as long to cook as white rice.
- Toppings (Optional) – Green onions and sesame seeds
You will also need a baking dish or large cast-iron skillet. (<<affiliate links)
Check out the full list of my recommended kitchen tools and gadgets.
How to Make Sticky Sesame Cauliflower
Step One – Batter the Cauliflower
First, break the cauliflower into bite-sized floret.
The batter for this recipe is broken down into two parts. First, we need an egg-like custard to coat the cauliflower in a thick gooey layer. This first step allows the flour mixture to better adhere to the cauliflower which creates the crispy skin.
Through trial and error, I have found that equal parts water and chickpea flour make the best custard for this orange cauliflower. The custard is similar in texture to eggs and because it is high in protein, binds the flour to the florets thoroughly and evenly.
Once your chickpea flour/water mixture is made, the florets get completely submerged into the custard. The next step is coating the wings in the flour mixture. Transfer your flour mixture to a large ziplock bag and fill it with 4-5 florets a time. Zip it closed and shake it up until the cauliflower wings are completely coated in that deliciously spiced flour.
Now we have our skin!
Step Two – Bake the Cauliflower
Once the cauliflower is breaded, line a baking sheet or cast-iron skillet with oil and bake the cauliflower at very high heat, flipping once. I have also tried spraying the cauliflower with cooking spray before baking with great results.
Step Three - Sticky Sesame Sauce
This is a spin on a classic sticky sesame sauce but, to fit with the rest of this dish, I tried to make it just a little healthier. Sticky Sesame Sauce is traditionally made with brown sugar, but in this case, I used maple syrup. This not only cuts out the refined sugar but reduces the amount of overall sweetener.
Mixed with sesame oil, rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce, fresh ginger, and garlic, you'll get a sweet, sesame-y, spicy, and sticky sauce that is so good you'll want to lick the bowl clean.
Pour the sauce over the battered cauliflower and bake for another 5-10 minutes until sauce is sticky and thick.
Serving and Storing
Serve this recipe over rice with green onions and sesame seeds. You could also serve these cauliflower wings in a salad over Romaine lettuce. Do not let it sit out too long. They will eventually lose their crispiness.
This recipe does not store well. It should be eaten on the same day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the cauliflower be cooked in an air fryer?
Why, yes! If you want to try air frying this Sticky Sesame Cauliflower, follow these instructions to cook your cauliflower in the air fryer. I didn’t use an air fryer for this recipe because I wanted to make it more accessible to everyone, but I have had great results with air-fried cauliflower wings with that method.
Can these Cauliflower Wings be Gluten-Free?
Yes. For those of you who are gluten-free, I have had luck using this 1:1 gluten-free flour blend (<<affiliate link) for the breading of the cauliflower wings. If you try other flour alternatives, please let us know how it goes!
More Cauliflower Wing Recipes
Sticky Sesame Cauliflower
Sticky Sesame Sauce
- ½ cup uncooked white rice
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds,
- 1 green onion, sliced thin
- Begin by cooking the rice according to the rice package instructions. While rice is cooking, prepare your cauliflower.
- Preheat oven to 450 F. In a shallow mixing bowl, combine chickpea flour and water, whisking together until thick and gooey. This will act as your binder between the cauliflower and flour mixture. In a separate shallow bowl combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of cooking oil into a heavy bottom baking dish or large cast iron skillet. Dip each floret into the chickpea flour mixture until completely submerged, then dip it immediately into the flour mixture, coating thoroughly. Place the battered cauliflower in the baking dish and repeat until all the cauliflower is covered.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Pull out of the oven, flip cauliflower over and brush or spray the additional 1 tablespoon of oil on the top of the florets. Bake for another 10 minutes.
- While cauliflower is baking, make your sauce. Begin by heating up sesame oil in a small pan. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Whisk in remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour all but 2 tablespoon of sauce over the battered cauliflower and bake for another 5-10 minutes until sauce is sticky and thick.
- Serve immediately over cooked rice. Top with sesame seeds, green onion, and remaining 2 tablespoon of sauce.