Crispy baked cauliflower bites dunked in a creamy sweet and spicy sauce—yes, we are talking Bang Bang Cauliflower! This lightened up (and vegetarian) version of a classic restaurant dish is just as flavorful and so much easier to make than the traditional version.
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The versatility of cauliflower is astounding, nowadays you can find recipes for rice, gnocchi, steaks, pizza and now crispy-coated bites! I love dunking these crispy bites in the bang bang sauce, but if you’re looking for a vegetarian alternative to chicken nuggets—this cauliflower is it! I like to serve them with honey mustard, BBQ sauce, ranch and more!
What is bang bang cauliflower?
Bang bang cauliflower is a vegetarian take on a popular restaurant dish comprised of crispy fried shrimp dunked in a creamy sweet and spicy sauce. Not only is this version vegetarian, but it’s also much healthier because it’s baked instead of fried.
To make something “bang bang” it’s really all about the creamy spicy sauce. The base of bang bang sauce is mayonnaise. The rest is simple, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, vinegar and honey.
Bang bang cauliflower can be eaten as is—it makes a great appetizer. I also like to serve the cauliflower bites in lettuce wraps with cucumber and sliced serranos.
How do you make bang bang cauliflower?
The process, start to finish, only takes 45 minutes! Here’s the deal, the cauliflower florets undergo a classic breading process; flour, egg then breadcrumbs.
From there you pop them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake them until their golden and crispy. Simple! While the cauliflower bakes whisk up the bang bang sauce.
Can you make this recipe vegan?
Just a few substitutions need to be made to make this bang bang cauliflower vegan.
First up, swap the egg for vegan buttermilk. To make vegan butter milk:
- Combine 1 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk with 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
- Let the mixture rest for 5–10 minutes until curdled.
- Use as directed in the recipe.
Or, you can use aqua faba (canned chickpea liquid) in place of the egg.
Then for the sauce, simply use vegan mayonnaise in place of regular mayonnaise. Et voilà—easy peasy!
You may also like…
- Mexican Cauliflower Rice
- Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri
- Chickpea “Chicken” Salad
- Lentil Stuffed Mushrooms
Bang Bang Cauliflower
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups whole-wheat Panko bread crumbs* or gluten-free as needed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour*
- ¼ cup cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- 1 large head cauliflower, about 2 pounds, cut into florets
- ¼ cup mayonnaise*
- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Thinly sliced scallions, serranos, and sesame seeds (optional)
- Bibb lettuce and thinly sliced english cucumbers for lettuce wraps, optional
- Preheat oven to 450°F (232ºC) with racks set in upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Beat eggs together in a shallow bowl. Combine Panko, oil, garlic powder, 1¼ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a second shallow bowl. Whisk together flour and cornstarch in a third bowl.
- Dip a piece of cauliflower in flour mixture to coat; shaking excess flour off. Transfer to egg and dip, turning to coat; let excess egg drip off then dredge in Panko mixture to coat. Transfer coated cauliflower to prepared baking sheet. Repeat breading process with remaining cauliflower pieces.
- Bake until cauliflower is crispy and golden, 22–25 minutes, flipping pieces and rotating pans halfway through.
- For the sauce, whisk together mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, vinegar and honey.
- Serve bang bang sauce on the side, drizzle it over top of the cauliflower, or toss the sauce with the baked cauliflower—you choose!