Crispy Baked Cauliflower Bites - These crunchy veggie nuggets are a lighter and healthier alternative to the usual fried chicken wings out there. They are vegan, oven baked, gluten free, quick, and easy!
The light and tantalizingly spiced batter creates a bronze coating that crunches perfectly. The moist and slightly chewy interior of these florets is a perfect match for the sweet and spicy dipping sauce.
We use some blackening spice blend in the batter, as well as some smoked paprika for a touch of heat and richness of flavor. The honey based dipping sauce has a little ginger for an added zesty kick. Our remoulade sauce would also make a perfect dipper.
The Cauliflower Craze
Cauliflower has been turning up all over the place in the last few years. It's mild flavor, relatively low moisture, and high fiber content make it very versatile. When processed, this vegetable is a darling of the gluten free and healthy eating movement, sitting in for pizza crusts, pasta, rice, and even mashed potatoes.
This vegetable is a member of the cruciferous veggie family, which is known for many health and nutritional benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, cauliflower is high is vitamin c and k, fat and cholesterol free, supports healthy cell growth, and a one cup portion only has 25 calories!
Baked, Not Fried
These crispy cauliflower bites are so incredibly healthy, that the tendency is to resort to an unhealthy cooking method, frying. While this would probably be absolutely scrumptious, we have figured out a way to keep that healthy ball rolling without any sacrifice in flavor, with a couple of simple oven baking tricks!
High Heat, Hot Pan
First, make sure that your oven is fully heated to 425. This level of blistering heat makes the batter set up to create a fantastically crisp coating without needing any gluten or eggs.
When you light up that oven, place your pan in there. Having the pan heated in advance starts that crisping process from the very beginning. You'll hear a satisfying sizzle, and that's how you know the magic is happening!
A Little Oil, And A Flip
This is not frying, but a little oil goes a long way here. Placing some olive oil blend on the bottom surface of the pan not only prevents these cauliflower florets from sticking, but also will caramelize the sugars in them and create a luscious taste.
Spray the bites with a little pan release oil to create a "faux fried" crunchiness, and flip them over half way through cooking. That way each piece can benefit from that pan seared loveliness.
The Sauce is Boss-Sweet and Spicy Drizzle
Most recipes that we've seen for these little crispy nuggets seem to be focused on being an alternative to buffalo wings. Therefore they are paired with a hot sauce and butter mixture, and tossed together before serving.
We wanted to present these vegan treats in a way that would set them apart, and accentuate the natural goodness this cruciferous vegetable has already.
We also were inspired by how this can be sooo good, and still so good for you. Why mess that up with a whole bunch of butter, or unnecessary fat? Plus, this sauce requires no cooking, just stir everything together.
This sweet, sticky, and slightly hot drizzle contrasts and accentuates the salty and naturally sweet cauliflower bites. Using honey as the base, glazes the batter without soaking in and ruining the crispiness. Added bonus: honey is also very healthy!!
- Cauliflower Florets - you'll notice that these are broken down to bite sized pieces, as uniformly as possible.
- Sriracha Sauce - for use in the dipping/drizzle sauce.
- Flaky Sea Salt - a little pinch of this right before serving really makes these gluten free and vegan treats pop. we prefer Maldon, but by all means use your favorite.
- Honey - the base for the sauce. we always use a local variety, as it helps alleviate seasonal allergies!
- Smoked Paprika - one of my favorite "secret weapons" to add a slightly sweet and smoky depth of flavor.
- Corn Starch - this will form the base of the gluten free batter.
- Almond Milk - unsweetened and unflavored is best, to avoid overly sweet or vanilla flavors in the finished product.
See recipe card for quantities.
Step One - Dredge and Coat with Batter
Toss the cut florets in a little plain corn starch. This will help the wet batter stick more evenly.
Whip up the batter ingredients into a slightly thick consistency, and plop the cauliflower in, coating completely.
Step Two - Begin Baking
Carefully add the oil to the pre-heated pan.
Place the battered chunks onto the pan in an even layer, separated from each other. Spray the tops with a little non stick pan coating.
Step Three - Bake and Flip
Bake at 425 degrees on the bottom rack for 10 minutes.
Carefully flip each piece over on the pan and cook for another 10 minutes. So quick and easy!
There are a great many different ways to approach this recipe. Cooking should always be creative and fun, so here are a few ways to mix it up!
- Gluten Free Flour - we used corn starch since this is a typical, low cost pantry item that everyone usually has, but if you have a favorite flour alternative, use it! let us know in the comments how it came out.
- Coconut/Avocado Oil - the rich flavor of these healthy oils would really give this recipe an interesting twist.
- Sauces - we are very proud of the honey drizzle, but so many sauces would pair well with this. remoulade, barbecue, the afore-mentioned buffalo, even ranch!
I'd be willing to bet that left overs won't be an issue here, but if tightly sealed in the refrigerator, these will keep for a couple of days.
To re-heat, bake in the oven at 425 for 10 minutes. We don't suggest microwaving, as they will get quite soggy in the process.
Don't forget to "season to taste"! The very last step in this recipe calls for a pinch of sea salt. Adding this tiny bit of seasoning right at the end, while the crispy cauliflower is still hot, makes a huge difference.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Crispy Baked Cauliflower Bites
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 knife
- 3 Mixing Bowl
- 1 wire whip
- 1 Measuring Cup
- 1 Measuring Spoon Set
- 1 Kitchen Scale
- 1 baking sheet pan
- 1 tongs
- 1 Spoon
- 1½ lb. cauliflower about 1 medium head, cut or broken into ½ inch bite sized florets
- 1½ cup corn starch 3 Tbsp. set aside for coating, the rest for batter.
- 1½ tsp. blackening spice blend
- ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
- 1¼ cup almond milk or any other milk substitute, unflavored and unsweetened
- ¼ cup oil light vegetable type, pure olive oil, olive oil blend, or any with a high smoke point
- 1 Tbsp. non stick pan coating sprayed to coat evenly
- ¾ tsp. salt granulated or kosher
- 1 pinch sea salt flaky variety, to season to taste
Spiced Honey Drizzle
- 1 cup honey clover, or wildflower
- 2 tsp. sriracha
- 1 tsp. dried chili flakes
- ½ tsp. ginger peeled and finely minced
- ¼ tsp. salt granulated
- 1⅓ Tbsp. tangerine juice fresh squeezed
- Heat oven to 425 degrees with sheet pan inside.
- Toss cauliflower chunks in mixing bowl with 3 Tbsp. of corn starch to coat evenly.
- In another mixing bowl, combine corn starch, almond milk, blackening spice, smoked paprika, and salt. Use wire whip to incorporate fully.
- Add cauliflower to batter and coat.
- Pull sheet pan from the oven and add oil.
- Arrange battered cauliflower in a single layer, making sure that each piece is separate from one another.
- Spray the tops of the bites with a little of the pan spray, and place the pan into the oven.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes has elapsed, flip the bites over.
- Cook for another 10 minutes and remove.
Spicy Honey Drizzle
- Combine all ingredients well in a mixing bowl.
- Arrange crispy cauliflower bites onto a small plate.
- Drizzle the honey sauce over, to taste.
- Sprinkle sea salt over to taste.