Bang bang cauliflower is a plant-based alternative to bang bang chicken — a popular street food in China and many other Asian countries. When making bang bang chicken, people often use a meat hammer to tenderize the bird and create the “bang bang” sound from which its name was conceived.
Instead of deep-frying the cauliflower like the traditional recipe does with chicken, we bake the florets in the oven until crispy and then toss them in a glossy, spicy, sweet sauce. By doing so, we save both time and excess oil by avoiding the deep-frying process but still manage to achieve delicious nuggets.
You can pick out any type of cauliflower you want, but the white ones were our initial choice. Unlike many other dishes where the cauliflower is parboiled before sautéeing, we keep the heads whole in today’s recipe to make little cauliflower “nuggets”.
The combination of garlic powder, water, paprika, cornstarch, onion powder, all-purpose flour, and unsalted butter is all you need to create the significant bang bang flavor in the oven. Paprika and onion powder add a nice kick of heat on the flavor base of garlic.
Scallions, ground black pepper, sesame seeds, and red chili flakes are sprinkled on top of these tasty florets for both decoration and flavor.
The Homemade Bang Bang Sauce
Our homemade bang bang sauce is made of garlic, ginger, cornstarch, red pepper flakes, Heinz ketchup, brown sugar, low-sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, pineapple juice, water, and sriracha. It takes only a little stirring and whisking over heat to create a glossy, thick sauce that beautifully coats the cauliflower florets.
The bang bang sauce should neither be too thin nor too solid, but just thick enough to bind to the cauliflower florets. If it happens to wind up on either end of the spectrum, here are simple ways to fix it: Add flour or cornstarch to thicken a watery sauce. Add water or broth to thin out a chunky one.
Only toss the cauliflower florets with the bang bang sauce right before you’re ready to serve. If submerged in the sauce for too long, the cauliflower will lose its crispness.
To play it safe, you can consider enjoying the bang bang sauce on the side as a dip instead of tossing everything together. That way, if you cannot finish the whole batch at once, the florets will still be tasty and crispy the following day.
How to Store and Reheat
Bang bang cauliflower doesn’t keep well after the first day. While the leftovers may be edible for a few days, the texture will probably become a mess.
Already-tossed cauliflower bites will soak up liquid and get soggy quite fast, so they won’t remain as crispy as newly-baked ones. It’s best to cook just enough for one meal and enjoy it hot out of the oven.
Here’s a quick suggestion: As you toss the cauliflower with the bang bang sauce, keep some of the florets off to the side just in case. Later to reheat, you can simply crisp them up in the oven before combining them with the sauce for serving.
What Do You Eat With?
This sweet, spicy, and savory bang bang cauliflower can be served as an appetizer or with a main dish over hot steamed rice. Also, there are plenty of ways to use up the leftovers. You can throw these tasty florets into noodles, green salads, tacos, and wraps.
More Perfect, Classic Cauliflower Recipes to Know
We also have these 5 cauliflower recipes, dedicated to cauliflower lovers. The recipes are easy to follow and complied with our healthy eating standards:
Preheat the oven to 425℉ while mixing the seasonings: In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 4 fl oz water, 1 tsp paprika, 3 tbsp cornstarch, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, and 1 tbsp unsalted butter.
Add 20 oz cauliflower to the bowl and toss well to combine.
Place the cauliflower in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
While waiting, mix the bang bang sauce: In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 2 tbsp Heinz ketchup, 2 tsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 fl oz pineapple juice, 2 fl oz water, and 1 tsp sriracha.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp garlic and 1 tsp ginger and sauté until fragrant.
Add the bang bang sauce to the skillet. Stir constantly for 1 minute until it thickens, then turn off the heat.
Add the baked cauliflower florets to the skillet and toss them with the bang bang sauce.
Remove from the stovetop. Garnish with 2 tbsp scallions, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Serve hot.
Bang Bang Cauliflower
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 218Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Vitamin A 371IU
Vitamin C 69mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
This looks like a delicious and healthy recipe for bang bang cauliflower! The combination of flavors is sure to impress, and the coating on the cauliflower is perfect. I'm definitely going to try this recipe soon!