With crispy baked cauliflower florets tossed in a glossy, spicy, sweet sauce, today’s bang bang cauliflower recipe is a lighter, healthier take on the popular bang bang chicken.
Is Bang Bang Cauliflower Healthy?
We took full control of the ingredients and their amounts in this bang bang cauliflower, so we can say for sure that it closely adheres to our healthy eating guidelines.
Cauliflower is a chameleon of the cruciferous vegetables. It’s packed with essential nutrients and takes on bold flavors magically. In today’s recipe, like our Gobi Manchurian, we use the cauliflower’s dense and meaty texture to resemble that of chicken.
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 seasonings:
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.
How to Make Bang Bang Cauliflower
These crispy baked cauliflower florets tossed with a sweet and spicy sauce require roughly 40 minutes and a few easy steps to make. Here’s a brief how-to with images:
Preheat the oven and mix the seasonings.
Add cauliflower to the seasoning mixture and toss well to combine.
Bake the cauliflower for 15 minutes.
While waiting, mix the bang bang sauce.
Sauté garlic and ginger in olive oil until fragrant.
Add the bang bang sauce to the skillet and cook until it thickens.
Add cauliflower to the skillet and toss with the bang bang sauce.
Remove from the stovetop. Garnish and serve hot.
- 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
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 Bang Bang Cauliflower 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:
- Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
- Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe
- Twice-Baked Cauliflower Recipe
- Cauliflower Parmesan Recipe
- Cauliflower Lasagna Recipe
Bang Bang Cauliflower Recipe
Today's bang bang cauliflower recipe is a healthier take on the popular bang bang chicken with cauliflower being tossed with a sweet and spicy sauce.
- cook TIME 25 mins
- prep TIME 15 mins
- total TIME 40 mins
- COURSE Side Dish
- CUISINE American
- CALORIES 218 kcal
- 20 oz cauliflower
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 6 fl oz water (divided)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 4 tbsp cornstarch (divided)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (divided)
- 2 tbsp Heinz ketchup
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 fl oz pineapple juice
- 1 tsp sriracha
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp ginger
- 2 tbsp scallions (chopped)
- 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 430℉ 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.
Tuyet PhamChef, Culinary Consultant
Luna ReginaWriter, Author
Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LDNutrition Reviewer
March 18, 2023 at 5:57 AMThis 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!