Looking for a way to use cauliflower in a main dish? Sweet and sour cauliflower is a delicious, plant-forward entree recipe. Whip it up for an easy dinner and fall in love with the tangy taste of this vegan creation.
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This isn’t the first time that cauliflower has subbed in for chicken. The cauliflower “wing” trend is still going strong, but recently I’ve started to explore how cauliflower works in other dishes with sticky sauces.
You may recall my Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower, which was a plant-based spin on orange chicken. With today’s sweet and sour cauliflower recipe, I’m doing something similar but attempting to mimic the flavors of sweet and sour chicken instead.
Essentially, this recipe is a healthier way to scratch the itch for take-out. It has the same great flavors (plus some added fiber), and by making the sauce at home, you get to control what goes into it.
The recipe even uses a cooking technique that yields crispy cauliflower florets without deep frying. All you need is some cornstarch, an oil that can take high heat (like avocado oil), and a skillet. Let’s get cooking!
How to Make Sweet and Sour Cauliflower
Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and directions, but here’s a preview of how to make crispy, sweet and sour cauliflower bites!
- Prepare the cauliflower florets by tossing them in oil and cornstarch. Heat oil in a large skillet, add the cauliflower, and cook for about 10 minutes until the cauliflower starts to brown (see image below).
- Transfer the cauliflower to the oven to finish baking while you make the sauce.
- Prepare the sauce by whisking together ketchup, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, and thicken with a cornstarch slurry.
- Toss the cauliflower in the sweet and sour sauce, and enjoy!
- Cooking the cauliflower florets in a skillet before baking them is crucial for getting a crispy texture. I recommend using an oil that can withstand high heat, such as avocado oil. The recipe still works with olive oil or vegetable oil, but I prefer to use avocado oil.
- Sweet and sour sauce is tangy (but delicious!). Reduce the amount of ketchup and/or increase the maple syrup and soy sauce if you want to decrease the tanginess.
- I recommend serving the cauliflower over rice with a source of protein like edamame or tofu to make a balanced meal. You will likely have extra sauce, so the rice will help soak it up.
- Sweet and sour cauliflower is best served right away. Leftovers will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container in the fridge, but they may get soggy.
More Cauliflower Recipes
Looking for other ways to use cauliflower? You may enjoy the Baked Whole Cauliflower with Cheese, Vegan Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup, Cauliflower al Pastor Bowls, and Vegan Cauliflower Steak with Lemon Parsley Tahini.
I’d love to hear how you like this recipe! Rate/review using the stars on the recipe card or in the comments, and follow the Veg World on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Looking for something totally different? Browse the recipe library.
Sweet and Sour Cauliflower
For the cauliflower
- 1 head cauliflower - chopped into florets
- ¼ cup avocado oil - for frying, plus 3 tablespoon for coating
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- Salt - to taste
- 2 scallions - sliced, for serving
- 2 tablespoon sesame seeds - for serving
- 2 cups cooked white rice - for serving
For the sauce
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch - mixed with 2 tablespoon cold water
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl, and toss with 3 tablespoons of avocado oil until lightly coated. Sprinkle with the cornstarch, and toss until coated. Season with salt if desired.
- Heat ¼ cup avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower florets to the skillet, spread them out in an even layer, and cook, turning just once or twice, until they start to brown. This should take about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the heat, and decrease to medium if needed. Transfer the florets to the lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, ketchup, maple syrup, soy sauce, and garlic. Bring to a boil. In a separate bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold water. Add this to the saucepan, stir, and bring back to a boil. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. You may need to add another round of cornstarch and water. Remove from heat.
- When the cauliflower is ready, toss in your desired amount of sauce. Serve over rice, and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. I recommend serving with a source of protein, like edamame or tofu, for a complete meal.
- Sweet and sour sauce is tangy on its own and you will probably have too much, so I recommend serving with rice to help soak up the sauce. Feel free to decrease the ketchup or vinegar and/or increase the soy sauce and maple syrup to modify the flavor as you prefer.
- This dish is best served right away. Leftovers will keep for a couple of days in the fridge, but they may get soggy.
Enjoy! – Lizzie
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