My twist on a Chinese classic – Kung Pao Cauliflower. Baked cauliflower tossed in a delectable sweet-spicy sauce, that is made with simple pantry ingredients. 

We’ve all been there. It’s been a long day, you just want to curl up with your TV show and some mouthwatering Chinese takeout – not cook or eat leftovers. What’s stopping you? Maybe you want to curb your ordering habits. Maybe you want something healthier. 

I’ve got a great alternative for you, with this Baked Kung Pao Cauliflower. This easy dinner has an incredibly quick cooking time and is super delicious. A meal the whole family will love, perfect for any night of the week. This healthier, better-than-takeout kung pao recipe is one you’ll never tire of. 

Kung Pao Cauliflower | Baked Vegan Cauliflower Kung Pao Recipe

One of my most popular recipes happens to be another that utilises the wonder of oven-roasted cauliflower – Sticky Sesame Cauliflower. So I was inspired to create another recipe that would be equally loved. That matched with my adoration for anything Indo-Chinese, is how this Baked Kung Pao Cauliflower came about. 

An important thing to note here – I am not sharing a traditional Chinese Kung Pao recipe here. It is definitely a loose adaptation, made with personal twists based on what is accessible in my home. 

With some ingredient swaps & recipe tweaks, this version is flavorful, simple, and fuss-free

What Is Kung Pao? 

Kung Pao sauce is one of the most popular stir fry sauces in Chinese cuisine, made with spices, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar & starch. The authentic recipe calls for Sichuan peppercorn for the numbing flavor and lots of dried red chilies. 

The sauce is most commonly used in a stir-fry chicken dish, paired with peanuts, scallions, ginger & dried chilli. It’s notably spicy and dangerously addictive! 

For a brilliant traditional Kung Pao Chicken recipe, you can refer to Elaine’s China Sichuan Food blog. 

Kung Pao Cauliflower | Baked Vegan Cauliflower Kung Pao Recipe

What’s different about my version? 

  • Cauliflower instead of chicken 
  • Swapping deep drying & breading for oven roasting 
  • Less spicy (though you can adjust this as per your preference) 
  • Less sweet (though you can adjust this as per your preference) 
  • Cashews instead of peanuts 
  • Black peppercorn plus red chilli flakes instead of Sichuan peppercorns

Making the Kung Pao Cauliflower

Note – if you’re serving this with rice, get that cooking before starting. This all comes together quickly, so you can get the Kung Pao Cauliflower ready just as the rice does. 

Kung Pao Cauliflower | Baked Vegan Cauliflower Kung Pao Recipe

Prepping the cauliflower 

  • Preheat your oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Chop a medium sized cauliflower into small florets. 
  • Combine cornstarch, water, soy sauce, and peanut oil in a small bowl. 
  • Pour over the cauliflower and mix well to coat the florets in the sauce.
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked.
Kung Pao Cauliflower | Baked Vegan Cauliflower Kung Pao Recipe

Prepping the Kung Pao sauce 

While the cauliflower bakes, make the sauce – which comes together in just 5 minutes on the stovetop. Its simple, yet full of incredible complex flavours. 

  • Heat the peanut oil in a saucepan, add the red chillies, crushed black peppercorns and chilli flakes. 

If you have Sichuan peppercorns, use those and please omit the black peppercorns and red chilli flakes. 

  • Add in the nuts, minced garlic, and ginger. I used cashews here, but you can use peanuts too! 
  • Cook until the ginger and garlic just start browning. 
  • Combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, water, and cornstarch in a small bowl and add to the pan. If you don’t have rice wine vinegar, use regular white vinegar. 
  • Stir in the green onions and cook the sauce until it’s just thickened. Taste and adjust for seasoning. As I said before, I did not add too much heat for personal taste – feel free to up the spice! 
Kung Pao Cauliflower | Baked Vegan Cauliflower Kung Pao Recipe

Bringing it all together 

  • When the cauliflower is ready, gently mix it in with the sauce and serve immediately with rice. 
  • If planning to serve later, mix the cauliflower and sauce before serving to ensure the cauliflower stays crispy. 

I love to plate it on a bed of freshly cooked rice and then garnish with extra green onions, red chili or sesame seeds. You can swap the rice with noodles, and the recipe is still utterly delicious. Each bite hits all the right notes of tangy, spicy and slightly sweet. 

Kung Pao Cauliflower | Baked Vegan Cauliflower Kung Pao Recipe

Truly conquering Asian food cravings in style! Now I just need to figure out the perfect chicken satay recipe and maybe my family will get less takeout…

More healthy, quick recipes

I hope you give the kung pao cauliflower a whirl. It is a healthy, satisfying meal that is packed with flavor and easy to make. What’s not to love? 

Kung Pao Cauliflower

Kung Pao Cauliflower – this is a healthy, satisfying meal that is packed with flavor and easy to make. What’s not to love?
Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 servings
Calories:
Author: Natasha Minocha

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 5 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp Water
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Peanut oil

Sauce

  • 2 tsp Peanut oil
  • 3-4 Dried red chilies You can add more for a spicier version
  • 1 tsp Black peppercorns, coarsely ground*
  • 1/2 tsp Red chilli flakes* You can add more for a spicier version
  • 1/4 cup Cashewnuts
  • 5-6 cloves Garlic, finely minced
  • 1" Ginger, finely minced
  • 5-6 Green onions, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Water

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • For the cauliflower:
    Combine cornstarch, water, soy sauce, and peanut oil in a small bowl. Pour over the cauliflower and mix well to coat the florets in the sauce.
  • Place the coated cauliflower on the prepared baking tray in a single lat=yer and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked through.

Sauce

  • In the meanwhile, prepare the sauce.
  • Heat the peanut oil in a saucepan, add the red chillies, peppercorns and chilli flakes.
  • Add in the nuts, minced garlic, and ginger. Cook until the ginger and garlic just start browning.
  • Combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, water, and cornstarch in a small bowl and add to the pan.
  • Stir in the green onions and cook the sauce until it's just thickened. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Keep aside.
  • When the cauliflower is ready, gently mix it in with the sauce and serve immediately with rice.
  • If planning to serve later, mix the cauliflower and sauce before serving to ensure the cauliflower stays crispy. Enjoy!

Notes

NOTES:
If you have Sichuan peppercorns, use those and please omit the black peppercorns and red chilli flakes. 
Kung Pao Cauliflower | Baked Vegan Cauliflower Kung Pao Recipe