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Vegetarian Firecracker Cauliflower

Firecracker Cauliflower

Firecracker Cauliflower

Our vegetarian spin on firecracker take-out features crunchy baked cauliflower in place of shrimp. You will love this Firecracker Cauliflower recipe!

Homemade Take-Out

I am a huge fan of recreating take-out type dishes at home. With complete control over the ingredients, you can create something much healthier—and something that just downright tastes better as well.

Plus, it can be fun. You can take popular dishes and turn them into meatless meals that you can’t always get on the menu. Like this Firecracker Cauliflower. Traditionally made with chicken or shrimp, this dish is usually pan-fried or deep-fried and then coated in a sweet chili sauce.

Frying vs Baking

Since I’m not the biggest fan of frying (particularly deep frying—all that oil just scares me!), I decided to go the baking route instead. Easier, healthier and no bubbling oil, which is a huge bonus in my book. By using a wire cooling rack set onto a baking sheet, you can keep the bottom of whatever you’re baking from getting mushy—just make sure it’s an oven-safe rack!

Firecracker Cauliflower Before Baking
I find cauliflower to be a nice and meaty veggie and it works perfectly in this dish to replace the chicken or shrimp. The florets are coated lightly in a breadcrumb mixture and then baked until just tender and slightly crispy around the edges. Meanwhile, you’ll quickly whisk together a sweet and spicy homemade chili sauce that rivals anything from the store. (And by making it yourself, you can easily adjust the spice level by adding more or less sriracha!)

Serve the cauliflower over a bed of rice, sprinkle with some green onions and then drizzle with the finger-licking good sauce. I found that drizzling the sauce instead of coating the cauliflower with it helps keep the florets nice and crispy.

And go ahead and keep a small bowl of the sauce on the table for extra dunking. Trust me on that one.

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Vegetarian Firecracker Cauliflower

Firecracker Cauliflower

This vegetarian spin on firecracker take-out features crunchy baked cauliflower in place of chicken or shrimp. Serve over rice and drizzle with a sweet and spicy homemade chili sauce for a dish that rivals any restaurant.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the cauliflower:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
  • salt, to taste

For serving:

  • cooked rice
  • green onions, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and then set an oven-safe metal cooling rack inside the baking sheet. Spray the rack with an oil mister or cooking spray and set aside.

Make the cauliflower:

  1. Lightly beat the eggs and milk in a small bowl until combined.
  2. In a shallow dish, add the flour, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, paprika, and salt. Mix to combine.
  3. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the cauliflower into the egg mixture, shake off the excess, then place in the breadcrumb mixture, tossing to coat.
  4. Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer (you can put them close together). Once all the cauliflower is coated, spray it lightly with oil.
  5. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the coating is crispy and golden brown, and the cauliflower is tender but not mushy.

Make the sauce:

  1. While the cauliflower is baking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, sriracha, garlic, vinegar, and salt. Taste and add additional sriracha for more heat, if desired.
  2. Divide the rice into bowls and top with with cauliflower. Drizzle the sauce over the cauliflower, and garnish with green onions. Serve with additional sauce on the side for dipping.

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74 Comments

  • Reply
    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh
    June 11, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Ooh this sounds amazing! Spicy just like I like it!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 11, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks Anele! I love spicy foods too!

  • Reply
    Helen @ Scrummy Lane
    June 11, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I’m a regular reader of Ashley’s blog and love all of her recipes, but this is one of my favourites so far. So creative! 🙂

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks so much Helen!! : )

  • Reply
    marcie
    June 11, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I’ve been following Ashley’s blog for some time now, and I love how creative she is with veggies. This cauliflower looks so crispy and delicious, and that sauce sounds like a bang-up good job!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 11, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      Thank you Marcie! Bang-up good job – you’re too funny!

  • Reply
    Ronnie Fein
    June 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    This looks just about perfect for us, also not vegetarians but typically go meatless. Love the Sriracha addition.

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Thanks Ronnie! We can’t get enough Sriracha at our house!

  • Reply
    Julia Mueller
    June 11, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Yaay, welcome, Ashley!! I’m loving this firecracker cauli! Just like you, I’m not vegetarian but I eat tons of vegetarian and vegan meals. I love this healthful recipe and could probably eat it every day. 🙂

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 11, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Yay! Thanks Julia – excited to be here! : )

  • Reply
    Kathi @ Deliciously Yum!
    June 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Drooling over these! Cannot wait to make ’em ASAP! Such a great job, Ashley. I know what will be my next addiction, ha!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Thanks Kathi! The sauce especially is very easy to get addicted to! : )

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
    June 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Beautiful recipe, Ashley! My mouth is watering. The combo of crispy cauliflower with honey sriracha sounds killer!!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      Thanks Sarah!

  • Reply
    Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor
    June 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    I have been wanting to try something similar for a while and this recipe looks incredible! Love all of Ashley’s recipes and I am so glad to here that she has joined the Oh My Veggies team!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 12, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Thanks Ashley! Hope you enjoy!

  • Reply
    Olivia - Primavera Kitchen
    June 11, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I often read Ashley’s blog and I love how talent she is with veggies and fruits.
    All her recipes are to die for, but this one is seriously perfection 😉

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you so much Olivia! : )

  • Reply
    Joyce Porter
    June 11, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Looks delicious! Pinned for later. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 12, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Thanks Joyce!

  • Reply
    Claire
    June 11, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Just made these for dinner- they were quick and delicious! I made them to go with a lentil and spinach dish, along with the rice recommended. I added peanut butter to the sauce for some creaminess. Looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
    Claire

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 11, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      So happy to hear it! Sounds delicious with the lentil and spinach dish and the peanut butter!

  • Reply
    Kelly
    June 11, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Yay, love Ashley and this recipe! The cauliflower looks so crispy and delicious and I would find any excuse to slather the honey sriracha sauce on everything!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 12, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Thanks Kelly! I definitely did that with the sauce! : )

  • Reply
    Monica
    June 11, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Ashley always shares creative recipes and this is a perfect example. I love all the flavors built into this recipe, taking cauliflower to another level of deliciousness. I have a feeling I’d want to use this sauce on a lot of things! Glad to discover this site. : )

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 12, 2014 at 11:49 am

      Thanks Monica! You should – I know I did! : )

  • Reply
    Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes
    June 12, 2014 at 12:17 am

    So, I looked at this photo and said “hmm I know that photography style” and clicked over because I love cauliflower and the photo was gorgeous, and I said ! Ashley! Congrats :). I’m going to stop being embarrassing now. This firecracker cauliflower is such a brilliant idea! I love that it is baked not fried and love that sauce!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 12, 2014 at 10:05 am

      haha thanks Jessica! Not embarrassing at all : ) I love baking things like this too!

  • Reply
    michael
    June 12, 2014 at 3:21 am

    This looks so good! I’m on the other side of the world, heading into winter, so the recent salads and things are all wrong timing for me. 🙂 Crunchy spiciness = good all year round.

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 12, 2014 at 11:50 am

      Thanks Michael! I agree – crispy crunchy spicy foods are good all the time!

  • Reply
    [email protected] 'n' Cookies
    June 12, 2014 at 6:24 am

    This firecracker cauliflower looks incredible. It’s so much fun to recreate takeout classics at home. It’s a great idea to bake the cauliflower florets on a rack — I love that they end up crispy even without being deep fried!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 12, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Thanks Jamie! Yes! I love baking veggies on a rack – so nice and crispy!

  • Reply
    Allison
    June 12, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Fantastic recipe, Ashely! So inventive. I like the cooling rack idea to get them crispy. Cannot wait to try this one!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 12, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Thanks Allison! The rack really helps! It gets evenly crispy that way!

  • Reply
    Ruby
    June 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Hi,

    Did you use whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs?

    thanks

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Ruby! I used just plain whole wheat breadcrumbs for this recipe. But panko breadcrumbs would also work as well!

      • Reply
        Ruby
        June 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm

        This was so good!! The breaded, baked cauliflower was so tasty. Thanks!

        • Reply
          Ashley Jennings
          June 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm

          So glad to hear it Ruby! : )

  • Reply
    Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps
    June 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Looks SO good Ashley!!!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 13, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Thanks Nicole!

  • Reply
    Jill
    June 12, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Hi this looks wonderful- any thoughts on how to make it vegan without messing it up? Lol
    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 13, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Hi Jill! Thank you! For the cauliflower portion – I would try using more milk (I think coconut milk would be great here), like 1/2 cup or so and leave out the eggs. Dunk the pieces into the milk and then you’ll likely need to lightly press the breadcrumb mixture to get it to stick. For the sauce – I think agave would be a good sub for the honey. Hope that helps!!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    June 12, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    This looks fantastic, Ashley! I think you are another great OMV contributor and now I will be reading your blog.:) This cauliflower looks scrumptious! I’m like you not a vegetarian but I eat a lot of vegetarian dishes and have limited dairy in my diet.

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 13, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Thanks so much Olena! Sounds like we eat pretty similar : )

  • Reply
    Sharon
    June 12, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    This looks so good and I LOVE cauliflower but you lost me at 2 large eggs. Do you think the eggs are necessary or can you think of a substitute?

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

      Hi Sharon! I think it should still work without the eggs – I’d try using more milk (coconut milk would be awesome!) – about 1/2 cup or so. Dunk into the milk and then you’ll probably have to press lightly to get the breadcrumb mixture to stick better!

  • Reply
    Raquel @ My California Roots
    June 12, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Wow, these look great! I’d love to do a “make it vegan” rendition of these. I’ll let you know if I do!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 13, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Thanks Raquel!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Trial and Eater
    June 13, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Oh my gosh, I have to try this! Like, right now.

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 14, 2014 at 8:09 am

      haha thanks Kelly! Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Stewart
    June 13, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Yummy! I am going to try this with almond flour to go with my paleo diet right now! Ill make them for my non paleo friends! Great idea and I am so into cauliflower right now. Love your blog!

    • Reply
      Ashley Jennings
      June 14, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Hope you enjoy Jennifer!!

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