This sticky sesame cauliflower is made with baked cauliflower wings that are crispy on the outside, and soft and tender on the inside. Serve with a sweet, tangy sesame sauce for a weeknight dinner, or a simple side dish that's bursting with deliciousness. Vegan and easy to make in 30 minutes.
I have to say that my love for cauliflower has no end in sight. You can make so much out of it, from pizza crust to a flavorful cauliflower Alfredo sauce. The possibilities really are endless! I discovered that the moment I lost my scepticism about the vegetable.
And nope, cauliflower-centric recipes don't have to be bland. Far from it! Cauliflower by itself has a neutral flavour, and can take on many different flavour profiles depending on how you cook it. One of the tricks is adding a fantastic sauce. And that's exactly what we're doing today. I suggest you run to the kitchen to make this asap because this sesame cauliflower is calling your name!
Sticky sesame cauliflower 'wings'
When I say I am obsessed with this recipe, I really mean it. I have a habit of eating this cauliflower straight from the pan, and watching it disappear in around 5 minutes. It really is that phenomenal. If you're skeptical about cauliflower this may be the recipe that will change your mind when you make it for your next weeknight dinner.
The cauliflower 'wings' are incredibly realistic and can impress vegans and non-vegans alike. They are super crispy on the outside, coated in a garlicky batter with a hint of cheesiness. The inside of the 'wings' is very tender and soft. In general, they make a great meatless alternative to chicken wings.
My favourite part is the sticky sesame sauce. It's absolutely incredible! The flavour is tangy, sweet, and with a hint of spice due to the addition of sriracha. I love sesame seeds, having used them for a lot of recipes, such as my sesame peanut tofu, and they go incredibly well with the cauliflower. Trust me, this is a phenomenal example of how to make vegetables taste good - to the point where you won't be able to tell that the main ingredient is a veggie!
You can serve sesame cauliflower wings as a main course with a side of your choice such as rice or noodles for a homemade takeout night. They also make a great side dish, and you can even serve the sauce as a dip, rather than mixing it with the cauliflower bites in a frying pan.
How to make cauliflower crispy
Ever wondered why your cauliflower 'wings' may turn out soggy? Worry no further, because here are my top tips for making sure that these cauliflower wings turn out perfect, with just the right amount of crunch:
- Do not drench the cauliflower in the batter. This is a key step. The cauliflower will then take much longer to bake, also turning out chewy and soggy. When dipping, ensure to shake off any excess batter.
- At the same time, make sure that the batter is not too runny. It should stick very easily to the cauliflower florets.
- Use a large baking tray or use two trays as to avoid overcrowding because this will trap in moisture and make the cauliflower soggy.
- Bake for enough time. I know that it may be tempting to take the cauliflower out of the oven after 10-15 minutes when the kitchen starts to smell amazing, but 25-30 is the optimal time to achieve a perfect crunch.
- Keep in mind that after you add the sauce to the cauliflower wings, they won't be as crispy. That way, it's best to serve them immediately. You can also serve the sesame sauce as a dip instead for the most crispiness.
Ingredients you will need
- Flour. To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free all-purpose flour. I've made this with gluten-free flour multiple times and it works almost as well as ordinary flour.
- Baking powder to add a bit of fluffiness and thickness to the batter.
- Nutritional yeast. This is a great ingredient for adding a 'cheesy' flavour to vegan recipes.
- Garlic powder and salt for flavoring the batter. You can also add other spices of your choice, such as cumin, paprika and turmeric.
- Plant based milk of your choice. Use an unsweetened variety.
- Cauliflower florets. Use fresh cauliflower, rather than thawed from frozen - the latter option will not turn out crispy.
- Tomato paste and rice vinegar to add tanginess. You can also use lemon juice instead of rice vinegar.
- Tamari or soy sauce, depending on whether you want to make this dish gluten-free.
- Maple syrup. You can use any liquid sweetener of your choice, or coconut sugar.
- Sriracha. Adjust how much you use depending on how spicy you want the sesame sauce to be.
- Cornstarch and water to make a cornstarch slurry, used to thicken the sauce.
- Sesame oil for adding even more crispiness to the cauliflower wings.
- Onion, garlic and ginger - the aromatics which are super simple, but level up any dinner.
- Sesame seeds. One of the key ingredients here, that will give this dish its signature flare! You can use either black or white sesame seeds, or a mixture of both.
How to make sticky sesame cauliflower
Firstly, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (400 F) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Now, make the batter. Add the flour, baking powder, nutritional yeast, garlic power, salt and plant based milk to a large mixing bowl. Whisk together thoroughly, until no lumps remain.
Next, prepare the cauliflower florets. Trim the leaves from the cauliflower and then remove the stem, before chopping it into bite-sized florets.
Dip the cauliflower florets in the batter and shake off any excess batter before laying them out on the baking tray. Make sure to leave enough space between the florets. Now bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by whisking together the tomato paste, rice vinegar, tamari, maple syrup and sriracha. In a separate mixing bowl, make the cornstarch slurry by mixing together cornstarch and water.
When the cauliflower is almost done, heat the sesame oil in a pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, cooking for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant and starting to soften.
Now add the sauce and cornstarch slurry, lowering the heat. Whisk continuously for around 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and add the cauliflower wings, stirring together thoroughly.
At the last minute, stir in the sesame seeds. This sticky sesame cauliflower is now ready to serve!
Cauliflower wings, if kept in the fridge, will lose their crispiness. It's best to serve them immediately, or a few hours after cooking at the latest.
Yes, this recipe can be made gluten-free easily by using gluten-free flour for the batter, and tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
You can serve it with any side of your choice, such as rice, noodles, pasta, or vegetables. It's also great as a starter or side dish.
For sure! To start, place the baked cauliflower wings on a large baking tray and place in the freezer for 3-4 hours. You can then transfer them to a freezer-friendly container or bag for up to 3 months. To reheat, transfer them to a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees C/350 F.
Other amazing cauliflower recipes
- For an amazing side dish, try out my vegan cauliflower cheese! It's a guaranteed crowdpleaser.
- Red lentil cauliflower Dahl is fantastic for a wholesome and comforting dinner.
- If you love crispy cauliflower with a flavourful sauce, try out my baked orange cauliflower.
Let me know in the comments: what's your favourite way to cook with cauliflower? If you give this sticky sesame cauliflower a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@earthofmariaa) so I can see your creations, and leave your feedback in the comments below together with a star rating!
Sticky Sesame Cauliflower (Vegan Recipe)
- Conventional oven
- Baking tray
- Mixing bowl x 3
- Frying pan
For the cauliflower 'wings'
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup plant based milk
- 1 medium head cauliflower around 6 cups
For the sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- ¼ cup tamari
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tbsp sriracha
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ cup water
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (400 F) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Add the flour, baking powder, nutritional yeast, garlic power, salt and plant based milk to a large mixing bowl. Whisk together thoroughly, until no lumps remain.1 cup flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp salt, 1 cup plant based milk
- Prepare the cauliflower florets. Trim the leaves from the cauliflower and then remove the stem, before chopping it into bite-sized florets.1 medium head cauliflower
- Dip the cauliflower florets in the batter and shake off any excess batter before laying them out on the baking tray. Make sure to leave enough space between the florets. Now bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by whisking together the tomato paste, rice vinegar, tamari, maple syrup and sriracha. In a separate mixing bowl, make the cornstarch slurry by mixing together cornstarch and water.2 tbsp tomato paste, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, ¼ cup tamari, 2 tbsp maple syrup, ½ tbsp sriracha, 2 tbsp cornstarch, ½ cup water
- When the cauliflower is almost done, heat the sesame oil in a pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, cooking for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant.1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tbsp grated ginger
- Add the sauce and cornstarch slurry, lowering the heat. Whisk continuously for around 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and add the cauliflower wings, stirring together thoroughly.
- At the last minute, stir in the sesame seeds and serve.¼ cup sesame seeds