This Tasty Kung Pao Cauliflower Is The Perfect Veggie-Packed Dinner

  • Surely I haven’t been the only one worried about my pandemic eating habits. During such a stressful year and a half, I’ve been guilty of indulging in “comfort food” most days of the week, including my favorite frozen orange chicken from Trader Joe’s. It was time to start incorporating veggies back into my daily diet, and it turns out this easy Kung Pao Cauliflower was the perfect solution! When I compare it to my favorite orange chicken dish, it’s SO much healthier and truly tastes great! The key to make delicious Kung Pao Cauliflower is the sauce. It’ll be delicious on any kind of vegetables you want to add to your dish!


    Kung Pao Cauliflower

    Served over a bed of jasmine rice, Kung Pao cauliflower is very versatile. Basically, you roast the cauliflower in a simple soy sauce and cornstarch mixture until browned and fork-tender. Then you saute a bit of garlic and ginger – gotta have ginger! Then you mix in the sauce ingredients with cornstarch and let the sauce thicken before tossing with the cauliflower. If you want to customize it more, you can incorporate vegetables like roasted carrots or bell peppers into the dish for even more flavors. Cauliflower is relatively mild, I think, so it works as a great vehicle for the sauce. Let’s be honest, that’s the whole point of the recipe!  Just adjust the heat based on your preference. For example, I like to add a little sriracha to the sauce (as I note below) but you can also skip it in favor of chili flakes.

    Finally, you can top Kung Pao Cauliflower with sesame seeds, peanuts and/or green onions for a bit of color and additional texture. Although I’m not personally a fan of peanuts outside of desserts, I do love some simple sesame seeds on top. Next time, I think I would incorporate some red peppers.

    Kung Pao Cauliflower

    As far as ingredients used in the sauce, you can find them all in the Asian Cuisine section of any grocery store. If you don’t want to buy new ingredients for one recipe, you can also substitute a few things. For example, hoisin sauce can be substituted for regular barbecue sauce. I know it sounds weird, but it really does end up tasting fine! I’ve done this in stir fry recipes before. Olive oil can be substituted for sesame oil if needed, and apple cider vinegar can replace rice vinegar. However, it’s always best to use the authentic ingredients when possible.

    Here’s how to make delicious Kung Pao Cauliflower at home!

    Kung Pao Cauliflower

    Surely I haven’t been the only one worried about my […]



    • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (frozen is OK too)
    • 2 tbsp cornstarch
    • 2 tbsp canned coconut milk
    • Sesame oil
    • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 2 tsp sriracha (optional)
    • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 1 tbsp minced garlic
    • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
    • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes


    1. Preheat oven broiler to high. Adjust rack to middle of oven, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat

    2. Toss the cut cauliflower and half of the cornstarch in a large bowl until cauliflower is coated. Then add the coconut milk, 1 tbsp soy sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper, and mix well. 

    3. Spread the coated cauliflower florets on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes until florets are lightly charred around the edges. Shake tray and cook longer if needed.

    4. Then reduce the temperature to 425 degrees F and roast another 5-8 minutes until fork-tender.

    5. While the cauliflower roasts, mix together the remaining 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1/3 cup soy sauce until smooth. Then mix in the hoisin sauce, honey, vinegar, sriracha (if using), and a pinch of chili flakes and black pepper. 

    6. Then heat a drizzle of sesame oil in a large skillet pan. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the sauce mixture and bring to a simmer, stirring often.

    7. Reduce the heat to low and add in the roasted cauliflower. Stir well to coat and continue to cook until sauce is thick, about 5 minutes. Taste-test and add more sriracha or chili flakes to taste!

    8. Then serve the kung pao cauliflower over a bed of rice. Top with sesame seeds, green onions or peanuts.

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