Kung Pao Cauliflower
Chinese food lovers rejoice because we are making Kung Pao Cauliflower. Bite-sized cauliflower florets cooked in a delicious sauce will make this classic Chinese take-out dish a hit in your house. This easy vegan dish is ready in 30 minutes so it is perfect even if the craving hits on a Tuesday night.
Why Should You Try Kung Pao Cauliflower Bites
- Quick and easy to make: Once the ingredients are ready, the recipe comes together quickly in about 20-25 minutes
- Healthier alternative to Kung Pao Chicken: The beloved Chinese takeout, Kung Pao Chicken is usually overly sweet and saucy. Our version uses cauliflower in place of chicken, reduces the sugar, and ups the aromatics like fresh ginger, garlic, and green onions.
- Special diet friendly: The recipe itself is vegan and with a few minor ingredient swaps it can also be gluten-free.
The ingredients for this vegan kung pao cauliflower recipe can be divided into three parts:
- Cauliflower: Use a medium-sized whole head of cauliflower and cut it into bite-sized pieces. This also helps cook them evenly.
- The Kung Pao Sauce Ingredients: To make the sauce you will need soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, hoisin sauce, toasted sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and fresh ginger.
- The toppings: You will need chopped red chiles, scallions, lightly salted peanuts, and fresh cilantro leaves.
Helpful Ingredient Notes & Substitutions:
- Be sure to cut the cauliflower in bite size pieces so that it will cook evenly and be easier to eat.
- You can find all these ingredients in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Keep in mind that rice wine and rice vinegar are different things. If you can’t find rice wine, you can substitute it with sherry vinegar.
- You can use maple syrup or agave in place of granulated sugar.
- Red dried chiles are a classic in this recipe but if you are serving kids you can omit using them.
- If you are following a gluten-free diet, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
How to make kung pao cauliflower
- Prep the rice wine mixture: In a large bowl, whisk the soy sauce, rice wine and cornstarch.
- Make the hoisin sauce mixture: In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, rice wine, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and sugar.
- Par cook the cauliflower: Heat some avocado oil in a large wok (a large skillet works, too!) and cook the cauliflower until lightly browned. Transfer it to the bowl with the rice wine sauce and give it a mix.
- Fry the red chilis: Heat avocado oil in the now-empty wok, add the red chiles and fry until lightly golden then remove them from the wok.
- Cook the kung pao cauliflower: Transfer the cauliflower florets back to the wok and cook for a few minutes, until lightly golden brown.
- Add the hoisin sauce: Pour the sauce over top and add garlic, ginger, and chopped fresh scallions
- Garnish & Serve: Transfer the delicious kung pao cauliflower to a large plate, garnish with crunchy peanuts and cilantro and serve.
Full recipe in the recipe card below.
How to store kung pao cauliflower
While this recipe is the most delicious on the day that it is made, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one day.
How To Serve
- Serve it by itself as an appetizer: This Kung Pao cauliflower bites recipe makes the best quick bite and can be served as a starter.
- Serve it over Coconut Rice or Basmati rice and be sure to spoon the sauce all over it for extra yumminess.
- Serve it as a side dish with Garlic Ginger Chicken or Pineapple Pork Stir Fry.
Kung Pao Cauliflower Recipe
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- 7 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 3 tablespoons rice wine or sherry vinegar, divided
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon hoisin
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar or granulated sugar, (or 2 teaspoons maple syrup)
- 4 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil, divided
- 1 head cauliflower, core removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4 dried red chilis, cut into small pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
- 6 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup roasted, lightly salted peanuts
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- Prep the rice wine mixture: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of rice wine, and cornstarch until fully incorporated.1 tablespoon cornstarch
- In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of rice wine, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and sugar. Set it aside.1 tablespoon hoisin, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 2 teaspoons coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the cauliflower florets and cook, stirring frequently, until cauliflower is softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer it to the bowl with the rice wine mixture and mix until the cauliflower florets are fully coated with the sauce. Set it aside for a minute. No need to wash the wok/skillet.1 head cauliflower
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the now-empty wok (or skillet), add the red chiles and fry until lightly golden. This happens pretty quickly so keep a close eye on it. Transfer the chiles to a small bowl and set them aside. You will be left with some oil in the pan.4 dried red chilis
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower florets back to the wok making sure to drain the excess marinade. Sautee, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
- Pour the reserved sauce over the cauliflower then add the garlic, ginger, and green onions. Give it a toss and cook for one more minute.2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoons fresh ginger, 6 stalks green onions
- Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with peanuts and cilantro. Serve immediately.½ cup roasted, lightly salted peanuts, ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves