Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa Recipe

April 29, 2022
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea
This Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa Recipe crispy is better than take-out and makes for the perfect plant-based weeknight meal!

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa Recipe

This Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa recipe is a deliciously healthy option for the entire family. At first glance, these beauties truly remind you of classic orange chicken (and trust me, they taste just as good, if not better!), however, they aren’t! Just know that your taste buds won’t be able to tell the difference either! Super easy to make and whipped together in under 45 minutes. Cauliflower wings + flavorsome quinoa make a perfect combo and crowd-pleaser that will leave everyone wanting more! Gluten-Free + Vegan option.

Skillet of Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower

When it comes to this Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa recipe, I'm absolutely OBSESSED! They are just too good to not be, am I right? It's no secret that I love wings of all varieties. Y'all know I have so many chicken wing recipes, like these Spicy Orange Chicken Wings. But sometimes, you just want something a little lighter or want to be more inclusive to your vegetarian/vegan friends. That's why I took my favorite homemade orange sauce and made crispy cauliflower wings/bites and added it to my fave quinoa base!

The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity. With just a handful of ingredients and easy steps, this meatless dish is the perfect weeknight dinner option when you crave a satisfying meal without the fuss. That's why I created the "Weeknight Meals" category—to bring you easy options that effortlessly combine convenience and deliciousness. Trust me; this crowd-pleaser won't disappoint.

And the best part? This cauliflower recipe is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from the perfect side dish to nourishing power bowls and pizzas. And if you love these vegetarian wings; you will definitely love these Sticky Coca-Cola Cauliflower WingsCrispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, and Everything Bagel Cauliflower Bites.

Jump to:
Ingredients for Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower including butter, breaded cauliflower, and crushed red pepper

What Are Cauliflower Wings?

Ah, cauliflower wings or bites! They're like little bites of veggie heaven, a twist on the classic chicken wings. Instead of using chicken, these delightful creations feature cauliflower as the star of the show. The cauliflower florets are transformed into crispy, flavorful bites that are sure to satisfy your cravings. Whether you coat them in tangy sauces, zesty spices, or even barbecue goodness, cauliflower wings are a fantastic vegetarian/vegan alternative. The perfect vegetarian side or bowl builder if you ask me!

How to Make Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

The best part about this dish is the crispy coating that is formed on these cauliflower bites. And these cauliflower bites do not disappoint. I talk more about tips for making these cauliflower bites nice and crispy, but let’s talk about this delicious sauce. You’ll need:

  • Filtered water. This gives the sauce additional liquid.
  • Unsalted butter. This adds additional flavor.
  • Brown sugar. This adds a nice glaze-like texture to the sauce. 
  • Freshly-squeezed orange juice. I love using actual oranges, but you can substitute with store-bought orange juice if needed.
  • Honey. For an alternate option, you can use agave or maple syrup.
  • Garlic. Fresh minced or grated garlic also works. 
  • Arrowroot starch. Works as a thickener for the sauce.
  • Red pepper flakes + fresh minced ginger. Use as much or as little spice as you like. 
  • Orange peels. For a nice burst of orange flavor. You can also use orange zest if preferred.

Bowl and skillet of Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower with Quinoa

The Secret To Tasty Quinoa

OK, so I’ve heard so many people talk about not really being a huge fan of quinoa recipes because they have no taste or the taste is so bland. Honestly, the KEY is to build flavor for every component of your dish so that together, the flavor is EXPLODING, including with your quinoa. MY SECRET? Veggie stock or chicken stock (for non-vegan/vegetarian options). Yup. Instead of using water, I just substitute with some sort of stock, adding salt or whatever based on necessity. Trust me, your quinoa will NEVER BE THE SAME after this delicious trick.

Using Fresh Oranges VS. Orange Juice For The Sauce

If you have the time and opportunity, using fresh oranges for the sauce is definitely the way to go. There's something magical about squeezing those juicy oranges and infusing the sauce with that natural sweetness and zesty goodness. It'll take your Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower to a whole new level! But hey, life can be hectic, and sometimes we need shortcuts. If you're in a pinch, quality orange juice without any added sugars or weird stuff can still do the trick.

Overhead shot of a bowl of Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower with Quinoa

How To Make The Crispiest Cauliflower?

OK, so this is often the #1 question that I get asked. My bites are crispy because of the flour batter that they are dipped in first followed by the breadcrumbs. Be sure to always shake off excess batter and use parchment paper on your baking sheet. Once they are gently placed on your baking sheet, spray them lightly with oil spray before placing them in the oven and let them golden. They’ll crisp up very nicely! And finally, for EXTRA crispness, add ground cornflakes to breadcrumbs.

Is Cauliflower Healthy?

Cauliflower is a nutrient-rich vegetable that offers tonnes of health benefits which is one of the reasons I LOVE creating recipes with it!


  • Packed with vitamins C, K, and folate.
  • Excellent source of antioxidants.
  • Supports digestion and gut health.
  • Promotes bone health with vitamin K.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Incorporating cauliflower into your diet is a great way to boost your nutrient intake and promote overall health and well-being, and what better way than in a crispy bite-sized snack?

Baked Cauliflower Wings VS. Air-Fried

Of course, both methods of making these orange cauliflower wings are effective. However, if you’re wondering whether you’d be able also to make these 'wings' in an air-fryer—-then yes! Absolutely!

Simply do all steps the same and cook them in your air-fryer for the amount of time needed and space them out. As you know, this recipe is for baked wings and honestly, they’re just as crispy as using them in the air fryer (especially when you use a wire rack), so the choice is yours!

Power bowl.

Why You’ll Love this Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

These cauliflower wings + quinoa have a lot to love! 

  • They’re super easy to make.
  • Extra crispy on the outside + soft on the inside.
  • They are completely dairy-free with a vegan option.
  • Super flavorful.
  • A nice balance of sweet + a pinch of spicy.
  • Perfect Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter vibes—–any season!
  • Bursting with orange flavor!
  • Great as an appetizer or side (cauliflower bites alone) or as a full meal like this recipe.

Wooden spoon stirring a skillet of Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa Q + A's

How do you store leftovers?

Honestly, these little bites are best consumed the same day. However, you can always store them in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Simply reheat in the oven once ready to serve for best results.

Do I have to use brown sugar?

Nope. It’s easy to substitute brown sugar. For instance, try pure maple syrup. Although brown sugar caramelizes nicely, adding maple syrup will help with the stickiness.

Can I make this Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa vegan?

Absolutely! To ensure that this recipe is fully vegan, substitute honey with pure maple syrup or Agave as well as butter with vegan butter.

How do you thicken the sauce?

It’s important to thicken your orange sauce so it gets nice and sticky. Personally, I love using arrowroot starch. However, if you don’t have this on hand, using other subs like all-purpose flour, regular cornstarch, or tapioca flour work just fine. Just be sure to always stir your thickener with warm water until it becomes a ‘milky’ liquid before adding it to the sauce.

Can you add more orange flavor to the sauce?

Absolutely! If you’re looking for an extreme burst of orange flavor, feel free to add orange peels into the sauce while it simmers. The fragrance and flavor of the orange peels will add more flavor. Just remove them before tossing in your bites if you don’t want them to stay in.

Can I Make this Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa Recipe Gluten-free?

My gluten-sensitive friends, don't worry. I've got you! You can either buy gluten-free breadcrumbs or make your own gluten-free breadcrumbs with your fav GF bread of choice! It's that easy.

More Easy Meatless Weeknight Meals


If you make this Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa recipe or any other recipe from us, be sure to tag us on Instagram at #Orchidsandsweettea so that we can share the love!

 Le Creuset Dutch Oven
Bowl of Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower with Quinoa

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa Recipe

April 29, 2022
5 from 8 votes
This Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa recipe is a deliciously healthy option for the entire family. At first glance, these beauties truly remind you of classic orange chicken (and trust me, they taste just as good, if not better!), however, they aren’t! Just know that your taste buds won’t be able to tell the difference either! Super easy to make and whipped together in under 45 minutes. Entirely Gluten-Free. Vegan option.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4 servings



  • 1 Crispy Baked Orange Cauliflower Bites


  • 1 cup quinoa, original or multi-color
  • 2 cups organic vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of sea salt


  • Sesame seeds
  • Chopped green onions (a.k.a. scallions)




  • Begin by adding the veggie stock and salt to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to boil. Add in the quinoa, whisking continuously while boiling for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, whisking every 3-4 minutes until fully cooked through, and water has dried, and the quinoa has thickened and appear "fluffy". Stir in the garlic powder, dried oregano, parsley, and smoked paprika. Remove from heat.


  • To serve, spoon the cooked quinoa is a bowl or plate and top with orange cauliflower bites. Garnish with green onions or parsley.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Best if consumed within the same day. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in oven when ready to serve.
  • HOMEMADE GF BREADCRUMBS: To make your own breadcrumbs, simply grind 1-2 cups of cubed GF bread into a food processor until finely chopped. Place crumbs onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 5-6 minutes in the oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. Once brown + crisp, remove from oven and let cool. Continue recipe steps and store remaining breadcrumbs in a tightly sealed container. 
  • SWEETENER: Instead of brown sugar, you can always use maple syrup or agave as a sweetener.
  • GINGER: If you do not have actual ginger root,  you can substitute for ¼ teaspoon ground ginger instead.
  • EXTRA ORANGE FLAVOR: For a bolder flavor, you can add orange peels to sauce when bringing everything to a boil. Keep it in the sauce and remove them after tossing in cauliflower bites.
  • VEGAN OPTION: To ensure that this recipe is fully vegan, substitute honey with pure maple syrup or Agave as well as butter with vegan butter.


Calories: 839kcal | Carbohydrates: 165g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 1521mg | Potassium: 1080mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 59g | Vitamin A: 1562IU | Vitamin C: 101mg | Calcium: 329mg | Iron: 9mg


Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea


Script text: Xx, Shanika

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5 from 8 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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Love this Recipe?

  1. You have nailed the crispy cauliflower. It is so delicious!! It was just the right amount to fit perfectly in my air fryer and I sauced half and used the rest of the sauce to pour over the quinoa. Will definitely make again. I keep the leftover air fried cauli (no sauce) in the fridge for the week for salads and wraps. It reheats perfectly in the air fryer!
    Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

    • Hi Brittney! Awww, I'm so happy to hear that! I definitely love making these extra crispy and I love that they were perfect in your air fryer! Thanks so much for choosing to make my recipe! 🙂

  2. Looks so delicious and comforting! I love the flavors combo - quinoa, cauliflower and orange sounds amazing together ♥

  3. What a wonderful recipe for meatless Mondays! It is true that this Sticky Orange Cauliflower looks like classic orange chicken. I am gonna make it to surprise my guys at home! Thanks for sharing.