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Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

These crispy, sticky and sweet cauliflower bites served with quinoa are better than take-out and makes for the perfect plant-based weeknight meal!

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

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.

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

When it comes to this Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa, I'm absolutely OBSESSED! They are just too good to not be, am I right?

Don't believe me? Let's take these Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites for instance. They are a guaranteed showstopper! With a nice kick of spice coupled with a hint of sweetness from the BBQ sauce + Honey, these cauliflower bites are the perfect appetizer, snack, or addition to any entree. Vegan option available.

While this recipe showcases the same crispy deliciousness that is call cauliflower bites, the difference is in the amazing sauce----orange sauce. It's truly the most finger linking sauce I've made in awhile and if you're into sweet + savory flavor together---then this sauce is just the thing for you!

If you've been into orange chicken (EVER!), then you'll truly love this! It really does taste just as good as the classic thing!

Plus, I really enjoyed eating this with quinoa as opposed to rice. Granted, you can always use a healthier type of rice such as brown or wild, however, quinoa adds such a nice touch.

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

Why You’ll Love this Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

These cauliflower bites 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.

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

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 to 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.

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

Orange Cauliflower Bites FAQs

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 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.

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

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.

HOW DO YOU GET THEM TO BE SO CRISPY?

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 corn flakes to breadcrumbs.

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. 

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

Hate Cooking Quinoa in Fears of it Being Bland in Flavor?

OK, so I’ve heard so many people talk about not really being a huge fan of quinoa because it has 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.

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.

More Easy Meatless Weeknight Meals

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

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!

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa

Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa 

5 from 6 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 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Serves: 4 servings

Ingredients

CAULIFLOWER BITES:

  • 1 head of Cauliflower, chopped in medium chunks
  • 3 cups bread crumbs, GF if needed! (See Notes!)
  • ¾ cup organic all-purpose flour, GF-friendly
  • 1 cup Almond milk
  • ¼ cup raw honey (See Notes for Vegan option!)
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt + black pepper, each

QUINOA:

  • 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

ORANGE SAUCE:

  • 2 Tbsps  filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice  (That's about 3-4 large oranges!)
  • ¼ cup raw honey (See Notes!)
  • 3 Tbsps organic brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch + 2 Tbsps water
  • ¼ teaspoon minced fresh ginger (See Notes!)
  • 1 navel orange, peels only!

GARNISH:

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

Instructions

TO MAKE THE CAULIFLOWER BITES:

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and line your baking sheet with parchment paper. NOTE: Doing this step is a MUST to prevent sticking.
  • In a medium bowl, add the milk, flour, honey, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes, and whisk together until fully combined. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, add bread crumbs and set aside also. 
  • Now, dip each cauliflower into batter (shaking off any excess) and then toss into bread crumbs. Then lay each cauliflower side by side on the baking sheet (about an inch apart). Repeat until all cauliflower are coated.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and “crunchy” looking. NOTE: If not crispy enough, turn on broil and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

TO COOK THE QUINOA:

  • 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 MAKE THE ORANGE SAUCE:

  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the butter, garlic cloves, orange juice, honey, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, minced ginger, water, and orange peels and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, until bubbly stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and add the arrowroot mixture (mix both together until "milky" looking) stirring until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat.
  • Spoon the sauce atop cauliflower bites and let them bake for another 5-6 minutes or until the sauce is "sticky" atop bites. Garnish with seseam seeds, if desired.
  • Remove the cauliflower bites from the oven.
  • To serve, spoon the cooked quinoa is a bowl or plate and top with orange cauliflower bites. Garnish with green onions or parsely.
  • 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.
 

Nutrition

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

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Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa.

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  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.