Crispy Baked Orange Cauliflower Bites are a delicious healthier version of orange chicken. They're ultra crispy and smothered in a sticky sweet orange sauce and topped with sesame seeds. Super easy to make in under 45 minutes. All vegan ingredients and an easy gluten-free option.
These bites are inspired by my recipe for Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa. I know that many of you LOVE cauliflower bites on their own. So I had to make a recipe for crispy orange cauliflower bites again and better than before!
Let’s take these Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites for instance. They are a guaranteed showstopper! They have a nice kick of spice and a hint of sweetness from the BBQ sauce and honey. These cauliflower bites are the perfect appetizer, snack, or addition to any entree. Vegan option available.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
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 and vegan.
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.
Ingredients for Baked Orange Cauliflower Bites
This recipe is super easy to make. Here's what you need:
Cauliflower. Be sure to cut your head of cauliflower into evenly sized florets so they cook at the same time.
Seasonings. The breading for the cauliflower is flavored with garlic powder, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, parsley, salt and pepper.
Sticky Orange Sauce
The flavor in these baked cauliflower bites is all from the sweet and savory sauce. It's made with:
Orange juice and zest. Use the fresh stuff for the best flavor!
Brown sugar. I use organic to make sure it's vegan-friendly.
White wine. You can use any kind of wine you like.
Soy sauce. I use low-sodium. You can also use tamari for gluten-free.
Garlic. I prefer freshly pressed, but you could also use a bit of garlic powder if you prefer
Ginger. For a different kind of spice.
Hot sauce. Or you can use sriracha.
Arrowroot starch. This keeps things dry and sticky. Plus it's gluten-free.
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.
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.
How to Serve Orange Cauliflower Bites
You can serve these sticky baked cauliflower bites as an appetizer for a party. Or toss them onto a salad or over pasta. They also make a great pizza topping! Or make a grain bowl with quinoa or rice, tofu or another protein, and cauliflower bites. You really can't go wrong!
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 water, flour, sea salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, dried parsley, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder 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.
To Make Orange Sauce:
In a small saucepan on medium-high heat, add all ingredients (except for the arrowroot starch) and bring to a slight boil whisking everything together.
Once sauce thickens a bit, reduce heat and add arrowroot starch mixture, whisking it in until sauce begins to thicken more. Remove from heat and set aside.
When the cauliflower bites are done, remove them from the oven and carefully add them into the sauce immediately. Toss them carefully until fully coated and sauce is super sticky and stuck onto the bites. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
To serve, add cauliflower bites to a salad, atop pasta, as a topping on pizza, with quinoa or rice, or by themselves with dipping sauce.
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.
BROWN SUAGR: Instead of brown sugar, you can always use maple syrup or agave as a sweetener.
GARLIC: Instead of garlic cloves, you can use garlic powder as well. Just use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
ARROWROOT: If you don’t have arrowroot starch, feel free to substitute with regular starch or all-purpose flour, which both act as a thickening agent.
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.