Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites

Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites are a deliciously healthier option of a classic family favorite—–orange chicken. At first glance, these beauties truly remind you of orange chicken (and trust me, they taste just as good, if not better), however, they aren’t! These bites are ultra crispy and smothered in a sticky sweet orange sauce and topped with sesame seeds. Super easy to make and whipped together in under 45 minutes. All vegan ingredients. Gluten-free option.

Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites

These Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites are such a big deal, ya’ll. I’m super excited to be sharing this recipe with you because it’s just so darn delicious! 

It’s #OrangeWeek on Orchids + Sweet Tea!

I don’t know about you, but oranges have been such an under-utilized ingredient for me. Granted, I tend to use oranges in a smoothie, as juice, or something of that realm. However, I haven’t experimented much with this flavor UNTIL NOW. 

I really do hope that you enjoy everything orange + spice this week!

Currently, my favorite orange-flavored recipe on the blog is this Vegan Carrot Cake + Orange-infused Frosting. Not only is it completely vegan, fluffy, + moist, but it’s also loaded with shredded carrots, orange zest, pecan/walnuts, pineapple, and a ton of warm, fall spices that create one decadent flavor.

Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites

OK, so back to these cauliflower bites for a sec! I’m absolutely OBSESSED! They are just too good to not be, am I right?

If you’ve been an avid follower of Orchids + Sweet Tea, then you’ve probably already noticed that these bites are inspired by this Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa recipe. Of course, it’s been awhile since I made this cauliflower + quinoa recipe, however, I know that many of you LOVE cauliflower bites separately (which go so well with a lot of things actually), so I had to create these bites again and better than before!

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.

What You’ll Love Most About These Bites.

They’re super easy to make.

Extra crispy on the outside + soft on the inside.

They are completely dairy-free and vegan.

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.

Did I mention, it’s just delicious?

Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites

What About ‘Meatless’ Options that Include Cauliflower?

These Vegan Mango Habanero Cauliflower Bites are an awesome balance between sweet and spicy, which work perfectly together! At first glance, these bites truly remind you of boneless 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! 

This Sweet + Spicy Cauliflower Bites + Maple Pecan Waffles recipe is EVERYTHING! This dish is anything but short of flavor, the waffles are fluffy, thick, and airy and the cauliflower bites comes bursting with sweet + spicy flavors from the honey-hot sauce mixture. Super easy to make and completely dairy-free.

This Buffalo Cauliflower Kale Grilled Pizza is absolutely the most perfect family-friendly recipe for the summer! It comes topped with buffalo sauce, mozzarella cheese, kale, and buffalo cauliflower bites and comes based with a crispy, fluffy gluten-free GRILLED crust. Yes, I said Grilled! It’s just that simple, yet it’s bursting with savoriness and flavor. The best weeknight meal and vegetarian option for everyone.

This Easy Vegan Broccoli Alfredo Pasta is the perfect easy weekday meal or perhaps something simple for a laid-back weekend. Based with a creamy, flavorful Alfredo sauce made from cauliflower and cashews; and tossed with delicious broccoli. Completely dairy-free and vegan. Made in just 25 minutes!

Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites

Common Q + A’s About Cauliflower Bites.

How Do You Thicken the Sauce?

When it comes to making your orange sauce, the thickening method is the most important, especially when aiming to make them ultra sticky. Personally, I love using arrowroot starch, however, if you don’t have this on hand, using other subs like all-purpose flour, regular starch, or tapioca flour works 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 along with sauce that when 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 if consumed within 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! For EXTRA crispness, add ground corn flakes to breadcrumbs.

Do I Have to Use Brown Sugar?

Nope. You can always substitute the brown sugar with pure maple syrup. Although brown sugar caramelizes nicely, adding maple syrup will help with the stickiness. 

Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites

Let’s dig right into this recipe, shall we?

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.

Bon Appetit!

Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites

Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites

Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
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Ingredients

  • 1 head of Cauliflower, chopped in medium chunks
  • 2 cups bread crumbs, GF if needed! (See Notes!)
  • 1 cup fresh water
  • 3/4 cup organic all-purpose flour  (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt + black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

Sticky Orange Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsps fresh water
  • 1 cup juice of an orange  (That's about 2 large oranges!)
  • 3 Tbsps organic brown sugar (Vegan-approved!; I use Sugar in the Raw; See Notes!)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsps white cooking wine
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce, low sodium
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (See Notes!)
  • 2 tsps orange zest (See Notes!)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sriracha or hot sauce
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot starch + 3 Tbsps WARM water (See Notes!)

Other:

  • sesame seeds
  • chopped green onions

Instructions

  • 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.
  • 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 BREADCRUMBS: To make your own breadcrumbs, see my recipe in the notes.
  • 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 tsp 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.
 

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Crispy Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower Bites.

ORCHIDS + SWEET TEA

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