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Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' + Noodles
This Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' + Noodles is a great homemade option to amazing classic take-out flavors in one single bowl. Made in under 1 hour, this dish is smothered in a sweet + slightly sesame-inspired sauce, with hints of garlic, and is perfect when served with garlic butter noddles or your favorite side. Absolutely delicious for the entire family! Vegan + Gluten-free option.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links via Amazon for products that I wholeheartedly love.
I couldn't be more excited to share this recipe with you guys because I used to love eating takeout a few times a week and this dish was one of the dishes that I enjoyed most! This Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' + Noodles is a healthy play on actual sesame chicken, which comes breaded , drenched in a nice sweet sauce, topped with sesame seeds and often served with white rice and steamed broccoli.
With this recipe, I chose to change things up a bit with coated noodles that come nicely tossed in an easy garlic butter. SO good!
But of course, you can always keep things traditional with white rice or healthier alternatives like cauliflower rice, basmati rice, brown rice, quinoa, etc.
Honestly, this plant-based dish is perfect for any time of day, any day of the week, and any season. It's so bold in flavor, easy to make (which makes it perfect for weeknight meals), whipped together in under 1 hour, super versatile, and is a fit for the entire family.
How to Make Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken'
When it comes to making this Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' recipe, the process is fairly simple and easy! You'll need to:
Part 1:Make the batter. This done by combining the milk, flour, and seasonings (salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, parsley, and garlic powder) in a bowl and whisking them together until combined and smooth.
Part 2:Make the coating. Simply combine the breadcrumbs and crushed cornflakes together in a bowl. Feel free to season this coating with the same seasonings as the batter for extra flavor!
Part 3:Make the sesame-inspired sauce. This is an easy recipe for sesame sauce and can be adjusted to be more sweet or spicy or less.
Part 4: Add sauce to cauliflower. Toss your baked and crispy cauliflower into the sauce over the stovetop and you're all set! Just make the noodles and broccoli (if using) and wallah!
How to Make Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' + Noodles
In this Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' + Noodles dish, I chose to use noodles (bucatini is my fave) as the side because it creates nice added texture. However, if you want to keep things traditional feel free to use white rice or get even fancier (and healthier) with cauliflower rice, brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, etc. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating a great dish.
To make this easy weeknight meal recipe, you'll basically bake your cauliflower first and in the meantime, boil the noodles, sauté them in the garlic butter, make your sesame sauce, toss the cauliflower in the sauce, and serve! That's it.
Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions (aka scallions), if desired.
Here’s what you need for this Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' + Noodles:
Cauliflower. Choose a large head to make big florets.
Corn flakes. If necessary, choose organic and/or gluten-free cornflakes for the crunchiest cauliflower bites.
Breadcrumbs. You can buy store-bought breadcrumbs or panko. Or see the notes below the recipe to easily make your own breadcrumbs.
Seasonings. The cauliflower wings get extra flavor from salt, black pepper, garlic powder, parsley, and smoked paprika.
Flour. You can use gluten-free all-purpose flour if you like.
Garlic. Fresh minced or grated garlic also works.
Brown sugar. This adds a nice glaze-like texture to the sauce. You can also use maple syrup instead.
Vegan Butter. I recommend Earth balance.
Veggies. I love adding broccoli or broccolini. Also, feel free to add bell peppers to the mix, if preferred.
Honey. I use organic and raw. You can also use hot honey for a nice twist or maple syrup for the vegan option!
Soy sauce. I use low-sodium. For gluten-free, use tamari.
Olive oil. You can also use Grapeseed oil or sesame oil.
Bucatini. Use your favorite noodles or noddle shaped pasta. You can also substitute gluten-free if necessary.
Why You’ll Love this Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' + Noodles
This healthy take-out inspired recipe has a lot to love!
It's super easy to make.
Extra crispy on the outside + soft on the inside---mimicking sesame chicken.
It's completely dairy-free, plant-based with a gluten-free option.
A nice balance of sweet + a pinch of spicy.
Perfect Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter vibes—–any season!
Bursting with bold flavors, especially garlic!
Great as an appetizer or side (cauliflower alone) or as a full meal like this recipe with the noodles.
Tricks to The Crispiest Cauliflower
To make sure your cauliflower get as crispy as possible, follow these simple tips:
Make sure each cauliflower has plenty of space on the baking sheet. The airflow helps things crisp up.
Make sure you’re using fresh, not soggy or stale, breadcrumbs.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
Let the cauliflower cool for 5 to 10 minutes before adding them to the sauce.
What is Bucatini Pasta?
If you haven’t heard of bucatini pasta or used it, you’re totally missing out! Bucatini pasta has by far become one of my favorite pasta to use (next to rigatoni and pappardelle). This pasta is thicker than spaghetti and has a hallow center running through it, which allows it to “hold up” well in saucy dishes—in my opinion.
It is of course derived from Italy and made of durum wheat flour. Because it is so similar to spaghetti, it’s usually a great substitute for any dish that call for it. It’s usually readily available as dried pasta and can be stored longer than if you were to purchase it fresh (it’s pricier fresh also).
WHY BROWN RICE AND HOW TO COOK IT
While rice remains one of the biggest staples in food, it's super important to note that brown rice is a great healthy alternative to white rice. Most of the benefits however, comes from the way it is prepared compared to it's counterparts.
Brown Rice is a whole grain (meaning that it contains 3-parts of the grain kernel) which makes it highly nutritious and loaded with vitamins and fiber.
When it comes to cooking brown rice----it should be thoroughly rinsed like all other rices, however, the cook time is a bit longer. Usually, it's best to boil it in enough water that slightly covers the rice and once the water has boiled, reducing the heat to low and simmering the rice covered for about 45 minutes or so is key.
SHOP MY FAVORITE TOOLS FOR COOKING, ESPECIALLY FOR THIS DISH!
OK, so as you can see, cauliflower has some pretty awesome benefits, so why not use it as a substitute for rice in this recipe, right? My sentiments exactly. The great thing is that making Cauliflower is SUPER easy! Granted, if you’re low on time and energy, you can always purchase cauliflower rice via your Amazon or other stores that sell great healthy options.
However, if you’re into making it from scratch like I did, then look no further. This recipe includes a handful of easy steps that will ensure that your rice comes out perfectly by simply using a food processor.
Start off by breaking up the cauliflower into florets and rinsing and then patting dry.
Next—add the florets to a food processor, pulsing a few times until fully broken up and minced into a “rice-like” consistency.
Lastly, you add the cauliflower to a skillet along with your seasoning and a few ingredients and wallah!
Do I Need to Cook the Veggies First?
Quickly boil or steam your broccoli for a few minutes until "al dente" if you don't want to have a little crunch adding it directly to the skillet. DO NOT COOK UNTIL SOFT! Once cooked, drain, and add to a large bowl of iced cold water immediately to stop the cooking process. Resume with recipe.
How to Make Homemade Breadcrumbs
To make your own breadcrumbs, simply grind 1-2 cups of cubed 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.
What Goes Best with Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken'
As mentioned before, you can feel free to serve this Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' with any of the following options:
Polenta or grits
How to Store Leftover Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken' + Noodles
Place any leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet when ready to serve.
How to Make Vegan + Gluten-Free Plant-based Sesame ‘Chicken'
To make this dish vegan, simply substitute the honey with maple syrup. To make this dish GF-friendly, simply ensure that the breadcrumbs, cornflakes, soy sauce and side dish are gluten-free. The best GF-friendly sides include cauliflower rice, wild rice, quinoa, GF noodles or pasta, or other roasted veggies.
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, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika, and whisk together until combined. Set aside.
In ziplock bag, add the crushed corn flakes and breadcrumbs together and shake them together until well combined and blended.
Now, dip each cauliflower into batter (shaking off any excess) and then add it into the coating mixture within the ziplock bag, shaking everything together until cauliflower bite is well coated. 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 MAKE THE NOODLES:
Cook pasta according to packaging. NOTE: bucatini pasta doesn’t take a long time to cook, usually 10-12 minutes. NOTE: I always add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the boiling water to prevent pasta from sticking together.
Over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter to a heated 12-inch skillet. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
Add the garlic powder and stir until combined. Add in the cooked pasta (noodles), stirring everything together (best when using tongs) until pasta is fully coated. Set aside.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE + ASSEMBLY:
In a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add the sesame oil and garlic cloves, sautéing until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the brown sugar, honey, rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce, stirring until combined, the sugar has dissolved, and everything begins to bubble.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and once cauliflowers are crisp, remove from oven and toss them in the sauce until fully coated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
To serve, add the coated noodles to a plate or bowl and top with sautéed broccoli (if using) followed by sesame 'chicken'/cauliflower. Garnish with chopped scallions, if desired. Repeat for all servings.
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Place any leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet when ready to serve.
STEAMED BROCCOLI: Quickly boil or steam your broccoli for a few minutes until "al dente" if you don't want to have a little crunch adding it directly to the skillet. DO NOT COOK UNTIL SOFT! Once cooked, drain, and add to a large bowl of iced cold water immediately to stop the cooking process. Resume with recipe.
GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To make this dish GF-friendly, simply ensure that the breadcrumbs, cornflakes, soy sauce and side dish are gluten-free. The best GF-friendly sides include cauliflower rice, wild rice, quinoa, GF noodles or pasta, or other roasted veggies.
VEGAN OPTION: To make this dish vegan, simply substitute the honey with maple syrup.