Kung Pao Cauliflower

Kung Pao Chicken is a Chinese takeout staple, but if you’re asking me, it’s all about the sauce. And in this special version, the sauce is spot on! Our Kung Pao Cauliflower gives you that same takeout flavor but it does it in a healthier, homemade manner. It’s plant-based but filling, and the cooking technique ensures every bite of cauliflower is crisp and delicious.

This recipe wouldn’t be quite as fun with soggy cauliflower, and luckily you won’t find any here. You toss some florets with cornstarch and soy sauce before baking them in the oven. The soy sauce adds flavor, but it also helps the cornstarch stick to the cauliflower, which in turn helps it get nice and crisp.

While the cauliflower bakes, you brown some garlic, ginger, and green onion…

… and whisk up a quick mixture of soy sauce, hoisin, rice wine vinegar, and chili flake.

Everything gets tossed together in the skillet…

…so that every nook and cranny is coated in that savory, slightly spicy sauce.

It’s quicker than calling for takeout, and it’s certainly better for you too. While Kung Pao Chicken isn’t one of the worst offenders on a Chinese restaurant menu, this version helps you sneak a few extra veggies into your day. And that’s always a good thing.

Kung Pao Cauliflower

20 minutes to prepare serves 4


  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 7 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup peanuts, chopped


  1. Turn oven broiler to high and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the cauliflower florets in half of the cornstarch. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and toss to coat.
  3. Spread cauliflower out evenly on baking sheet and broil until just beginning to char on the edges, about 3 minutes. Turn oven heat to 425°F and cook until tender, 5 more minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Add remaining cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water and whisk until smooth.
  5. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic, ginger, and green onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add sauce and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to low, add cauliflower and cook until sauce thickens a bit, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove from heat, stir in peanuts, and serve over white rice and with additional green onions. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest.