Kung Pao Cauliflower Recipe

Urvashee Patel | Dessarts

Looking for a tasty bite with some spice? Tickle your taste buds with this sweet, sour, garlicky, spicy Kung Pao Cauliflower.

Kung Pao cauliflower has become my new favorite and I think you’re going to love it too! When you’re craving some of that take-out flavor but know it’s healthier to cook at home, this is your answer.

There are lots of other reasons to make this cauliflower dish. If you’re looking for a meat-free alternative to Kung Pao chicken, cauliflower is a perfect substitute.

Kung Pao Cauliflower Photo

It’s also an easy weeknight meal because it’s only a 30-minute effort. More importantly, I think you’re going to love the flavors.

Kung Pao cauliflower is packed with all kinds of tastes that will make your mouth happy. It’s tangy, garlicky, sweet and spicy all at once.

How to Cook the Cauliflower

Prepare the cauliflower into small even bites as instructed in the recipe. This allows for even browning in the oven and a better presentation on the plate.

I roast my cauliflower in the oven with a little bit of olive oil. Since the oven does all the work, I use that cooking time to prepare the Kung Pao sauce.

Kung Pao Cauliflower Picture

What Do You Need to Make Kung Pao Sauce?

You can make Kung Pao cauliflower with a few basic pantry items and some key Asian ingredients. Basics that you will need are garlic, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, corn starch and vinegar.

If you make Asian stir fries a lot, you probably already have the rest of ingredients to make the Kung Pao sauce. This includes sesame oil, soy sauce and Hoisin sauce.

The types of chilis you use really depends on what level of spice you can tolerate. You can use only red pepper flakes or combine them with dried red chilis or fresh chilis such as serrano peppers or Thai chilis.

I happen to have red fresno peppers which are milder and work better for our spice tolerance. Red chili paste or a chili garlic paste such as sambal oelek can also add some nice flavor and be used instead of whole chilis.

Start by heating up the sesame oil and simmering your garlic and chilis in it for just a quick 30 seconds. This releases the garlic flavor and heat from the peppers into the oil.

Once that’s done, all the other ingredients go in together and are heated for just a few minutes until it forms a thick sauce.

Pour it over your roasted cauliflower, mix and return it to the oven for a few minutes to get a nice glaze over each cauliflower piece.

Kung Pao Cauliflower Image

How to Serve Kung Pao Cauliflower

Transfer your cauliflower to a serving dish and garnish it with sesame seeds and scallions. Then, serve it as a side dish.

Alternatively, you can make it a meal by serving it over a bed of brown rice and adding some tofu for extra protein.

If you choose to make it a meal, I recommend doubling the amount of sauce to add more flavor to your rice and tofu.

If you like cauliflower, you may also enjoy my recipes for turmeric roasted cauliflower or cauliflower steaks.

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Kung Pao Cauliflower Recipe

    4 Servings


  • 1 head Cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
  • 1 Red Chili, sliced (fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar, or White Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
  • 2 Scallions, sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Prepare a large sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Remove any outer leaves and the short stem of the cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower head in half and then into quarters.
  3. Separate the florets off each quarter by slicing them away from the core stem. Cut them into bite size pieces. Rinse and pat dry.
  4. Place the cauliflower on the sheet pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss with your hands to completely coat.
  5. Roast the cauliflower for about 15 minutes or until browned on the edges. Turn them halfway through with a spatula for even browning. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl. Keep the oven on and sheet pan aside.
  6. In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch, soy sauce, water, vinegar, hoisin sauce and brown sugar.
  7. In a small saucepan, heat the sesame oil over medium heat to get the oil hot. Then, set the heat to low and add the garlic, red chili and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce mixture and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened.
  8. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and mix until well combined.
  9. Transfer the cauliflower back on the sheet pan and return it to the oven for 3-4 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle sesame seeds and scallions on top. 


  • You can vary the amount of fresh red chilis and red pepper flakes according to your spice tolerance.


Cooking Method:
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Related Recipes:
Vegetarian Recipes, Cauliflower Recipes, Asian Recipes, Spicy Recipes, Sauce Recipes, Side Dish Recipes, Easy Dinner Recipes, Roasted Recipes
Recipe Yields:
4 servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Related Post:
Author: Urvashee Patel
Recipe Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 86
Calories 183

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g
  Saturated Fat 1g
Sodium 1008mg
Total Carbohydrate 12g
  Dietary Fiber 4g
  Sugars 5g
Protein 4g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.
Urvashee Patel

About Urvashee

Urvashee blogs about delectable desserts on her blog, Dessarts. Lucky for us, she's sharing her delectable vegetarian dishes too as a Vegetarian Fanatic.

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