Sticky Sesame Baked Cauliflower is roasted until crispy before getting coated with a sweet and spicy sesame glaze. This is the better-for-you version of Chinese take-out!
Baked Cauliflower Recipe
Sticky Sesame Baked Cauliflower is our healthy version of the Chinese take-out classic. Let’s face it— that sticky sesame glaze is what makes Sesame Chicken so addicting, not really the chicken itself. You can basically pour that sauce on anything, and my family will lick it clean!
To make this meatless recipe taste like real Chinese fast-food, the trick was to bake it really crisp before coating completely with the sticky sesame glaze. Ladies and gentlemen, it worked! The result is a fantastic vegetarian dish that everyone – even meat lovers – will enjoy!
Is Baked cauliflower healthy?
Yes. There’s very little fat since we’re not deep-frying the florets to crisp them up. We’re also using egg whites to make the breading stick, so that reduces the calorie count even more. There’s not a lot of carbs as well since this is a very lightly-breaded dish.
As for the nutrients, cauliflower is considered a superfood! It’s low-carb, fiber-rich, and packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s really good for you, especially when baked!
Do you have to wash cauliflower before roasting?
We prefer to wash them before roasting to remove any dirt or insects hiding in the leaves and between the stems. But make sure to dry them out as much as you can, because excess moisture will get in the way of a crispy and crunchy crust.
Sticky sesame baked cauliflower ingredients:
- Cauliflower: Sliced into bite-sized florets.
- Egg Whites: Helps the seasoned panko stick to the vegetables.
- Breading: Panko, salt, a dash of onion and garlic powder, cayenne, smoked paprika, fresh-ground pepper.
- Sticky sesame sauce: Sesame oil (Try to find the toasted kind in your local Asian market. Makes a huge difference in flavor!), minced fresh garlic, rice cider vinegar, honey, and (optional) brown sugar, plus soy sauce and sriracha.
- Cornstarch slurry: We’re using water and cornstarch as a thickener for the glaze.
How to cut the cauliflower?
Remove all the leaves outside first. Then, slice the head in half. Cut off as many florets as you can, trimming any excess stem off each one.
How to make homemade sticky sesame baked cauliflower?
- Shake with breading. Combine the veggies in a bowl or Ziplock bag together with the egg whites. Combine the panko and breading seasonings in another bag. Transfer the vegetables to the bag with the breading, and shake really well to coat the florets evenly.
- Bake. Place in a 400F oven from 15 to 18 mins until tender, crunchy on the outside, and golden.
- Cook the sticky sesame sauce. Simmer all the sauce ingredients for about 10 mins. Thicken with cornstarch slurry, and simmer a little more until it turns into a glaze.
- Combine. You can pour the glaze over the florets, or toss them in it. Try to coat them as evenly as possible.
- Serve. Plate up with sesame seeds plus chopped green onions on top. Enjoy over rice, as a low-carb meal, or as a starter!
Recipe Variations and substitutions:
- Low-carb: Use a light dusting of almond flour instead of panko. You can also roast the seasoned florets directly for a lighter version. As for keto substitutions, swap the soy sauce for coco amino. Use low-carb sweeteners like sucralose, erythritol, and monk fruit sweetener instead of honey and brown sugar.
- Vegan: Skip the egg whites, and use a flax egg (1 tbsp flax seeds + water) or a little cornstarch slurry. Use vegan sweeteners like coconut sugar or brown rice syrup.
- Use broccoli: Yes, this recipe will work with broccoli, too!
What to eat with sicky sesame baked cauliflower?
Enjoy it with your favorite Chinese fast-food sides! We love it over hot rice or fried rice, and it’s delicious over noodles, too. Make it a complete Asian-inspired feast with Panda Express Mixed Veggies, chow mein, and egg rolls!
Leftovers Storage tips:
We recommend reserving some uncoated vegetables and sauce and storing them separately for up to a week. This helps them retain crispiness. Re-bake the vegetables at 400F for about 5 minutes, reheat the sauce and pour or mix when ready to eat.
You can also store the baked and glazed veggies for up to two days, but try to finish them as early as possible so they become too soggy. Reheat in the microwave or oven toaster.
For longer storage, we also recommend keeping the glaze and veggies separate, but feel free to freeze them already glazed after they’ve cooled down. Store in a freezer baggie and keep up to 6 months. Thaw, and reheat an oven toaster or microwave.
More cauliflower recipes to try:
- Try to cut the vegetables into similar sizes so they cook at the same time.
- If you can, use TOASTED sesame oil, not the regular kind. Toasted oil brings a whole level of nuttiness to the dish!
- Want it extra saucy? Use double the ingredients for the sauce.
- If you have some leftover raw florets, use them for small-batch low-carb rice.
Sticky Sesame Baked Cauliflower
- 1 head cauliflower (cut into florets)
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)
- chopped green onions (for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and set it aside.
- Add egg whites to a large Ziploc bag or bowl, and add the cauliflower florets, close the bag, and shake it to mix well until everything is well coated.
- In a separate Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine Panko crumbs, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and stir to combine.
- Add cauliflower florets to the Panko mixture, mix or shake it until everything is well combined.
- Transfer cauliflower florets to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 120 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned.
- Place a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the sesame oil, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, and garlic. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In a small mixing bowl combine cornstarch and water and stir until cornstarch is dissolved.
- Add the cornstarch mixture to the skillet and stir to combine. Once thickened remove from heat.
- Remove cauliflower florets from the oven and add them to the sauce. Mix until florets are evenly coated.
- Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onions and serve immediately.