Okay, name your FAVORITE childhood Chinese takeout dish, I’ll go first… Orange. Chicken. Honestly, my go-to order as a child was “hunan pork without the pork” 😂 (early onset vegan at age 8? I think so.) but I remember the first time I tried Orange Chicken and thought “WOW this would be so good if it wasn’t chicken!!” Well, this Vegan Orange Cauliflower is huge for Orange Chicken loving vegans. Not only is it delicious and the perfect solution for an orange chicken craving, it’s also way healthier, lower in sodium, and more delicious than takeout (plus it’s gluten free, vegan, and NOT deep fried).
What Makes This Vegan Orange Cauliflower Healthier Than Takeout?
Since this recipe is baked, not fried, it is totally oil free and much lower in fat. The sauce is also refined-sugar free and lower in sodium, and the florets are very lightly breaded with an organic, gluten-free rice flour and water mixture, so this dish is also lower in calories and carbs. Because this recipe is veggie based, it is also higher in nutrients!
What Type of Flour Should I Use?
I have tested this recipe with alllllll the flours – almond flour, chickpea flour, oat flour, you name it! Through my testing, I have found two types of flour that work best to make the most delicious tender on the inside, crispy on the outside orange cauliflower. Brown rice flour and gluten free all purpose flour (or regular all purpose if you’re not gluten free). These two varieties of flour achieve the crispiest exterior which definitely adds to the deliciousness.
Can You Make This Vegan Orange Cauliflower Ahead of Time?
I definitely recommend making this recipe right before serving, but leftovers can certainly be reheated in an oven or air fryer. Speaking of air fryers – I have heard GREAT feedback from those of you who have tried this recipe in an air fryer, so if that’s your thing, definitely give it a go! If you are looking to save time and meal prep this recipe, you can do that by cutting up your cauliflower into florets and refrigerating in an airtight container, whisking together the ingredients for your sauce, and preparing your batter. The batter does tend to thicken over time, so you will want to add a little more water if needed to thin. The consistency should be just slightly thinner than pancake batter when coating the florets.
Tips to Make This Cauliflower Extra Crispy:
- Make sure your batter is not too thick. I have the best results when my batter is slightly thinner than pancake batter.
- Don’t overcoat your florets. After tossing with the batter, remove each floret one by one using a fork and letting excess batter drip off.
- Add a sprinkle of the optional gluten free breadcrumbs. These add a nice crunch.
- If you’re not eating oil-free, spray with a very light coat of olive oil half way through the bake time.
- Let your florets cool after baking for at least 3-5 minutes before tossing with the sauce. This prevents them from steaming and getting mushy.
Can I Substitute the Orange Sauce for Other Sauce Flavors?
Absolutely! This recipe is DELIGHTFUL with a buffalo sauce, teriyaki sauce, peanut sauce, BBQ sauce, or my personal favorite Crispy Sesame Cauliflower.
- Baking Sheet
- Sauce Pan
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into medium sized florets, stems removed
- 3/4 C orange juice
- 1/2 C water
- 1 TBSP orange zest
- 1" piece of ginger
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 TBSP chili garlic sauce
- 1/4 C rice vinegar
- 2 TBSP liquid aminos or soy sauce
- 1/4 C sweetener of choice coconut sugar, swerve, maple syrup, agave. adjust based on sweetness of OJ
- crushed red peppers to taste
- 1 tsp tapioca flour mixed with 2 TBSP warm water cornstarch or arrowroot powder work as well
- green onions, chopped
- broccolini, steamed
- jasmine rice, shirataki rice, or hearts of palm rice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix together all ingredients for batter, except breadcrumbs, in a bowl. Batter should be slightly thinner than pancake batter. Add cauliflower florets to bowl and toss to coat.
- One by one, remove cauliflower from batter with a fork, letting excess drip off, and transfer to oiled parchment lined baking sheets, being sure not to overcrowd. Sprinkle generously with breadcrumbs if using. Spray with a very light coat of olive oil. (optional for extra crispiness!)
- Bake for 25 minutes until golden and crisp.
- Purée all ingredients for sauce except tapioca flour in a blender until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan over low heat. Adjust spice, sweetness, and saltiness to your liking. Simmer for 5-10 min. Combine water and tapioca flour and stir into sauce to thicken.
- Remove cauliflower from oven and let cool for 3-5 min (this step is very important as it prevents the cauliflower from getting soggy!)
- Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and toss gently with sauce. Sprinkle with green onion.
- Serve hot with steamed rice and broccolini!