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Better Than Takeout Vegan Orange Cauliflower

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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).
Vegan Gluten Free Orange Cauliflower

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.

Jackie Akerberg

Author of the Clean Vegan Cookbook, Food Blogger and Recipe Developer from Des Moines, Iowa. 

Jackfruitful Kitchen has proudly been featured in Forks Over Knives, Vegan Bowls, Vegan Food and Living, and DSM Magazine.

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Vegan Orange Cauliflower

Better Than Takeout Vegan Orange Cauliflower

A vegan, gluten-free, healthier version of classic Chinese takeout-style orange chicken. Lightly breaded, baked instead of fried, and oil free!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings 4


  • Baking Sheet
  • Sauce Pan


  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into medium sized florets, stems removed

Cauliflower batter

  • 1 C brown rice flour or gluten free all purpose flour
  • 3/4 C water or plant milk make sure your plant milk is unsweetened and unflavored
  • 1 TBSP liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 C GF bread crumbs optional

Orange Sauce

  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 TBSP orange zest
  • 1" piece of ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 TBSP chili garlic sauce
  • 3 TBSP 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 1/2 tsp tapioca flour cornstarch or arrowroot powder work as well

To Serve

  • 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 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.
  • 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!
Keyword better than takeout, orange cauliflower, sticky orange cauliflower, sweet and spicy cauliflower, vegan orange cauliflower, vegan orange chicken
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6 Responses

  1. Everything has works out great except I can’t get the orange sauce to thicken. I’m not sure what I am doing wrong

  2. This was very good. I wish my sauce thickened up more. I even added a touch more cornstarch and cooked it longer but still a little thin. The flavor of the sauce was really good however

    1. Hi Liz! I am so glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe and the flavor of the sauce. I typically find it thickens a bit as it cools, so next time maybe try removing it from heat and letting it cool/thicken for 3-5 minutes before tossing with the cauliflower. Appreciate your feedback!

  3. 5 stars
    LOVED this recipe!! I can’t believe the sauce was so good – tastes JUST like the real thing with none of the guilt! My batter turned out very thick, so I ended up adding a little more almond milk to it. I ended up using the juice of the orange I zest-ed and added a little more orange juice for the 3/4 cup the sauce called for. I’ll definitely make this again!

    1. SO glad you loved the recipe Suzanne. Thank you for sharing your tips for the batter, and such a great idea to use the juice of your orange and a little extra for some more vibrance! yum! 🙂

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