Kung POW Cauliflower

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sweet spicy cauliflower

It’s true what they say. You hit age thirty and suddenly, cauliflower is life. Anything and everything can be made from cauliflower if you try hard enough.

I’ve been on a healthy food kick lately. This past year (2020, for future reader’s reference) has been a bit rough on the waistline. So in an effort to lose a few pounds, I’m working on changing up our eating habits to incorporate less calories and more flavor!

Cauliflower is a great substitute for many ingredients in many different dishes. While it might not ‘taste like chicken’ if you are subbing it out in chicken wings, let’s be honest: we were only ever eating the wings for the sauce anyways.

The texture and taste of cauliflower works well because it can be crispy or soft, it can absorb the flavors of the dish or be a stand alone flavor profile in its own right.

A few years ago I dined at a little restaurant that had the most amazing kung pow cauliflower I have ever had. And unfortunately, it closed down so I can only relive the memories of the flavors of this dish.

I have been chasing the perfect kung pow cauliflower recipe ever since – and this time I think I’ve figured it out!

Here’s what you need for the batter:

  • flour – you can also sub whole wheat
  • milk – whole milk is best!
  • pinch of salt and sugar
  • baking soda
  • red pepper flakes – optional, for the HEAT!

You are shooting for a smooth batter without any clumps. Think: tempura batter. We want the batter to be a little thin so that it can really soak into all the nooks and cranies of the cauliflower florets.

Let’s Get Saucy!

For the sauce, we’re looking to make one that is sweet, spicy and super sticky! Here’s what I used in mine:

  • locally sourced honey – most store carry local honey, find some within 10-15 miles of you. Trust me, the price tag is worth it!
  • ginger – extra minced
  • rice vinegar – for authentic taste, but regular white vinegar can be subbed
  • garlic
  • sugar
  • cornstarch – to thicken it all up

Pile on the toppings!

I love cauliflower, especially when it is battered and deep fried. But I’ve found that its texture can be taken a long way with toppings like green onions, crushed peanuts, and toasted sesame seeds.

I’m loving all things cauliflower at the moment. It’s great to fill you up – and aids in weight loss! It’s high in fiber and has tons of beneficial nutrients to help you feel fuller without all of the extra calories.

Plus, it reheats well the next day – so I like to make a big batch and then heat it up in the oven the next day for delicious results!

sweet spicy cauliflower

Kung POW Cauliflower

The Starving Chef
Easy breaded cauliflower in a sticky sweet and spicy sauce – cauliflower is a healthy substitute in just about any meal.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Healthy, Quick & Easy, Vegetarian
Servings 4


  • ½ cup sweet bell pepper thinnly sliced, optional
  • 1 head cauliflower chopped into florets
  • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
  • ¼ cup flour




  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons crushed peanuts


  • Prepare the cauliflower but cutting it into bite sized florets. Remove the stalk and large stems. Place the florets in a large bowl and sprinkle the flour over them. Toss gently to cover the florets in flour.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, salt, sugar, baking soda and red pepper flakes. Whisk until a smooth batter forms.
  • Heat the cup of oil in a pot over medium high heat. When the oil is 'shimmery' test the temperature by dropping in a teaspoon of batter. If it fizzles and starts to brown, then the oil is ready. Prepare a plate with papertowels and place it near the oil for transferring the cooked cauliflower.
  • Working with 3-4 florets at a time, dredge them in the batter until completely coated. Drop the coated cauliflower into the pot of hot oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the crust is a light golden brown in color. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower from the pot and transfer to the plate lined with paper towels to blot up the excess oil. Put the fried florets in a SINGLE LAYER for best results. Repeat with the remaining florets.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 F. Grease a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Arrange the fried cauliflower and red pepper slices on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until the cauliflower is crispy and the red peppers are softened and roasted, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Stir until a smooth sauce forms.
  • Remove the cauliflower from the oven and toss lightly in the sauce until completely coated. Serve immediately with toppings like chopped green onion, crushed peanuts and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Keyword cauliflower, deep fried, sweet & spicy
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