This sweet and spicy Bang Bang Cauliflower is the perfect vegetarian appetizer or main dish! It's easy to make, deliciously crispy, and has a sauce you will want to eat on everything.
Have you ever tried the Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish Grill? If that's one of your favorite appetizers, then you have to try this vegetarian version of Bang Bang Cauliflower at home! These baked crispy cauliflower bites are coated in spicy Bang Bang sauce made with Sriracha, sweet chili sauce, and light mayonnaise Trust me!.
Have you ever heard of bang bang sauce? The spicy and nutty sauce has a hint of sweetness to it that is incredibly addicting! It originated in China, where street vendors sold Bang Bang chicken - usually a shredded chicken dish with sesame-flavored spicy sauce on top.
The first time I tried Bang Bang sauce, I knew I had to replicate it! I became a huge fan of it a long time ago when I was at happy hour with my friend. They ordered bang bang cauliflower, and we were literally licking the sauce off the plate. The spicy, sweet, and creamy sauce is tantalizing and can elevate anything from just "good" to amazing.
While it's normally served with chicken or shrimp, I love this crispy version with cauliflower for a meatless option. Served as an appetizer or with a big salad for a main meal, you will definitely be going back for more.
Important note: The Americanized version of Bang Bang sauce made popular at restaurants is very, very different from the original Chinese version that’s made with soy sauce, sesame pasta, chili oil, garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns. Here’s a great recipe for a more authentic recipe for Chinese Bang Bang Chicken.
Key Ingredients For Bang Bang Cauliflower
The bite-sized cauliflower florets are lightly breaded, roasted, and then tossed in the sweet and spicy bang bang sauce. This is a low-sugar, high-fiber appetizer that you will seriously adore! Here is a bit more information about what I used in this recipe.
- Cauliflower: It's a lot cheaper to just buy an entire head of cauliflower and chop it up into florets. If you don't want to spend time chopping up the cauliflower, you can buy pre-chopped florets from the grocery store.
- Egg Whites: You only need the egg whites to bread the cauliflower, so get an egg separator. You can also save yourself time and just buy egg whites from the store.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: Any type of breadcrumbs will work just fine, but panko has the best texture and taste for Bang Bang cauliflower.
- Sweet Chili Sauce: This is the secret to the sauce! It's what gives it the signature sweet and hot taste.
- Mayonnaise: Either use light mayo (it has less fat) or make your own.
- Sriracha: Use as much or as little as you want to adjust how spicy the cauliflower is.
- Lime: Fresh lime juice will have a sweeter taste, so it's best to get lime from the store and juice it for the cauliflower.
Note: For a full list of ingredients and detailed instructions on how to make this cauliflower, take a look at the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Side Dish Ideas
These bite-sized cauliflowers are usually served as party food, so serve other fun finger foods with it. Crispy baked egg rolls are one of my favorite things to set out at parties. They are easy to grab and don't make your fingers messy. Another easy appetizer are these Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps. They are gorgeous and super healthy too!
Recipe Tips And Ideas For Cauliflower With Bang Bang Sauce
Follow these tips to make sure that this cauliflower appetizer turns out spicy and crispy every single time!
- Always spray the baking sheet with nonstick spray before you roast the cauliflower. These veggies tend to stick to the pan, so be careful. A silicone baking mat is another option that makes clean up really easy too.
- After you toss the cauliflower in the sauce, bake it for another 5 minutes, but this time turn the heat up 100 degrees. Be very careful because the cauliflower burns easily during this step.
- Make some extra sauce to dip the cauliflower into when it is done baking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions I frequently get asked about by some readers...
Can you make it in the air fryer?
It's actually really easy to make Bang Bang Cauliflower in the air fryer. The only thing you will do differently is that I do not recommend air frying the cauliflower after you toss it in the sauce. With the air being blown around, it could make quite a mess inside the basket!
Instead, just bread the cauliflower and bake it for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. Shake the basking halfway through the cooking time.
Still make the bang bang sauce, but you'll use it to dip the cauliflower into it at the end.
Can I use frozen cauliflower florets?
No, I do not recommend using frozen cauliflower florets. If you do, they won't crisp up very well as they roast.
How do you make this recipe keto-friendly?
The only thing you have to do to make this keto-friendly is to replace the panko bread crumbs with crushed pork rinds. When you bread the cauliflower with pork rinds, they will have very low net carbs.
How do you store leftover bang bang cauliflower?
Storing roasted and breaded vegetables is always a struggle because the longer you try to store them, the soggier they will become. I suggest storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
More Delicious Cauliflower Recipes You’ll Love:
Bang Bang Cauliflower
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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