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Sticky Sesame Cauliflower

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower – the sweet, sticky, & addictively delicious dish that tastes like a better-for-you version of Panda Express!

Sweet, sticky, addictive sesame cauliflower, a healthy & delicious meatless recipe

A few weeks ago, I got a text from a friend saying his sister was trying to add more vegan meals to her diet and asking if I had any good tips.

The first advice I had was something I always recommend to anyone who wants to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet, especially for non-vegans just trying to eat more meatless meals in general.

My first recommendation is to NOT replace meat with vegan meat substitutes, which can just set you up for disappointment when you expect one thing and get another.

Instead, think of it as an opportunity to explore new recipes and look at vegetables in a whole new light.

The popular Buffalo Cauliflower Wings are especially delicious!!!

So many people never venture further from preparing vegetables in a “mainstream” way—such as steamed or in a side salad—but when you start looking at vegetables as the main event, it opens up a brand new realm of possibilities.

Try taking one of your favorite meat-based recipes and recreating it with your favorite vegetable instead.

Think Kung Pao Eggplant, Mushroom Stroganoff, Sweet Potato Tacos, or Crispy Lemon Cauliflower.

vegan cauliflower

Or this sticky-sweet sesame cauliflower.

The best part of sesame chicken has always been the sauce…

It’s the sauce, not the chicken, that makes you crave Panda Express every time you walk past the food court in the mall.

It’s the sauce, not the chicken, that makes sesame chicken so addictive.

And this healthy meatless makeover of the classic recipe keeps all the goodness of that sticky-sweet sesame sauce intact. Plus, since you’re not using a fake meat substitute, there’s no expectation—subconscious or otherwise—that the dish will taste like chicken.

Non-vegan dinner guests won’t be wary of trying a taste.

And then another taste…

And then one more…

Trending Right Now: Veggie Burger Recipe – Just 6 Ingredients

cauliflower raw
sesame cauliflower recipe

Cauliflower—the darling vegetable of the year—is definitely having a moment.

And with more and more cauliflower-based products hitting shelves each day, the cauliflower excitement doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I’ve loved cauliflower since long before it was trendy.

The following are just a few of the cauliflower recipes you can find on my blog.

Starting with the craziest first:

Cauliflower Chocolate Cake

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower Soup Recipe

I’m predicting cauliflower is going to be the most popular vegetable of next year as well!

Note: When I researched soy sauce alternatives online, I found a few comments who said you can combine 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce with a tbsp or two of water to replace half cup of soy sauce. I haven’t tried it, but if anyone successfully tries this or another option, please feel free to report back for other readers.

Secretly Healthy Sticky Sesame Cauliflower (Vegan)

Also be sure to try this Cauliflower Mac And Cheese!

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Sticky Sesame Cauliflower

This delicious secretly healthy sticky sesame cauliflower tastes like a better-for-you version of Panda Express!
4.78/5 (104)
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 3 – 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped (6 1/2 cups florets)
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, honey, or agave
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1/4 cup water
  • sesame seeds and scallions, for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 450 F. Grease a baking pan or line with parchment. Cut cauliflower into florets, then slice so one side of each floret is flat. Arrange in a single layer in the greased pan. Bake 10 minutes on the center rack. Meanwhile, whisk together the soy sauce, sweetener, vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, and ginger in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. While waiting, stir together the cornstarch and water until cornstarch dissolves fully, then slowly whisk this into the saucepan as soon as it boils. Turn heat to medium and cook 2 minutes, stirring more frequently once it returns to a boil. Cook until thick. You can also make the sauce ahead of time if desired, and it thickens more as it sits in the fridge. Flip cauliflower florets and bake 10 additional minutes. If desired, you can now move the pan to the top rack and broil 1-2 minutes. Pour sauce over florets. Sprinkle sesame seeds and optional scallions on top, and serve.
    *A few readers have commented to say this works in the instant pot, but I've not tried it. If you try, be sure to let me know how it goes!
    View Nutrition Facts

Notes

Leftover cauliflower? Use it up in this Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce!
 
 

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Published on May 16, 2020

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244 Comments

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  1. Beth says

    I did the instant pot version and not a fan! If was over cooked and the sauce was watery. Do not recommend this way of cooking it!

  2. Sharon Fernandez says

    I just tried this in 2018 and it was very good. I used Bragg Liquid Aminos All Purpose seasoning, a natural soy substitute. It was a bit saltier than I normally like, so next time I’ll cut it with some water. But I loved the recipe. I also made the sour cream from the remaining cauliflower. I liked it, too. Thanks for great recipes, I am a great fan of yours!!!

  3. Brooke says

    Fabulous recipe. I used a large head of cauli since that is what I had, and I would have doubled the sauce in hindsight. That really is just because the sauce is so good – as Katie says – its all about the sauce! I think this would be delish with red lentils added in!

  4. anne says

    Kind of cheated on this recipe. I used the sauce to put on the batter covered cauliflower recipe on this website. I just spooned it over the cooked cauliflower and sprinkled it with the sesame seeds. It was wonderful! Sorry not to have tried it with the roasted cauliflower but it just looked too much like sesame chicken in the picture and I have been craving fried foods! I did double the batch for the sauce and have some leftover for dipping things! Thanks for a wonderful sauce, I absolutely love it!!

  5. Tony says

    I tried it and I can confirm Instant Pot version DOES NOT work. Cauliflower came out mushy and overcooked, sauce was watery and not thick. I do NOT recommend this method at all.

  6. Sharon says

    I LOVE her recipes, and make lots of them…..but I made this, great first nite, but it turns to a watery syrup next day.

  7. Nancy says

    Made this tonight and it was a hit with both the kids and the hubby! I used 1/2 cup of coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce. My sauce thickened well. I also broiled for two minutes after adding the sauce. Delight! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Cathy says

    I’m eating a bowl of this right now and YUM! This will definitely be a regular dish in my rotation from now on! I think even my super picky husband is going to be a fan. I didn’t have low sodium soy sauce and it’s a little salty, but I’ll go out and get low sodium sauce before I make it again. 🙂

  9. Heidi says

    Thin sauce really nails it! I used the lo-sodium tamari, honey and arrowroot options. Very easy and deliscious. I look forward to trying it with tofu.

  10. Robin says

    Not bad. We were looking for a way that we could enjoy cauliflower but since neither of us are actually a fan of it, we couldn’t expect miracles. It was fun to try something new regardless of the fact that for us, this recipe didn’t make the cut.

  11. Lauren says

    I don’t like cauliflower at all but this was delicious! Couldn’t even tell it was cauliflower! And I didn’t have any rice vinegar and used apple cider vinegar instead and it still came out really good!

  12. Bri says

    Grateful I found this recipe, delicious. I just wish the directions were labelled step by step rather than a whole paragraph.

  13. Karin says

    Here I am at midnight (insomnia) getting sucked in to all the recipes. I was actually looking for the chocolate frosting shots recipe (found it!) for tomorrow’s Christmas spread and got totally sucked in. I have made this insanely yummy cauliflower before and now I’m craving it like crazy! I’m so sad my menu is set. I will have to wait a day… Snack maybe??

  14. Lorie Ann says

    Yummy recipe, but it needs twice as much sauce to cover the cauliflower the way it does in the images! (I suggest doubling the sauce recipe or significantly cutting down the cauliflower florets to make it seem more like sesame chicken for picky eaters)

  15. Karin says

    I have made this recipe three times, it’s amazing! I’ve doubled the recipe and there still is never enough. My family loves it! Thank you for posting it!

  16. Schel says

    I can’t see all the comments but, if someone hasn’t said already, worcheshire says is not vegan or vegetarian. It is made quite literally from anchovies. Just FYI. I didn’t know after years of being vegetarian.

    • Jason Sanford says

      Hi, there are many brands that are indeed vegan, at least in the US. Google it to find a brand hopefully available near you. -Jason

  17. Lori says

    I have made this recipe multiple times – I often add tofu to the sheet pan to roast along with the cauliflower, or use another vegetable altogether. The sauce is fast and delicious. Thanks!

  18. TK says

    I used coc amino’s instead of soy sauce (soy is GMO)
    I used lemon juice instead of vinegar (vinegar + salt = hard on the liver)
    I used arrowroot instead of corn starch
    And roasted my cauli fat free
    It’s AWESOME!

  19. Jemma says

    Ummmmm i cant find the recipe??? There is only a photo of it on my screen and i have tried clicking on everything and there is no recipe????? i am a but hopeless with computers though so it could just be me. Please help me!!!!!!!!

    • Chris says

      I HAD THE SAME PROBLEM!!!! I just closed the page and then re-opened it and the rest of the page came up!
      This looks so delicious!! I cant wait to make it!!

    • Jason Sanford says

      Hi that’s so strange, the recipe shows up for me! Maybe it was a temporary glitch? Is it still not showing up for you?
      Jason

  20. Christin says

    Yum! We’ve made your recipes 2 nights in a row and we’re hooked! Just signed up for your email list. Thanks so much for the delicious, healthy recipes!

  21. Annalyn says

    Tried this for the first time today. YUM!!! It is also the first savory dish of yours I have tried, but I can see I will be making more in the future! My husband and I don’t like very much sauce on our foods (or dressings on our salad) so I made the full amount for the sauce and saved some for a second dish. Time-saver right there!

  22. Sara says

    Ho. Ly. Crap. This was DELICIOUS!! The sauce is pretty strong, so I definitely recommend eating this with some rice! I also steamed some broccoli and mixed that in cuz it was jealous the cauliflower had sauce… Lol! I also had some pickled radish with it, because yum! Thanks for a great first repetition with cauliflower!

  23. Mkmar says

    This is ridiculously good. I subbed coconut nectar instead of maple syrup. Coconut vinegar instead of rice. Coconut aminos instead of soy and added a little salt. Did it with arrowroot. SO SO SO GOOD.

  24. Amy Belowch says

    My entire family, husband and two boys (8 and 12), loved this dish! Thank you SO much for such a delicious vegan alternative to take-out!

  25. Savanna says

    My husband absolutely hates sesame chicken and is not a fan of Chinese food. He equally hates this recipe.

    *I* in the other hand- absolutely love it. It was easy to make. I followed the recipe to the “T”, other than using frozen cauliflower rather than fresh.

    This was absolutely delicious, and I really enjoyed it. Will be making again for sure 🙂

  26. Sarah says

    Can someone tell me more about the Instant Pot adaptation? Do you change any of the liquid amounts? How long in the pressure (assuming just on manual, high pressure setting). TIA!

  27. Aarthi P Chandarana says

    This was amazing! I cut the soy to 1/4 cup… figured I would add it as needed. My family (including kids) lovvved it!!!

  28. Jennifer says

    Made this today i thought it was great as did the rest of the family. I used Braggs liquid aminos, honey and arrowroot powder. I had no issues with sauce thickening nor did I have mushy cauliflower. Mine looked like the pic except more brown in color. I did toast the sesame seeds and served over quinoa. I did not put it in the oven after saucing like some did as i did see anywhere in the recipe to do that. I put the cauliflower in a big bowl and poured the sauce over and mixed it up so it was completely coated the put on a serving platter and sprinkled with scallions and seeds.

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