This is a bowl of BAKED orange cauliflower "chicken" that tastes like the real deal! It's sweet, it's tangy, it's a little spicy, and most importantly, it taste like ORANGE chicken.
Love your Chinese takeout orange chicken but can't get your hands on any at the moment? No worries! Try this healthy alternative - baked orange cauliflower "chicken"!
The sauce is perfectly balanced with just the right amount of sweetness, a hint of spice, and subtly perfumed with orange. And the most amazing part? The baked cauliflower florets tastes just like tender white meat chicken! Yes, pretty amazing, I know. 😉
If you are looking for other homemade Chinese takeout dishes, try our easy 10-minute egg drop soup and simple egg fried rice! They are amazing as well!
Let's dive into some baked orange cauliflower "chicken" Q&As!
What does cauliflowers taste like?
It may look like a broccoli, but it's actually really mild in flavor.
When cauliflowers are raw, they should be firm and crunchy in texture and slightly bitter with a bit of sulfuric flavor. When the cauliflowers are cooked and cooked properly, they become tender in texture and slightly sweet but mostly neutral in flavor.
How do I know if my cauliflowers are done?
Cauliflower is done when you can easily poke it with a knife or fork and feels tender with barely a resistance. If the cauliflower is cooked for too long, you will get a lump of mush, which we do not want!
It is really important to cut the florets into similar sizes so that they can all cook evenly. For ours, we had cut our cauliflower into 1-½ inch pieces.
Do I have to use fresh oranges for orange cauliflower?
I highly recommend using fresh oranges because you need the zest. You might be surprised, but the iconic orange scent comes from the zest, not so much the juice. So if you don't use any zest, you won't get that orange fragrant like in regular Chinese orange sauce. But if you end up using only orange juice, let us know how it turned out!
Do I need to batter my cauliflower?
Yes and no. You don't need a batter, but because we are trying to mimic traditional Chinese takeout orange chicken, you want a thin layer of batter, which is what this wet batter will provide. With that said, I do recommend that you shake off as much of the wet batter and the seasoned flour as possible so you don't have a ball of dough.
Baked cauliflowers, before and after.
Do I need ketchup for the orange sauce?
Yes and no. Ketchup provides the sauce with an orange color that orange juice, unfortunately, does not give. If you're willing to compromise the color, you can substitute the ketchup with sugar and vinegar.
Yum, yum, yum! 😍 Enjoy!
Cook with love! ❤️
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Baked Orange Cauliflower "Chicken"
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets (about 2 lbs.)
Seasoned flour (optional):
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour (or as needed)
- ½ Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cup water
- 2 Tablespoon oil
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 oranges, juiced and 1 zested (about 1 C. juice and 1 tablespoon zest)
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 Tablespoon granulated sugar (or to your preference)
- 1½ Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to your preference)
- ½ Tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 TBPS cold water)
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare parchment lined sheet pan.
- If your making the seasoned flour, mix together flour, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, water, oil salt, garlic powder, and cornstarch until completely smooth.
- In small portions, dredge the cauliflower florets in the wet batter. Make sure to shake off excess batter.Place the cauliflowers into the seasoned flour and lightly coat the florets. Shake off excess flour. Place the battered florets onto the lined sheet pan. Repeat with remaining florets.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Flip each floret and bake for another 10 minutes or until cauliflower is lightly brown and tender. (The time may vary depending on your cauliflower floret size and oven).Once baked, you can shake off any excess dry flour from your cauliflower.
- While the cauliflower is baking, start on the orange sauce.In a bowl, mix together orange juice and zest, ketchup, sugar, and vinegar until combined. Set aside.
- In a sauce pan over medium high heat, add a small amount of oil and sauté garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds.Add the orange juice mixture to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling turn it down to a simmer and stir in the cornstarch slurry*. The sauce should thicken once the sauce starts bubbling again. *Make sure to stir the cornstarch with water prior to adding into the sauce.*
- Toss the baked cauliflower florets with the orange sauce in a heat proof bowl. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Barbara Brunermer says
Loved this recipe! A keeper for sure.
Taste just like the Orange chicken we get for take out!
Thank you for trying out recipe and so glad that you guys enjoyed it!
The recipe was easy to follow and the cauliflower cooked up nice. But I’m not sure what I did wrong, but it was too sweet and orangey. Definitely needed more spice.
Thank you for trying out our recipe! Our Orange Cauliflower flavor is based on tastings from several different Chinese restaurants, and we tried to keep the flavors of this recipe on a medium ground so that it accommodates everyone. As for the sweetness and spice level, please feel free to adjust it to your preference (as noted in the recipe). Because this is an "orange" recipe, we thought it's fitting for the sauce to be orangey =) If you prefer to have less orange flavors, simply omit some of the orange zest.
What’s “stir in the cornstarch slurry” ? What’s the cornstarch slurry?
Thank you for checking out our recipe and sorry for the confusion! Cornstarch slurry is simply the cornstarch and water mixture listed on the ingredient list. It's used to thicken the orange sauce and also make it glossy. So when your orange sauce is at a simmer, pour the cornstarch slurry into the sauce while stirring, so that the slurry doesn't clump up in one area. Thoroughly stir the sauce and mix it with the slurry. Once the sauce simmers for a few seconds, you'll start to see the sauce thickening due to the cornstarch slurry. Hope this answered your question!
Cook with love!
Tried it! Was a really delicious vegan substitute for orange chicken!
Thank you so much for trying our recipe! So glad you enjoyed the Baked Orange "Chicken"!
Cook with love!
Mike Gemberling says
I just started eating Vegan. This is a very tasty dish. I will definitely make it again. Thumbs up on this one.
Thank you for your kind words and so glad you enjoyed our recipe!
Could this be frozen?
We have not tried freezing the orange cauliflower, so we are not 100% sure. If you do try to freeze it, we recommend baking the cauliflower, let it cool completely, then freeze it with out tossing in the sauce. Hope this helps!