Bang bang cauliflower is a sweet, spicy, and addictive snack or appetizer. Crispy air fried cauliflower is coated with spices and a flavorful glaze, making a mouth-watering dish that’s vegan and gluten-free!
Bang bang shrimp has taken the internet by storm lately, and has become a super trendy dish. But there are two problems with it: it’s made with lots of shrimp, and lots of gluten. So I decided to come up with a solution, and create a recipe for bang bang cauliflower. It has all the components that make everybody love bang bang shrimp, but it’s vegan and gluten-free. What’s not to love?
It’s almost hard to describe how much flavor this bang bang cauliflower recipe has. The cauliflower is cooked in the air fryer with a breading that includes onion, garlic, and paprika. Then it’s coated with a glaze of chili garlic sauce, maple syrup, and vinegar, and put back in the air fryer. The result is more flavor than you ever thought cauliflower could have!
What You’ll Need
Here are all the ingredients that you need for this crunchy, juicy bang bang cauliflower recipe. Make sure to check out the recipe card at the bottom of the article to see the exact amounts of each ingredient.
For the Cauliflower:
- Almond milk – Make sure to use unsweetened, unflavored almond milk. You can use other types of non-dairy milk if you prefer.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Gluten-free flour – I use quinoa flour, but you can use whatever your preferred gluten-free flour is.
- Starch – Any type of starch will work, such as potato starch, corn starch, or tapioca starch. It helps the breading adhere to the cauliflower, and keeps the vegetable’s juices from escaping.
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Smoked paprika
- Kosher salt
- Chili garlic sauce – You can also use sriracha.
- Gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
For the Glaze:
- Maple syrup – Make sure to use 100% pure maple syrup.
- Chili garlic sauce – Sriracha can be used as a substitute.
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame seeds
How to Make Bang Bang Cauliflower
Here’s how to make this easy bang bang cauliflower recipe in the air fryer.
- Curdle the milk. Add the vinegar to the dairy-free milk and let it sit until the milk is curdled. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Mix the dry ingredients. Add the flour, starch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt to a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine.
- Add the liquid. Pour the curdled milk and the chili garlic sauce into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix until a batter forms.
- Prep the panko. Pour the gluten-free panko breadcrumbs onto a flat plate.
- Prepare the cauliflower. Starting with about a quarter of the florets, place the cauliflower into the batter, and coat them thoroughly. Use tongs to move the cauliflower to the plate with the panko, and cover each floret. Then transfer them to a baking sheet.
- Heat the air fryer. Turn the air fryer on to 400F.
- Oil the cauliflower. Spray cooking spray on the cauliflower.
- Fry. Put the cauliflower in the air fryer basket and cook until crispy, which should take about 10 minutes. Flip the cauliflower halfway through.
- Prep the next batch. While the cauliflower fries, prepare the next quarter of florets.
- Make the glaze. Add all of the ingredients for the glaze to a bowl, and whisk to combine.
- Glaze the cauliflower. When the cauliflower is crispy, add it to the bowl with the glaze, and toss until the florets are well coated.
- Finish frying. Put the glazed cauliflower back in the air fryer and cook for 5 minutes, then serve.
Tips for Success and Variations
Here are a few tricks, tips, and variations for this bang bang cauliflower recipe.
- Give the cauliflower space. Make sure that the cauliflower florets are not crowded in the air fryer basket. There should be space between each floret or else they won’t get crispy.
- Adjust the cooking time if necessary. The cauliflower may need a few more minutes in the air fryer depending on the water content in the vegetable, and how big the florets are. Make sure that you cook the cauliflower until it is crisp before adding the glaze, and then cook until it’s crisp again after adding the glaze.
- Use the oven. If you don’t have an air fryer you can easily make this recipe in an oven. Preheat the oven to 400F, and cook the cauliflower on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. It should take about 15 minutes to bake the cauliflower the first time, and about 5 minutes after adding the glaze.
- Make your own breading. If you can’t find gluten-free panko breadcrumbs, you can crush a rice cereal or corn flakes and use it as the breading.
What to Serve With Bang Bang Cauliflower
Bang bang cauliflower is usually served with a bang bang sauce, which is a combination of mayo, sriracha, and sweet chili sauce. But I also love to dip it in pretty much any other sauce. Here are a few fun sauces to serve with bang bang cauliflower.
- Chili lime tahini sauce
- Easy homemade vegan barbecue sauce
- Perfect vegan lemon dill sauce
- Vegan kimchi queso dip
- Vegan ranch dip
How to Store Leftovers
You can store bang bang cauliflower in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat and regain the crispiness, put the leftover cauliflower in a 350F air fryer for 5 minutes, or a 350F oven for 10 minutes.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
You can absolutely freeze this recipe. Keep the cauliflower in an airtight container and it will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can reheat straight out of the freezer by placing in a 350F air fryer for 10 minutes or a 350F oven for 15 minutes.
More Fun Apps to Make
Here are some more of my favorite fun appetizers to cook up.
- 5-ingredient healthy zucchini fritters
- Buffalo quinoa pizza bites
- Simply quinoa loaded sweet potatoes
- Spinach and artichoke mini quiches
- Quick and easy vegan sweet potato tots
Bang Bang Cauliflower
for the cauliflower:
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 cup flour of choice (I like quinoa)
- 2/3 cup starch (tapioca, potato, corn, etc.)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt , plus more for panko
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (or sriracha)
- 1 medium head cauliflower , cut into bite-sized florets
- 1½ cups gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
- In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and vinegar. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, until curdled.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and salt.
- Add the almond milk mixture and chili garlic sauce and stir to combine. It will be thick.
- Place the panko on a large, flat plate. You can start with about half of the panko and add the remaining as you work.
- Add about a quarter of the cauliflower florets to the batter mixture and stir to coat the cauliflower. Using tongs, coat each floret in the panko and transfer to a baking sheet.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
- Spray the panko-coated cauliflower with cooking spray.
- Add cauliflower to the air fryer basket in an even layer, working in batches to avoid crowding the basket. Air fry for 10 minutes, until crispy, turning the cauliflower after 5 minutes.
- While this batch cooks, continue battering and breading the remaining cauliflower.
- Whisk together the glaze ingredients in a large bowl.
- Transfer cooked cauliflower to the bowl with the glaze. Toss to coat evenly. Return cauliflower to the air fryer and cook for 5 more minutes. Repeat with remaining cauliflower and glaze.
- If you can't find gluten-free panko breadcrumbs, finely crush some rice crispy cereal or corn flakes and use in place of the panko breadcrumbs.
- For the oven: Bake breaded cauliflower on a wire rack set over a baking sheet at 400 for 15 minutes. Toss with the glaze, and bake another 5 minutes, until dry.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in a 350F air fryer or oven.