Crispy, crunchy oven baked cauliflower bites with a sweet and spicy Bang Bang sauce. This cauliflower is BANGIN’!
We’ve all ordered Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish Grill or the Cheesecake Factory. It’s a popular, and delicious, appetizer at many restaurants. I was on a mission to recreate the texture and flavor of Bang Bang Shrimp, but ya’ know, make it cauliflower. Because nowadays, cauliflower can be whatever we want it to be. If you’re looking for a vegetarian alternative, this is it.
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What is Bang Bang Cauliflower?
If you’ve never had Bang Bang sauce, you’ve yet to live your best life. Bang Bang sauce is creamy, sweet, spicy and ridiculously easy to make. I use it as a dip all the time for chicken, veggies, shrimp, anything that needs a dunk really. In this recipe, we’ll make a simple coating for cauliflower florets, bake them until crispy and then drizzle and dunk them in Bang Bang sauce to our heart’s desire for a fun vegetarian main dish or vegetable side.
What Ingredients do I need?
Cauliflower – I have not tested this recipe using frozen cauliflower, only fresh. Grab a whole head and break it up into florets or skip a step and buy them already cut up for you!
Panko Bread Crumbs – panko is Japanese style breadcrumbs. They have a dryer and flakier consistency than regular breadcrumbs and absorb less oil, making food super crunchy. Think light and crispy tempura. I suggest buying unseasoned as we’ll spice up the marinade and the sauce. My favorite brand is Kikkoman. They also make a gluten free variety if you want to sub.
Mayonnaise – use good mayo. Tessemae’s is my favorite. It’s going in the marinade and it’s the base of the Bang Bang sauce.
Egg – helps the breadcrumbs stick to the cauliflower.
Sriracha – this adds heat to the marinade and to the Bang Bang sauce!
Sweet Chili Sauce – you can find sweet chili sauce in pretty much any grocery store in the ethnic food aisle. It’s not spicy at all and has more of a sweet, garlicky flavor. This is necessary for the Bang Bang sauce.
Buttermilk – I like to use a bit of buttermilk in the marinade. Instead of buying a carton of buttermilk that will inevitably go bad, I keep a container of buttermilk powder in my fridge so I always have it on hand. Seriously, it’s the best. You just mix it with a bit of water and voila. Perfect for all of those recipes that call for a few tablespoons here and there or when you want to do it up for pancakes on the weekend.
Garlic Powder & Salt – goes in the marinade and helps bring all of the flavors together.
Lime – the juice adds a nice pop to the marinade.
Tips for making the best Bang Bang Cauliflower
- Toast your breadcrumbs in a bit of oil in a skillet before you coat the cauliflower. It’s an extra step but it’s the only way to get that deep, golden color when baking panko in the oven. Just do it.
- Try to make the cauliflower florets all the same size, about one inch. This will help make sure that everything cooks evenly.
- Use fresh cauliflower. I have not tested this recipe with frozen cauliflower, but I imagine the water content would be too high for it to come out crispy.
- Serve it immediately! These oven fried bites of veggie deliciousness only stay at their maximum crunchiness for a certain amount of time. If you need to make ahead, this is probably not the recipe for that.
I had so much fun making this recipe. I hope you love it!
Bang Bang Cauliflower
- 1 head cauliflower 4-5 cups cut into 1 inch florets
For the Marinade:
- 1 tbsp good mayonnaise
- 1 egg beaten
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp Sriracha
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ cup buttermilk or 1 tbsp buttermilk powder mixed with ¼ cup of water
For the Crunchy Coating
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp avocado oil or other neutral oil
For the Bang Bang Sauce
- ¼ cup good mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 2 tsp Sriracha
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Juice of ½ a lime
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of avocado oil over medium heat. Add panko breadcrumbs to hot oil and toast for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Once the crumbs look golden, quickly remove them from the heat and transfer to a plate to cool completely. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, beat egg, whisk in flour, 1 tbsp mayonnaise, 2 tsp Sriracha, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder and buttermilk.
- Add cauliflower florets to bowl and toss with a spatula or spoon until everything is thoroughly coated, making sure to get the marinade into all the nooks and crannies.
- Dredge the coated cauliflower florets in the cooled panko breadcrumbs, pressing gently to make sure crumbs adhere to all sides.
- Place breaded cauliflower, evenly spaced, apart onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 18-22 minutes until cauliflower is cooked through.
- While the cauliflower is in the oven, make the Bang Bang sauce. In a small bowl, stir together ¼ cup mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, ½ tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp Sriracha and juice of half a lime.
- When the cauliflower comes out of the oven, serve immediately with Bang Bang sauce drizzled over the top or on the side for dipping.