These Crispy Firecracker Cauliflower Bites are out of this world amazing! This recipe contains bite-sized cauliflower florets tossed and baked in a sweet and spicy sauce. An easy, delicious recipe that your family and friends will love!
CALLING ALL SPICY FOOD LOVERS
If you’re a fan of spicy foods, then this Crispy Firecracker Cauliflower Bites recipe is for you! If you’re a fan of Asian foods, then you’re in the right place! This firecracker recipe is crispy, sweet, spicy, and out of this world incredibly delicious. Notice I am getting as descriptive as possible with this recipe because I am simply that floored by it.
My husband has always applauded my recipes – no matter the disasters or the not-so-great ones. He’s always there to offer a friendly critique when I need something or offer his own feedback on what more I could do to make a recipe better. Which I am always welcome to, as I only want to provide the best I can when a recipe does make it to my blog.
This recipe on the other hand – did not need any improvements whatsoever. My husband was immediately in love. So much so, he admittedly found himself thinking about them while on the treadmill at the gym the other night.
THAT’S A RECIPE KEEPER THEN!
I must warn you, this recipe is for those who love spicy foods! It calls for Buffalo Sauce, but you can use any hot sauce you prefer. You won’t burn your mouth, the heat won’t build too crazily, and you won’t clear out your sinuses. But it does have a bit of a bite to it. So add as little or as much buffalo sauce as you prefer.
GREAT MEAT-FREE OPTION
What I love about this recipe is the fact that it contains no meat. The traditional Firecracker recipes and takeout options contain chicken, whereas this recipe is simply cauliflower. Don’t get me wrong, I love chicken. But sometimes it’s nice to have a meat-free meal that fools the taste buds.
And that is exactly what this recipe does. It will fool your taste buds into thinking you’re eating crispy firecracker chicken bites rather than Crispy Firecracker Cauliflower Bites! I know that sounds crazy. I do. But trust me on this one, ok??
I didn’t ask nor prompt the same thoughts from my husband when he tried this recipe for the first time. And he tried it after it had been in the fridge for most of the day!
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SWAPS AND TIPS
- If you’re not convinced on the cauliflower, you can certainly use chicken to make this recipe. I have yet to test it with chicken breast, but check back to my site or Instagram from time to time. 😉
- Half and half: This is used in the batter portion of the recipe. You can use coconut milk if looking for a dairy-free option.
- Gluten-free: This recipe contains all-purpose flour as part of the batter and panko breadcrumbs for the crispy exterior. You can sub with gluten-free flour and gluten-free panko breadcrumbs. Bob’s Red Mill makes an excellent Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
- Hot Sauce: Buffalo sauce is a key ingredient in this recipe. If you don’t have or can’t find Buffalo Sauce, you can use RedHot mixed with butter (that is essentially what Buffalo Sauce is) or you can use Sriracha sauce. I will advise, Sriracha is a bit hotter than Buffalo Sauce, so I would add 1/3 cup at a time and taste test. If you prefer, you can also swap out the hot sauce for your favorite BBQ sauce. I have yet to test this with BBQ sauce, though.
- Baking: I have tried this recipe baked once and double baked (after the sauce has been added). It will be entirely up to your taste preferences. See section below on ‘Baking’ for my full recommendation!
- Cornstarch: Used as a thickener to the sauce. You can try flour or arrowroot as a replacement, but I have yet to try this recipe with such.
SINGLE BAKE OR DOUBLE BAKE
I absolutely love this recipe either way it’s done. The taste is the same, but the textures are what is drastically different. So if you’re unsure after reading my descriptions on what you would prefer, then I recommend baking half the batch after the sauce has been added and leaving the other half as is.
—Single Bake: After the cauliflower is battered and coated in panko breadcrumbs, the exterior after a single bake is super crunchy on the outside, while being tender on the inside. So if you’re a crispy chicken bites lover, then you may love the single bake option. Simply allow the bites to cool slightly and then dip them into the sauce or drizzle the sauce overtop and enjoy!
—Double Bake: This is when the cauliflower has baked once, been coated in the firecracker sauce and baked for a second time. The texture changes. The sauce causes the crispy coating to soften a bit, but also gives the sauce this incredibly sticky, caramelized texture – which is also just as phenomenal.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE THESE BITES
Full recipe with directions available via the printable recipe card below! Scroll down! 🙂
- Head of cauliflower
- All-purpose flour
- Half and half
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Buffalo sauce
- Light brown sugar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Low-sodium soy sauce
- Cornstarch (plus water)
- Seasonings: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
- Don’t forget your favorite dipping sauce and sides! I recommend ranch dressing with a side of carrots and celery!
MORE DELICIOUS RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE
- California Roll Sushi Bowls
- Sweet Sriracha Chicken Bowls
- Garlic Beef and Ramen Stir Fry
- Easy One Pot Healthy Zuppa Toscana
- Chicken Tinga Lettuce Wraps
Crispy Firecracker Cauliflower Bites
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, (cut into bite-sized florets - keep a little of the stem, if preferred)
- cooking spray
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, (can sub with gluten-free baking flour)
- 1 cup half and half, (can sub with milk or heavy cream)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt, (more or less - to taste)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, (more or less - to taste)
- 2/3 cup RedHot Buffalo sauce (*SEE NOTES)
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt, (more or less - to taste)
- 1 tbsp cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water, (stirred together until dissolved)
Garnishment and Sides:
- Ranch or blue cheese dressing
- sesame seeds
- chopped green onions
- carrots and celery
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- To a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the batter. Mix well.Add the panko breadcrumbs to a large ziploc bag.
- Using tongs, dip a cauliflower floret into the batter, making sure to thoroughly coat. Tap the tongs on the edge of the bowl a few times to remove any excess batter. Remove as much as you can.
- Place 2-3 florets into the Ziploc bag of breadcrumbs, seal off and give it a good shake to coat. Make sure to thoroughly coat each floret. Remove with tongs, shake off any excess, and place each floret onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Once you have coated all the florets, spray with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 15-20 minutes. Time will be dependent on how large your bites are. They should be crispy and a have very light, golden brown color.
- While the florets are baking, make the sauce. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Combine all ingredients (minus the cornstarch and water) into the pan and stir well.
- Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Combine the cornstarch with the water and mix well. Add the cornstarch mix to the sauce and stir.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. You don't want the sauce to be too thick. You will need it thick enough to dip and coat. If you bake it a second time, the sauce will thicken a bit and caramelize in the oven.
- You can dip the florets into the firecracker sauce individually or pour over the bites before serving.
- If you prefer super crispy style bites, then I would not bake any further. But if you prefer softer bites with a sticky, caramelized sauce, then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes once the sauce has been added. Check at 8-10 minutes (depending on floret size) for burning.
- Garnish with chopped green onions (scallions) and sesame seeds. Serve with your favorite ranch dressing and sides: celery and carrot sticks.