Sticky Sesame Cauliflower - Secretly Healthy Recipe! (2024)

Sticky sesame cauliflower is the sweet, sticky, and addictively delicious dish that tastes like a better-for-you version of Panda Express!

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower - Secretly Healthy Recipe! (1)

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 an opportunity to explore new recipes and look at vegetables and natural plant based ingredients in a whole new light.

For example, the popular Buffalo Cauliflower Wings are especially delicious!

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So many people never venture further from preparing vegetables in a “mainstream” way, such as steamed or in a side salad.

But when you look at vegetables as the main event, it opens up a brand new realm of culinary possibilities.

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

Or start out by replacing up to half the meat in a recipe with a meatless alternative. Then you can increase the veggies a bit more each time you make the recipe.

Think Kung Pao Eggplant, Sweet Potato Tacos, Mushroom Stroganoff, or this reader favorite vegetarian recipe for Cauliflower Fried Rice.

Or today’s sticky-sweetsesame cauliflower.

Above, watch the sticky sesame cauliflower recipe video

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…

Want more meatless ideas? Here are over 25 Cauliflower Recipes

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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.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower Soup

Healthy Chocolate Cake

Cauliflower Tacos

Cauliflower Casserole

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 one fourth cup of 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.

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Also be sure to try this Cauliflower Mac And Cheese and these BBQ Cauliflower Wings.

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower

This delicious secretly healthy sticky sesame cauliflower tastes like a better-for-you version of Panda Express!

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower - Secretly Healthy Recipe! (6)

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Print Recipe

Cook Time 25 minutes minutes

Total Time 25 minutes minutes

Yield 3 – 4 servings

5 from 633 votes


  • 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


  • 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 10additional 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 knowhow itgoes!

    View Nutrition Facts


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

Have you made this recipe?

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Sticky Sesame Cauliflower - Secretly Healthy Recipe! (2024)


What is the most nutritious way to eat cauliflower? ›

5 Healthy Ways to Cook with Cauliflower
  • Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Soup. Soup is a quintessential comfort food, especially when it's rich and creamy and full of flavor. ...
  • Cauliflower Steaks with Caper-Anchovy-Garlic Sauce. ...
  • Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes. ...
  • Whole Roasted Cauliflower. ...
  • Cauliflower Tabbouleh.
Feb 20, 2018

How do you get the cauliflower taste out of cauliflower? ›

To mellow the flavor, soak the entire head (leaves removed) in cold, salted water for 30 minutes before steaming. Some of the bitter components will leach out. Soaking cauliflower will also give your cauliflower a snow-white appearance. Be sure not to steam for no longer than five minutes.

How do you mask the taste of cauliflower? ›

Blanch: Cut the cauliflower into small flowers and blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then remove and drain. Blanching removes the astringency of cauliflower and makes it taste more like broccoli.

How do you hide the taste of cauliflower Rice? ›

Lemon-Garlic: add lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt, and minced garlic with fresh chopped parsley while cooking your rice. Season to taste. Cilantro-Lime: add lime zest, lime juice, sea salt, and fresh chopped cilantro while cooking your rice.

What is the best way to cook cauliflower without losing nutrients? ›

Steaming and microwaving cauliflower will better preserve its vitamin content, especially the B vitamins, than if it is boiled. To microwave: Put 2 cups of florets in a shallow microwavable dish, or cover a whole head of cauliflower with plastic wrap.

Which is healthier broccoli or cauliflower? ›

While they are both very nutritious vegetables, broccoli has a higher vitamin content, specifically in vitamin K and C, than cauliflower and is specifically known to be great for eye health. Broccoli florets also provide more minerals and fiber as well as contains vitamin A that isn't in cauliflower.

What does baking soda do to cauliflower? ›

Baking soda is often used as a natural cleaning agent, and it can be used to brighten up your veggies too. Sprinkle a little in the water before boiling to prevent cauliflower from yellowing and make corn look more vibrant.

Why do you soak cauliflower before cooking? ›

If you're planning to roast the cauliflower whole or slice it into steaks, slice off the thick stem at the base. Drop the whole cauliflower head upside-down into cool, salted water. Let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes to remove dirt, residue and bugs.

What do you soak cauliflower in? ›

The separated florets have to be washed properly under a tap. This removes dirt and large parasites such as worms. The next step is cleaning the cauliflower in mildly warm water in which a little salt was dissolved. This process – which should last 10-20 minutes - destroys several microbes and large parasites.

What does adding lemon juice to cauliflower do? ›

Food Science

Cauliflower contains some phytonutrients, these nutrients may react with iron cookware and gives the cauliflower a brownish color. To prevent this add some lemon juice to the cauliflower or to the water in which it is blanched.

What happens when you add lemon juice to water when cooking cauliflower? ›

Helps retain color: Cauliflower can sometimes turn brown or lose its vibrant white color when cooked. However, the acid in lemon juice can help prevent discoloration and maintain the cauliflower's white appearance.

Why does my cauliflower taste weird? ›

Bitter tasting cauliflower can be caused by too much heat or sun. It can also taste bitter from a lack of moisture, uneven watering, waiting too long to harvest, or overcooking.

Why does cauliflower rice make me bloated? ›

The reason for this is that cauliflower, as well as other cruciferous veggies, such as kale and broccoli, contains raffinose and other oligosaccharides. These are specific types of sugars that remain undigested until bacteria in the gut ferment them, producing gas, and, in turn, causing bloating and gas.

How do you get the smell out of cauliflower when cooking? ›

To avoid cauliflower smell while cooking, add a few drops of white vinegar - it kills the smell.

Is cauliflower more nutritious raw or cooked? ›

Eating raw cauliflower provides maximum vitamin C content, but cooking cauliflower allows your body to absorb more nutrients, such as vitamin K and potassium. Roasting or steaming cauliflower brings out its natural flavors and adds a delightful texture.

Does boiling cauliflower remove the nutrients? ›

Another 2009 study found peas, cauliflower and zucchini to be particularly susceptible to a loss of nutrients through boiling, losing more than 50% of their antioxidants. “Water is not the cook's best friend when it comes to preparing vegetables,” the researchers summarized.

Does frying cauliflower destroy nutrients? ›

However, cooking the veggie at higher temperatures can take a toll on some of its nutrients. “When you cook cauliflower, such as baking cauliflower pizza crust, sauteing cauliflower rice, or air-frying cauliflower tots, heat will diminish some—but not all—of the heat-sensitive vitamins, including vitamin C."

Is cauliflower crust a healthier option? ›

As you can see, the cauliflower crust and whole wheat dough have fewer calories and carbs, as well as more fiber and protein, than traditional crusts. They also offer fewer net carbs — or total carbs minus fiber — which may be important if you follow the keto diet ( 10 , 11 , 12 ).

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