NEW! Pumpkin Cookbook

Kung Pao Cauliflower

Add some unexpected flavor and heat to your Thanksgiving table with this recipe for Kung Pao cauliflower. Asian flavors combine to give the vegetable a tangy kick that your guests would never guess is cauliflower!  

I tried kung pao cauliflower for the first time last month at a fun networking event during the food and nutrition conference and expo and automatically knew I wanted to recreate it in my own kitchen! I rarely buy a whole head of cauliflower, instead I’ll opt for riced cauliflower, cauliflower pizza crust or cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s. Yes, this cruciferous vegetable is definitely having a moment and I love trying it in new ways but I’m definitely not putting it into my smoothie bowls—that’s reserved for pumpkin puree only!

As you can see from this recipe for riced broccoli and beef bowls, I’m always trying to make Asian food healthier at home, so I got excited to see how it would transform the taste of cauliflower! Sesame, tangy ginger, fiery red pepper flakes, and soy sauce come together in this recipe to create a flavor profile on cauliflower like you’ve never tasted before. I can see this recipe being really fun as a game day appetizer too because it looks l like orange chicken.

kung pao cauliflower

Serve by itself as a side dish or pair with other vegetables like peppers and pea pods in a stir fry. Cauliflower is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Since it is a cruciferous vegetable it may be harder to digest for some, causing bloating and gas. Try eating it cooked versus raw to lessen these annoying effects!


kung pao cauliflower


kung pao cauliflower

Kung Pao Cauliflower

  • Author: Maggie Michalczyk, RDN
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1/2 cups


Elevate your cauliflower with sweet and tangy Asian flavors! Whether as a holiday side dish, for game day, or to simply try cauliflower in a new way, you’re sure to love it with kung pao flavor!


  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 scallions, dark-green and white parts separated, thinly sliced
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ¼ cup unsalted, peanuts or cashews
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • salt


  1. Stir wine, cornstarch, and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a medium bowl; set marinade aside.
  2. Stir hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and remaining 2 tsp. soy sauce in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Remove leaves and cut cauliflower into medium florets. Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high. Cook cauliflower, tossing occasionally, until browned in places and beginning to soften, 7–9 minutes.*
  4. Give reserved marinade a stir to reincorporate cornstarch and add cauliflower to bowl; toss to coat.
  5. Return cauliflower to wok with a slotted spoon; discard excess marinade. Cook cauliflower, tossing occasionally, until charred in spots and crisp-tender about 8–10 minutes. Add scallion whites, ginger, garlic, peanuts, and reserved sauce and cook, tossing often, until fragrant and cauliflower is tender, about 2 minutes. 
  6. Transfer to a bowl and enjoy!


* It can feel like this is taking a while but the cauliflower needs a lot of time to soften! It’s not as good if it’s still a little too hard.




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