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!

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower - Secretly Healthy Recipe! (3)

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

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower - Secretly Healthy Recipe! (4)

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.

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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 592 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

Is cauliflower a good meat substitute? ›

The versatile cruciferous veggie can turn into a meat substitute for a main or side dish, like the perfect low-carb rice swap or cauliflower pizza crust. Bonus: cauliflower even makes the list of top anti-inflammatory foods.

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.

What does cauliflower do to your gut? ›

As a good source of fiber, cauliflower slows digestion and promotes feelings of fullness. This may help reduce the number of calories you eat throughout the day, an important factor in weight control ( 2 , 9 ). High water content is another weight loss-friendly aspect of cauliflower.

Is cauliflower better for you than broccoli? ›

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.

Why don't some people like cauliflower? ›

Cauliflower. Why some people don't like them: Like broccoli, cauliflower contains chemicals that some people may find bitter, something that may depend on genes.

What to avoid when buying cauliflower? ›

Look for a clean, compact head with tightly closed bud clusters. Avoid heads with loose or crumbly florets, brown spots or dull color. The leaves should look fresh and green. When buying pre-cut cauliflower, choose firm pieces with no discoloration.

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.

Is it healthier to roast or steam cauliflower? ›

Both steamed and roasted cauliflower can be nutritious options, and the choice between them may depend on personal preference and how they fit into your overall diet.

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.

How do you digest cauliflower better? ›

While everyone's tolerance is different, too much cauliflower can create G.I. distress, like excess gas and bloating. “Make sure to drink enough water to move it through your system,” suggests Lincoln. Cooking it can also dial back digestion woes.

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