Recreate one of the most popular Chinese chicken dishes with this vegetarian recipe for General Tso’s Cauliflower! In this recipe, crispy cauliflower is tossed with THE BEST spicy General Tso’s sauce to create a delicious vegetarian meal.

fried cauliflower tossed in general tso sauce in bowl with brown rice

General Tso’s Chicken has been one of my favorite recipes since I first made it in 2015. The best part about this recipe is the sauce! Over the years, I’ve used it in several recipes, like this noodle stir fry, these chicken wings and this broccoli and shrimp recipe.

The sauce is mostly spicy, with a little sweetness and a ton of flavor! It sticks right to the pan fried cauliflower in this recipe for a delicious vegetarian main dish. Serve it with a side of rice or steamed veggies to make it into a meal. It’s delicious with brown or white rice and baby bok choy or broccoli.

I love making this recipe during the week because it’s an easy meal to toss together in just 30 minutes! It’s even better than your favorite Chinese takeout, and I guarantee that it’s a meal the entire family will love!

ingredients for general tso cauliflower

Ingredients

  • Canola oil – or the vegetable oil of your choice. You will be using this oil in the sauce and to fry the cauliflower, so I recommend an oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado, corn or peanut oil.
  • Gluten free soy sauce – to make this recipe gluten free, I used tamari, also known as gluten-free soy sauce. If you don’t need to make the recipe gluten free, you can use traditional soy sauce.
  • Rice vinegar – this ingredient will be found in the Asian section of most major grocery stores, or with the other oil and vinegars.
  • Sriracha
  • Honey
  • Fresh garlic cloves
  • Fresh grated ginger – did you know that fresh ginger can be stored in the freezer for months, and it’s actually easier to grate the ginger when it’s frozen? This is one of my favorite cooking tricks and why you’ll always find a knob of fresh ginger in my freezer!
  • Chinese five spice – this ingredient will be found on the spice aisle of most major grocery stores.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Rice flour – I found the Thai rice flour that you see pictured above at a local Asian market, 3 bags for $2! If you have an Asian market nearby, I’d recommend checking it out for a great deal. Otherwise you can easily purchase other brands of white rice flour at major grocery stores nationwide. Rice flour can usually be found with the other flours or in the gluten free section at the grocery store.
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Egg
  • Cauliflower florets – for this recipe you’ll want 3-4 cups of cauliflower florets, which is approximately 1 ½ -2 pounds of cauliflower. Feel free to chop the florets from a head of cauliflower, or purchase a bag of cauliflower florets already removed from the cauliflower head. I do not recommend using frozen cauliflower for this recipe, as it might not get cooked all the way through during the cooking time in the skillet.
  • Red chili peppers – feel free to use Thai chilies, serrano peppers, or the pepper of your choice to toss with the cauliflower for even more spice. This is totally optional and can be left off if you want to keep the recipe at a mild to medium spice level
  • Green onions – these are also an optional topping that you can serve diced on top of the cauliflower, if you’d like.
  • Brown rice – I used this recipe to prepare brown rice in an Instant Pot to serve with the General Tso Cauliflower. You can also use this recipe to make brown rice on the stove top or in a rice cooker, or you can serve the cauliflower with white rice, or without rice, if you prefer.
collage of images showing how to make general tso's cauliflower

Instructions

  1. Prepare the sauce. Whisk canola oil, gluten free soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, honey, garlic, ginger, Chinese five spice and crushed red pepper flakes together in a large bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  2. Prepare the batter. In another large bowl, whisk rice flour, salt, pepper and an egg yolk together. Add cold water and whisk all of the ingredients together until a smooth batter forms. Once the batter is prepared, add 1/2 cup canola oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Batter the cauliflower. Use tongs to dip each of the cauliflower florets into the batter. Let any excess batter drip off the cauliflower before adding it to the skillet of hot oil.
  4. Fry the cauliflower. After the cauliflower florets are battered, add each one to the skillet with hot oil. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, or until all sides of the cauliflower are golden brown and crispy.
    • Quick Tip! Don’t overcrowd the pan or the cauliflower will not fry properly. Depending on the size of your skillet, it will take 3-4 batches to fry all of the cauliflower.
  5. Drain the cauliflower. As you remove the cauliflower from the skillet, place it on a paper towel lined plate, or on a wire cooling rack, to let any excess oil drip off of the cauliflower.
  6. Toss the cauliflower with the sauce. Once you’ve fried all of the cauliflower, transfer it to the large bowl with the prepared General Tso’s sauce and gently toss the cauliflower in the sauce until it’s all coated.

How to serve it

Serve the cauliflower immediately after it’s tossed in the sauce, or it will get soggy. If you’re planning to serve the cauliflower with rice or vegetables, make sure they’re prepared before you begin frying the cauliflower.

If you’re not planning to eat all of the cauliflower immediately, do not toss all of the cauliflower with the sauce. As soon as the cauliflower is sauced, it should be eaten immediately or the texture will become soggy.

If serving the cauliflower as an appetizer, I would recommend tossing half of the cauliflower with the sauce and serving. Then toss the remainder of the cauliflower with the sauce and serve. This will help the cauliflower keep it’s deliciously crispy texture!

Whether eaten as an appetizer or entree, feel free to dice up green onions and chilies to serve on top of the cauliflower. If serving as an entree, the cauliflower is delicious with white or brown rice, or for a healthy option, serve the General Tso’s Cauliflower in lettuce wraps.

fried cauliflower tossed with general tso's sauce in bowl with brown rice

Frequently asked questions

  • Can you prepare this recipe in an air fryer? I have tried preparing this recipe in an air fryer, and unfortunately because of the wet batter, it did not work. If you’d like, you can toss the cauliflower in 2 tablespoons canola oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, then air fry in batches at 400°F for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through the cooking time. After the cooking time, toss the cauliflower with the sauce. This will not give you the crispy texture that you see on the cauliflower throughout this post, but it will still give you the delicious flavors of the dish.
  • Can you bake the cauliflower instead of pan frying? Just like the air fryer version, I tried a baked version of this recipe and was not happy with the results because of the way the batter baked up in the oven. Instead, I recommend roasting the cauliflower in the oven, without the breading. Simply toss the cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 15-20 minutes at 425°F, then toss with the General Tso’s sauce.
  • Is this recipe gluten free? Yes, using the ingredients shown above and mentioned throughout this post, this recipe is gluten free. Using gluten-free soy sauce makes the sauce gluten free, and using rice flour for the batter makes the cauliflower gluten free.
  • Can you reheat the cauliflower? I do not recommend reheating the cauliflower once it’s been tossed with the sauce. Unfortunately it will get soggy once it sits in the sauce for a while and it does not reheat well.
  • Can you cook the cauliflower in a deep fryer? Yes, if you have a deep fryer, you can cook the cauliflower in it, instead of in a skillet. I recommend heating the oil to around 400°F before you deep fry the cauliflower.
fried cauliflower in bowl with brown rice and chopsticks

Tips and tricks

  • To make this recipe vegan, swap out the honey in the sauce for maple syrup or agave nectar to make a vegan General Tso’s sauce. For the cauliflower batter, instead of an egg yolk, mix 2 teaspoons of oil, 2 teaspoons of water, and ½ teaspoon of baking powder together. Add this mixture to the batter with the rice flour, salt and pepper, before adding the cold water.
  • If you can’t find rice flour, you can use cornstarch or tapioca starch instead. The recipe will remain gluten free using either of these ingredients. I do not recommend using traditional flour, as the texture is different and the batter will not behave the same way.
  • You can make the sauce up to 5 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator until serving. This will save you 5-10 minutes when making the recipe.
fried general tso cauliflower in bowl with diced red chilies and green onions

More vegetarian recipes

Try all of these popular Asian-inspired vegetarian recipes!

general tso's cauliflower in bowl with diced green onions, red peppers and brown rice
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General Tso’s Cauliflower

Recreate one of the most popular Chinese chicken dishes with this vegetarian recipe for General Tso's Cauliflower! In this recipe, crispy cauliflower is tossed with THE BEST spicy General Tso's sauce to create a delicious vegetarian meal.

Ingredients

General Tso’s Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ¼ cup gluten-free soy sauce, or traditional soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ teaspoon chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Pan Fried Cauliflower

  • ½ cup canola oil, or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 3-4 cups cauliflower florets

For serving – optional

  • red chili peppers, diced
  • ¼ cup green onions, diced
  • 2 cups cooked rice, brown or white

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk all of the ingredients for together for the General Tso’s sauce. Set aside.
  • Add ½ cup canola oil to a large skillet on the stove over medium high heat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, salt, pepper and whisked egg yolk.
  • Add the cold water and whisk until a smooth batter forms.
  • Dip the cauliflower florets into the batter until completely coated, allowing any excess batter to drip off, then add the battered cauliflower to the hot oil in the skillet.
  • Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, or until all sides of the cauliflower are golden brown and crispy.
  • Remove the cauliflower from the oil and transfer to a paper towel lined plate, or wire cooling rack, to allow any excess oil to drip off.
  • Once all of the cauliflower is fried, add it to the bowl of General Tso’s sauce and toss gently to coat the cauliflower in the sauce.
  • Serve the cauliflower immediately after it's tossed in the sauce, or it will get soggy.
  • You can serve the cauliflower with white or brown rice and diced chili peppers and green onions, if you'd like.

Notes

  • I recommend using the recipe linked here to prepare brown rice in an Instant Pot, rice cooker or stovetop, for serving with the cauliflower.
  • If you’re planning to serve the cauliflower with rice or vegetables, make sure they’re prepared before you begin frying the cauliflower.
  • If you’re not planning to eat all of the cauliflower immediately, do not toss all of the cauliflower with the sauce. As soon as the cauliflower is sauced, it should be eaten immediately or the texture will become soggy.
  • I do not recommend using an air fryer to cook the battered cauliflower, or baking it in the oven. Refer to the blog post above for how to make cauliflower for this recipe in an air fryer or the oven.
  • This recipe is gluten free using the ingredients listed above.
  • To make this recipe vegan, swap out the honey in the sauce for maple syrup or agave nectar to make a vegan General Tso’s sauce. For the cauliflower batter, instead of an egg yolk, mix 2 teaspoons of oil, 2 teaspoons of water, and ½ teaspoon of baking powder together. Add this mixture to the batter with the rice flour, salt and pepper, before adding the cold water.
  • If you can’t find rice flour, you can use cornstarch or tapioca starch instead. The recipe will remain gluten free using either of these ingredients. I do not recommend using traditional flour, as the texture is different and the batter will not behave the same way.
  • You can make the sauce up to 5 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator until serving. This will save you 5-10 minutes when making the recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 612kcal (31%)Carbohydrates 70g (23%)Protein 9g (18%)Fat 34g (52%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Polyunsaturated Fat 2gMonounsaturated Fat 21gTrans Fat 1gCholesterol 49mg (16%)Sodium 1224mg (51%)Potassium 376mg (11%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 11g (12%)Vitamin A 283mg (6%)Vitamin C 41mg (50%)Calcium 53mg (5%)Iron 2mg (11%)
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