A healthier choice, but one with an indulgent flavour, Baked Cauliflower Bites have crunch, heat, and spice. They’re an appetizer everyone will devour!
Remember when cauliflower was underrated? I swear, ten years ago, the only place I ever saw cauliflower was on the side of a sad and boring veggie platter. Fast forward a few years and cauliflower is now everywhere!
I seriously mean everywhere! Cauliflower is used to make pizza crust now. It’s used as a substitute for chicken wings, and it’s used as rice too. Is there anything this miracle vegetable can’t do?
I have to be honest, as a chicken wing fanatic, I have had the cauliflower version and they were phenomenal. That’s why I knew I could use cauliflower instead of chicken to create a healthier, vegetarian option to chicken bites/nuggets.
Are you ready for this, Dear Reader? These things are out of this world! The cauliflower is baked just perfectly. It’s soft, but not mushy. The panko is crunchy, which satisfies those crunch cravings we all have.
And, of course, there’s that buttermilk and sriracha batter that you dip the cauliflower into before baking! It all comes together and the result is a Baked Cauliflower Bite that you will prepare again and again. I swear!
How to prepare the cauliflower:
As you can see from the photographs, the cauliflower bites are very close and even in size. There is an easy way to do this and I’m going to walk you through it. I wish I had taken photos of the process, but I didn’t, so I’ll have to rely on my words.
First, remove the core and leaves. Discard them. To do this, turn the cauliflower upside down so that the core is facing up. Use a paring knife to cut around the perimeter of the core, allowing large chunks of the cauliflower to fall away.
Once you’ve removed the core, you can start to cut the larger pieces into florets. Again, we will work from the bottom – stems facing up. Using the same paring knife, carefully cut through the smaller stems. This will create florets.
If the florets are still too big, rather than cut through the stems once more, hold the floret in your hand and slice down through the center of the stems until you reach the head of the floret. Now, put down the knife and pull the stems apart to create florets.
Continue this process until they are equal in size. I never cut through the top part of a cauliflower. First, it makes a mess when all of those little buds fall are cut loose. And, secondly, I don’t care much for flat sides unless I’m grilling or roasting cauliflower steaks.
Do you need to marinate or soak?
No. If you want to prepare the cauliflower and the batter and allow the cauliflower to soak in the batter for a while, it will be fine. No longer than 30 minutes though. And, it’s not necessary to do it at all.
I rarely indicate in my recipes that fruits and vegetables should be washed. I just assume that everyone already knows that. You will need to wash the cauliflower, but in order for the batter to stick well, you’ll need to get that cauliflower as dry as possible.
It’s quite simple really. Once you’ve cut the cauliflower and have rinsed it well under cold running water, place it in your salad spinner and the water will come right off it.
I have a little bit of obsessive compulsive disorder (some people might say I have a lot!) so I like to pat each floret dry with paper towels as well.
Can this be reheated?
Yes and no. Yes, you can reheat the leftovers – if there are any! Place them on a sheet pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes or until heated though.
No, because reheating these bites will certainly result in an overcooked cauliflower. And, Dear Reader, overcooked cauliflower is basically mashed baby food. And, ew!
I should also mention that this recipe can easily be doubled if you need more than just one head of cauliflower. Also, if you want a browner, even crispier cauliflower, you can place them under a broiler for a few minutes. The ones you see in the photos were not place under a broiler.
Lastly, serve these with my Buttermilk Dill Ranch Dressing for best results. (Shameless plug!) But, I have also tried them with ketchup and they are so good. Enjoy, Dear Reader!
Baked Cauliflower Bites
- 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 cups panko
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoons sriracha
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by greasing it with a generous amount of cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs.
- Whisk in the buttermilk, sriracha, salt, and garlic powder.
- Add the flour and cornstarch. Whisk all together until a smooth batter is formed.
- Add the cauliflower florets to the batter and toss well to coat.
- Working with one floret at a time, remove it from the batter and gently tap off the excess batter. Roll the floret into the panko and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Continue to do this until all of the florets have been coated.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.