This sweet sour cauliflower is a healthier vegetarian take on the classic sweet-and-sour chicken recipe. Today, we use baked cauliflower tossed in a delicious sauce that gets done in minutes. Serve it over rice or noodles for a complete meal.
Sweet and sour is a classic sauce and can be used with many ingredients from classic chicken, boiled eggs, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. The main difference is that the classic sweet and sour sauce is tossed with deep-fried chicken, cauliflower, or other ingredients. But, today we use baked instead of deep-fried.
Honestly, there is no need to deep fry the chicken or cauliflower when you can make the same, much healthier in the oven. Trust me no one will know the difference because it is just as crispy and delicious.
Today, I am making it fairly dry without any sauce because I served it as a side dish along with other dishes but, make a little gravy to serve along with noodles or rice and you have a complete meal. In fact, you can even serve it with zucchini noodles.
Ingredients and substitutes
- Cauliflower – I used one large head of cauliflower and separated them into similar size pieces. Try to separate rather than cut the pieces as this will prevent them from falling apart during cooking. Similar sizes will ensure they cook at the same time.
- Sweetener – I am using a combination of sugar and honey for that wonderfully sweet but also sticky sauce
- Soy sauce – use low-sodium light soy sauce as the dark sauce is too sweet. If you use regular soy sauce reduce salt in the recipe.
- Vinegar – regular vinegar or apple cider works best. Avoid using white distilled vinegar as it is too sharp. Alternatively, if that is all you have reduce the amount by half and then adjust accordingly.
- Ketchup – gives a tomato zing as well as has sugar and salt added to it. So it is not the same as using tomato paste. However, if you must use only tomato paste reduce the amount by half and adjust the seasoning as you taste.
You can serve it the same way you serve sweet and sour chicken, over rice or noodles.
Why not cauliflower? It is a great superfood similar to kale and berries and pomegranates. It is low in calories, zero fat, and full of fiber, and antioxidants as well as vitamins B and C. Of course the sauce is made with sugar, honey as well as ketchup so keep that in mind.
The easiest way to cut the cauliflower into florets is to separate them into florets rather than into pieces. Separate them as much as possible then cut the large ones in half to make smaller pieces. You want to keep them to bite-size pieces (about 2 inches) for this recipe.
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- 2 lbs (1 kg) Cauliflower separated into florets
- 2 tbsp Cilantro chopped (for garnish)
- 2 large Egg whites
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Pepper
- ½ tsp Paprika
- ½ cups Corn starch or rice flour
- 2 tbsp Cooking spray or use pastry brush
- 1 tbsp Cooking oil
- ½ cup White vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup Sugar
- ½ cup Honey
- ¼ cup Soy sauce
- ¼ cup Ketchup
- 2 large Garlic cloves minced
- 1 small Onion finely diced
- 1 tbsp Corn starch with ¼ cup of water
- Oven/Pan – Preheat the oven to 420 F/ 200 C / Gas Mark 6. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil. Pro tip – the oil on the parchment will prevent sticking and make the bottom crisp.
- Par boil – Cut the cauliflower into florets and place them in a large pot of water. Add 1 tbsp of salt and bring to a boil. Cook the cauliflower for 3 to 5 minutes then drain in a colander and set aside. Pro tip – parboiling the cauliflower prevents it from getting too dark in the oven and ensures even cooking.2 lbs Cauliflower
- Coating – In a large bowl combine all the coating ingredients and combine well. Add the cauliflower and gently toss it with the mixture making sure each and every cauliflower is well coated. Pro tip – Pat the cauliflower dry to prevent excess moisture. It is best to use your hands to coat the cauliflower so you prevent it from breaking.2 large Egg whites, ½ tsp Salt, ½ tsp Pepper, ½ tsp Paprika, ½ cups Corn starch
- Bake – Pour the cauliflower onto the prepared baking pan and spread evenly trying to keep the pieces separate so they don't stick. Give it a generous oil spray (or brush oil with a pastry brush). Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Pro tip – make sure to toss the cauliflower in the oven in between to get a nice color on all sides.2 tbsp Cooking spray
- Sauce – Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat all the sauce ingredients except the cornstarch slurry. Stir until the sugar has melted, then cook for 2 minutes more. Add the cornstarch slurry and continue to cook for 2 minutes more until thick and glossy. Pro tip – it is important that the mixture becomes glossy, this means the cornstarch is activated and cooked.½ cup White vinegar, ½ cup Sugar, ½ cup Honey, ¼ cup Soy sauce, ¼ cup Ketchup, 2 large Garlic cloves, 1 small Onion, 1 tbsp Corn starch, 1 tbsp Cooking oil
- Combine – As soon as the cauliflower is lightly golden take it out of the oven and transfer it to the sauce. Toss the cauliflower in the sauce over low heat making sure each and every piece is well coated in the sauce. Pro tip – doing this over low heat will prevent the sauce from clumping and if necessary you can add 1 to 2 tbsp of water to help the sauce stick to the cauliflower.
- Garnish – When done transfer to a platter and sprinkle some chopped cilantro.2 tbsp Cilantro
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