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Sweet and sour cauliflower on a bowl with chopsticks

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower that tastes much better than takeout! Vegan with gluten-free and a healthier baked option.
Course Main Course
Cuisine asian, Chinese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 270kcal
Author Shinta


  • Wok


  • 1 small cauliflower cut into florets (5-6 cups of cauliflower florets)

For the batter:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tbsp cornstarch aka, corn flour
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • cup buttermilk (add more if needed)

To stir-fry

  • ½ inch Ginger minced or finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves minced or finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame oil see notes for substitution
  • 1 Onion finely chopped
  • ½ Green bell pepper chopped
  • ½ Red bell pepper chopped
  • 3-4 Spring onions chopped (reserve green part for garnish)

For the sweet and sour sauce

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar see notes for substitution
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce see notes for substitution
  • 1 tablespoon Ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch or corn flour
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • pinch Salt to season

For the Cornstrach slurry

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water

Additional Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil (only if deep-frying)


  • Wash and cut the cauliflower into florets
  • In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients listed under batter., and whisk to form a semi-thick lump-free batter.

Deep-frying Instructions

  • Heat 3 cups of water in a pot on the stovetop. Once it comes to a boil, add the cauliflower florets to the water.
  • Cook the cauliflower florets in boiling water for 3 minutes, then immediately drain them into a colander or use a slotted spoon to take out the cauliflower. Rinse the cauliflower in cold water to stop them from cooking further. The cauliflower should be around 50% cooked.
  • Toss the par-boiled cauliflower in a little all-purpose flour and keep aside.
  • Add the cauliflower to the batter and mix such that the cauliflower is well coated in the batter (batter should not drip off the cauliflower too much).
  • Heat a heavy-bottomed wok with vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add a drop of the batter to the oil, if it bubbles and rises to the surface, the oil is hot enough to start deep-frying the cauliflower.
  • Deep fry the cauliflower in batches, flipping them over midway, so that they are evenly fried. Once the cauliflower is golden-brown, use a slotted spoon transfer to a kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Keep aside for later.

Air Fryer Instructions

  • Add the raw cauliflower florets to the batter and mix, such that cauliflower is well coated in the batter.
  • Spray cooking oil spray in the basket of the air fryer and preheat the air fryer to 350 F.
  • Add the batter-coated cauliflower florets in a single layer on the Air Fryer basket. Shake off excess batter before adding. You might need to air fry in two batches depending on the size of your Air Fryer.
  • Air Fry at 350 F for 15 minutes, flipping the florets once, to fry them evenly.
  • Ance the air frying cycle is complete, take out the crispy caulflower.

Make the Sweet and Sour sauce

  • Add all the ingredients for the sauce into an empty bottle and shake to mix well. Keep bottle aside.
  • Heat a wok on the stovetop and add sesame oil. Once hot, add finely chopped ginger and garlic, stir and sauté until aromatic. Add bell peppers and white portion of the spring onions.
  • Continue to stir on high heat for a minute, and then add the sauces from the bottle. Mix together.
  • Make a cornstarch slurry by adding 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to 1/3 cup of water. Stir, until lump-free. Add the slurry to the wok and mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Let the sauce thicken slightly. Check the taste and add sugar and salt to season.
  • Finally, add the crispy cauliflower and toss it in the sauce. Turn off the heat, check for seasoning and add salt if need be.
  • Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and the green portion of the spring onions. Serve with Jasmine rice or noodles.


Sesame oil – Sesame oil is the best oil to use for this dish, but you could also use olive oil or any neutral vegetable oil if you don’t have sesame oil on hand.
Vinegar – use rice vinegar if you have it, otherwise use apple cider vinegar.
Soy sauce – Use either dark soy sauce or light soy sauce, I prefer to use dark soy sauce for this recipe. Replace soy sauce with tamari for a gluten-free version. 
To make a baked version of sweet and sour cauliflower, see detailed tips in the article above.


Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 351mg | Potassium: 599mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 630IU | Vitamin C: 105mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg