We shared a recipe for General Tso’s tofu stir-fry years ago and it’s become a fan-favorite. We wanted to try our hands at a cauliflower version and — spoiler alert — it worked extremely well!
Cauliflower florets are tossed in a spicy, gingery sauce then baked until crispy in the oven. Perfect for enjoying as a snack or side or serving with grains and veggies for a flavorful meal. Just 10 ingredients required and naturally vegan and gluten-free. Let us show you how it’s done!
Origins of General Tso’s Cauliflower
General Tso’s cauliflower is a plant-based adaptation of General Tso’s chicken, which is believed to have been created around the 1950s by a chef named Peng Chang-kuei. He was born in the Hunan province of China and later moved to Taiwan and cooked there.
Chef Pang claims the dish was inspired by flavors of Hunanese cuisine and named after a Hunanese general. Later, when he moved to New York and opened his first restaurant, he adapted it to cater to his new audience, and the dish quickly spread in popularity.
How to Make General Tso’s Cauliflower
This recipe starts with tossing chopped cauliflower with avocado oil and cornstarch for a crispy coating (the same method we like using for crispy tofu). A generous amount of salt adds flavor and helps draw out some of the moisture for crispy, caramelized edges.
Next, we whisk up the ultra flavorful, gingery, spicy, 6-ingredient sauce. Tamari (or coconut aminos) creates the savory base, chili garlic sauce and optional red pepper flakes provide heat, maple syrup balances and adds sweetness, and garlic and ginger add additional spiciness and zing.
Then we toss the roasted cauliflower in the sauce to coat it with all the goodness. You just may turn cauliflower haters into willing cauliflower eaters with this one!
Then it goes back into the oven to allow the sauce to soak into and become one with the cauliflower. If you couldn’t see it, you might not even know it was cauliflower at this point.
We hope you LOVE this General Tso’s cauliflower! It’s:
It’s perfect for enjoying as a snack or side or as a meal served with grains and veggies (steamed broccoli, carrots, and snap peas would be especially delicious). It would also pair well with our Fresh Tofu Salad Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce, Quick Pickled Carrots, or Almond Butter Tofu Stir-Fry.
More Cauliflower Recipes
- Green Cauliflower Rice (20 minutes!)
- Cauliflower Banh Mi
- Cashew-Crusted Cauliflower “Steak”
- Spicy Pickled Cauliflower (Escabeche)
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
General Tso’s Cauliflower
- 8 cups chopped cauliflower, bite-sized florets (1 medium-large head cauliflower as recipe is written)
- 2 Tbsp avocado oil (if avoiding oil, sub in a mix of chili garlic sauce and maple syrup)
- 3/4 tsp sea salt*
- 1/4 cup cornstarch*
- 2-3 tsp chili garlic sauce
- 3 Tbsp tamari (or 1/4 cup or 60 ml coconut aminos)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp minced ginger
- 2 small cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional for more heat)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C) and get out 2 large baking sheets (use more baking sheets or work in batches if making a larger batch). Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or foil (parchment paper typically isn’t safe at high temperatures). If using foil, lightly grease with additional oil to prevent sticking.
- Wash cauliflower and pat dry. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower with the oil and salt to coat. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and toss again to coat. Arrange the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet(s) in a single layer, allowing space between the florets to encourage crispiness. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until lightly browned and slightly crispy on the edges. Wipe the bowl clean for later use.
- Prepare the sauce in the same large mixing bowl. Whisk together the chili garlic sauce, tamari, maple syrup, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes (optional). Taste test and adjust as needed, adding more chili garlic sauce or red pepper flakes for heat, maple syrup for sweetness, or garlic or ginger for zing. We used the full amount of chili garlic sauce.
- When the cauliflower is lightly browned, remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly. Then transfer it to the mixing bowl of sauce and toss to coat thoroughly.
- Spread the cauliflower out on the baking sheet again and reserve any extra marinade for serving. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until sizzling, golden brown on the edges, and tender (but not mushy).
- Optionally, serve the cauliflower with rice or quinoa and steamed veggies, and garnish with green onion, sesame seeds, and any leftover marinade.
- Best when fresh. Leftovers can be refrigerated in a sealed container up to 3 days and reheated in a 350°F (176 C) oven until warmed through. Not freezer friendly.