Sweet and Spicy Korean Popcorn Cauliflower


Little nuggets of crispy cauliflower are coated in a sweet, tangy, spicy sauce. These are baked and are easy to make!


If you are new here you may not know my love for cauliflower. I have found so many ways to transform our beautiful cauliflower into so many things: Spicy Sesame Cauliflower Wings, Vegan Mozzarella, Gnocchi, Coconut “Shrimp” Tacos, and now this. Popcorn cauliflower is here to knock your socks off. Prior to this my cauliflower wings were my favorite way to prepare cauliflower, but we may have a new winner in town.


This cauliflower is battered and then covered in breadcrumbs to make a crispy outer coating. It is then baked and comes out so crispy. If you want to quickly shallow-fry these they would definitely be even more delicious. If you wanted to air fry them it should work great too! If you are not a fan of cauliflower or cannot find it right now this would work well with broccoli or Brussel sprouts.


If you need to substitute the cornstarch you can use all purpose flour, arrowroot flour or chickpea flour. If you need to substitute the gochuhang paste you can use sriracha or sambal oelek. You can substitute the maple syrup for brown sugar, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, agave or brown rice syrup. You can substitute the soy sauce for tamari or coconut aminos.

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1 small head or 1/2 large head of cauliflower (around 400g)
1/2 cup (64g) cornstarch
1/3 (80ml) cup water
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 to 2 tsp gochujang paste
3/4 cup (60g) panko breadcrumbs
*all panko breadcrumbs have different weights so the cup size may be different you just need 60g overall so adjust to your breadcrumb brand

1 to 2 tbsp gochujang paste
2 tsp grade A maple syrup
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Slurry: 1 tbsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp water

Green onion and sesame seeds, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 450F (232C).
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small, nugget shaped pieces. The smaller the better. I also prefer to remove the florets from the stems. The stems can be used in this recipe, they taste equally as delicious.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the cornstarch, salt and pepper together. Then add the water and gochujang paste in. Whisk until a smooth batter forms. This will be on the thinner side.
  4. Pour the cauliflower in the bowl and toss to coat. Slowly pour the breadcrumbs into the bowl. Do this in about 4 batches. Add a little, then stir to coat. Repeat until all breadcrumbs have been used. This helps to equally distribute the breadcrumbs.
  5. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Optional: before baking spray with cooking oil spray to get them extra crispy.
  6. While it bakes prepare the sauce. In a measuring cup or bowl whisk the ingredients, except the slurry, together. Prepare the slurry on its own and then add it to the sauce to prevent clumping.
  7. Pour the sauce into a large nonstick pan and simmer over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Sauce should be thick and glaze like.
  8. Once the cauliflower is done immediately pour into the pan and toss to coat.
  9. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion. This dish is best enjoyed hot and warm. If you prefer your cauliflower stay completely crispy you can place it back in the oven or dip the cauliflower in the sauce.

Serves 2

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