While I was never a huge meat eater prior to going fully plant-based, there’s just something about fried chicken. EVERYONE likes it. I don’t think i’ve ever met a person who doesn’t. I’ve kicked around a lot of ideas about how to recreate it as a vegan dish but have come up short every time…until now. By combining my desire for something fried chicken-esque with my love for cauliflower, I stumbled upon the delicious recipe to beat all delicious recipes – Chicken Fried Cauliflower.
Versatile Creatures They Are
Simply put, this cauliflower is insane. There is no need to pre-steam it before frying or anything weird like that. Simply batter, bread and fry. Then eat. Perfection! As you can probably tell from the pictures, I made the bold choice to eat this Chicken Fried Cauliflower with waffles and maple syrup. It was insane. That said, I don’t expect you to do exactly the same unless you want to. Instead, you can enjoy these little babies like wings and dip them in your favorite sauce, you can serve them over rice or pasta, or you can eat them all by themselves! Versatile creatures they are.
Chicken Fried Cauliflower Ingredients
- Cauliflower: For this recipe it is better to purchase a large head of cauliflower as opposed to buying a bag of pre-cut florets. The reason for this is that it is likely the pre-cut florets will be too small. You will want to be able to cut your own to control sizing.
- Raw Cashews: When raw cashews are soaked over night (or for an hour or two in boiling water) and then blended, they turn into a great alternative to heavy cream. With it, the cauliflower will better hold on to its breading/spice mixture. Please make sure cashews are raw and not roasted or salted at purchase time.
- Sriracha: Sriracha is my hot sauce of choice. This does not mean it has to be yours. If you have a preferred hot sauce, sub it here. Its only purpose is to give our cashew cream a slight kick.
- All Purpose Flour: Plain old All Purpose is best for breading as it has a moderate protein content. This better allows it to stick to whatever it is you are frying. In my experience, I also find that it produces a crispy crust instead of a chewy or greasy one.
- Sea Salt: Do not skimp on the salt! I know this recipe calls for an awful lot but you will need every bit of it. It will help with the texture of our fried cauliflower as well as bring out the flavor in our many many spices.
- Old Bay Seasoning: Old Bay Seasoning is a pre-made spice mix commonly used for poultry and seafood. You can usually find it in the baking aisle or spice section at your local grocery store but if not, check the meat counter.
- Spices: There is a huge list of spices here and I know that can be overwhelming. I promise I wouldn’t have included them all if they didn’t contribute to the overall experience. Please do your best to find/include all of them. You won’t regret it!
Tips and Tricks For Chicken Fried Cauliflower
- When cutting your cauliflower into florets, always cut with the cauliflower head placed upside down. This will allow you to cut florets at the stem making for more natural-looking pieces and less of a mess.
- Cashew cream can be made in advance! If you don’t have time to soak your cashews overnight simply place them in a bowl and pour boiling water over the top. Allow them to sit for 1-2 hours before draining. Blend with 1 c filtered water for 3-5 minutes and then place in the fridge in a sealed container until ready to move forward with recipe.
- When it comes time to bread your cauliflower, use one hand for the wet mixture and one hand for the dry mixture. Try not to mix it up! This will keep both your space and the cauliflower looking as clean as possible.
- Make sure your oil is hot enough to fry prior to adding in your florets. The best and safest way to do this is to insert the handle end of a wooden spoon into the oil and see if the oil immediately bubbles around it. If it does, you’re ready to go!
- Fry your cauliflower in batch sizes that reflect the size of your pan. Do not overcrowd! I used a large skillet and fried 5 large florets per batch.
- Don’t cover fried cauliflower in an attempt to keep it warm as you work with later batches. This will make it soggy. Allow for it to sit out on either a wire rack over paper towels or on paper towels themselves to drain as you continue to work. I promise they will stay plenty warm.
Please remember if you make this recipe to snap a pic and share with @censoredbaker on instagram!Print
Chicken Fried Cauliflower
If you love fried chicken you will love this chicken fried cauliflower. Fresh cauliflower battered in cashew cream and a gorgeous, spicy breading and deep fried until crispy.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Fry Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 15 Pieces 1x
- Category: Savory Recipes
- Method: Fry
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
1 large head cauliflower (or 2 smaller heads)
3/4 c raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained*
1 c filtered water
1 tbsp sriracha (more if you like spicy)
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp old bay seasoning
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
high heat oil such as grapeseed or safflower
1. Cut cauliflower into large florets and set aside. In a blender combine cashews and filtered water. Blend until completely smooth. This can take up to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your machine. Only blend for 1 minute at a time. Once smooth and creamy, transfer to a medium bowl and stir in sriracha.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, old bay seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cayenne and black pepper. Place a wire cooling rack in a large baking sheet to provide a place for breaded cauliflower to rest. You are ready to begin the breading process!
3. Place bowls with wet and dry mixtures side by side. Use one hand for the wet mixture and your other hand for the dry. This will keep everything as clean as possible. Taking one floret at a time, drop first into the dry mixture and cover completely, tapping off excess. Transfer floret to the wet mixture and drench completely. Transfer back to the dry mix and toss gingerly. Place on prepared rack to rest until frying. Continue for all florets.
4. Pour about 1 inch of oil into a large skillet. Heat oil over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Take a wooden spoon and stick handle into the oil. If bubbles come up around the wood your oil is ready. Working with about 5-6 florets at a time (do not crowd your pan), begin to place cauliflower into the oil. Fry until golden brown and then flip and do the same for the other side of the floret. This should take about 4-6 minutes on each side. Once done, place fried cauliflower back on wire rack or on paper towels to drain. Continue to work in batches until all cauliflower has been fried.
5. Chicken fried cauliflower is great served with waffles, rice, veggies or even pasta dishes. You do you.
*Raw cashews blended with water make a great substitute for heavy cream. If you have a super high-speed blender such as a Vitamix you won’t need to soak them. If not, soak your cashews overnight in water OR for 1-2 hours in boiling water.
**This recipe does not save well in the fridge or the freezer. You can place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days but do yourself a favor and try to finish it the day it is made.
Keywords: fried cauliflower, cauliflower wings, chicken cauliflower, cauliflower recipe, cauliflower appetizer