A bowl of cauliflower in orange-red sauce and rice with chopsticks lifting a piece out
Photography, Tanya Pilgrim

Firecracker Cauliflower

A vegan take on firecracker chicken.

The easy-to-make dinner is a go-to for Canadian blogger Sam Turnbull when she’s craving takeout vibes. “Sticky, sweet, spicy, and juicy. If you are on the fence about cauliflower, this is the recipe that will convert you,” she writes in her book Craving Vegan: 101 Recipes to Satisfy Your Appetite the Plant-Based Way. “Serve this cauliflower on a bed of fluffy steamed rice and you’re in for a firecrackin’ good time!”

A bowl of cauliflower in orange-red sauce and rice with chopsticks lifting a piece out

Firecracker Cauliflower

Sam Turnbull's recipe for a vegan version of firecracker chicken, made with cauliflower.
Course Main Course
Cuisine vegan
Servings 4



  • 1 large head cauliflower cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp light oil like canola or vegetable
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked rice to serve
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions to serve

Firecracker Sauce

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • cup Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce or similar hot sauce see note #1
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp hot pepper flakes see note #1


  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly grease large baking sheet.
  • In large bowl, combine cauliflower, oil, garlic, salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Arrange on prepared pan, spreading out evenly. Bake, flipping halfway through, until cauliflower is tender and browned, 25 minutes (see note #2)
  • While cauliflower is baking, combine brown sugar, hot sauce, water, cornstarch, rice vinegar and hot pepper flakes in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, whisking often, until thickened, 5 minutes.
  • Drizzle sauce over roasted cauliflower, tossing to evenly coat. Return to oven and continue baking until cauliflower is sticky and delicious, 4 to 8 minutes.
  • Serve cauliflower over rice and garnish with green onions.


  1. For a less spicy version, substitute Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce with mild hot sauce or an equal amount of vegan barbecue sauce and omit the red pepper flakes. For extra spicy, add more hot pepper flakes to taste.
  2. You can prep the cauliflower ahead of time. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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A book cover in a light frame

Excerpted from Craving Vegan by Sam Turnbull. Adapted for ELLE Gourmet. Copyright © 2023 Sam Turnbull. Photographs by Tanya Pilgrim. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
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