Baked General Tso’s Cauliflower – From Scratch

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Baked General Tso’s Cauliflower Recipe – From Scratch

Better than takeout, this version of General Tso’s Baked Cauliflower is all you need for that quick lunch or dinner. The best part, the General Tso’s sauce is made from scratch, so it is a complete homemade meal, which can be served hot with a bed of steamed rice. Also, it is great as a snack in itself too. Get set to relish the deliciousness with this quick and easy General Tso’s Cauliflower recipe!

General Tso’s is a very famous Chinese style takeaway dish, which can be served as a meal, in combination with steamed rice, or standalone, it can be great as a snack/starter also. General Tso sauce is very easy to make at home with the combination of few ingredients, mostly it is some amalgamation of Chinese style sauces.

The more popular versions of this sauce are with chicken, cauliflower or tofu. You can also try other variations once you master making the sauce itself, based on what vegetables and/or protein you like. General Tso’s Chicken is the most popular dish with this sauce base.

I had earlier made this recipe using Trader Joe’s ready made General Tso’s sauce. You can find it here if you want to make an even quicker version using the ready sauce. As I had mentioned in my recipe, the Trader Joe’s General Tso Sauce is more on the sweeter side. So, while using that sauce, you may need to balance the flavors as per your taste.

After using the ready sauce, I wanted to create the General Tso’s cauliflower recipe from scratch by making the homemade General Tso’s sauce. After trying many versions of this sauce, I finally got the perfect balance of flavors with this particular recipe.

general tso cauliflower with rice on plate
General Tso’s Cauliflower

This particular recipe has been adapted from the sauce recipe shared by Pickled Plum. I was in awe of how beautifully Caroline describes the three variations of the same sauce. I have used the regular version of the sauce and made modifications as per my taste liking.

One great thing about this sauce is that it can be adapted as per everyone’s taste. Some might like the sauce on a sweeter side, some prefer a more spicier version, and others may want the sour kick in their sauce. Once you get the basic version correct, it’s just a matter of adapting it to your taste-buds.

What goes into the General Tso’s sauce?

Here are some of the main ingredients that go into the making of this sauce:

  • Soy sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Tomato paste
  • Granulated sugar or Jaggery powder or any other sugar substitute
  • Water or Vegetable broth or Chicken broth
  • Cornstarch Slurry (Cornstarch mixed with Water)

It’s the balance of all the above ingredients that makes this sauce. If you read more about the different Asian style of sauces, most of them are some or other form or variation of the above mentioned ingredients, along with some more.

Other Ingredients

  • A dash of Toasted Sesame oil adds on beautifully to the flavor profile of this sauce.
  • Minced ginger and garlic can be added while cooking the sauce.
  • Some people also like to add Dried red chilies to add an extra kick of spice (but again, this is optional as per everyone’s tolerance).
  • Salt is also an optional ingredient here since I found the flavors well-balanced with the added sauces. You may want to add some extra in the end if you feel so.
baked general tso cauliflower bites

What goes into the making of Baked Cauliflower bites in this recipe?

The baked cauliflower bites make this recipe a bit healthier since we opted to bake the cauliflower florets instead of deep frying them. Although the deep fried version will taste better, but the baked version is also a win-win. Here is what we need for making the baked cauli bites:

  • Cauliflower (Cut into bite sized florets)
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Milk (You can even use water or eggs in place of this)
  • Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Panko Breadcrumbs

Optional Garnishes

  • Scallions
  • Sesame seeds

Homemade General Tso’s Cauliflower Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions (with pictures)

  • Cut the cauliflower head into bite sized pieces. Wash the cauliflower pieces, drain and keep aside. In a bowl, mix the milk, all purpose flour, salt and pepper together till you get a smooth batter. Add breadcrumbs to the second bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Add the cauliflower bites in the milk-flour mixture and coat them evenly. Then dip each cauliflower piece in the breadcrumbs bowl to coat it with breadcrumbs on all sides and place on the parchment paper lined baking tray.
  • Bake the cauliflower bites for around 25 minutes and immediately move to next step after you put the cauliflower bites into the oven for baking. While cauli bites are being baked, make the sauce. To make the sauce, take a bowl, and add tomato paste, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, rice vinegar and granulated sugar. Mix everything together to form a smooth sauce.
  • To cook the sauce, on medium heat, add sesame oil in a pan on stove-top. Then put the minced ginger and garlic to it and saute for few seconds. Add in the sauce mixture to the pan and place on low-medium heat. Add vegetable broth (or water or chicken broth, as per what you are using) to the pan and bring it to a boil. Now simmer the sauce and keep it on low-medium flame. Also, adjust salt and/or sauces as per taste to balance the flavors. Also, adjust the spice at this point.
  • In a bowl, mix in 2 tbsp cornstarch to 2 tbsp of water and make a slurry. Mix the slurry in the sauce and keep in on simmer for 5-10 minutes. Switch off the flame and reserve it for later use.
  • Once the cauliflower bites are baked, remove them from the oven and add them to your serving bowl. Pour in the prepared sauce over the cauliflower bites and toss them gently to coat them evenly. Garnish with chopped scallions and/or sesame seeds, and serve it hot with steamed rice!

Notes & Tips for General Tso’s Baked Cauliflower

  • The sauce here is enough to coat the cauliflower bites. But if you feel you want to more saucier version of this recipe to go with rice, you can increase the sauce quantity.
  • For spicier version, add more sriracha sauce, or optionally, add some dried red chilies. This one is more of a child-friendly version of the sauce.
  • Serve immediately after you pour sauce over cauliflower, to prevent the cauliflower bites from going soggy.
  • I have used milk to mix it with the flour for making the coating batter, but feel free to use water or eggs. In my other version of the General Tso’s cauliflower recipe which uses Trader Joe’s sauce, I had use egg in place of milk to form the batter. The eggs seem to give a better glaze/crust. But you can use any of the three options for the coating.
  • Last, but not the least, this is a general version of the sauce that I made as per my flavor liking. Feel free to increase and/or decrease the quantity of any of the ingredients to make it according to your taste. I would suggest to balance the flavors in the end, when the basic sauce is almost cooked.
general tso cauliflower and rice on plate
Better than takeout General Tso’s Cauliflower

Also, continuing the tradition, here comes my 54th recipe under My Julie & Julia Project. For those who don’t know, I had started this project last year, under which I had planned to post 100 recipes from my kitchen by the end of the year 2019. But since I got busy with other priorities in life, I have planned to continue the tradition in 2020. So, this is the Recipe #54 for you all.

If you like this recipe, you might want to check out this amazing Vegetable Lasagna recipe as well.

For now, lets get straight to the recipe of Better Than Takeout General Tso’s Cauliflower!!

general tso cauliflower with rice on plate

Baked General Tso’s Cauliflower – From Scratch

Kanwaldeep Kaur
Better than takeout, this version of General Tso's Baked Cauliflower is all you need for that quick lunch or dinner. The best part, the General Tso's sauce is made from scratch, so it is a complete homemade meal, which can be served hot with a bed of steamed rice. Also, it is great as a snack in itself too.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

For General Tso's Sauce

  • 2 1/2 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 3 tbsp Rice vinegar
  • 1 cup Vegetable broth You can substitute it with water or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Granulated sugar You can use jaggery powder or any other sugar substitute at hand
  • 1/2 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp Water For making Cornstarch Slurry
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil I used Toasted Sesame Oil for the sharp flavor
  • 1 tsp Ginger minced, optional
  • 1 tsp Garlic minced, optional

For Cauliflower bites

  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Milk Substitute it with same quantity of water or 4 eggs
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Cauliflower Use 1/2 large cauliflower or 1 medium sized, roughly cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp Scallions chopped, for garnishing
  • Sesame seeds a sprinkle, for garnishing. I used Toasted sesame seeds here

Instructions
 

  • Cut the cauliflower head into bite sized pieces. Wash the cauliflower pieces, drain and keep aside.
  • In a bowl, mix the milk and all purpose flour together till you get a smooth batter. Add salt and pepper to the milk-flour mixture and whisk everything again. Add breadcrumbs to the second bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Add the cauliflower bites in the milk-flour mixture and coat them evenly.
  • Take one cauliflower piece and dip it in the breadcrumbs bowl to coat it with breadcrumbs on all sides. Place it on the parchment paper lined baking tray.
  • Repeat above step for all the cauliflower bite pieces.
  • Bake the cauliflower bites for 22-27 minutes (I baked them for 27 minutes for that extra crunch). Immediately move to next step after you put the cauliflower bites into the oven for baking.
  • Once the cauliflower bites are being baked, make the sauce. Take a bowl, and add tomato paste, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, rice vinegar and granulated sugar. Mix everything together to form a smooth sauce.
  • Now, to cook the sauce, on medium heat, add sesame oil in a pan on stove-top. Add minced ginger and garlic to it and saute for few seconds. Add in the sauce mixture that was prepared in the last step. Now add vegetable broth (or water or chicken broth, as per what you are using) to the pan and bring it to a boil. Now simmer the sauce and keep it on low-medium flame. Adjust salt and/or sauces as per taste to balance the flavors. Also, adjust the spice at this point.
  • In a bowl, mix in 2 tbsp cornstarch to 2 tbsp of water and make a slurry. Mix the slurry in the sauce and keep in on simmer for 5-10 minutes. Switch off the flame and reserve it for later use.
  • Once the cauliflower bites are baked, remove them from the oven and add them to your serving bowl. Pour in the prepared sauce over the cauliflower bites and toss them gently to coat them evenly.
  • General Tso's Baked Cauliflower is ready to be relished. Garnish with chopped scallions and/or sesame seeds, and serve it hot with steamed rice!

Notes

  • For spicier version, add more sriracha sauce, or optionally, add some dried red chilies. This one is more of a child-friendly version of the sauce.
  • Serve immediately after you pour sauce over cauliflower, to prevent the cauliflower bites from going soggy.
  • I have used milk to mix it with the flour for making the coating batter, but feel free to use water or eggs. In my other version of the General Tso’s cauliflower recipe which uses Trader Joe’s sauce, I had use egg in place of milk to form the batter. The eggs seem to give a better glaze/crust. But you can use any of the three options for the coating.
Keyword asian, baked, cauliflower, dinner, general tso, lunch, savory, vegetarian
general tso cauliflower with rice on plate

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