Sticky Lemon Cauliflower

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Cauliflower florets are coated in panko breadcrumbs, baked until crisp, then drenched in sweet gingery lemon sauce to make this sticky lemon cauliflower.

It’s been over two years since I posted my sticky sesame cauliflower. I loved that recipe so much, and it took off so well that I immediately decided I needed to do more with the whole crispy baked cauliflower coated in sticky sauce concept.

I took my time, but finally got around to it!

At this point I’ve covered lots of the popular sticky Chinese takeout sauces, usually using them on tofu. Orange sauce: check! Tso’s sauce: check! Black pepper sauce: check!

What’s left? Ah, lemon sauce!

I used to get a dish with lemon sauce at a favorite Chinese vegetarian restaurant when I lived in the city. That dish involved mock chicken, but mock chicken isn’t really my thing these days. Cauliflower is my jam.

I made this one a little differently from my sticky sesame cauliflower. That one I simply batter dipped and baked. And even though I loved it, a lot of people had trouble with the recipe. Sometimes the batter didn’t stay on the pieces, and sometimes it didn’t crisp. Others said it turned out perfectly. I’m not sure why, but I’m guessing there’s some variation in peoples’ oven temperatures. You need the oven to get super hot for it to work.

If you made the sticky sesame cauliflower and loved it, feel free to dip and bake the cauliflower following that recipe and just swap out the sauce for this one. If it didn’t work out for you, or if you haven’t tried it and just want something a little more foolproof, then I think this is the recipe for you!

The main difference: panko. After dipping the florets I rolled them in panko for an extra crispy coating on the outside. The panko also helps anchor the batter in place, so no big globs in the bottom of the pan!

And then there’s the sauce. If you’re a fan of sweet and sour you’ll probably really like this, as it is, in fact, pretty darn sweet and sour. Lemon gives it a big, bright flavor, while ginger supplies a subtle kick.

5 from 2 votes Print

Sticky Lemon Cauliflower

Cauliflower florets are coated in panko breadcrumbs, baked until crisp, then drenched in sweet gingery lemon sauce to make this sticky lemon cauliflower.

CourseEntree CuisineAmerican, Chinese Prep Time 15 minutes Cook Time 25 minutes Total Time 40 minutes Servings 4 Calories 341 kcal Author Alissa Saenz


  • 1cupwhole wheat flour
  • 1cup unflavored soy or almond milk
  • ½teaspoonsalt
  • 1 ½cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1medium cauliflower, broken into florets
  • Oil mister or cooking spray

For the Sauce

  • 1 ⅓cupsvegetable broth
  • 4 ½tablespoonssoy sauce
  • cuplemon juice(2-3 lemons worth)
  • cupmaple syrup
  • 1teaspoonlemon zest
  • 3garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½teaspoonsfreshly grated ginger
  • cupcold water
  • 1 ½tablespoonscornstarch

For Serving

  • Cooked rice
  • Sesame seeds
  • Chopped Scallions


  1. Preheat the oven to 425° and lightly oil an oven safe skillet or baking dish.

  2. Stir the flour, milk and salt together in a small bowl. Place the panko into a separate bowl. Drop a floret into the flour mixture and roll to *lightly* coat it with batter (it need not be completely covered). If you end up with too much batter on it, shake it a bit to remove the excess. Transfer the cauliflower to the panko and roll to coat. Place the cauliflower into the prepared baking sheet or skillet. Repeat until all of the cauliflower is used, leaving some space between the florets when you place them in the dish or skillet. Lightly spritz the cauliflower with oil.

  3. Bake the cauliflower until it begins to brown, 20-25 minutes.

  4. While the cauliflower bakes, combine the broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, maple syrup, zest, garlic, and ginger in a small saucepan. Place it over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reduces by almost half.

  5. Stir the cold water and cornstarch together in a small cup or bowl. Add it to the broth mixture, and allow it to simmer for 1-2 minutes more, until it thickens up a bit.

  6. Pour the sauce over the baked cauliflower, tossing to coat, and optionally reserving a bit for serving.

  7. Divide the cooked rice and cauliflower onto plates. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve.

Nutrition FactsSticky Lemon CauliflowerAmount Per ServingCalories 341Calories from Fat 27% Daily Value*Fat 3g5%Saturated Fat 0.4g2%Sodium 1658mg69%Potassium 679mg19%Carbohydrates 68.5g23%Fiber 6g24%Sugar 22.7g25%Protein 11.1g22%Calcium 60mg6%Iron 3.4mg19%* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.« Eggplant BourguignonVegan Mocha Swirl Cheesecake »

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Loved this! Made it yesterday night and the sauce and the cauliflower were AMAZING. Even got my fiancée to love cauliflower. The only thing I will say – I accidentally sauced all the cauliflower and so the leftovers are slightly soggy today, but doesn’t matter. It’s just so so good!


  • Made this recipe lat night- It was awesome..I will make it more often…loved the lemon-y sauce. And this time ..yes, the cauliflower did turnout nice and crispy, using the panko. Great recipe, bravo and thank you.


    • Hi, I’m Alissa! I’m a former attorney turned professional food blogger. I love creating vegan recipes with bold flavors!

      More about me →

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