Crispy, golden and delicious, fried cauliflower is a fun and tasty way to sneak that daily dose of veggies into your diet, and this recipe even comes with an easy homemade ranch dipping sauce!
Fried Cauliflower, Tasty Little “Poppers”
Whenever my mom would have a head of cauliflower tucked away in the veggie drawer of the fridge and was in need of something lighter to prepare for our dinner, she'd often prepare fried cauliflower.
She would cut the head into fairly large florets because they were meant to replace the meat in our meal. They were meant to have substance so that this veggie-centered offering would be satisfying, hearty, and fill our bellies.
I loved the taste of it, and would typically sneak a piece or two out of the bowl where the already fried cauliflower would be cooling, enjoying the crispy taste and texture.
That's where I got my inspiration for my own fried cauliflower recipe, only I decided to make my version a bit more suited for snacking by making the pieces more “popper” size, about 1-2 bites each.
These tasty fried cauliflower morsels are the perfect way to get even the most veggie-phobic folks in your life to eat their veggies, because they're coated in an extra crispy panko breadcrumb and grated parmesan cheese mixture, and they come complete with a super easy homemade ranch dipping sauce to plunge them into!
Now, who wouldn't love that? 😉
How to Make Fried Cauliflower
Preparing fried cauliflower is just like preparing anything else you'd like to fry: it requires a little flour, some whisked eggs, and a mixture of breadcrumbs to create that crispy outer coating.
Because I'm using raw cauliflower to begin with, I like to cut the florets into the small bite-size pieces I want to use, and then give them a quick blanch in salted, boiling water just until slightly tender yet still crisp.
Then I go ahead with a traditional dredging method of dipping the cauliflower pieces first in flour, then in the whisked eggs, and finally in the breadcrumb/parmesan coating.
Here's an overview of my fried cauliflower recipe:
- To begin, I prepare my quick homemade ranch dipping sauce.
- I quickly blanch my cauliflower pieces in salted, boiling water for about 30 seconds - 1 minute, then drain and pat them dry very well.
- Next, I toss them in the flour, dip them in the whisked eggs, then toss them into a ziplock bag filled with panko breadcrumbs, parmesan, and seasoning; I shake the bag well to thoroughly coat the pieces.
- I give the pieces a quick shallow fry until they're golden and crispy, then drain the fried cauliflower on a wire rack or on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Finally, I serve the fried cauliflower with a side of ranch dipping sauce, and enjoy!
(My full recipe is below...)
Tips & Tidbits for Fried Cauliflower:
- Use pre-bagged cauliflower florets for ease: Because the cauliflower for this recipe will be cut into small 1-2 bite pieces, I like to use a bag of cauliflower florets for convenience. I then cut those into smaller pieces, and have the perfect amount to serve 4.
- Give the cauliflower a blanching: To take some of the raw crunch out of the cauliflower before frying it, give the pieces a quick blanching in salted boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. You want the cauliflower to be slightly tender but with some crispness left.
- Crispy coating: Panko breadcrumbs are always my favorite way to go when I'm looking for extra crispiness in my coating, and I opt for those in this fried cauliflower recipe. I also use some grated parmesan for flavor, as well as a little extra seasoning.
- Shallow frying: This fried cauliflower works really well with a simple, shallow fry. I use only about 1/2 cup of oil, and like to use a healthy oil that does well with higher heat such as avocado oil, safflower oil, and even light olive oil.
- Reheating leftovers: Any leftover fried cauliflower can easily be reheated in a toaster oven. I place the pieces evenly on a little tray, and bake them at 400° until they're crispy once again and warmed through.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 337 calories (includes 2 tablespoons of ranch dipping sauce)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Fried Cauliflower Ingredients:
• 12 oz bag cauliflower florets, cut into small, bite-size pieces
• 1/2 cup flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
• Pinch paprika
• Pinch black pepper
• Oil, for frying (about 1/2 cup)
• Green onion, chopped, for optional garnish
Ranch Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1 medium garlic clove
• 1 tablespoon buttermilk
• 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch salt
• 1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar
• Pinch Italian seasoning
-If you want to make the ranch dipping sauce for your fried cauliflower, begin by preparing it first: add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk/blend until well combined; then cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to serve.
-To prepare the fried cauliflower: blanch the cauliflower pieces by adding them to a pot of well-salted, boiling water for about 30 seconds just until crisp-tender; drain, then shock for about 30 seconds in ice-water to cool; drain from ice water and pat dry with paper towel; set aside for a moment.
-Set up your breading station by adding the flour into a large ziplock bag, along with a pinch of salt.
-Next, whisk the eggs in a large bowl.
-Add the panko, the parmesan, the paprika, pepper and a pinch of salt into another large ziplock bag.
-To bread, add the blanched cauliflower pieces to the bag with the flour, and very gently shake to coat the pieces well.
-Then, add the floured pieces to the bowl with the beaten eggs, and toss the pieces to coat with the egg.
-Next, add the pieces to the bag with the panko/parmesan mixture, and again, gently shake to coat the pieces well; take the coated pieces out and place onto a plate to hold.
-To fry, heat enough oil to shallow fry in a large skillet or pan, about 1/2 cup; once the oil is hot, add about a third or half (depending on size of pan) of the breaded cauliflower pieces in, and allow them to fry for about 5-7 minutes, moving them around occasionally, until crispy and golden-brown on all sides; remove and drain on paper towel, sprinkle with a little salt if desired, and repeat until all pieces are fried.
-To serve, allow the fried cauliflower to cool slightly, as they will be quite hot when fresh out of the oil; serve with a side of the ranch dipping sauce if using, and garnish with some chopped green onion.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!