This vegan gochujang cauliflower recipe is our new favorite guilty pleasure. Tired of soggy cauliflower? This gochujang cauliflower recipe can be fried, baked or air-fried and whichever way you make it, it’ll be incredibly crispy and delicious. Pair it with a sticky, sweet, tangy Korean gochujang glaze with a little kick and it is mindblowing.
2 simple steps to making these gochujang cauliflower wings:
- Cook the cauliflower
- Make the addictive sauce
We’ve served these vegan cauliflower wings as starters, mains, and snacks and have received compliments like, “This is godly.”
Before we get into the recipe, let’s go over a few topics:
- What Is Gochujang?
- 5 Gochujang Substitutes
- How To Make Crispy Korean Gochujang Cauliflower
- Baked, Fried and Air-Fried Korean Gochujang Cauliflower
- The Perfect Sauce For Sticky Korean Cauliflower
- Korean Cauliflower Gochujang FAQ
- 2 Ways To Serve Cauliflower Korean Wings
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If you love buffalo cauliflower wings then you’ll love these Asian style cauliflower wings. New to gochujang? Here’s a little intro:
What Is Gochujang?
What is Gochujang? Gochujang is a spicy fermented paste that originates from Korea. Is gochujang vegan? Yes, it is. Gochujang is a fermented spicy paste made from gochugaru (red Korean pepper flakes), glutinous rice, meju powder (dried fermented soya beans), yeotgireum (sweet rice malt powder), and salt.
It is a key ingredient in this glaze and gives it a unique flavor that you wouldn’t get from traditional chili paste. You’ll find it online or at any pan-Asian grocery store.
But if you can’t get your hands on this fermented chili paste to make this and other gochujang recipes vegan, sit tight. We’re going to include a list of substitutes for gochujang and an easy way to make it at home if you’re in a bind.
5 Gochujang Substitutes
You can make this sauce without the gochujang if you don’t want it to be spicy but if you’re looking for a gochujang replacement to make these vegan Korean cauliflower gochujang wings, try these options:
- Chili flakes or gochugaru
- Sriracha and red miso
- Chili paste and red miso
- Chili flakes, rice vinegar and red miso
The first 2 options are the easiest. Gochugaru is Korean red pepper flakes and it’s used to make gochujang. You can use that or sriracha.
The next 3 options all use a chili base and miso to add some funk. The rule of thumb is to use a 2:1 ratio for chili to miso. The miso will mimic the ‘funk’ that comes from fermented foods and the chili will provide some heat.
Simply mix 2 tablespoons of your chili substitute with 1 tablespoon of miso. Lucky for me, the Albert Heijn or ‘AH’, a local supermarket chain in The Netherlands now sells gochujang. Yay, gochujang AH!
How To Make Crispy Korean Gochujang Cauliflower
We need two things to get crispy korean cauliflower wings : cornflour (constarch) and panko -Japanese breadcrumbs.
If you’re wondering what panko is, this post explains what it is and we’ve even added panko substitutes in it too! Looking for a low fodmap and gluten-free panko substitute? Have a look at this post:
To get a super crispy exterior for this asian cauliflower recipe this is how you make the batter.
There is nothing more satisfying than biting into crispy cauliflower wings and hearing a loud crunch. To do this, we use a blend of regular all-purpose flour mixed with some corn starch. If you are gluten intolerant, consider using rice flour instead. Just be sure to adjust the amount of water used.
In addition to a blend of flours, we also add seasoning. Our absolute favorite seasoning is Badia Complete Seasoning.
It is a blend of herbs and spices that is perfect for everything. If you can get your hands on this, we really recommend it. If not, add seasoning of your choice into the dry mix to add more flavor to the batter.
Add water to the dry mix and voila, you have your batter sorted. This recipe makes enough batter for one whole head of cauliflower. Dip your cauliflower into the wet mix and shake each floret a little to remove excess batter.
And then, coat each battered cauliflower in panko.
After that, it’s really just a matter of baking or frying.
Baked, Fried and Air-Fried Korean Gochujang Cauliflower
Ah, the age-old health question. To bake, fry or air-fry? These vegan korean cauliflower wings can be fried, baked or air-fried. We deep fried half of this recipe and baked the other batch of cauliflower wings in the oven. Look at the picture below and see if you can spot the difference between the baked wings.
Baked Cauliflower Gochujang
If you don’t want to deep fry your cauliflower, preheat your oven to 180C or 356F and follow the instructions to batter and coat each cauliflower floret in panko. After that, place them on a baking tray lined with parchment or baking paper and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Halfway through the baking process, make sure to spray or brush oil on the cauliflower to crispen up the batter and you’ll have Korean baked cauliflower.
Fried Gochujang Cauliflower Recipe
For fried cauliflower wings, grab a large pot or wok and fill it with enough oil. Check if the oil is hot enough before frying the cauliflower. If it isn’t then the batter ends up absorbing the oil leaving you with heavy and oily cauliflower. To check if the oil is hot enough, either add batter to the oil or place a wooden spoon (chopstick or skewer) in the oil. If it sizzles rapidly then you can go ahead and start frying.
Fry the cauliflower for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown.
The Perfect Sauce For Sticky Korean Cauliflower
The sauce for these sticky cauliflower wings is a tiny bit spicy from the gochujang and has fresh garlic and ginger, tomato ketchup, vinegar, sugar, sweet soy (or kicap/ketjap manis), and salt.
Tomato ketchup might seem like an odd addition but hear us out -it makes the sauce sweet, sour and tangy. This one pan sauce comes together in minutes: to make this sauce for our korean cauliflower recipe dish, grab a small saucepan, and on medium heat add some oil.
To the pan, add your pounded ginger and garlic; saute this for a minute or until fragrant.
Add the gochujang along with the tomato ketchup and stir the mixture. Don’t worry if it separates, that is completely normal.
Cook this for another minute before adding the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to taste. There you have it, a delicious sauce that is umami, sweet, savory, lip-smacking, and finger-licking good to serve with your cauliflower bites.
Korean Cauliflower Gochujang FAQ
What Can Gochujang Be Used In?
Gochujang is spicy and thick. It’s a fermented paste that’s perfect for marinating meats, used as a base for dipping sauces (like this recipe) or added to stews and soups for a little kick.
Is Korean Gochujang Vegan?
Korean gochujang is naturally vegan. Most gochujang mixes are vegan because it’s made with chili flakes (gochugaru), glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder, and salt.
Every gochujang paste is different so ALWAYS check the ingredient list to make sure it’s vegan-friendly.
Is Korean Gochujang Spicy?
Korean gochujang paste is thick and spicy but it’s also sweet and salty! The fermented chili paste is filled with umami flavors.
Can Gochujang Be Eaten Directly?
I don’t recommend eating gochujang directly straight out of the container. It’s a condiment that’s used in cooking to add flavor and spice.
Eating gochujang straight out of the container is kind of like eating wasabi on its own.
Can I Prepare This Recipe In Advance?
You can definitely make the sauce in advance and prepare the cauliflower separately. Just make sure to heat the cauliflower up to make it crispy.
Only toss the cauliflower in the sauce before serving to retain crispyness.
Can I Make Gochujang Cauliflower In The Air Fryer?
Yes, you can definitely air fry these Korean cauliflower gochujang wings.
2 Ways To Serve Cauliflower Korean Wings
There are two ways you can serve these wings:
- Serve the sauce in a bowl so guests can dip as they please:
2. Coat each nugget in the sauce
Grab a bowl, add a few tablespoons of the sauce and place the cauliflower in the bowl. Toss everything together with a spoon until each nugget is coated in the sauce.
TIP: only cover the fried cauliflower in sauce 5 minutes or just before serving. If you toss the nuggets in the sauce in advance, you may run the risk of the sauce making the Korean cauliflower bites soggy. It’s not a big deal but we thought we’d mention it in case. It’s always good to know in advance, right?
Whew, that was one heck of a comprehensive gochujang cauliflower post. We highly recommend that you give this recipe a shot and let us know what you think. We don’t want to toot our own horns but they really are heavenly.
And if you’re worried about having leftover gochujang in your fridge and don’t know what else to make with it, why not try making one of our other vegan gochujang recipes:
Leftover panko? Have a look at these dishes:
Vegan Korean Gochujang Cauliflower Wings
This vegan gochujang cauliflower features crispy cauliflower smothered in a delicious, sweet and sticky, umami Korean gochujang glaze.
- 1 cauliflower (ours weighed 850 grams)
- 150g panko for breading
- 100g flour
- 25g corn starch (corn flour or maizena)
- 200 ml water
- 1 tbsp seasoning of your choice (we used complete seasoning; picture in post)
- Enough neutral-flavored oil to deep fry (we needed around 800ml of sunflower oil) *see notes for baked version (1)
- 25g ginger (pounded or grated)
- 2 cloves garlic (pounded or grated)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp gochujang (we like it spicier and added 2 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp sweet soy (kicap/ketjap manis)
- 70ml or 2 1/2 tbsp water
- salt to taste
Prepare the cauliflower:
Break or cut your cauliflower florets into bite-sized pieces and set them aside.
Pound or grate your garlic and ginger until it is a smooth paste.
Place a saucepan on medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add in the garlic and ginger paste and saute for a minute.
Add 1 tablespoon of gochujang and cook for another minute before adding the tomato ketchup. The mixture will separate a bit but don't worry about that. It's normal.
To the pan, add the sugar, vinegar, sweet soy (kicap/ketjap manis), and 70ml of water. Stir everything until combined and adjust seasoning to your liking. Turn the heat off and set the sauce to the side until ready to serve.
Add flour, corn starch, and seasoning of your choice into a large bowl.
Add 200ml of water into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.
Place the panko in a separate bowl or plate.
Fry the cauliflower:
In a deep pan or wok, heat your oil on medium-high heat. Make sure the oil is hot enough before frying. *see notes (2)
Add a few cauliflower pieces at a time into the batter. Make sure each cauliflower is covered in the batter. Shake the cauliflower to remove excess liquid.
Place the battered cauliflower into the panko and ensure it is fully coated.
Gently place the battered panko-covered cauliflower into the oil and fry until golden brown. This took us about 5-6 minutes. When the cauliflower is golden, remove it from the oil, and allow it cool on kitchen paper to get rid of excess oil.
Repeat this step until all of the cauliflower is fried. We fried about 12 cauliflower nuggets at a time to speed things up.
Option 1: Add a few tablespoons of the gochujang sauce into a bowl. Add in a handful of fried cauliflower and toss until they are coated in the sauce. *see notes (3)
Option 2: Plate the cauliflower and serve the sauce in a separate bowl. Allow your guests to dip the cauliflower nuggets as they please.
- 1) We tested this as a baked cauliflower and achieved similar results! Simply follow the instructions as directed in the recipe to batter and coat your cauliflower and then place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake it for 25-30 minutes at 180c or 356f. Halfway through the cooking time, spray or brush oil on your cauliflower nuggets to help them crisp up.
- 2) To test if your oil is hot enough, you can add some of the batter to the oil. If it sizzles immediately then go ahead and start frying. You can also place a chopstick (wooden skewer or the back of a wooden spoon) into the oil. If bubbles form around the wood, then the oil is hot enough.
- 3) If you choose to serve the cauliflower this way, make sure to only toss the cauliflower in the sauce before serving. Otherwise, it will get a little soggy.