Sweet and Sour Cauliflower with Pineapple

3 mins read

This Sweet and Sour Cauliflower recipe is a flavorful dish that can be served as a side dish or main meal. Crispy baked cauliflower is tossed with a homemade sweet and sour sauce and served hot for a delicious take on restaurant style Chinese food. Dinner is ready in less than 40 minutes!


This sweet and sour cauliflower with pineapple and red peppers offers a delicious meatless alternative to Chinese takeout. Cauliflower is coated with seasoning and cornstarch to make it extra crispy while baking. After baking, the cauliflower is toss in a homemade sweet and sour sauce that is made with simple ingredients and is healthier than anything you can find at a restaurant.

This cauliflower dish is hearty enough to be served as a main meal or use it as a side dish next to your favorite Asian-inspired recipe. No deep frying is needed as the cauliflower gets nice and crispy by roasting in the oven.

It can also be easily adapted to fit your taste. You can omit the bell peppers and pineapple if desired.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This easy dinner recipe is naturally meatless, gluten free and nut free.
  • The homemade sweet and sour sauce tastes delicious and has no MSG or preservatives.
  • You can pair this dish with rice, steamed veggies, noodles or even a fresh garden salad.
  • Customize the veggies you use in the dish by swapping them out for your favorites.

Ingredients You Need

For the Baked Cauliflower:

  • Fresh Cauliflower – Fresh cauliflower florets are best for this recipe. Cut the cauliflower into small-sized florets.
  • Red Bell Pepper – You can substitute with yellow, green or orange bell pepper. You can omit the peppers, if desired.
  • Pineapple – Adds a classic sweet flavor to the dish. You can omit the pineapple, if desired.
  • Soy Sauce – You can substitute with tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Garlic Powder and Onion Powder – These infuse the cauliflower with a light garlic and onion flavor.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – You can also substitute with avocado oil.
  • Cornstarch – Helps to create the crispy texture. You can also use arrowroot powder or tapioca starch.
  • Garnishes – Use chopped green onion and sesame seeds to garnish the cauliflower.

For the Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  • Ketchup – This is the base of the sauce. A substitution is not recommended.
  • Soy Sauce – Substitute with tamari or coconut aminos, if needed.
  • Maple Syrup – This is used to add sweetness. You can substitute with brown sugar, if desired.
  • Rice Vinegar – You can substitute with apple cider vinegar.
  • Sesame Oil – While sesame oil is preferred for flavor, you can substitute with olive oil.
  • Minced Garlic and Ginger – If you can’t find fresh ginger, you can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger.
  • Cornstarch and Water – The cornstarch helps thicken the sauce. You can substitute with arrowroot powder or tapioca starch.

How to Make Sweet and Sour Cauliflower

  1. Prepare the cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl and add soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder and avocado oil. Toss the cauliflower well to coat. Add the cornstarch to the bowl and toss again.
  2. Bake the cauliflower. Spread the cauliflower out onto the prepared baking sheet in an even single layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway through until the cauliflower starts to brown around the edges. Turn the oven to broil and cook for 3 minutes until the edges of the cauliflower start to get crispy. Remove the cauliflower from the oven.
  3. Make the sweet and sour sauce. While the cauliflower is baking, you can prepare the sweet and sour sauce by combining the ketchup, soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a bowl. Whisk everything together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add the mixture to the sauce and whisk to combine.
  4. Simmer the sauce. Place a wok or large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the peppers and pineapple and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes until just slightly softened. Add the prepared sauce, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer while stirring until the sauce becomes thick, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Assemble and serve. Add the baked cauliflower florets to the skillet and toss with the sauce until fully coated. Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds before serving.

Serve this sweet and sour cauliflower on its own or over rice, noodles or veggies.


Recipe Tips

  • To ensure that this recipe is gluten free, make sure to check that your cornstarch does not contain any wheat ingredients. You can also use arrowroot or tapioca as a substitute. Also, use coconut aminos or soy sauce that does not contain wheat to make this dish gluten free.
  • Do not use frozen cauliflower. Although it may be tempting, frozen cauliflower does not hold up well in this dish.
  • Cut the cauliflower into even sized pieces. This helps to ensure even cooking. Cauliflower should be places in a single layer on the baking sheet to make sure it roasts and doesn’t steam.
  • Peppers and pineapple are optional. If you are not using red pepper and pineapple, skip step 8 and go straight to step 9 by adding the sauce directly to the skillet.


  • Add spicy flavor – Add some red chili flake or cayenne pepper to the sauce if you like spicy food. 
  • Change up the veggies – Use asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, or even baby corn to bump up the vegetables in this vegan dish. 
  • Make the sauce creamy – To make a creamy sweet and sour sauce, add a dash of tahini to the mix. 
  • Don’t want to use sugar or sweetener? Try sweetening the sauce with some pineapple juice instead.

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