Test Kitchen – Battered Cauliflower

I’ve been on the hunt for a baked, crispy battered cauliflower. I tested out a few different batters to see which one would satisfy my requirements.

The criteria I wanted to fulfill was:

  • Baked
  • Stays crisp in a variety of sauces
  • Uses basic pantry ingredients

It turns out, all of the batters I tested turned out crispy but paired better with different sauces. I was inspired to try this test when I saw Half Baked Harvest’s recipe for Beer Battered Cauliflower Nuggets, which look amazing as well and I will definitely be trying. I had also purchased a bag of rice flour to use and hadn’t found enough uses for it, until now!

I seasoned all of the batters in the same way, with onion and garlic powders so that they will pair well with almost any sauce. Each recipe should be enough for one head of cauliflower. I love that these recipes use basic pantry ingredients. I ended up using lime flavored sparkling water because that is all we had, but I didn’t notice the lime flavor at all in the battered cauliflower.

Top row: Flour batter, middle row: rice flour, bottom row: cornstarch.

Flour batter

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Flour batter results

The flour batter resulted in a thick all-around coating for the cauliflower. It had maximum coverage and was crispy, yet puffy, almost like a crispy pancake. This one would work best for a “wing” style cauliflower, with buffalo or BBQ sauce.

Rice flour batter

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Rice flour batter results

The rice flour batter had a loud, hard crunch. It has great coverage, similar to the all-purpose flour battered cauliflower. It reminded me of tempura, except not as light and fluffy. I enjoyed this one with a light, soy dipping sauce.

Soy dipping sauce for rice flour battered cauliflower

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp ginger, chili, garlic paste (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (add more if you like a sweeter sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Cornstarch batter

  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Cornstarch batter results

The cornstarch batter was light and dripped off of the cauliflower, pooling at the bottom. This resulted in a roasted cauliflower with a crunchy base. With that said, the coverage was minimal, so if you’re looking for a light batter with a bit of crunch, this one is for you. I enjoyed this one with a sweet and sticky sweet chili sauce.

Top row: Flour, middle row: rice flour, bottom row: cornstarch.

Baking the cauliflower

I baked all of the different batters at the same temperature (425 degrees F) for the same amount of time (20 minutes) and the crispiness was quite similar. I did not flip them, as I didn’t want any of the batter to crumble off if it wasn’t yet fully cooked. If you like your cauliflower soft, I would extend the cooking time to 25-30 minutes.

Meal prep tips for battered cauliflower

The reason I wanted to find a battered cauliflower that bakes well, is because baking is what I like to call a “hands-off” cooking method. Which means, while the cauliflower is baking, I can use my hands for prepping other meal components or completing other tasks while I wait.

If you were going to make this on a weeknight and wanted to prep the ingredients ahead of time, you could chop the cauliflower, and measure out the dry ingredients for the batter to speed things up.

If you’re making this as an appetizer and don’t use the whole head of cauliflower, you could add it to this mac and cheese, or these lunch bowls.

Easy Summer Salad Builder

We’re all looking for easy no-cook meals to have on a hot day or to take with us camping or to the beach. A summer salad travels well, doesn’t take up a lot of space in your cooler, and will fill you up for a day of fun in the sun.

Minimal prep required

What I like most about these salads is that they don’t require too much prep. All you have to do is cook some grains or noodles ahead of time. Most of the ingredients in this salad builder don’t require chopping. Use ready-to-serve ingredients, to make these salads quick to assemble and easy to prepare.

Maximize cooler space

Since these summer salads use mostly non-perishable ingredients, you will only need to store the grains or pasta and a few vegetables in your cooler. Assembling these salads once you arrive at your destination prevents you from having to store a full container in your cooler. I like to use silicone food storage bags like these ones from Zero Waste Mvmt, to reduce waste while camping. They also store flat, don’t take up a lot of space in your cooler, and can be washed out and used for another purpose while you’re traveling. Use the discount code TBL10 to get 10% off your order.

Picky eater & allergy-friendly

One of the biggest challenges when camping or weekend meal planning with other families is accommodating everyone’s likes and dietary restrictions. By assembling your salads on-site, you can serve all the components deconstructed or buffet-style and everyone can customize their salad.

Store-bought shortcuts

Using jarred or canned ingredients prevent you from having to use precious cooler space, especially when you will be living out of a cooler for a weekend. Homemade dressings like these ones are easy to whip up before you go and can be stored in mason jars in your cooler. Using store-bought dressings works just as well.

Summer salad ideas

Here are a few combinations you can try for inspiration:

  1. Pasta, olives, sundried tomatoes, bocconcini, fresh basil, balsamic vinaigrette
  2. Quinoa, shredded carrots, dried blueberries, edamame, honey mustard dressing
  3. Rice noodles, snow peas, shredded carrots, peanuts, sesame ginger dressing
  4. Quinoa, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, black olives, feta, greek dressing
  5. Quinoa, black beans, corn, red pepper, cilantro, chipotle lime dressing

Other summer salads for at home

Salads with lettuce have a shorter shelf-life, especially once you add the dressing. They’re not ideal for camping or the beach, but they are great for a quick no-cook meal if you’re enjoying the heat at home. Try this Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad or this Waldorf Salad with Tarragon Dressing.

Summer Salad Builder

Rice Pilaf

This rice pilaf recipe is super quick and easy. It whips up in 10 minutes on a busy weeknight, which I love, AND it’s packed with flavor.

My mom used to make a similar recipe when we were kids and I adapted it to include mushrooms. I know that not everybody loves mushrooms, but you could swap them for carrots if you wanted to. Her original recipe also included 1 Tbsp. of parsley, but I never have that, so I never use it.

Meal prep tips

If you want to prep ahead for this recipe, you can chop all of the veggies a day or two before you need to make this. Using instant Minute Rice is really what brings the cooking time down to next to nothing, so if you’re going to use regular rice, remember to adjust the liquid and cooking time according to the type of rice you buy.

Rice pilaf pairs well with…

I usually make this as a side dish with chicken or pork. The rosemary garlic marinade and the lemon herb marinade are our go-tos when pairing chicken or pork with this rice.

Kid-friendly?

I want to say that this recipe is kid-friendly, but only two of my four kids like it. If your kids aren’t fans of cooked vegetables, foods that are mixed together, or “green things” (thyme) in their food, this recipe might not be for them. But here’s the good news: My new e-book Feeding Picky Eaters is now on the Shop page. It has over 20 strategies to help you engage your picky eaters at mealtime, as well as printable templates and actionable steps that you can implement immediately.

Enjoy this one and tag me on Instagram @toobusylivin204 if you make it!

Rice Pilaf

Course rice, Side Dish
Keyword celery, mushrooms, pilaf, rice
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I use vegetable broth + 2 tsp. chicken bouillon concentrate)
  • 2 cups Minute Rice If not using instant rice, cook time will be longer.

Instructions

  1. Melt butter and sauté mushrooms, celery, shallot and garlic until softened.

  2. Add thyme, then chicken broth.

  3. Bring to a boil. Add rice, stir and remove from heat.

  4. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Recipe Notes

If using regular rice (not instant), add it to the pan before the broth and stir it into the vegetables before adding the broth. 

You may have to adjust the amount of broth you need, based on the ratio of water you need for the type of rice you choose to use.