Cauliflower Popcorn with Easy Barbecue Sauce

Take cauliflower to the next level with Luke Hines’ take on popcorn chicken, except this one is vegan-friendly (and just as crispy!).


  • 100 g (1 cup) almond meal
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 750 ml (3 cups) coconut cream
  • 125 g (1 cup) arrowroot or tapioca flour
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • Coconut, avocado or macadamia oil spray or oil, for coating
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Easy Barbecue Sauce

  • 3 tbs hulled tahini
  • 75 g tomato paste
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tsp molasses
  • 3 drops liquid smoke, or to taste (see Tip)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 3 tbs filtered water, plus extra if needed


Step 1.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Step 2.
Mix the almond meal, chilli powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin and turmeric in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, mix the coconut cream and arrowroot or tapioca flour to make a thick batter.

Step 3.
Dip a cauliflower floret briefly in the coconut cream batter to coat evenly, then toss it in the almond meal mixture. Transfer to a prepared tray and repeat with the rest of the florets.

Step 4.
When all the florets are ready, drizzle or give them a gentle spray with oil. Bake for 25–30 minutes, turning halfway and drizzling or re-spraying with oil if you wish, until golden brown and crisp.

Step 5.
Meanwhile, for the barbecue sauce, blitz all the ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender until really smooth. If the sauce is a little thick, add an extra splash of water.

Step 6.
Remove the crispy cauliflower popcorn pieces from the oven and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve alongside the barbecue sauce.

Serves 4


eat more vegan Extract from 
Eat More Vegan by Luke Hines.
Available now. Published by Plum. Photography by Mark Roper. Go to Booktopia to purchase.

Originally published 3 May 2020.