Popcorn cauliflower bites are simpler to make than you might think. And they’re a terrific way to get some vegetables into those eaters that might ordinarily turn up their noses. A dish of creamy dip and you’re done.
They’re a brilliant party food snack, or a starter when entertaining. To avoid last-minute rushing around, coat the cauliflower florets in the crumbs and keep chilled, in a single layer on a tray. Then all you need to do is fry them and serve with garlic mayonnaise, ketchup, chile mayonnaise, or just a squeeze of lemon. — Jo Pratt
Popcorn Cauliflower Bites
- 2 cups chickpea flour* or all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 (1 1/2 lbs) cauliflower broken into bite-sized florets
- Mild vegetable oil for frying
- Garlic mayonnaise ketchup, chile mayonnaise or just a squeeze of lemon, for serving
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, paprika, oregano, garlic salt, and milk together until you have a smooth batter. Place the panko in a separate bowl.
- Dip the cauliflower florets in the batter, allow excess to drip off, then roll them in the breadcrumbs to evenly coat. Place on a large plate or baking sheet while the oil heats.
- Fry until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Repeat with the remaining cauliflower florets.
- Serve with garlic mayonnaise, ketchup, or chile mayonnaise to dip into or finish with a squeeze of lemon.
*What is chickpea flour?Gluten-free and packed full of protein, chickpea flour is used to coat veggies for pakoras and to make socca, a super delish flatbread. It’s a pretty dense flour, but when used it cooks up light and crisp–especially when fried. It doesn’t have much more flavor than plain white flour but packs a punch of protein (also less calories and carbs). Made from finely-milled chickpeas, you can make it at home from dried garbanzos, if you can’t find it in stores. Just give it a good whizz in your food processor and sift before use.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These fried nibbles of popcorn cauliflower bites are slightly addictive. A little fried snack, but a vegetable! The combination of the chickpea flour-based batter and the panko make the perfect team, so delightfully crisp and not in the least bit greasy.
I chose a Venezuelan avocado and garlic dip, but a sriracha or chipotle mayo would work great, too.
These little popcorn cauliflower bites are great–they fried up fast, stayed crisp, and weren’t greasy. The batter had a decent amount of flavor. The batter could have used more spices but it all depends on what kind of dip you serve with it.
I used chickpea flour because I love it for deep frying. It always fries up light and crisp. We used joppiesaus (mayo with caramelized onions and curry) and Kewpie mayo mixed with crispy chile-garlic oil. They were both terrific.
Who doesn’t like anything that is fried? This recipe yields super crispy popcorn cauliflower bites and it does not take much time to prepare as well. I would suggest crumbing the cauliflower and storing it in the freezer. This way, you can have hot popcorn bites whenever you want. Pair this dish with some garlic aioli or ketchup and you have yourself the perfect evening snack.
Originally published August 20, 2021