Popcorn Cauliflower Bites

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.

A blue skillet with paper towel and a pile of breaded, deep-fried cauliflower. A bowl of dip in the background.

Adapted from Jo Pratt | The Flexible Family Cookbook | Frances Lincoln, 2020

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

A blue skillet with paper towel and a pile of breaded, deep-fried cauliflower. A bowl of dip in the background.
Dipping anything in breadcrumbs and frying until golden is always going to be a winner, and for anyone telling you they don’t like cauliflower, they may well change their minds if they try this.

Prep 20 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 40 mins
8 servings
195 kcal
4.34 / 3 votes
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  • 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.
  • Fill a wok or deep frying pan with about 2 inches (5 cm) of oil and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering and has reached 300°F, working in a few batches, carefully add the cauliflower florets. They should start to sizzle instantly when they hit the hot oil.
  • 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.
Print RecipeBuy the The Flexible Family Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.


*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.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingsCalories: 195kcal (10%)Carbohydrates: 31g (10%)Protein: 10g (20%)Fat: 3g (5%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mg (1%)Sodium: 439mg (19%)Potassium: 359mg (10%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 7g (8%)Vitamin A: 226IU (5%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 101mg (10%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

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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.

A small lotus shaped plate with 3 deep-fried, breaded cauliflower bites and a dollop of mayo dip, all sprinkled with sea salt.

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



  1. 4 stars
    Super crunchy and surprisingly light so I’m glad I used chickpea flour. One of the testers said that the batter could use more spice so I doubled it. They had quite a bit of flavour but we didn’t find it overpowering with the aioli.

    1. Definitely not blasphemy, Tina! Trying it in the air fryer is a great idea, however, we didn’t test it this way so we have no guidance to offer you. If you (or any of our readers) make them in the air fryer, we’d love to hear your experience.

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