Meat Free Monday: Baked Parmesan Cauliflower Popcorn

This Cauliflower Popcorn is a healthy snacking alternative that is high in fiber and a good antioxidant, and the best part of it, it’s 100% bake not fried. It’s been coated with light and crunchy panko bread crumbs and seasoned with different kind of spices.

Cauliflower Popcorn

What is great about this Cauliflower Popcorn?

  • Baked NOT Fried
  • Healthy
  • Budget friendly
  • Simple and easy
  • Taste really great for a vegetable in disguise
Oven Baked Parmesan Cauliflower Popcorn By SweetNSpicyLiving

One of my friend asked me a question when I served this, the question was “Is there any meat in this?” I was asked how I made it so flavourful and for some reason, it felt like eating a chicken popcorn. I took it as a compliment. If I can make someone not only eat a vegetable that they don’t like, but actually love it, that says something about the food, it tastes that good. Even I was surprised when I ate it, not that I’m lifting my own chair here but this Cauliflower Popcorn really taste amazing. The breading was not soggy at all, it held the Cauliflower so well it looks like chicken nuggets, at the same time it was moist and not dry.

Oven Baked Popcorn Cauliflower

Heat Warning – I like it HOT and Spicy

I have to give you a heads up though, this could get quite spicy for people who are not used to spicy food. But that’s not a problem at all, simply reduce the peppers measurement in half or replace it with spices and herbs that you like. I just love spicy food so much that I cannot make anything savory without any heat.

Baked Panko Crusted Cauliflower Bites

Bread it Right

The breading of this Cauliflower Popcorn is the key to making it delicious. So do it right and use the right bread crumbs, that is Panko Bread Crumbs not regular bread crumbs. So you ask what’s the difference?

What is the difference between regular bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs?

  • Panko Bread Crumbs (or Japanese Bread Crumbs) is made from a bread without a crust, basically a crustless bread (without the brown edges). The bread is coarsely ground into airy, large flakes that give fried foods a light, crunchy coating.  It doesn’t absorb as much grease so the texture tends to be crispier and drier and the color is whiter.  It’s commonly used in Asian countries but now it’s gaining popularity even in Western dishes.
  • Regular Bread Crumbs – Having said all these, regular bread crumbs is just the opposite. It uses a bread with crust thus making it darker in color. It has a fine coarse texture, but not as flaky and light as panko bread crumbs. It also absorbs grease a lot more than panko so it tends to be heavy and sometimes wet.
Popcorn Cauliflower

Homemade garlic dipping sauce 

This will not be complete without this homemade Garlic dip. Although you can certainly use any store-bought dip, I highly recommend you make this simple dip. This dip and the Cauliflower Popcorn really worked well together, like a match made in heaven. It has a nice subtle garlic flavor, nice kick of heat, and a balance of sweet and salty taste.

Cauliflower Nuggets

Make it Right: Few tips to remember

  • Use the right bread crumbs and that is Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Do not forget to mix olive oil into the bread crumbs mixture. This step makes the bread crumbs mixture clump together thus giving a nice thick coating.
  • Be generous in the breading. Coat, coat, coat until every piece is fully coated. If you  need to add more bread crumbs, do so but make sure to increase the spices too.
  • Dip the Cauliflower in the egg mixture few pieces at a time. Do not over crowd the bowl and shake to allow the egg to drip before rolling in the bread crumbs mixture. This controls the bread crumb mixture from getting too wet.
  • Do not over crowd the cookie sheet/tray. Over crowding creates steam and steam produces a soggy Cauliflower Popcorn
  • Season well. It’s totally fine if you don’t want it spicy, but you have to make up for it by adding extra spices. The flavor is what will carry this Cauliflower Popcorn.

6 simple tips to guarantee success in making Cauliflower Popcorn. You are now ready. Let’s get started!

Small Batch Panko Custed Parmesan Cauliflowe Popcorn


  • 3 cups Cauliflower Florets (approximately 430g) – cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes 
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tsp cumin 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 tsp Parsley
  • 2 Eggs  

Honey Garlic Dip

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp mustard 
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice 


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F
  2. Prepare the Cauliflower: Cut the Cauliflower Florets into bite size pieces and transfer in a big bowl. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and toss to combine.
  3. Mix the Spices: In a small bowl, mix panko bread crumbs, salt, cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and use your fingers to mix. The breading will be slightly wet and it will clump together easily.
  4. Dip in Egg: Dip the Cauliflower in beaten egg few pieces at a time, do not over crowd the bowl. Use a thong instead of using your hands so that you can use your hands when you coat the Cauliflower with bread crumbs. Shake to allow excess egg to drip before dipping in the bread crumbs mixture. Make sure to coat as much as you can.
  5. Coat the Cauliflower with Panko Bread Crumbs:  Transfer the egg coated Cauliflower into the panko bread crumbs mixture. Toss to coat. Use a spoon or your fingers to move the Cauliflower and to coat it.
  6. Bake: Arrange the Cauliflower in a baking tray, Do NOT over crowd the pan to avoid creating a steam. Pickup the leftover bread crumb and sprinkle them on top of the Cauliflower. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle more cayenne pepper (or paprika), Parmesan cheese and parsley on top. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the bread crumbs becomes toasted and browned (but not burnt). Remove from the pan and serve while hot. This is best served while hot and the breading is still toasty but can also be reheated to restore crispiness. But do not expect the same texture as when it was freshly baked.
  7. Re-heating: Re-heat in a 300F pre-heated oven until the coating becomes crunchy again.
  8. Make the Garlic Dip: In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, honey, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and lemon juice until smooth. Taste and adjust as desired.

Serves 2

Nutrition Information

Nutritional Information was calculated using Veryfitwell Recipe Calorie and Nutrition Calculator. For details about Nutrition Information in this website, please read the Disclaimer page.

The Nutritional Information was calculated with the dipping sauce

Featured Post: Moutable

Today I am featuring my Moutable, or Mediterranean Egg Plant Dip. I’ve made this years ago and I thought It’s time to update it with some new photo and additional information and tips. This dip is easy to make, skip the mayonnaise and make this one instead. This was made from roasted eggplant, tahini paste, olive oil and some herbs and spices. Simple and yet delicious, and kind of “healthy-ish”. Give it a try.

babaganoush a mediterranean dip

Enjoy! If you make this, share and tag me in Instagram #SweetNSpicyLiving. I would like to see your creations too.

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