This spicy-as-you-want-to-make-it cauliflower peanut stir-fry is a hearty vegan dinner recipe. Serve it with rice or quinoa or a complete meal!
Made with a spicy peanut sauce, fresh crunchy cauliflower, and bright red bell peppers, this easy vegan recipe is ready in less than 20 minutes from start to finish.
How to make cauliflower stir-fry
This stir-fry is a tasty way to enjoy cauliflower with crunchy peanuts and a creamy vegan sauce.
Saute the cauliflower
Prep the cauliflower by breaking it into florets of the same size. This is essential for the cauliflower to cook evenly.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the cauliflower until golden brown and fork-tender. This will take 5-7 minutes. But don’t turn it too often – just once or twice is all you need.
TIP: Add the cauliflower in batches. Crowding the pan will cause the cauliflower to steam, not brown. You want the caramelized flavor.
The red bell pepper adds a nice sweetness. It cooks quickly so add it only when the cauliflower is about ready.
Make the sauce.
Start with room temperature, all-natural peanut butter. Whisk in the spices, soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha or chili sauce, sugar, and sesame oil until combined and smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
TIP: Grate the ginger. I like to use my Microplane to create a ginger paste. Mincing will take forever and will leave you with chunks of ginger versus a well-spiced, smooth sauce.
Will almond butter work? It should. Natural almond butter tends to be a bit more grainy so you might need to puree it in a blender versus whisking to get it smooth. You can also do this with cashews.
NOTE: Cashew butter will be as creamy as peanut and work well here.
Sauce it up!
Add the sauce to the vegetables and stir until it’s all heated through. Be sure to reserve some of the sauce for dipping.
Once the peanut sauce is in the pan you’re on burn watch. Don’t walk away.
Once it’s hot, remove the pan from the heat. Add chopped, salted peanuts and garnishes.
Difference between sesame and toasted sesame oil
Sesame oil can be both virgin and refined. It’s a light-tasting oil that’s great for stir-fry dishes and sautés. The color is also light – think your typical vegetable oil tan color.
When people mention sesame oil, they are often talking about toasted sesame oil.
Toasted sesame oil has a very strong flavor and deep brown color. It has a distinct aroma – of warm, slow-roasted sesame seeds. It adds a toasted nutty flavor to recipes that regular sesame oil does not.
But a little toasted sesame oil goes a long way. For this recipe, I recommend no more than 1 tablespoon of toasted oil in the sauce and that may be pushing it honestly. So you can start with less of it based on your taste.
TIP: Store toasted sesame oil in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.
Is this recipe spicy?
Not really. But you can add more sriracha or chili sauce to the dish to spice it up. Make it as spicy as you want!
Is this recipe gluten-free?
To make this recipe gluten-free, opt for coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. Soy sauce usually contains gluten. If you can’t find coconut aminos (or it’s just too expensive), buy tamari. Tamari is a gluten-free free soy sauce that works great in this recipe.
Serve this cauliflower stir-fry with…
Brown rice, quinoa, or chickpea pasta noodles for a filling protein boost. All of these keep the recipe vegan and gluten-free. But you can certainly add any side item you like or even eat it solo.
Want more protein? Add cooked tofu, edamame, shrimp, or chicken to the stir-fry.
Try my Easy Vegan Weeknight Stir-Fry for another quick and healthy meal!
Spicy Peanut Cauliflower Stir Fry
- 1 large head cauliflower, in bite-sized florets
- 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon coconut or brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon sesame or other neutral-tasting oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon hot water (if needed)
- ½ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- Chopped green onion, cilantro, crushed peanuts (optional)
- Whisk the peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha, sugar, and 1 tablespoon each plain sesame and toasted sesame oil until combined. If the sauce is too thick, add hot water – 1 tablespoon at a time. (You can make the sauce while the cauliflower cooks.)
- Preheat a large, non-stick sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of plain sesame oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the cauliflower (in batches if needed). Cook 5 -7 minutes allowing the florets to brown slightly. Reduce heat to medium. Add red pepper slices. Cook just until tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add peanut sauce (reserving a ¼ cup for extra dipping). Stir until heated through and the vegetables are well coated.
- Remove pan from the heat. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and optional garnishes. Serve warm.
- Use natural peanut butter in this recipe – not one with sugar or hydrogenated oils added. Most natural peanut butter ingredient labels simply contain peanuts and salt and can be a little runny at room temperature.
- Cut or break the cauliflower florets into the same sized pieces to ensure even cooking. Also, make them bite-sized for ease of eating.
- Serve this recipe with noodles or rice and add some tofu or other protein for a more filling meal.