Crispy Tahini Cauliflower Bites

Crispy Cauliflower Pinterest Post

Crispy Cauliflower Bites

Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside – that’s what Chef Kenzie likes to call a perfect piece of cauliflower… So, how can you get that beautiful brown and crispy exterior on your favorite foods? Well – that may just take a bit of science…

In this post, we’ll talk a bit about the Maillard Reaction (a chemical reaction between proteins and sugars at high temperatures that causes browning). Then, we’ll explore how to prepare your favorite foods to be golden brown and crispy for a stunning appetizer platter!

And, of course, we’ll give you options for turning this into a fantastic meal. This takes snacks and  Sheet Pan Cooking to a whole new level with very little extra prep.

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The Key to Crispy Cauliflower

In the culinary world, there are two ways to achieve browning: caramelization and the Maillard Reaction. In its simplest terms, caramelization occurs from the browning of sugars at high temperatures. In contrast, the Millard Reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids (proteins) and sugars at high temperatures. Both caramelization and the Maillard Reaction will lead to the browning of your food.

In the AH way of eating, raw sugars are reduced significantly – but, there are still natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and other products that can be used to facilitate browning. For example, adding a bit of homemade extra thick applesauce to the outside of your chicken or tofu will enhance the effect of the Maillard Reaction. The sugars from the applesauce will interact with the amino acids (proteins) in the chicken or tofu, creating a brown color. Furthermore, cooking at high temperatures will cause quicker release of water, making for a crispier texture.

The Secret Behind Chef Kenzie’s Crispy Cauliflower Recipe…

To make this crispy cauliflower, Chef Kenzie coats the cauliflower in a carrot-tahini sauce. The carrots provide sugars while the tahini provides a bit of protein (just enough to get the effects of the Maillard Reaction). Cooking the cauliflower at high temperatures on convection setting (or an air fryer) also facilitates water evaporation creating a crispy exterior!

The technique of combining sugars with proteins to facilitate browning can be applied to many different recipes. Marinating chicken or vegetarian proteins in a vegetable- or fruit-based marinade can help increase the sugars and create a Maillard Reaction. For example, try using a carrot-, apple-, pear-, pineapple-, or parsnip-based marinade for your protein. These slow carbohydrate ingredients will add just enough sugar to kickstart the Maillard Reaction and get that beautiful brown exterior!

How do you use the Maillard Reaction in your cooking? Share your thoughts below or snap a picture and post in our Facebook Group. We always love to see what you can come up with!

Looking for More Cooking Tips and Vegetarian Recipes?

Check out our downloadable meal planning classes. Each class comes with an eBook including a Specialized One-Week Meal Plan and Prep Sheet, or Specialized Recipes, as well as Additional Resources prepared by Chef Dawn Ludwig and Chef Kenzie Osborne. Each class also has the option to add-on downloadable presentation slides for more recipes and extra resources.

Crispy Cauliflower Instagram Post

Crispy Tahini Cauliflower

Chef Kenzie Osborne
Chef Kenzie's 10-minute prep crispy tahini cauliflower is the perfect appetizer or side dish to serve for your next family feast!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, whole bulb
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce (Always Delicious pg.
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 4 cups florets)


  • Preheat oven to 450F (recommended to use convection setting, if possible)
  • On a sheet pan, mix together chopped carrots, chopped onion, whole garlic bulb, oil, cumin, curry powder, and salt. Spread in a single layer and roast for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  • Peel the garlic skins from each of the cloves. Discard the skins. Transfer roasted vegetables to a bowl along with the roasted garlic, tahini, worchestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar. Blend until smooth. OPTIONAL: For a thinner consistency, mix with milk, coconut milk, or chicken/vegetable stock.
  • Reserve some of the sauce for dipping the cauliflower. Toss the remaining sauce with cauliflower. Spread on the same sheet pan and roast for 15-20 minutes, until cauliflower is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
  • Serve with reserved sauce for dipping. Enjoy!



Nutrition (Per Serving - about one cup cauliflower with dip)

Fat: 23g
Carbohydrates: 19g
Protein: 9g
Calories: 300

Phase 1 Meal Suggestion

Add 16 ounces chicken thighs (boneless, skinless) and 2 cups white beans (canned, drained, rinsed) to the sheet pan. Mix with the sauce and raw cauliflower. Roast the cauliflower and chicken until the chicken is fully cooked through (about 20 minutes). Add non-starchy vegetables, if desired. Top with 1/4 avocado, sliced or diced.
Fat: 47%
Carbohydrates: 28%
Protein: 25%
Calories: 620
Keyword Dairy-Free, Dips and Sauces, Quick and Easy
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