This healthy easy Cauliflower Stir Fry with bell peppers is flavor packed, smothered in a sticky maple soy sauce, and ready in 20 minutes! Delicious and naturally low carb, vegetarian and vegan, plus gluten free.

Love cauliflower stir fries? You might also love teriyaki chicken and cauliflower!

Cauliflower and bell peppers in stir fry skillet garnished with green onions and sesame seeds.

Cauliflower has become one of my versatile go to ingredients for making low carb alternatives like cauliflower mashed potatoes and cauliflower pizza crust. It’s an impressive vegetable for delicious and nutritious sides like air fryer buffalo cauliflower wings and this sesame cauliflower stir fry.

Cauliflower stir fry is packed with flavor but far lighter than Chinese takeout versions, which are usually battered and deep fried. It combines florets with bell peppers and stir fries them until tender before mixing in a flavorful sauce with soy sauce and maple syrup.

Other lighter vegetable stir fry recipes we enjoy include healthy buckwheat stir fry with vegetables, cabbage stir fry and broccoli mushroom stir fry!

Ingredients in This Cauliflower Stir Fry

Ready in only 20 minutes this stir fried cauliflower is a great low effort, midweek meal! Plus with only 8 ingredients, you have less mess to clean up.

  • Cauliflower: You can use a fresh head of cauliflower or frozen (thawed first) florets, though I prefer fresh for the best texture and results. Save your cauliflower rice for any of these cauliflower rice recipes.

How to cut cauliflower for stir fry? It’s best to use even, bite sized florets for this sticky sesame cauliflower stir fry recipe to ensure they cook in time and evenly. You can read how to cut cauliflower here for all the top tips. 

  • Bell peppers: Use any colored pepper you like. I used red and yellow bell peppers this time.
  • Sesame oil: This helps infuse a ton of flavor into the Asian cauliflower dish.
  • The garnish: I use a combination of sesame seeds (raw or lightly toasted) and green onions (scallions), finely chopped. Chives would also work.
  • Stir fry sauce: Soy sauce, maple syrup, water, and cornstarch.

Nutritional note: Cauliflower and bell pepper recipe is nutrient dense loaded with fiber, vitamin C, K, E and B6, plus antioxidants. It’s a great option for anyone following a low carb, gluten free, vegetarian, or vegan diet!

Cauliflower bell peppers green onion soy sauce ingredients.

Stir Fry Sauce Notes

This cauliflower stir fry has a simple sauce that brings in alot of flavor with it’s sweet and salty taste! You could also use the sauce options from my chicken broccoli stir fry, beef stir fry, salmon stir fry, or shrimp and vegetable stir fry recipes.

Soy sauce: Use tamari/coconut aminos instead for a gluten free option. Dark soy is best for a deeper, umami rich, salty flavor over low sodium soy sauce, but use what you’d prefer for cauliflower stir fry.
Maple syrup: I prefer the flavor with maple. However, you could use another liquid sweetener in its place if preferred (brown rice syrup, agave, or even a sugar free liquid sweetener).
Water: To make more of a sauce. Alternatively, you could use a low sodium vegetable broth.
Cornstarch: This will help thicken this simple sauce, so it clings to the broccoli and peppers. Other starches would also work like arrowroot powder.
Optional add-in’s: Take this sticky sesame cauliflower sauce up a notch by adding 1-2 tsp fresh garlic, 1/2 – 1 tsp fresh or dried ginger, a splash of rice vinegar, a touch of miso paste for umami flavor, red pepper flakes or sriracha for heat, or onion powder for additional savory taste.

How to Make Cauliflower Stir Fry

This cauliflower stir fry comes together quickly, here are the easy directions plus some tips to make sure it comes out perfectly!

  • Chop the ingredients: First, wash and cut the cauliflower into bite sized florets, roughly dice the bell peppers into 1-inch pieces, and slice the green onion (scallions). Similar bite sized florets will cook evenly and provide the best results.
  • Stir fry the vegetables: Preheat a large skillet over medium-low heat and coat with sesame seed oil. Once hot, add the chopped vegetables, cover with a lid, and cook for 8 minutes (or until tender-crisp), stirring every few minutes. Don’t overcrowd the pan for best results. For crispier cauliflower on the stovetop stir fry without a lid.
  • Add the sauce: Meanwhile, whisk all the sticky sauce ingredients in a small bowl, continue to whisk up to the time you add to the skillet to avoid lumps. Pour your stir fry sauce into the skillet and stir well. Continue to cook for several minutes until the sauce has thickened, then sprinkle over the chopped green onions and sesame seeds and enjoy!


Can I make this soy free?

Coconut aminos/ liquid aminos are the best substitutes for a soy based soy sauce.

How can I make this oil free?

Add 1-2 teaspoons of lightly toasted sesame seeds to the sauce, note that the sauce will not be as flavorful when skipping sesame oil.

How do I thicken my sauce?

The starch works to thicken the sauce. For it to work, bring the sauce up to a boil, then allow it to simmer for a further few minutes (usually 2-3) until thickened.

How do I make this completely gluten free?

Ensure you use tamari/coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.

Can I make this on the stovetop or air fryer?

Yes. Follow my oven method for roasted cauliflower with parmesan cheese or air fryer cauliflower. Meanwhile, combine all the sauce ingredients (including the sesame oil) in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook, constantly stirring, until thickened. Once the cauliflower is roasted/air fried, pour the sticky sweet sauce over the florets, toss well, and garnish with the sesame seeds and green onion.

Protein Main Dish Options

Cauliflower stir fry is an excellent plant based main dish option! I include it often as part of my menu rotation for healthy dinners. Consider adding a lean protein to keep it filling!

Serve as a Side Dish Option

This simple cauliflower stir fry is a great all purpose vegan cauliflower healthy side dish for tons of mains/meals. Just a few of which include:

More Healthy Cauliflower Side Dishes

Cauliflower stir fry with bell peppers garnished with sesame seeds, green onion in skillet.
sesame cauliflower in a sticky sauce bell peppers in cast iron skillet with white linen

Easy Cauliflower Stir Fry with Bell Peppers

This healthy easy Cauliflower Stir Fry with bell peppers is flavor packed, smothered in a sticky maple soy sauce, and ready in 20 minutes! Delicious and naturally low carb, vegetarian and vegan, plus gluten free.
5 from 7 votes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 142
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes


  • 2 lbs cauliflower small-medium head, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large bell peppers coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp sesame seed oil
  • 3 tbsp green onions chopped
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds



  • Preheat large skillet on low-medium heat and coat with sesame seed oil. Add cauliflower and bell peppers, cover with a lid and cook for 8 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, water, maple syrup, cornstarch and pour into skillet. Stir to coat veggies and cook a few more minutes until sauce has thickened.
  • Stir again, sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve hot with meat of choice, or over pasta, quinoa or brown rice.

Reheat: In microwave or stovetop until heated through.

    Freeze: Do not freeze.


      • Store: Refrigerate in a glass airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in microwave or stovetop until heated through.
      • Freeze: Do not freeze.
      • Chop the cauliflower evenly: Similar bite sized florets will cook evenly and provide the best results.
      • For crispier cauliflower on the stovetop: You could stir fry the veg without a lid, though the process will take longer.
      • Whisk the sauce often: To avoid lumps.
      See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.


      Serving: 1cup | Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 339mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g
      Course: Side Dish
      Cuisine: Chinese
      Author: Olena Osipov
      Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!


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      About Olena

      Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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      1. 5 stars
        I mistakenly used 2 tbsp maple syrup instead of 1 syrup and 1 water. It was still delicious. Only other thing I did was I cooked the cauliflower to tender crisp in the microwave as it was not cooking well enough in frying pan.

      2. 5 stars
        Tried this for dinner tonight and absolutely loved it, we all did! I will definitely be making this again. I chose to add in chicken for a little more filling fish and it was perfect. Thanks for a great recipe!

      3. 5 stars
        Tried this recipe for the first time tonight and loved it and used a soy-free soy sauce, as I am intolerant to soy. I added carrots to it and it turned out wonderfully. Yes, it was not over-the-top flavourful, but I actually don’t like it when the sauce overpowers the taste of the main ingredients. So I will definitely be making this again! Thank you Olena for sharing this wonderful recipe. 🙂

      4. 5 stars
        I’m currently on a Very restrictive diet that allows me to eat few vegetables, including cauliflower and bell peppers. I can also have soy sauce and a toso of Olive oil per day, so I was excited to finde and try this recipe. It turned out great (even without the sesame seeds). Thanks for making my diet a little easier today!

        1. You could have always added more salt or soy sauce if you were finding it bland, or added some feta cheese. Cauliflower lacks in flavour to begin with so you need to offset its blandness with more robust flavours. I’m not sure if that helps, but perhaps you’d like to give it a go and see how it goes.

      5. Daang girl, this looks amazing! So creative too. I’ve never thought of doing cauliflower stir fry… until now!

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