Gluten-Free and Very Crunchy: Cauliflower Crumbs Are Like Plant-Powered Panko

With these, next-day leftovers re-crisp like a dream

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Love Letter: Cauli Crunch Breadcrumbs

The Spruce Eats / Ariane Resnick

This post is part of our 'This Is Fire' series, where our editors and writers tell you about the products they can't live without in the kitchen.

Years ago, I was a happy member of the “cauliflower can be turned into everything” club, but those days are long past. I was using cauliflower rice to make pizza crusts back when you had to actually grind the vegetable yourself in a processor, because riced cauliflower wasn’t yet a product in stores. So, by the time cauliflower-everything hit the mainstream, I had moved on to newer pastures. Imagine my surprise, then, when I tried a cauliflower product that is fabulous enough to have made me a cauliflower devotee again.

This product helps me bridge the gap for others between indulgent foods and healthy ones.

Cauli Crunch Premium Cauliflower Crumbs, 7 Spice

Cauli Crunch Cauliflower Breading, 7 Spice

Thrive Market

Cauli Crunch is a shelf-stable product that’s a healthy version of bread crumbs, and as you may expect, cauliflower is the hero ingredient. The main thing I love about this is that the cauliflower crumbs perform very similarly to actual bread crumbs without a plethora of added starches. The only grain included is rice, which is there as flour, not a starch extract–and beyond that, the ingredients list includes just dried cauliflower and seasonings.

These crumbs are my go-to in private chef work, and they’ve enabled me to create numerous dishes that are lighter, crunchier, and more similar to the standard versions than other gluten- or grain-free bread crumbs could craft. Almond flour was my previous go-to, and I’d been frustrated with its low browning point, quick migration to sogginess once cooled, and the heaviness it added to meals for ages before discovering Cauli Crunch.

Cauli Crunch Original cauliflower crumbs.

The Spruce Eats / Ariane Resnick

I use this product for lunch items, including breaded chicken bites, appetizers, such as crab cakes, and entrees, including meatballs and eggplant parmesan. They can’t absorb the same amount of water or oil as bread crumbs can, but they do absorb plenty, and the resulting textures are exactly what you’d hope for: They add fluffiness to crab cakes and a satisfying crunch to breaded chicken. Because I make food for a client to be reheated later, it’s vital that the texture achieved when a dish is fresh out of the oven can be duplicated with reheating, and I’ve been floored by how well Cauli Crunch can re-crisp once hot again.

My favorite application for Cauli Crunch is to toss them, Herbamare, and a dash of oil with a package of chicken tenders.

These crumbs are available in an original flavor, which is similar to regular bread crumbs with just salt for seasoning, Taste of Italy, which has assorted Italian herbs added, and 7 Spice, which has a peppery Asian flair and uses nori to impart umami. They also have a new non-dairy cheese flavor coming soon, which I haven’t tried yet. 

Cauli Crunch 7 Spice cauliflower crumbs

The Spruce Eats / Ariane Resnick

My favorite application for Cauli Crunch is to toss them, Herbamare, and a dash of oil with a package of chicken tenders. I lay the breaded tenders on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake them conveniently in the toaster oven for a quick and healthy grab-and-go lunch dish. This takes about two minutes of prep work, 15 minutes of hands-off cooking time, and a mere moment of cleanup by way of throwing the parchment into the trash and the cookie sheet in the dishwasher. 

This product is handy for adding breaded foods back into the diet of people who can’t eat bread crumbs due to dietary restrictions or other reasons, and it broadens the scope of dishes I can craft without the tons of recipe development needed for working with an array of special diet ingredients. I love that I can make those foods with a delicious product that isn’t full of questionable ingredients, as that’s a huge bonus, and this product helps me bridge the gap for others between indulgent foods and healthy ones.

Cauli Crunch cauliflower crumbs

The Spruce Eats / Ariane Resnick

Ingredients: Dried cauliflower, rice crumbs (rice flour, raisin juice, and sea salt), cayenne pepper, black pepper, sesame seed, dried orange peel, nori (Japanese seaweed), and garlic | Capacity: 6-ounce bag | Labels: Vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, all-natural, kosher | Other Varieties: Original and Taste of Italy

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Ariane Resnick is a special diet private chef, certified nutritionist, and lifestyle writer who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable—if not quite preferable—to eat your veggies and meats with deliciously char grill marks on them. Having used the built-in grills of private clientele throughout the U.S. in many summers past, she’s cooked countless meals on the best equipment available.