Vegan crispy duck? Oh yes! Seasoned roasted cauliflower makes an easy and delicious meat substitution. I've then added easy homemade pancakes and plum sauce. This is a delicious vegan homemade version of the classic Chinese takeout dish.
Vegan Crispy 'Duck'
Here's a vegan version of Chinese crispy duck - with five-spice seasoned, slow-roasted cauliflower instead of meat!
Shredding the cauliflower and then re-roasting it makes it soft yet crispy - perfect for topping homemade Chinese pancakes.
While the marinated cauliflower is roasting in the oven, it's easy to make a tangy, spiced plum sauce. Just cook it all until soft and puree with a hand blender and you have a delicious sauce miles better than store-bought.
Homemade Chinese Pancakes
It's also very quick and easy to make the pancakes.
They're simply flour and boiling water mixed into a dough, rolled and pan-fried for 30 seconds on each side.
The warm pancakes are amazing topped with the plum sauce and vegan crispy duck (cauliflower) and some fresh spring onion and cucumber matchsticks.
Homemade takeout bliss.
If you love vegan Chinese dishes, be sure to also try my pan-fried Asian Tofu with Sticky Garlic Sauce.
This post was originally published Sept 2017. Updated Jan 2020 with new photos and information. The recipe remains the same.
For this vegan Chinese recipe, you just need these simple ingredients.
For the cauliflower crispy 'duck':
Chinese 5-spice (an aromatic blend of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns and fennel)
For the homemade Chinese pancakes:
You can buy your own in many supermarkets or Chinese supermarkets, but they're actually really easy to make!
Oil (olive, canola, sunflower etc..)
For the plum sauce:
Tips and Tricks
- If you don't have fresh cauliflower, frozen works well too.
- You can buy store-bought plum sauce, or use the recipe below to make your own in minutes.
- Chinese pancakes can be bought in many large grocery stores or Chinese supermarkets, but you can easily make your own - just scroll down for the recipe in the recipe card.
- Try it served with Stir-Fried Garlic Spinach
Vegan Dinner Recipes
Although my husband and kids aren't veggie, we tend to eat a lot of vegan meals at home.
Getting as many vegetables into a meal as I can is important to me, and I really enjoy creating veg-filled veganized dishes that the whole family love.
My husband has often had crispy duck from the local Chinese takeout, but he said that he preferred my cauliflower version as it tastes very similar but wasn't fatty or greasy.
In fact, he put this recipe into our regular meal plan rotation.
Check out these other tasty vegan dinner recipes:
Jackfruit Bao Buns
Vegan Shepherds Pie
Jerk Tofu Skewers
Vegan Peanut Stew
Why you'll love this Vegan Crispy Duck recipe
- Full of bold Chinese flavours
- Healthier than a takeout
- The cauliflower gets a lovely crispy pulled texture
- Perfect for Chinese New Year or any night!
- Homemade Chinese pancakes are really easy to make with just two ingredients!
- Use store-bought plum sauce or make your own in minutes.
- Double-roasted pulled cauliflower gets wonderfully crispy on all the exposed edges.
- Chinese five-spice adds loads of great flavour to the cauliflower.
Cauliflower crispy 'duck'
By using cauliflower, you still have the texture that you'd expect from crispy duck, but without all the grease or it being, well, meat.
Shredding the soft roasted cauliflower and then re-roasting it means it gets extra crispy on all those exposed edges. Delicious!
The stalk works great for shredding, so be sure to use it as well.
I marinaded the cauliflower in typical crispy duck seasonings of maple syrup (traditionally honey is used by it isn't vegan) and Chinese five-spice.
Five-spice is an aromatic blend of star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, cinnamon and cloves. It brings together all five flavours – sweet, sour, bitter, umami and salty.
You can easily find it premixed in the spice aisle. I adore the way it's at once sweet and savoury. In fact, I used it in a carrot cake! Try my Carrot Chinese Five Spice Cake with Orange Icing.
You'll also love my Asian Tofu with spicy garlic sauce.
Get the recipe for Vegan Cauliflower Crispy 'Duck'
If you make this recipe, please tag it with #veggiedesserts on Instagram or other social media. I LOVE seeing your recreations of my recipes!
Vegan Crispy Duck (Cauliflower) and Pancakes
For the vegan cauliflower crispy 'duck'
- 1 head of cauliflower (or 550g/19oz frozen florets, defrosted slightly)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (olive, sunflower, canola)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
For the pancakes
- 2 cups (200g) plain flour
- 1 cup (230ml) boiling water
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil
For the plum sauce
- 6 ripe plums
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon ginger grated
- 1 star anise
- ½ cucumber cut into long thin strips
- 3 spring onions cut into long thin strips
- Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
- Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. In a large bowl, mix the maple syrup, oil, soy sauce and five-spice. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat thoroughly. Allow to marinade for 15 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower to a large baking tray and roast for 35 minutes or until soft but crispy on the outside.
- Shred the cauliflower with two forks, then return to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the plum sauce.
- Halve and stone the plums (don't peel them), then chop into large pieces and add them, along with all the other plum sauce ingredients to a pan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the plums are cooked and soft.
- Remove the star anise, then puree with a hand-held stick blender or with a potato masher.
For the pancakes
- In a bowl, mix the flour, boiling water and oil with a spatula to form a dough.
- When it’s cool enough to handle, knead by hands for a few minutes until it’s smooth and elastic, then roll the dough into eight equal-sized balls. Roll each piece out very thinly (you may need to lightly flour the work surface).
- Heat a dry frying pan and cook each pancake for half a minute on each side, so they’re lightly cooked but aren’t browned. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Serve the pancakes topped with plum sauce, cauliflower crispy ‘duck’, cucumber and spring onions.
- If you don't have fresh cauliflower, frozen works well too.
- You can buy store-bought plum sauce, or use the recipe above to make your own in minutes.
- Chinese pancakes can be bought in many large grocery stores or Chinese supermarkets, but you can easily make your own - just scroll up for the recipe in the recipe card.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.
Vegan duck was great to surprise family and friends with! 🙂 Seriously, a wonderful way to make cauliflower!
Delicious and simple.
I didn't have any plums, so used prunes instead, and added a little water to the sauce to loosen it slightly.
What a fabulous combination of flavors! Thank you so much for sharing this healthy meal with us!
I can't wait to make this tonight. Looks so good!
Fantastic recipe and an inspiring menu. I made it tonight, including the pancakes. We had a little starter with edamame beforehand. Definitely a keeper!
Love getting creative with ingredients! You came up with such a great, vegan meal -- this dish is so tasty!
I never would have thought to use cauliflower this way. It was delicious.
It was absolutely delicious! Can't wait to have it again!
I'm so pleased you enjoyed it Sam. We've made it quite a few times now and really love it 🙂
Wow Kate! This looks amazing. I just bought some Chinese pancakes and was having a Google when up you popped! Definitely having a go ????
That was incredible! We made these tonight and lvoed them. Will make again!
Can't wait to try this!
I've included you in a little round up on my blog 🙂
I'll have to give this a try next time my niece comes for tea! She's vegan and I never know what to cook for her 🙂
Absolutely love the idea of this recipe. I love cauliflower but I never know what to do with it, so I usually just fry it.. A great idea to roast it, shred it and reroast it again. Sounds crispy and delicious!
I love cauliflower and this recipe is a must try. Looks deliciously flavorful!
Nico @ yumsome
This looks smashing, Kate - definitely one to try! Have pinned, tweeted, and shared to my FB page - people need to know about this! 😉 xx
Thank you so much!!! Very kind of you 🙂
Crispy duck is my absolute favourite but what a great alternative to use cauliflower x
What a fabulous idea to have it without meat. Bet is tastes delicious too
Wow Kate! I LOVE cauliflower!!! I will definitely try this!
Sam | Ahead of Thyme
I can't believe that I have never tried duck! This looks delicious and I love that you use frozen cauliflower instead of duck!!
Debi at Life Currents
What a creative recipe. I love cauliflower. I've never tried duck, so I'm sure this recipe tastes way better than duck. hee hee
Oh I need to try these! I like the flavourings of crispy duck pancakes but not the actual duck so these are perfect for me
Bintu - Recipes From A Pantry
What an ingenious idea, using cauliflower and it looks super tasty too.
This is a really clever idea and definitely not something I would have ever given thought too x
I've been eating a lot of cauliflower lately (veg box) but never thought of making something as creative as this! I'll have to try this recipe soon!
Im a vegetarian most of the time and I would like to try this 'Duck" Thanks for sharing !
Love crispy cauliflower and that plum sauce sounds amazing!
I am not vegan but I don't eat duck so this is just perfect for me. Great recipe.
I think this would be a lovely substitute for vegans. I do enjoy duck but I’ve only had it once.
Rebecca | Let's Eat Cake
I love this so much! I'm not vegan, but I love crispy duck and to be honest, am a little intimidated about making it! This recipe will not only help me get more veggies in my diet, but also looks like it captures those flavors in an easier equally-yummy recipe!
Cynthia | What A Girl Eats
Wow! Brilliant! At first glance, I thought it WAS duck!
This is such a colorful meal! It sounds absolutely incredible. Looking forward to trying this one, thanks!
Oooh, these pancakes look like something I would enjoy very much! Can't wait to try them!
Oh my goodness!! I have to try this..like now! It looks and sounds incredible! <3 Cauliflower is such a delicious and versatile veggie! xxx
I love a good crispy duck. Between the beautiful flavor and that plum sauce. It's just so delicious. I have never used cauliflower as a meat substitute. But I have seen it being used. I will have to try it out sometime.
Oh my goodness!! I am all over this! I love crispy duck so much and now I'm so happy to know there's a vegan alternative. I've pinned this to try later. Thank you!
I hope you enjoy it!
I'd have never thought of using cauliflower as a substitute for crispy duck but it looks really good x
It sounds crazy, but it really works!
What a tasty option and alternative to shredded duck! Personally shredded duck pancakes are my all time favourite food and I always orde them when I'm out with my Family but I love the idea of trying it with a vegetable instead.
This is just SO clever! I actually had to do a double take. Love the idea of shredding cauliflower and recooking for extra crispy bits. Five Spice is such a fab seasoning. I had the most amazing pinwheel biscuits made using it in Singapore.
Shredding the cauliflower and re-roasting it really makes it crispy yet soft - so good!
Oops, rated my own recipe and can't undo it!
This is a genius dish Kate, I can't wait to try it!
Wow this is exciting! Duck but without duck! We eat only meat 1 per week and coming from
thailand and love asian flavors I will impress my husband with this dish! If I tell him
what we are getting I would be fun to see his face seeing what we are actually going to eat!
My husband eat meat, but he keeps asking me to make this again!