If you love popcorn shrimp, you’ll love this salt and vinegar popcorn cauliflower. Just as addictive but a lot healthier. 

If you love popcorn shrimp, you'll love this salt and vinegar popcorn cauliflower. Just as addictive but a lot healthier.
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For six summers I waitressed at a local restaurant right on the lake in town.

It was basically a party (that I got paid for attending) every day because almost the entire staff were friends from high school.

During double shifts other friends would come by and we’d go for a quick jet-ski ride around the lake to break up the 12 hours on our feet (sometimes falling in while wearing our required black shorts and collared purple button up sleeveless shirt uniform and end up waiting the early dinner tables while lake water dripped down our legs – classy).

This summer we ended up buying lake property four lots down from this same restaurant (although it’s changed owners and names countless times since I worked there) and every day as I sit on the boat or paddle-board past the restaurant, I think of all those good memories.

One of which was the popcorn shrimp on the appetizer menu that I practically lived on all summer long back then.

Teenage metabolism was a wonderful thing, I only wish I had realized it as much at the time.

Deep fried little balls of shrimp that eerily came out of the fryer looking like popcorn served with a side of cajun remoulade was my bff every day those summers.

Salt and Vinegar Popcorn Cauliflower using Nakano Original rice vinegar.

When we were actually allowed to order what we wanted to eat at the end of the shift (slow nights only) that was my dinner of choice.

On the weekends though, when the place was packed and I knew there was no hope of anything but “burger family meal” at the end of the shift, I’ll admit, if you ordered popcorn shrimp and sat in any of the tables at my section, chances are I picked a piece or two off that plate in the kitchen before bringing it out to you.


Salt and Vinegar Popcorn Cauliflower is just as addictive and delicious as the famous popcorn shrimp but with a healthier spin!

Spending so much time at the lake this summer and thinking about that nostalgic appetizer made me start wondering how I could recreate it.

In a healthier way of course, without eating a week’s worth of fat calories on one plate. 

Cauliflower immediately came to mind and that’s how this amazingly addictive yet healthy appetizer of popcorn cauliflower was born.

Soaking the cauliflower florets in rice vinegar before coating them in flour (all paleo/gluten free!) and baking until crispy, lends the perfect tangy bite to each little piece reminiscent of salt and vinegar chips.

It’s like a 2-for-1 deal in a much healthier package that won’t make you feel the slightest bit guilty when you finish the entire plate.

Not that I’d know about that or anything.

Not a big fan of the salt and vinegar thing? Try this breaded cauliflower instead. It’s low-carb and just as crunchy and addicting!

More fun bites like this popcorn cauliflower: Buffalo Chicken Broccoli Cheddar BitesCranberry Cheddar Sausage Bites and Spicy Hummus Stuffed Roasted Potato Bites.

Salt and Vinegar Popcorn Cauliflower is a healthier way to get your appetizer on!

Love this salt and vinegar popcorn cauliflower recipe?

Try Cheddar Cauliflower BurgersBuffalo Cauliflower Steaks with Blue Cheese Coleslaw and Cauliflower bacon gratin.

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Salt and Vinegar Popcorn Cauliflower

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
If you love popcorn shrimp, you’ll love this salt and vinegar popcorn cauliflower. Just as addictive but a lot healthier.



  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place cauliflower florets in a large bowl. Pour the vinegar over the cauliflower and toss to combine. Set aside and let marinate for 15-20 minutes.
  • Combine flours, salt and pepper in a large storage container or ziplock bag.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove cauliflower, draining excess vinegar and place in the container with the flour mixture. Cover or close container/bag and shake until all the florets are coated with the mixture.
  • Spread cauliflower out onto baking sheet in an even layer.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, flip gently using a large spatula and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and serve warm.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 313kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 12gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 13gSodium: 106mgFiber: 9gSugar: 6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: American
Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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  1. Made this recipe tonight and it turned out AMAZING!! I couldn’t stop eating them they were sooooo good. I only used almond flour as I didn’t have the other two and they turned out fine. Definitely loved the crispness of the small florets but the tang of the vinegar was perfect.

    1. You could probably omit the coconut flour if you wanted to. If gf/paleo isn’t an issue for you, all-purpose would work as well.

  2. Aghhhh this is such an incredible idea! I love popcorn shrimp, but it’s not the best thing for ya! Love that you recreated this dish with cauliflower! So genius ;)

  3. I am so making this. I’m always looking for new ways with cauliflower and we LOVE salt & vinegar!

  4. My iittle guy would love this! Salt and vinegar chips are a fave of his as are cauliflower, so naturally this has to happen.

  5. i love cauliflower! I just recently has it Buffalo Style. Gotta try it with salt and vinegar on it.

  6. I love the confessional feel of this post, lol! And also these are totally genius! Making them for sure, since I live for salt and vinegar and things fried!