Mexican cauliflower fritters make an easy, quick meal…perfect for getting some extra vegetables into your weekly dinner rotation! Cauliflower pieces are steamed and then battered, fried, and finally put into a tomato-based sauce to simmer for a comforting homestyle Mexican meal.
Cauliflower has become a trendy vegetable in recent years as people seek an alternative to higher carb foods like rice and pizza dough. But, long before cauliflower was cool, my mother-in-law was making these super delicious and simple Mexican cauliflower fritters. This is typical Mexican home cooking and not something that you would normally find in any restaurant. It isn’t fussy or even pretty. But it is delicious, warm, and comforting.
When we lived in the US, my Mexican husband craved his mama’s homestyle cooking. So I often called her up to ask for recipes that reminded my husband of home. This is one of the recipes that she shared with me and now, I am sharing with you!
I particularly love this version because I am a fan of cauliflower and, living with a very carnivorous family, this is a great vegetarian dish to bring into the weekly rotation. It is hearty enough for the main meal, yet doesn’t leave you feeling heavy. It also doesn’t include any spicy ingredients, so it is an all-around crowd-pleaser!
Ready to learn how to make these simple fritters? You only need a handful of pantry ingredients and some fresh produce to make this meal!
What’s in Mexican cauliflower fritters?
- Roma tomatoes
- white onion
- garlic cloves
- chicken broth
- bay leaf
- all-purpose flour
- vegetable oil
Be sure to check the recipe card for ingredient quantities and instructions!
Substitutions and variations
Here are a couple of ideas of how you can change up this dish to make it fit your particular dietary needs!
Typically, I have chicken broth on hand, and that is what I use for the sauce for this dish. If you would like to make this dish vegetarian, simply substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth. I think that using water instead of broth makes the sauce a bit bland, so I would avoid using water in this case.
Use cornstarch instead of flour
The original recipe for this dish calls for the cooked cauliflower to be coated with flour prior to battering with the whipped eggs. I have tested this recipe by substituting the flour for cornstarch so that this dish can be gluten-free if needed! I haven’t tested this recipe with other flours like almond flour or coconut flour, but I suspect that they would work just as well as all-purpose flour. If you do try an alternative flour, I would love to hear about it!
Spice up the sauce
If you are looking to spice up the sauce, why not try adding some canned chipotle peppers and blending them up with the other sauce ingredients? This will create a lovely smokey and slightly spicy flavor to the final sauce, like the sauce used in my Mexican meatball recipe!
Flavor the cauliflower florets
I recommend adding some salt and pepper to the flour or cornstarch to help boost the flavor of the cauliflower florets. If you want even more flavor, you could add garlic powder or other spices (like chile powder, cumin, paprika, or maybe even tumeric) to the flour mixture as well!
Change up the oil
I typically have canola oil on hand and it is what I use for frying. But, if you prefer, you could use sunflower oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or whatever oil you prefer instead!
How to make Mexican cauliflower fritters step-by-step
Prep the cauliflower
Did I already tell you this was going to be easy? Start by removing the stem and leaves from the cauliflower. Then cut your cauliflower into large chunks. I usually aim for pieces about 1 1/2 to 2 inches across. I find that this is large enough to easily batter, yet not so big to be unmanageable once served. Alternatively, you could buy already-cut cauliflower and save yourself some prep time! Steam your cauliflower until fork-tender, then set aside to cool.
Make the sauce
While the cauliflower is cooling, I like to get the sauce going. Blend the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and a bit of broth (I usually have chicken broth on hand, but you could substitute vegetable broth). You are looking for a smooth sauce. No chunks! Once the sauce is blended smoothly, place it and a bay leaf in a large pan and heat to boiling. Then reduce the heat down, cover, and simmer. The sauce will start to darken as it cooks.
Get ready to batter!
Now that the sauce is cooking, you will want to get ready to batter and fry the cauliflower. In a large nonstick pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating up, make the batter.
Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak (about 1 1/2 minutes on high). Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add in the yolks. Keep whisking for about another 20 seconds, until everything is thoroughly blended.
Set up the assembly line and start frying!
Set up an assembly line next to your stove so you are ready to fry your first batch of cauliflower. Place the cooked cauliflower in a large bowl, followed by a plate with flour, and lastly the whipped eggs. Working in batches, lightly coat the cauliflower with flour. This is just to help the egg stick. Then dunk the cauliflower pieces into the egg mixture. Using a spoon, scoop the pieces out and place them in the hot oil. You want to make sure that the cauliflower is completely covered with egg.
Don’t overcrowd the frying pan. You will want to leave yourself some room to work and be able to turn the cauliflower over so that they become a deep golden brown color on all sides. It usually takes me about 3-4 minutes total to get the egg cooked and golden. Once the egg is cooked, take the fritters out of the pan and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil. Repeat this same process for the second batch, or for however many batches you need to fry all of the cauliflower pieces.
If you have any remaining batter, you can discard it or you can fry it up to make fluffy egg fritters!
Putting it all together
At this point, I like to check the sauce for salt. It is easier for me to make any adjustments before I add in the large cauliflower pieces! Add a little bit at a time and taste as you go to ensure that you don’t add too much. Then place the cooked fritters in the simmering tomato sauce to warm through and absorb some of that delicious tomato broth.
Now all that is left to do is divide these among the serving plates and enjoy! I like to eat these with warm corn tortillas and Mexican black beans.
How do I store leftover Mexican cauliflower fritters?
I place the cooked fritters and sauce in an airtight container and store them covered in the fridge for 3-5 days. Simply reheat covered on the stove until they are warmed through.
Are these cauliflower fritters healthy?
While the term “healthy” can mean many things to many people, if you are looking to replace some of your meat with vegetables, this dish is a filling, vegetable-based, meat-alternative.
Cauliflower is also considered a low-carb vegetable, according to Everyday Health. These cauliflower fritters have just under 23g of carbs per serving!
Fried foods are delicious but aren’t particularly healthy. I don’t have an air-fryer (yet!), but I have heard that this is a great alternative to frying foods in oil. I haven’t been able to test this recipe using this equipment, but if you do end up using an air-fryer for these, I would love to hear about it!
Check the nutritional information at the end of this post for the full nutritional details.
What other foods can I use to make fritters?
We make vegetable fritters out of sweet potatoes, green beans, squash blossoms, and potatoes. And shredded meat can also be used, like in these chicken fritters! You could also use zucchini, broccoli, Mexican grey squash, plantains, or even tuna fish to make an infinite amount of fritter variations!
Some cauliflower fritter recipes use shredded cauliflower. Why don’t you use that here?
My mother-in-law’s cauliflower fritter recipe uses simple ingredients and techniques, which is one reason that it makes a regular appearance at our table. All you have to do is steam the cauliflower, then batter, and fry it.
Other versions of cauliflower fritters have you steam the cauliflower, shred it, remove excess water, add breadcrumbs, shredded cheese, egg, and on top of that, batter and fry it. Whew…I got tired just thinking about all of those steps! While I like the neatness of the little cakes produced with the shredded cauliflower versions, the process is more involved than I normally want to make things.
The version I am sharing is less fussy but still delicious.
These other fritter and tomato-based sauce recipes are some of our other favorites!
Source: Graciela Martínez, Morelos Mexico
Mexican Cauliflower Fritters
- 1 lb cauliflower cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces See notes
- 7-8 medium Roma tomatoes, quartered ~1.5 lbs
- 1/2 medium white onion, cut into large chunks ~4 ounces
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup broth I normally use chicken broth, but vegetable broth could be substituted
- 1 bay leaf
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil I use canola, see notes
- 4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
- 1/4 cup flour See notes
- pepper to taste
- Steam cauliflower on high heat until fork-tender, about 11 minutes, set aside to cool1 lb cauliflower cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces
- Blend tomatoes, onion, garlic, and broth on high speed in a blender until completely smooth, about 1 minute7-8 medium Roma tomatoes, quartered, 1/2 medium white onion, cut into large chunks, 2 cloves garlic, 1 cup broth
- Place tomato sauce mixture in a saucepan over medium heat, add bay leaf and salt to taste. Heat to boiling stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently.1 bay leaf, salt to taste
- While the sauce is cooking, in a large non-stick skillet, add oil and heat over medium-high heat.1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Meanwhile, add egg whites to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on high speed until stiff, about 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add in yolks, blending until incorporated, about 20 seconds more.4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
- Put flour on a plate and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix to incorporate.pepper to taste, 1/4 cup flour, salt to taste
- Set up an assembly line with the cauliflower on one side, followed by the plate with flour, then finally the whipped eggs. Working in batches, coat the cauliflower with flour and add to the bowl with the egg mixture.
- Using a spoon, scoop cauliflower pieces out of the bowl and place in the hot oil, ensuring that the cauliflower is completely coated with egg.
- Fry until golden on all sides, turning as necessary, 3-4 minutes total. I can fit between 4-5 cauliflower pieces in my frying pan at a time without overcrowding the pan.
- Remove fritters to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil
- Repeat the previous 4 steps until all cauliflower is coated and fried.
- Check the sauce for salt and add if necessary. Place completed fritters in sauce and heat through, about 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more broth.
- Divide evenly among plates and serve
- A small head of cauliflower typically weighs more than 1 pound. I only use 1 pound for this recipe and save the rest for another use.
- Vegetable broth can be substituted for chicken broth to make this dish vegetarian.
- I typically use canola oil for frying, but you could substitute it with another oil if desired.
- Substitute cornstarch for all-purpose flour for a gluten-free option.
(The below nutrition label is included as a courtesy. Our terms and conditions explain our nutrition policy.)