Grilled cauliflower on a can with sweet and spicy BBQ sauce  

A vegan-friendly dish that everyone will love!

I’ve long been a fan of ‘chicken on a beer can’ but think perhaps I adore this vegan version even more! It’s easy to prepare and can serve as a delicious main course or equally-appealing side dish. You can use your favourite prepared barbeque sauce though the one below is simple to make and really packed with flavour. As an option, it is also possible to  cook the whole cauliflower directly on the grill, but perching it on a can of liquid helps to steam it from the underside which promotes faster, more even cooking. Never heard of chicken on a beer can? There are loads of recipes available online; I’ve also created an innovative twist: chicken on a Bundt pan which could work well for cauliflower also!



  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) very finely diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon each (2.5 mL) salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup (165 mL) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon (.65 mL) cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) each chili powder and smoked paprika


1 medium sized head of cauliflower


  • Make sauce by heating oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes, then add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more.
  • Add all other ingredients and stir to blend well.
  • Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until thick and smooth, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings to suit your preferences. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • While sauce is cooking, trim leaves off bottom of cauliflower and carefully cut out the core in the centre to make a cavity just big enough to hold the beer or soda can (you want approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the can to stick into the cauliflower. I found I needed a shorter can to fit inside my gas grill.
  • Take care not to cut all the way through the cauliflower. It’s best to work slowly and check often to be sure the can will fit.

  • Preheat grill to 400F. Place the cauliflower on top of the can which is half-filled with liquid (beer, water or fruit juice are all good options).
  • Place the beer can and cauliflower on top of the barbeque grate or a sturdy grill pan (one with holes in it) placed on the grates. Close the lid and let cook for 15 minutes, then start basting with sauce every 3 – 4 minutes until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife and the sauce has slightly caramelized (the whole cooking process should take about 25 – 30 minutes).
  • Note that if the cauliflower starts to fall apart as it nears completion of cooking time, simply remove it from the can and place directly on the grill pan or barbeque grates.
  • To serve, transfer the cauliflower to a plate and cut into wedges. Serve any remaining barbeque sauce on the side for drizzling or dipping.

Serves 2 as a main course; 4 – 6 as a side dish.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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