Any day calls for these insanely easy Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings/Bites! Baked crispy cauliflower is coated in a spicy and tangy buffalo/BBQ sauce before serving with ranch (vegan-friendly or not).
If you love buffalo wings and want a lighter version for game day or any season, you will love my Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings/Bites! Tender florets of cauliflower are coated in a breadcrumb-cornflakes coating before being baked until crispy. The best part is the homemade tangy buffalo/BBQ glaze that caramelizes in the oven before serving with ranch dressing! Vegan + Gluten-Free options available!
The classic chicken wing is not something that needs updating - until now. My vegan friends should be able to enjoy the fun of buffalo wings during the Big Game.
That's why I like to make Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings/Bites for game day, an appetizer party, or for a lazy-day main course. Cauliflower is a sturdy vegetable that can hold up to a long cook time and lots of spicy sauce. It is the perfect vegan substitute for buffalo wings!
Everyone needs a creamy dip for their crispy buffalo wings, so I like to serve mine with vegan ranch dressing. It keeps the entire dish vegan, if needed, and really cools down the spicy buffalo flavor.
If you want a more substantial meal, omit the ranch and serve these cauliflower bites on top of some rice, quinoa, or veggies.
Buffalo and BBQ - The Best of Both Worlds
The most common wing flavors are buffalo and BBQ. Both are absolutely delicious, and I realize that sometimes it is hard to choose which sauce you want. For these Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings/Bites, I decided to combine them into one highly flavorful sauce!
My cauliflower wing sauce recipe includes both buffalo sauce and my Homemade BBQ Sauce, which is vegan-friendly. Keep the recipe for the BBQ Sauce for your next grill session!
By combining these two flavors, you get a cauliflower wing that is spicy, sweet, and smoky. Often, BBQ sauce can be very sweet and smoky. Adding some heat from the buffalo sauce adds a restaurant-quality complexity to these wings.
The best part of this recipe is the special buffalo sauce. While the cauliflower is baked until crispy, it is also coated in the sauce before broiling once more.
Broiling the wings with the sauce creates a sweet caramelized flavor on the wings that is thick, sticky, and tangy. These cauliflower wings will be the best you've ever had, guaranteed!
Tricks to The Crispiest Cauliflower Wings
To make sure your wings get as crispy as possible, follow these simple tips:
Make sure each wing has plenty of space on the baking sheet. The airflow helps things crisp up.
Make sure you’re using fresh, not soggy or stale, breadcrumbs.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
Let the wings cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving them.
How to Make Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
When it comes to making these crispy buffalo cauliflower wings, the process is fairly simple and easy! You'll need to:
Part 1:Make the batter. This done by combining the milk, flour, and seasonings (salt, black pepper, smoked paprika. parsley, garlic powder, and basil) in a bowl and whisking them together until combined and smooth.
Part 2:Make the coating. Simply combine the breadcrumbs and crushed cornflakes together in a bowl. Feel free to season this coating with the same seasonings as the batter for extra flavor!
Part 3:Make the buffalo sauce. This is an easy recipe for buffalo sauce and can be adjusted to be more spicy or less. Once done, simply add a bit of BBQ sauce (helps to cool down the heat) and wallah!
Part 4: Add sauce to cauliflower. Toss your baked and crispy cauliflower wings into the sauce over the stovetop and you're all set!
Ingredients for Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
To make these savory and sweet cauliflower wings, you'll start by making the cauliflower. Then make the sauce. Here's what you need for the cauliflower bites:
Cauliflower. Choose a large head to make big florets.
Corn flakes. If necessary, choose organic and/or gluten-free cornflakes for the crunchiest cauliflower bites.
Breadcrumbs. You can buy store-bought breadcrumbs or panko. Or see the notes below the recipe to easily make your own breadcrumbs.
Flour. You can use gluten-free all-purpose flour if you like.
BBQ sauce. Again, it's easy to make your own. See the notes section below the recipe for how to.
Seasonings. The cauliflower wings get extra flavor from salt, black pepper, garlic powder, parsley, basil, and smoked paprika.
Homemade Buffalo Sauce
To round out these crunchy Cauliflower wings, you definitely don't want to skimp on the buffalo sauce-BBQ combination. The homemade buffalo sauce is made with:
Butter. You can use unsalted or salted butter.
Hot sauce. I recommend using Frank's hot sauce, but you can use your favorite!
Red pepper flakes. Just a bit will do for added spicy-ness.
Worcestershire sauce. You can also substitute with soy sauce or white wine vinegar if you don't have this sauce on hand.
Tabasco. Just for an extra kick!
What to Serve with Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
To serve these spicy little bites, I recommend enjoying them fresh out of the oven. You can serve them as a vegetarian or vegan appetizer with forks and napkins. They’re delicious with a side of ranch dressing.
Or turn these buffalo cauliflower wings into a savory and saucy salad topper! You can also incorporate the buffalo cauliflower unto pasta, on tacos, top homemade pizza or make a vegetarian grain bowl with cauliflower and beans.
How to Make Vegan Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
To make these cauliflower wings vegan, simply substitute the butter with vegan butter and ensure that your breadcrumbs and cornflakes are vegan-friendly. In addition, you can either make your own BBQ sauce or use a vegan-friendly store-bought version.
How to Make Gluten-Free Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
To ensure that these bites are GF-friendly, ensure that you use GF breadcrumbs and flour as well as GF-friendly BBQ sauce, Buffalo sauce, etc.
How to Make Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings in an Air Fryer
You'll follow all of the steps to coating the cauliflower and place them in your air fryer for 20 minutes or so at 390 degrees and flipping them halfway through to ensure that they crisp perfectly on both sides.
How to Store Leftovers
These bites are best the day they're made, since they're so crispy. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat them in the oven or in an air fryer to crisp them back up when you're ready to serve.
How Long to Bake Cauliflower Wings/Bites
The baking time will vary depending on your oven. Check the wings after 20 minutes, to make sure they’re nice and crunchy but not burning. If necessary, pop the wings under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes for an extra crispy crust.
More Buffalo Recipes You'll Enjoy
If you love my Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, then try some of my other favorites!
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and line your baking sheet with parchment paper. NOTE: Doing this step is a MUST to prevent sticking.
In a medium bowl, add the milk, flour, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, basil, and smoked paprika, and whisk together until combined. Set aside.
In ziplock bag, add the crushed corn flakes and breadcrumbs together and shake them together until well combined and blended.
Now, dip each cauliflower into batter (shaking off any excess) and then add it into the coating mixture within the ziplock bag, shaking everything together until cauliflower bite is well coated. Then lay each cauliflower side by side on the baking sheet (about an inch apart). Repeat until all cauliflower are coated.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and “crunchy” looking. NOTE: If not crispy enough, turn on broil and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
TO MAKE THE BUFFALO SAUCE:
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk together until it begins to boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and let everything simmer for another 2-3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Stir in the 3 Tbsps of BBQ sauce.
Once cauliflowers are crisp, remove from oven and toss them in the sauce until fully coated. Sprinkle with your favorite garnish---parsley, etc., if desired.
To serve, add cauliflower wings/bites to a salad, tacos, atop pasta, as a topping on pizza, with quinoa or rice, or by themselves with Ranch dipping sauce.
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Best if consumed within the same day. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in oven when ready to serve.
HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCE: 15 oz. can of tomato sauce, ¾ cups water, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsps sriracha sauce, 2 tsps ground mustard, ⅓ cup agave syrup, 2 Tbsps pure maple syrup, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika. DIRECTIONS: Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat and whisk together until it begins to boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and let everything simmer for about 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Once thickened enough to desired consistency, remove from heat and let cool. Set aside until ready to use or store remainder in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
BBQ SAUCE: If you choose to use a store-bought version, my favorite brand is Stubb’s BBQ Sauce.
HOMEMADE BREADCRUMBS: To make your own breadcrumbs, simply grind 1-2 cups of cubed bread into a food processor until finely chopped. Place crumbs onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 5-6 minutes in the oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. Once brown + crisp, remove from oven and let cool. Continue recipe steps and store remaining breadcrumbs in a tightly sealed container.
SWEETENER: For vegan option, you can always substitute honey with Agave or maple syrup.
GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To ensure that these bites are GF-friendly, ensure that you use GF breadcrumbs and flour as well as GF-friendly BBQ sauce, Buffalo sauce, etc.