Has buffalo cauliflower been done a lot? Yes, obvi. Is there a good reason for it? Absolutely!
Because trust me when I say these Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower bites are addictive, especially when dipped in my vegan ranch dressing.
Cauliflower florets are coated in a seasoned batter, baked in the oven, then doused in a spicy, tangy, and slightly sweet buffalo sauce! All of those rich and spicy flavors bake right in, giving you a crunchy and comforting snack that tastes like it was ordered from your favorite sports bar (if you are like me and don’t have a favorite sports bar, just pretend that you do).
Why this recipe works
Serious comfort food
Unlike some recipes that just roast cauliflower and toss the florets in buffalo sauce, these vegan buffalo cauliflower bites are prepared with extra care and finesse to pack them with flavor and texture.
You’d never guess that they’re vegan and gluten-free and allergen-friendly (they’re nut-free and soy-free; just be sure to use oat milk and to use soy-free vegan butter like this; if making the ranch dressing, use soy-free mayo like this).
Baking them in the oven seals in their flavor, meaning you get the “bar food” experience with none of the excess grease.
No need to deep fry
There’s nothing wrong with deep fried buffalo cauliflower in my book. After all, I am the number #1 fan of my deep-fried Gobi Manchurian. However, I know most of my readers don’t want to deep fry for a variety of reasons, and through many rounds of testing, I found you can achieve fantastic results by baking the cauliflower in this recipe as long as you follow the tips in this recipe.
These crispy baked cauliflower bites have a great crunch factor thanks to a mix of rice flour and cornstarch. Once they’re hit the dry heat of the oven, the batter fuses to the exterior of the cauliflower wings and gives each piece a light and crispy crust.
The quintessential buffalo flavor
Just like regular buffalo chicken wings, these gluten-free and vegan cauliflower wings have the rich and spicy buffalo flavors you know and love. First, the batter is enhanced with smoky spices and Frank’s RedHot sauce.
Then, halfway through baking, the bites are drizzled with a mixture of Frank’s hot sauce, melted vegan butter, and a little sugar. This delivers the buttery, spicy, and slightly sweet flavors you expect from finger-licking-good wings.
Want the real secret to making each bite even better than the last? Ranch dressing! When you dip the bites in my tangy, garlicky vegan ranch dressing, your taste buds will be in heaven. The herby, tangy, and creamy cooling dressing is the *perfect* complement to the heat from the spicy buffalo sauce.
Naturally! You’ll need one medium-to-large sized cauliflower head, cut into small-medium sized florets.
White rice flour
We’ve tested this recipe with different kinds of flours and starches, and white rice flour came out on top. It’s what we use in our Gobi Manchurian recipe as well because it gives the cauliflower the crispiest coating possible. Plus, it’s naturally gluten-free so everyone can enjoy these bites 🙂
Where to buy: You can find rice flour at some well-stocked grocery stores. Bob’s Red Mill sells white rice flour, and you can even find it through Walmart. And many Asian grocery stores typically sell it.
White rice flour + cornstarch = the BEST coating for baked and fried cauliflower! Cornstarch forms a crispy, crunchy coating around each cauliflower floret as they cook. Prepare yourself for a bold crunch with every wing!
Substitute: We haven’t tested this recipe with anything other than cornstarch so we can’t say for sure whether arrowroot powder would work. In some of our other tests, arrowroot powder works great and sometimes it leads to a gummy consistency, so stick with cornstarch if you can.
Frank’s RedHot sauce
While most hot sauces would be fine to use here, Frank’s RedHot Sauce is the only option when you want that classic buffalo flavor (affiliate link).
Where to buy: You can find Frank’s hot sauce at most major grocery stores. You want the RedHot sauce, NOT the buffalo wings sauce. If the latter is all you can find, use less vegan butter in the sauce since the buffalo wings sauce already contains some oil. If using the latter, don’t worry about the “butter flavor”—it’s vegan.
Stirring melted vegan butter into the hot sauce adds great flavor and a richness that tames the heat. Don’t skip it!
A little bit of sugar enhances the salty, savory flavors and tames the fiery acidity of the hot sauce.
Tips for making this recipe
Cut the cauliflower florets into small-medium pieces.
Too big, and the cauliflower won’t get tender on the inside. Too small, and they’ll burn in the oven.
Batter in batches
Only dip a handful of cauliflower florets at a time in the batter. This way, the batter has a chance to find its way into all of the nooks and crannies in each floret. Inadequately battered cauliflower tastes like regular roasted cauliflower, which is delicious, but not what we’re going for.
Use parchment paper
Be sure to use parchment paper to line your sheet pans. Otherwise, the battered florets will stick to the pans and it will be difficult to clean your pans! Plus the buffalo sauce will burn in the oven.
Tailor to your heat level
Buffalo cauliflower bites (or buffalo wings) are meant to be spicy, but not TOO spicy. The heat levels and flavors should be perfectly balanced when dipped into the cooling ranch dressing.
If you love spicy food, try making these with Frank’s Xtra hot sauce (affiliate link). And if you want milder heat, omit the 2 tablespoons of hot sauce in the batter.
Room temperature hot sauce is key
After combining the hot sauce, butter, and sugar, it’s important to set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature. If you pour hot-temperature sauce on the warm baked cauliflower, it will cause them to steam and they won’t crisp up as much.
You can either (1) make the buffalo sauce before you batter the florets, so the sauce has plenty of time to cool down; or (2) make the buffalo sauce while the florets bake so you can multitask… but be sure to put the bowl of buffalo sauce in a larger bowl of cold water so that the buffalo sauce quickly comes to room temp.
Spray with cooking spray
Spraying the florets with cooking spray after the first bake helps them stay crispy, even after being coated in the buffalo sauce. It also helps the buffalo sauce adhere to the florets better.
Use a gentle hand
When tossing the baked florets in the buffalo sauce, use a gentle hand (or a silicone spatula). Too much vigorous tossing will cause the florets to start falling apart.
Always serve with vegan ranch dressing!
These buffalo cauliflowerbites are great on their own, but they become pretty much life-changing when served with my tangy, savory, and creamy vegan ranch dressing. The contrast of smoky, rich, and spicy buffalo sauce next to the creamy and cooling ranch is heaven.
The dressing only takes 10 minutes or less to whip up, which gives you something fun to do while the cauliflower bakes!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are these cauliflower wings gluten-free?
Yes, this cauliflower wings recipe is naturally gluten-free thanks to a mix of rice flour and cornstarch in the batter!
Can I use all-purpose flour instead of rice flour?
For the best results, I really recommend seeking out white rice flour. I tested this recipe with all-purpose flour (1 cup or 125g) in place of the rice flour and the texture was too chewy for my taste.
Can I use another hot sauce instead of Frank’s RedHot Sauce?
Sure. The bites will be missing the quintessential buffalo flavor but will still be delicious with another hot sauce.
Keep the spiciness level in mind when choosing a different hot sauce. Avoid the overwhelming, super spicy sauces so you don’t set your mouth on fire.
How should I serve vegan buffalo wings?
Buffalo wings are a must-have part of a game day spread. Pair them with even more tasty appetizers, like vegan nachos, spinach artichoke dip, and mango avocado salsa and chips. And if you end up with extra cauliflower and hot sauce, whip up a batch of my Buffalo Cauliflower Dip too!
You can also use these bites as a filling for spicy tacos (similar to my Crispy Cauliflower Tacos), burritos, and quesadillas.
Looking for a healthy lunch idea? Top the buffalo cauliflower on a bed of romaine, coleslaw mix, or shredded cabbage with avocado, radishes, cherry tomatoes, and vegan ranch.
And call me crazy, but I think leftover buffalo bites would be great stirred into a batch of vegan mac and cheese, rolled in a veggie wrap, or topped on a homemade pizza!
How do you store the leftovers?
These buffalo bites are best enjoyed on day 1, but you can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Line the container with parchment paper and add another sheet in between layers of florets.
To reheat, line the wings on a parchment-lined sheet pan and heat in a 350º/175ºC oven until they’re hot and a bit crisp again. You can also revive them in a deep frying pan.
If you love this epic Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower bites, be sure to rate and review it below 🙂 And tag me on Instagram with your remakes!
Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower is an addictively delicious snack perfect for game day, parties, and any get together! In this recipe, cauliflower florets are tossed in a seasoned batter and buffalo sauce before being baked to crunchy, meaty perfection. Dip them in ranch dressing and enjoy!
- 20 to 22 oz (~600g ) cauliflower florets cut into small-medium size (see Note 1)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup (155g) white rice flour, spooned and leveled (see Note 2)
- ½ cup (64g) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Frank’s red hot sauce
- ¾ cup (180 mL) plain-flavored oat milk or almond milk (see Note 3)
- ¼ cup (56g) vegan butter
- ¼ cup (65g) Frank’s red hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
Arrange two racks in the oven, in the bottom and top third. Preheat to 425ºF/220ºC. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper (this is essential to prevent sticking and burning).
Make the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne (if using), pepper, and salt. Add the 2 tablespoons of hot sauce and the milk. Whisk until you have a smooth batter that is quite thick and viscous (whisk out any large lumps). If the batter feels stiff, whisk in a tablespoon of water.
Add a handful of cauliflower florets to the batter. Use a silicone spatula to toss the florets all over, coating all the crevices as best as you can. Continue adding another handful of florets until they’re all coated, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to get all the batter.
NOTE: Don’t add all the florets at once, as it’ll be harder to coat all the nooks and crannies.
Using the spatula, transfer the florets to the prepared sheet pans and space them out across both pans so the florets don’t touch. If any florets have unbattered spots, brush any excess batter from the bowl onto these areas using a pastry brush or your fingers.
Transfer both pans to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
While the florets, make the buffalo sauce: Add the vegan butter to a small microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave until melted. Once melted, add the ¼ cup (65g) hot sauce and sugar and stir to dissolve. See note 4.
Transfer buffalo sauce to a small bowl. Set the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice to cool down the sauce.
NOTE: This last part is necessary to bring the buffalo sauce to room temp. If you toss the baked florets in hot-temperature sauce, it’ll cause them to steam.
After 20 minutes, remove the pans from the oven. Scootch the florets on each pan closely together, then spray them with cooking spray (this helps them crisp up and the sauce to adhere better).
Pour the cooled buffalo sauce on top of each set of florets (use half of the sauce for each pan). Using a silicone spatula, gently toss the florets in the sauce until they’re well coated.
NOTE: For a more even coating, you can transfer the baked florets to a large bowl, then pour the buffalo sauce on top and coat well. Then transfer the florets back to the lined pans and spread out. It takes a few extra minutes but you get more sauce on each floret / less sauce on the sheet pan.
Return the pans to the oven for 15 minutes. Flip the florets (I use my fingers because it’s easier, but be careful!). Bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until the cauliflower is deeply brown in some spots (some charring is good) a bit crispy on the outside, and tender when pierced with a fork.
Let cool for a couple minutes, then serve with Vegan Ranch.
- This is the amount of florets from 1 medium-large head of cauliflower (the entire head should weigh at least 2 pounds / 900g).
- You’re looking for white rice flour like this (affiliate link), not sweet rice flour (or brown rice flour).
- I don’t recommend using soy milk (or pea milk), as the proteins make the batter too thick.
- Or, you can add the butter, hot sauce, and sugar to a small saucepan; gently heat and whisk together until the butter is melted.
Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 688mg | Potassium: 254mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 437IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg