Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

Here’s how to make the best baked cauliflower wings! They’re crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and tossed with spicy buffalo sauce.

Cauliflower wings

Here’s a treat for you today: vegan wings! Love eating plant based foods? Here’s the way to have your cake and eat it too. Buffalo cauliflower wings! These tasty morsels are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and tossed with spicy, tangy buffalo sauce. You’ll see these in restaurants here in the US these days…and this recipe? It tastes just as good as restaurant-style. Better, in fact! Let’s be honest: this one requires a bit of time and effort. But if you’re craving vegan wings: this is your recipe! Let’s get cooking!

How to make cauliflower wings: the baked method!

Here’s an outline of what you’re signing yourself up for with cauliflower wings! Now, Alex and I have a buffalo cauliflower recipe we’ve been making for years: but that’s just straight up roasted, no breading. The breading is what makes these wings taste like they’re made in a restaurant! But instead of fried like a restaurant, they’re baked in the oven until crisp! You’ll need about 40 minutes for the entire process. Here’s what to do:

  • Make the batter. It’s got the perfect spice blend, and soda water is like using beer in a batter for fish or wings. This makes the best fluffy consistency (see below).
  • Dip the florets in batter, then place on an baking rack on top of a baking sheet. Using a baking rack allows all sides to get crispy in the oven. This isn’t a common cooking method, but it works like a charm here.
  • Bake 25 minutes until crispy.
  • Toss with the buffalo sauce and enjoy!
Cauliflower wings

The perfect wings batter uses soda water

The batter for these cauliflower wings uses an interesting ingredient: soda water! It’s just like using beer in a batter for fish or wings. There are two reasons why carbonation is helpful to a batter, per Cooks Illustrated:

  • Bubbles make a fluffier dough. They lift as they escape from the batter while cooking.
  • Carbonation makes the batter slightly more acidic. This limits how much gluten can form, which prevents it from being tough.

You’ll find this makes the perfect light and fluffy breading for cauliflower wings!

Find smoked paprika if you can

The batter for these cauliflower wings calls for smoked paprika. This is a Spanish version of paprika that’s made with smoked peppers, and it infuses a smoky nuance to anything it touches. It’s one of our favorite tricks for vegan recipes: and it’s especially essential in this cauliflower wings recipe! If you can’t find it, you can substitute standard paprika. But it’s worth finding for this recipe!

Smoked paprika may be labeled as any of the following: pimentón, Spanish smoked paprika or sweet smoked paprika. If you can’t find it in your local grocery, you can also buy it online here. And if you need help using up a jar…we’ve got lots of smoked paprika recipes.

Buffalo cauliflower wings

Vegan buffalo sauce for cauliflower wings

Because these cauliflower wings are vegan wings: you’ve got to have vegan buffalo sauce for a fully plant-based recipe. What do you need for buffalo sauce? Here are the ingredients for the plant-based version:

  • Frank’s red hot sauce: Frank’s is the brand that has the best flavor: we recommend it here!
  • Coconut oil: instead of butter
  • White vinegar
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Sugar

Simply melt these together in a small saucepan, and you’ve got a spicy, tangy, flavor-filled sauce that’s perfect for these wings.

Cauliflower wings

Dipping sauces to serve with cauliflower wings

Once you’ve got your cauliflower wings, you’ll want to dig in right away! So here are a few ideas for dipping sauces. Here are a few options that are both vegan and vegetarian. We eat mainly vegetarian, so we usually do ranch or blue cheese dip! But to make it a vegan appetizer, this vegan ranch is fantastic too.

  • Vegan Ranch A tasty vegan ranch dressing recipe, using cashews to make a creamy base and savory spices.
  • Ranch Dressing Super creamy with mayo and Greek yogurt! You can also make it vegan by using all vegan mayonnaise.
  • Blue Cheese Dip This creamy sauce is made with yogurt and blue cheese.

This buffalo cauliflower wings recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Cauliflower wings

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings (Better than Restaurant!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (13 votes, average: 4.38 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make the best baked cauliflower wings! They’re crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and tossed with spicy buffalo sauce.


Scale

Ingredients

For the cauliflower wings

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika*
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups soda water (club soda)

For the buffalo sauce

  • 1/2 cup Frank’s red hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For serving: Vegan Ranch, Ranch or Blue Cheese Dip


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets.
  3. Mix 1 cup of the flour with garlic powder, smoked paprika, cornstarch and kosher salt. Pour in the soda water and stir until a smooth batter forms.
  4. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour to separate bowl.
  5. Place the parchment paper on two baking sheets and place two baking racks on top. Dredge each floret in flour and then dip it into the batter. Place each floret on top of the racks (the batter will drip below, which is ok).
  6. Once all the florets are covered, place the baking sheets with racks on top in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for 10 more minutes until crispy.
  7. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Place the ingredients for the buffalo sauce into a small saucepan. Heat over medium low heat and whisk until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. When the cauliflower wings are done, cool for a few minutes. Then slide a spatula under them or use your fingers to remove them from the baking racks — some of the breading will come off of the bottom, but that’s okay (you won’t notice when they’re coated in sauce). Then in a large bowl, pour the buffalo sauce over wings and turn gently with a spatula until they are fully covered.

Notes

*You can substitute standard paprika if you can’t find smoked, but it’s highly recommended for its lightly smoky flavor.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: Cauliflower wings, Buffalo cauliflower

More cauliflower recipes

Cauliflower is one of our favorite ingredients because it’s so versatile! Here are a few more delicious cauliflower recipes to try:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

5 Comments

  • Reply
    Allison
    August 3, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    If we want to make this with beer, do you think it would taste okay and do we use the same amount?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      August 4, 2020 at 9:11 am

      Yes, I think it’d be great!

  • Reply
    Mickey
    August 6, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Do you think the batter could work with gluten-free flour?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      August 6, 2020 at 8:21 pm

      I think it would work fine with a 1:1 flour.

  • Reply
    sonya
    August 26, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    I was expecting something like what the california pizza kitchen has, but this was horrible. I ate maybe 3, and had to dispose of it. It tasted of vinegar from the hot sauce.

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