Buffalo Cauliflower Wings seems to be everywhere these days. Seemingly overnight they are a bar food staple and in the frozen section of every grocery store. I personally find them completely addicting; subtly sweet yet savory cauliflower is a perfect vessel for the yummy, spicy, tangy buffalo sauce flavors. Store-bought Buffalo Cauliflower Wings / buffalo cauliflower bites unsurprisingly, can be filled with lots of additives, unhealthy vegetable oils, calorie-heavy panko breadcrumbs, sugar, and hidden dairy products (problematic if you're looking for a vegan option!) They are often also actually fried which can be a downer if you're trying to eat healthy.
I created this recipe after a particularly intense craving for buffalo wing sauce and an urge to do some wing dipping! To be WW friendly, I wanted to make a healthy alternate to buffalo chicken wings.
I had some cauliflower at home so I landed on making a vegan kind of "wing." Before you scoff - I did have one critical requirement: I didn't want to sacrifice on flavor. Even though melted butter, blue cheese dressing, and deep frying were off the table - these Buffalo Cauliflower Wings are packed with tangy flavor and a crispy exterior. I love cauliflower for these because they are slightly sweet and mellow on the inside, the perfect contrast to the spicy, lip-smackiness of the buffalo sauce.
Throwing them in your air fryer basket gives you the flexibility to make them as crispy as you like.
As an added healthy bonus, in addition to being vegan, they are also actually gluten-free and keto-friendly. You can serve them with your favorite dipping sauce and if you're really sticking to theme, throw some celery sticks and carrot sticks on the side!
Why I love this Buffalo Cauliflower Wing Recipe?
- Cauliflower is super nutritious, inexpensive and easy to snag at the grocery store year round.
- It's so easy! This recipe is essentially prepping a head of cauliflower, tossing it in some seasoning and almond milk and putting it into the air fryer. So much simpler then making a complicated batter, and deep frying each piece.
- They are easy breezy! These buffalo "wings" take only 10 minutes of prep time. There's no frying so there's no real mess. Using a quick spice mix, almond milk, and spicy coating, these bites have a perfect flavor and texture to satisfy your wing craving without the cost, labor and general unhealthy nature of chicken wings
- It's only 67 calories and 7.5g of carbs per serving! Using almond flour instead of flour or breadcrumbs keeps the carbs low in this recipe.
You can cover cauliflower bites with a few tablespoons of almond flour and tons of spices to make them even crispier and healthier. This recipe uses almond milk to help the dry ingredients stick to the wings, for a juicy inside and golden outer crust! The Air Fryer is a lifesaver for quick crispy bites but you can also make them just as easily in the oven.
Variations and Substitutions
- Batter and breading: I didn’t use breadcrumbs in this recipe since I wanted to keep them low in carbohydrates and love the bonus of extra protein in the almond flour. (Not to mention it keeps them gluten-free, in case you keep such a diet.) Other great alternatives to flour are rice or coconut flour and flaxseed meal. You could even completely skip flour to save some extra calories and WW points. Simply toss cauliflower florets with hot sauce, a little almond (or non-dairy) milk, and a few drizzles of soy sauce.
- Cauliflower wings: Cauliflower is the perfect ingredient for Vegan Wings since it absorbs flavor from spices and sauces. However, you can experiment with plant-based wings, and replace cauliflower florets with tofu or mushrooms. Seitan and soy also work well, but they get higher WW points.
- Hot sauce: I find that eating spicy foods satisfies my appetite so I love adding hot sauce to otherwise bland recipes! However, many hot sauces contain sugar to enhance the flavor and balance the heat. Look for kinds with low sugar, no sugar or if you wanted to play it super safe, you *could* always make your own hot sauce. Also store bough hot sauce can be packed with sodium, another reason to try making your own if you're using it a lot.
- Using the oven: If you don't have an air fryer you can put them on a baking sheet and make these in your oven using the broiler. Just remember to keep a close eye on them so they don't burn. Flip them over after five or so minutes (times may vary depending on how strong your oven is.)
Tips and Tricks
- Melt-in-your-mouth wings. If you're looking for a really crispy bite you will need to keep the cauliflower florets in the air fryer longer. To avoid burning them blanch them before baking. Briefly plunge the cauliflower florets into boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, drain them and quickly plop them into ice water to stop the cooking. Steaming them slightly is also a good way to prepare cauliflower florets. This is a great way to ensure the cauliflower is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, the perfect crisp-tender bite! Be careful, if you cook cauliflower florets too long, they can become mushy.
- Make cauliflower not taste like cauliflower. I personally love the taste of cauliflower, but some kids - and adults - dislike its natural taste and smell. Try adding more garlic, coriander, paprika or cumin. These flavor-boosting ingredients can balance (or even mask) the strong, earthy taste of cauliflower.
- Serving and storing ideas: Vegan ranch dressing and fresh veggie sticks go wonderfully with Cauliflower Buffalo Wings! Leftovers can be kept for 3 days in the refrigerator. They're also great inside a pita bread (or naan) with vegan tzatziki and roasted chickpeas. You can also serve them on top of a fresh salad or as a delicious appetizer or side dish.
The Best Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
- 1 small-sized cauliflower head
- 3 tablespoon almond flour
- 3 tablespoon almond milk unsweetened
- Himalayan salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Cut the cauliflower into small florets and blanch them for about 5 minutes.
- Preheat your Air Fryer to 360°F (180°C).
- In a bowl, mix the almond flour, almond milk, salt, and black pepper; whisk until smooth.
- Dip the cauliflower florets in the almond flour mixture; arrange the cauliflower flowers in the Air Fryer cooking basket. Cook the cauliflower for about 10 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. (You can bake cauliflower florets at 400˚F (200˚C) for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time).
- While the cauliflower is baking, combine the remaining ingredients for the buffalo sauce.
- When the cauliflower is done, remove it from the oven and brush it with the buffalo sauce mixture.
- Return the cauliflower to the air fryer and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly caramelized. (You can broil them in your oven for approximately 5 minutes on each side).
- Serve hot with vegan sauce on the side for dipping. Devour!