These Air Fryer Cauliflower Buffalo Wings are a fantastic vegetarian alternative to traditional buffalo wings. They’re coated in a crispy flour-based batter, then air fried to perfection, and tossed in a traditional buffalo sauce.Jump to Recipe
I’ll admit it – I’m kind of a baby about spicy food. I like what I like, and while I’ve tried and tried to expand my palate to include things that are a little hotter, I just can’t get there. There are a few exceptions. Hot Honey for one, this pickled corn has a bit of a kick to it. And these air fryer cauliflower buffalo wings are my new obsession. They’re spicy, but not too spicy – dipped in ranch to cool them down a bit they’re just about perfect.
Now, no one is going to eat one of these and mistake it for chicken, but I bet they’ll still think it’s pretty darn good, because it is!
You can make this in the oven too, if you don’t have an air fryer – I’ll provide instructions further down in the post.
All in all, this is ready in under 45 minutes – serve with some fries or a salad if you’re trying to keep it light and you’ve got yourself a fantastic dinner!
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Flavor: These have a traditional mild buffalo wing flavor. If you want them spicier, you can definitely swap out the hot sauce for a hotter version or use more of it. I use Frank’s Red Hot, and I know there are about 10 different varieties of varying spiciness. The regular Frank’s gives a gentle heat that’s not overwhelming.
Texture: The batter coating makes these wings crispy and delicious as long as you eat them right away. The inner texture is definitely a cauliflower texture more than chicken but the flavor really does help you feel like you’re eating a sinful treat.
Ease: This is an incredibly easy meal to put together. The most labor-intensive part is chopping up the cauliflower so that the pieces are relatively even. The batter is easy to mix together, and you can spoon the cauliflower pieces out directly into the air fryer basket.
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Buffalo Sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
- Honey (optional)
Tips and Tricks
Try to keep the cauliflower from touching in the air fryer basket. It’s okay if it overlaps a little bit, but don’t crowd the basket too much, or it wont get crispy.
I add honey to my hot sauce mixture because I like it that way, but it’s totally optional. If you don’t like a traditional buffalo sauce, you could use a sweet barbeque or any other wing sauce you prefer.
How big should I cut the pieces of cauliflower? You want them all to be even and about an inch or so in size. If they’re too big, they wont cook through before they burn, and if they’re too small they’ll get mushy inside. It’s a real Goldilocks situation. The most important thing is trying to get them to be all as close in size to each other as possible, so they cook at the same rate.
How do I make this if I don’t have an air fryer? You can make these in your oven easily. Pre-heat to 450, and line a baking sheet with foil. If you have a cooling rack, place it over the foil. Once you’ve tossed the cauliflower in the batter spread it out on the sheet/cooling rack and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove from the oven, place in a bowl, and toss with the hot sauce mixture.
Why do I need a cooling rack for making these in the oven? You don’t really need one, but using one allows for air to get under the cauliflower which will help it stay crispy.
What do I serve with cauliflower wings? This is bar food at its heart, so my first pick for a side would definitely be French fries. You also want plenty or ranch or blue cheese, and celery!
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Air Fryer Cauliflower Buffalo Wings
- 1 medium head of cauliflower trimmed and cut into even 1 ½ inch florets
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ - 1 ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 5 tablespoon hot sauce
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 honey optional
- Trim and cut up the cauliflower.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper. Then add the water, starting with ¾ of a cup and adding a little at a time until you reach a pancake batter-like consistency. Add the hot sauce and stir.
- Air Fryer Instructions: heat to 375 and spray the basket with non-stick spray. Toss the cauliflower in the batter and toss to coat well, then using a spoon or tongs, transfer the pieces to the ready air fryer basket, shaking off as much of the excess batter as you can. Fry for 12 minutes, checking at 10 to make sure they're not burning.
- Oven Instructions: heat to 450 and line a baking sheet with foil and a cooling rack if you have one. Batter the cauliflower as above, then place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. If you don't have a cooling rack, that's okay - just place the cauliflower directly on the sheet.
- While they cook, melt the butter for the sauce in a small bowl.
- Add the hot sauce and the honey to the melted butter and stir to combine.
- Once the wings have cooked, place them in a large bowl, and then pour the hot sauce mixture over them, and toss to coat.
- Serve with blue cheese, ranch and celery.