These Crispy Cauliflower Bites are baked until crispy on the outside, tender in the middle and coated in a spicy buffalo sauce mixture. Bake these bites in the oven or air fryer and serve immediately as a vegan appetizer or as Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos with coleslaw. All you need is 10 simple pantry staple ingredients.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Quick and easy. When I first learned how to make cauliflower buffalo wings, I was dipping the cauliflower bites one by one in the batter. Although this method works, it takes forever. I’ve since figured out that I can get the same exact result by adding the cauliflower florets to a bowl and shaking them to coat them in the batter. So much faster and easier!
- Amazing vegetarian and vegan friendly appetizer. If you are hosting a game day or simply want to serve hearty vegetarian appetizers, look no further! These crispy cauliflower bites are just as juice and tender as chicken wings and are loved by meat eaters.
- Gluten-free option! Use gluten free flour and breadcrumbs for the perfect vegan and gluten free bites.
- Air fryer option. Make these cauliflower bites in your air fryer with just 20 minutes of air frying!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- cauliflower florets – You can cut a whole head of cauliflower florets yourself, or buy cauliflower florets pre-cut for ease. I do not recommend using frozen cauliflower because it will release it’s extra moisture while baking and make the breading on the cauliflower soggy. Fresh cauliflower is the only option.
- flour – I have only made these crispy cauliflower bites with all purpose flour and gluten free 1 to 1 all purpose flour. Using another flour cannot be recommended at this time. If you choose to substitute the flour with something else, note that this can greatly change the results and texture of the bites and may not have good results.
- plant-based milk – Any unsweetened plant-based milk will work here. I’ve used almond, soy, and cashew milk with great results! Note that some store-bought unsweetened milks are now being made with some sort of sweet tasting preservative or gum and are not good to use with savory recipes. Before pouring the milk into your batter mixture, smell and taste it to ensure it’s not artificially sweet.
- breadcrumbs – I have used both breadcrumbs and Panko breadcrumbs to make these crispy buffalo cauliflower bites. Both work really well. Gluten free breadcrumbs will also work.
- buffalo sauce – I always make these cauliflower bites with Frank’s Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce. Note that Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce contains dairy and is therefore not vegan friendly.
Step by Step Instructions
- Prepare the cauliflower batter. In a large mixing bowl or container with a lid, whisk together the plant-based milk, flour, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper until a batter forms.
- Coat the cauliflower florets in the batter. Put the cauliflower in the same bowl with the cauliflower batter. Add the lid to the bowl and shake the bowl well to coat the cauliflower florets in the batter.
- Coat the cauliflower bites in the breading. In a separate large bowl with a lid, sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs in the bottom. Add the batter coated cauliflower florets on top, then sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs on top. Add the lid and shake well until the cauliflower bites are evenly coated.
- Bake the cauliflower. Transfer the crispy cauliflower bites onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure to leave sufficient room between the florets for optimal crisping up. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Coat in buffalo sauce mixture. After the first bake, transfer the crispy cauliflower bites into a large bowl and coat in the buffalo sauce mixture.
- Bake cauliflower bites for a second time. Transfer the cauliflower bites back to the parchment lined baking sheet and bake once more for an additional 25 minutes. It should be very crispy and tender!
- Serve immediately while hot and crispy.
Buffalo cauliflower is going to be the crispiest fresh, but it can be reheated. If you have any leftovers, reheat in the oven or air fryer at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, or until warmed through. They will be softer than when fresh, but still very delicious.
Follow the steps of this recipe as normal, but air fry the crispy cauliflower bites in a single layer in the air fryer at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Coat them in the buffalo sauce and air fry again for an additional 8-10 minutes. For most air fryer models, you are going to need to do this in a few batches to prevent overcrowding.
My favorite thing to dip crispy cauliflower bites in is vegan ranch dressing. It helps cool down the spice and is easy to find in stores. You can also make your own tahini ranch at home with my recipe below in the recipe card.
If you are serving buffalo cauliflower bites as an appetizer, I’d serve them alongside various other finger foods. Try carrot sticks, celery sticks, sliced bell peppers, potato wedges, sweet potato fries, and Baked Tofu Chicken Nuggets!
Tips for Success
- Make sure to leave ample room between cauliflower bites when baking. If you crowd the cauliflower florets on the baking sheet or even in the air fryer, they are more likely to steam than get nice and crispy.
- Cut the cauliflower in as uniform of florets as possible. This is going to help them cook through evenly.
- Don’t skip the second bake. This is what makes the cauliflower really tender like chicken wings.
More Vegan Recipes You May Like
Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (Air Fryer Option)
Cauliflower Wing Batter
- 1 medium sized head cauliflower - about 8 loosely packed cups of florets
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour - can substitute 1 to 1 gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk - can substitute water
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ cups bread crumbs - can substitute panko breadcrumbs or gluten free breadcrumbs
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Chop your head of cauliflower into bite sized florets.
- In a large mixing bowl with a lid, whisk together the all-purpose flour, plant based milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper to make the batter.
- Add the cauliflower florets to the batter, add the lid, and shake well until the florets are covered evenly in batter.
- In a second large mixing bowl with a lid, add half of the breadcrumbs. Transfer the battered cauliflower into bowl with bread crumbs and sprinkle with remaining half of breadcrumbs. Add the lid and shake until all florets are well coated in bread crumbs.
- Divide the breaded cauliflower florets between two baking sheets. Make sure they are spaced out enough to allow them to crisp up. Bake for 25 minutes.
- While the cauliflower wings are baking, whisk together the buffalo sauce, melted vegan butter, and maple syrup.
- After 25 minutes of baking, carefully transfer the florets back into your large mixing bowl that you used for the breadcrumbs (does not need to be clean) and add the buffalo sauce mixture. Add the lid and shake to coat all florets in buffalo sauce. Transfer florets back to your baking sheets and bake again for another 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, remove from oven and enjoy immediately.
- Storage: These cauliflower buffalo wings are really best fresh but will last up to 3 days in the fridge. They will be significantly less crispy after refrigeration.
- Air fryer option: Follow the steps for preparing these crispy cauliflower bites as usual, but alter the baking temperatures and times to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Layer the cauliflower bites in a single layer in the air fryer basket before air frying. You will need to do this in batches.
- Note that Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce is not vegan but their original Cayenne Pepper Sauce is vegan friendly.
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published on July 14, 2020 and has been updated on April 27, 2022 to include step by step photos and additional tips for success. The original recipe remains the same.