Air fryer buffalo cauliflower is the perfect meat-free alternative to buffalo wings, easy to prepare, and ready in under 25 minutes! Even better, these vegan cauliflower wings are gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free for a healthy yet delicious game-day appetizer, finger food snack, or side dish!
Perfectly Crispy Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
I haven’t had my Air Fryer for long, but quickly discovered how much I love using it to make quick appetizers, sides, and snack recipes – like vegan empanadas, crispy chickpeas, falafels, Hasselback potatoes, and these air fryer buffalo cauliflower wings using just a fraction of the oil and time needed for other methods. Whether you eat a meat-free diet or not, this air-fried buffalo cauliflower is a wonderful ‘lighter,’ lower-carb, lower-calorie version over fried buffalo wings. It makes for the perfect crowd-pleasing finger food or side for entertaining!
Traditional buffalo wings deep-fry and coat chicken wings in a vinegar and cayenne-based hot sauce with melted butter, then serve it up with a blue cheese dressing (or Ranch). In comparison, this vegan recipe batters low-carb cauliflower ‘wings’ with a flavorful hot sauce, garlic, onion, and paprika batter, then air fries them until slightly crispy (with a fraction of the oil!). Post-cooking, baste the cauliflower hot wings with more spicy (or mild) sauce. Finally, pair them with a creamy vegan Ranch dip and consider this an instant crowd pleaser!
Not only is this buffalo cauliflower recipe incredibly easy to prepare, but it requires just a couple of simple ingredients, and the entire process is ready in under 25 minutes (a fraction of the time it would take to bake them – method in FAQs). Plus, the cauliflower buffalo bites are delicious enough to impress even those cauliflower-weary eaters!
- Chickpea flour: Using chickpea flour will make these air-fried cauliflower wings gluten-free. Alternatively, you could use regular all-purpose flour. For even crispier results, replace one tablespoon of flour with cornstarch (tapioca starch may also work).
- Dairy-free milk: Use any dairy-free milk (or water).
- Hot sauce: Use your favorite vegan hot sauce (like Frank’s).
- Seasonings: Onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt make up the simple seasonings for these cauliflower hot wings. Use additional cayenne pepper for extra heat.
- Vegan butter: Alternatively, you could use neutral-flavored cooking oil (avocado, coconut, olive, etc.) as I did.
- Cauliflower: You’ll need one small-medium head of cauliflower for this buffalo cauliflower recipe.
- Hot sauce: This is to brush the air-fried buffalo cauliflower with. For a milder alternative, use ketchup or BBQ sauce (keto).
- Vegan Ranch dressing: The perfect dip for cauliflower buffalo wings. However, read below for alternative sauces.
Optional add-ins and recipe variations:
- Buffalo Sauce/ glaze: Instead of glazing the air fryer cauliflower wings with plain hot sauce, you could make a buffalo sauce with a combination of hot sauce, melted vegan butter, and optionally some maple syrup. Use around one tablespoon of vegan butter per 4-5 tbsp hot sauce, and add sweetener to taste.
- Alternative creamy sauces: A simple dairy-free garlic yogurt dip with a squeeze of lemon juice, French onion dip, or vegan buffalo-mayo sauce would also pair well with these air fryer buffalo cauliflower wings.
- Parsley: To garnish the dish with some extra ‘fresh’ flavor. Scallions would also work.
Please read the recipe card below for the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information.
How to Make Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
- First, cut the cauliflower into florets and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Rinse and thoroughly dry the cauliflower if needed.
- In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, dairy-free milk, hot sauce, spices, and dairy-free butter (or oil). Then whisk to combine until lump-free.
- Pour the batter over the cauliflower florets and toss thoroughly to combine. Do this using tongs, a spoon, or even your fingers.
- Then, spray the bottom of your air fryer basket with a bit of oil and add the coated cauliflower. Spread them evenly in a single layer with space in-between (cook them in batches if needed).
- Cook at 370°F/188°C for 15 minutes, or until fork-tender in the middle and crisp outside.
- Then, transfer the cauliflower florets to a plate and brush each one with either more hot sauce (if you like it spicy) or use ketchup or BBQ sauce.
Finally, serve the cauliflower buffalo wings with a creamy Ranch dressing and optionally some carrot and celery sticks – enjoy!
How to Make Ahead and Store
Make ahead: Prepare the cauliflower and batter and store them in separate contains in the fridge for up to 2 days, until you’re ready to coat and cook them.
Store: While these air-fried cauliflower wings definitely taste best when fresh, leftovers will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheat: I recommend placing them back in the air fryer for several minutes until warmed through.
Can you bake buffalo cauliflower wings?
Absolutely. Simply spread the florets across a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at 425°F (220°C) for 35-40 minutes (30 for smaller florets). I recommend flipping halfway through. Optionally, broil on high for 1-2 minutes at the end for extra crispness.
Can you cook frozen cauliflower wings in the air fryer?
This isn’t something I’ve tried, though it may be possible. If you use frozen cauliflower florets to coat and air fry, I recommend increasing the cooking time (25-30 minutes). They will first become quite soggy when cooking – but should hopefully crisp up at the end. I’d recommend flipping/tossing the cauliflower wings every 5-8 minutes when cooking cauliflower from frozen.
Can you freeze battered cauliflower?
Once again, this isn’t something I’ve tried for these cauliflower buffalo bites – but if you want to try, I recommend par-cooking the battered cauliflower for between 5-8 minutes. Then allow them to cool and freeze for several months. Then cook in the air fryer from frozen until fork-tender and crispy. They may be slightly soggier than non-frozen versions, though.
Can I use almond flour for cauliflower wings?
I haven’t tried this recipe with almond flour- so I can’t guarantee results. However, I imagine almond flour would work better as ‘breadcrumbs’ rather than to create a ‘flour batter’ (though feel free to experiment with the latter). I recommend omitting the milk and increasing the oil/butter by several tablespoons. First, coat the cauliflower wings in the hot sauce/butter (or oil) mixture. Then combine the almond flour and seasonings and toss to coat. Then air fry until crispy.
Using almond flour is a great low-carb, whole30, keto-friendly option for these air fryer cauliflower wings.
Recipe Notes and FAQs
- Adjust the amount of batter: The quantities in this recipe are just enough for a small-medium head of cauliflower (600 g without stem). However, if you are using a larger cauliflower, I recommend doubling the batter ingredients.
- Don’t crowd the air fryer: This is critical. The machine works by circulating hot air around the food, so it needs the space – otherwise, the air-fried cauliflower wings will stay soggy and not crisp up.
- If you make these in batches: Reheat earlier batches by placing them back in the air fryer for a minute or two (no need to keep them in a single layer after cooking them).
More Delicious Vegan Appetizers
- Baked Vegan Spring Rolls
- Savory Vegetable Muffins
- Vegetable Dumplings (Gyoza)
- Vegan Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Vegan Cheese Fondue
- Korean Scallion Pancakes
- Easy Bruschetta
If you try this air fryer buffalo cauliflower wings recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan #elavegan – I love seeing them.
Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
- 1 small-medium head (600 g) cauliflower (weight without stem)
- Mild hot sauce or ketchup, to brush
- Vegan Ranch Dressing to dip
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.Cut the cauliflower into florets and transfer them to a bowl.
- Add chickpea flour to a medium bowl along with the dairy-free milk, hot sauce, spices, and oil. Whisk to combine.
- Pour the batter over the cauliflower florets and toss thoroughly to combine, using tongs, a spoon, or even your fingers.If you prefer crispy cauliflower wings, I recommend coating the florets with some breadcrumbs (regular or gluten-free).
- Spray the bottom of your air fryer with a little oil and add the coated cauliflower florets. Spread them evenly in a single layer.
- Cook at 370°F (188 °C) for 15 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower florets to a plate and brush each one with either more hot sauce (if you like it spicy) or use ketchup. You can also make my keto BBQ sauce.
- Serve with ranch dressing and enjoy!
- Flour: I love using chickpea flour, but regular all-purpose flour will work too. You can also replace 1 tbsp of the flour with cornstarch for crispier results.
- Batter: The batter is enough for a small/medium head of cauliflower, weighing 600 grams without the stem. If you are using a medium/large cauliflower (about 2 pounds), then definitely double all batter ingredients.
- Cooking method: You could also bake the cauliflower wings in the oven, at 425°F (220°C) but the cooking time will increase to about 40 minutes (I recommend flipping halfway through).
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically