These Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Wings are a tangy, spicy and delicious appetizer served with a creamy mayonnaise or ranch dressing. They’re easy, vegan friendy and quick – ready in just 30 minutes!
Cauliflower wings are the perfect finger-food option for a summer afternoon party and extra satisfying served with a crisp ice cold beer or cider. They’re an awesome snack choice for the Superbowl or the Aussie equivalent – Grand Final Day; they’re so easy and quick to make for a low fuss entertaining option. Serve them alongside some of my other easy appetizers like the viral TikTok Crispy Smashed Potatoes, or my Hummus Potatoes, Jalapeno Mac n Cheese Bites or for a healthier option, Carrot Fries!
But of course, don’t feel you have to wait to host guests to make these – treat yo self! They’re a fab treat to look forward to on a Friday night after a long work week, or can even be eaten as a main meal for two people. If you’d like to make them a main course, try serving them alongside my viral Brown Rice Salad, or pairing them with something creamy like Pumpkin Mac n Cheese or Avocado Pasta Salad. They also make a delicious filling for tacos with some guacamole, shredded cabbage and jalapenos!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Flavour Bomb: Bold spices and tangy sriracha sauce plus a creamy vegan mayonnaise make these cauliflower wings SO more-ish! They are sure to impress even the biggest meat eaters and make the perfect party snack.
- Vegan Friendly: These plant-based wings prove that vegan alternatives can sometimes be even more delicious than the original meat based recipe! You don’t need to pick over bones, just bite straight in and enjoy.
- Healthier: As these wings are air fried and made without dairy or meat they are much healthier than the original chicken version.
- Quick and Easy: Simple prep and a quick cook time means these are on the table in just 30 minutes. A great recipe for easy entertaining.
- Versatile Crowd-Pleaser: Whether it’s a party, movie night, or grand final day celebration (aka the Aussie version of the superbowl hehe), these buffalo cauliflower wings are going to be a big hit.
Unlike some vegan recipes that require a bunch of niche specialty ingredients, cauliflower wings are very simple.There’s a detailed list of ingredients with exact quantities in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here’s a shopping list for your convenience:
- All-purpose flour
- Unsweetened plant-based milk (e.g. almond milk or soy milk)
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- Panko bread crumbs
- Sriracha sauce
- Soy sauce
- Vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)
- Optional: Fresh cilantro or green onions for garnish
How To Make Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower
Making Buffalo Cauliflower using an air fryer is very quick. Detailed instructions are included in the recipe card and video at the bottom of this post, but here are the step by step instructions with photos to make it even easier:
Prepare the cauliflower by cutting it into bite-sized florets. Remove any tough stems.
Whisk flour, plant-based milk, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper to make a smooth batter.
Coat the cauliflower in the batter, then coat in panko breadcrumbs.
Air fry the cauliflower wings for 15 minutes at 400°F (200°C).
Combine sriracha, soy sauce, and vegetable oil to make the buffalo sauce.
Coat cauliflower in buffalo sauce then return to the air fryer for 5 minutes.
Garnish and serve with your dipping sauce of choice.
Hint: you *can* coat the florets in buffalo sauce in the air fryer basket to save yourself cleaning an extra bowl, but make sure to brush the buffalo sauce on (don’t pour it on like I do in the video below!!) otherwise half the sauce will fall through the grill of your air fryer and will be wasted. I learned this the hard way haha. Btw, in case you haven’t already invested in an air fryer, I really like my Tefal Easy Fry & Grill Deluxe Air Fryer EY505D, would recommend!
How to Serve Cauliflower Wings
Because they have a tangy, spicy sauce and a crispy outer, Buffalo Cauliflower Wings are best served with something cooling to complement them. A creamy plant based mayonnaise , ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing or even hummus with some fresh accompaniments like carrot or celery sticks would be ideal. If you’re planning on eating this as a main meal (note – this recipe will only be enough for two people) then consider serving them with a creamy cold salad like my Avocado Pasta Salad, or as hearty addition to this Arugula Pumpkin Chickpea Salad.
- Gluten-free: Make this recipe gluten-free by replacing the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend, gluten free bread crumbs instead of panko and tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Sriracha: you can use any hot sauce you would like to make the Buffalo Sauce. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce is also a great choice.
- Swap out the buffalo sauce: Instead of the buffalo sauce, you can coat the cauliflower wings with your favorite vegan BBQ sauce for a tangy and smoky twist. Or create an Asian-inspired sauce by combining sriracha with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and a touch of maple syrup or agave for sweetness.
- Use a different milk: Feel free to use other unsweetened plant-based milk options, such as oat milk. Of course, if you’re not vegan then you can also just use regular dairy milk.
- Make it extra crunchy: If you want an extra CRONCH then why not replace the panko breadcrumbs with crushed cornflakes, crushed pretzels, or crushed tortilla chips. Yummmm.
- Bake or deep fry: While this recipe if for air frying, you can also opt to deep-fry the cauliflower wings for a more indulgent and crispy result. Keep in mind that deep-frying will require more oil and will increase the overall calorie content. For a healthier option, you can also can bake these in an oven at 425°F (220°C) for 20-25 minutes, coat in the sauce, then bake for a further 5 minutes.
- Different dipping sauces: Besides vegan ranch and blue cheese dressings, you can explore other dipping sauce options like hummus, sriracha mayo, vegan tzatziki, guacamole, sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce, or vegan honey mustard.
- Buffalo cauliflower tacos: Use the buffalo cauliflower as a filling for tacos instead of serving it as wings. Add shredded lettuce or red cabbage, diced tomatoes, avocado, and a drizzle of vegan ranch.
- Spice it up: Experiment with different spices or spice blends to customize the flavor. For example, you could try adding cayenne pepper, chili powder, or a pinch of cumin for added heat and complexity.
How to Store Leftovers
These are best enjoyed straight out of the air fryer for the freshest and cripiest texture. But if you have leftovers, you can keep in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. Alternatively, freeze them on a baking sheet before transferring to a freezer-safe container for up to 2-3 months. Reheat in the oven or air fryer to restore crispiness.
How to Prepare In Advance
If you’re hosting a party and want to do as much prep as possible before your guests arrive, then you can prepare buffalo cauliflower bites partially in advance. Work through the recipe up to the point where you are about to air fry the cauliflower bites. At this point, they should be coated in batter and panko crumbs but still raw. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days until you’re ready to cook. You can also pre-mix the buffalo sauce so it’s ready to go.
Make sure to get the batter and buffalo sauce well coated on the florets, get into every nook and cranny for maximum flavour!
Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket – cook in batches if needed! Otherwise the texture of the cauliflower will not be crispy and they will not cook through to be tender. It should just be one layer of cauliflower and there should be a little bit of space between each floret.
Buffalo cauliflower wings are a generally healthier option than real chicken wings as they are often lower calories and contain less saturated fat. That said, keep in mind that cauliflower is lower in protein than chicken, and these are still made using some oil. Cauliflower wings are certainly not unhealthy but also not a dish I would consider ‘diet’ food – enjoy in moderation 🙂
Air fry these veggie buffalo wings for 15 minutes, coat in buffalo sauce, then return to the air fryer for an extra 5 minutes. 20 minutes in total.
Cauliflower wings could be considered a healthier option as they are lower in calories and saturated fat, but it’s important to note that cauliflower is a vegetable and does not contain the protein that chicken does. Both options can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Soggy wings is most often due to overcrowding during baking or air frying, lack of oil, incorrect cooking time, or sauce application timing. Make sure to air fry or bake in a single layer with some space around each floret, use the oil recommended and return to the oven or air fryer after coating in buffalo sauce. Depending on your appliances, you may need to increase the temperature and/or cook time until you get the desired texture. Keep an eye on the cauliflower and continue to cook until crispy.
I’m not going to lie to you – cauliflower wings are delicious but they do NOT taste like chicken. The sauce flavour is the same, but the actual cauliflower texture and flavour is mild, but much lighter and just totally different to chicken. Don’t let that put you off though – it’s still an absolutely delicious snack in it’s own right. If you want to make wings that taste more like actual chicken, try using seitan or chicken mock meat strips in place of cauliflower florets.
More vegan side dishes
Looking for more vegan side dishes? Try some of my other recipes:
Visual learner? Watch me make the recipe!
I hope you love this recipe for Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Wings! Steve and I always make this when we see cauliflower discounted at the supermarket – it’s so easy and delicious. Let me know in the comments below what you thought of the recipe, or if you have tried any variations I can experiment with 🙂
Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
- Air fryer
- 1 medium-sized cauliflower head
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup sriracha sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- coriander (cilantro) roughly chopped
- spring onion
- mayonnaise, aioli or ranch dressing plant based
- Lightly grease the air fryer basket with cooking spray or a small amount of oil.
- Prepare the cauliflower by cutting it into bite-sized florets. Remove any tough stems.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, plant-based milk, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper until you have a smooth batter.
- In a separate bowl, place the panko bread crumbs.
- Add the cauliflower to the bowl of batter and mix with your hands until each floret is thoroughly coated. Next, roll the florets in the panko bread crumbs, pressing gently to help them adhere.
- Air fry the cauliflower wings at 400°F (200°C) for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time, until they are crispy and golden brown.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare the buffalo sauce. In a small bowl, combine the sriracha sauce, soy sauce, and vegetable oil.
- When the wings are done, transfer cooked wings into a large mixing bowl. Pour over the buffalo sauce and toss gently until thoroughly coated. Return the coated wings to the air fryer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the cauliflower wings from the air fryer and let them cool for a few minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or spring onions and serve with mayonnaise or ranch dressing.