Vegan Cauliflower Buffalo Wings - perfect for game night, or a mid-week evening snack, these spicy little vegan buffalo bites are even delicious cold!
Try my other delicious vegan finger foods
I first made baked Cauliflower Buffalo Wings when I became a fully-fledged vegan, about 10 years ago. I was never a huge fan of chicken wings anyway; as I child I was always squeamish about gristle and skin and bones and chewy bits of meat, much to chagrin of my grandad, who loved to chow down on ribs and all sorts of other meats. Later on, I did become more adventurous, but never more so then when I started to experiment with meat substitutes, and the never-ending quest to vegify (not a real word) all my childhood favourites.
And I was not the only one. My vegan friend penned me this note after trying my oven roasted buffalo cauliflower wings for the first time and I thought you’d all like to read it. It’s a cautionary tale, but we are best not judging Byron for the food choices he made in life, but rather for the joy with which he lived his life. I think we can all empathise with that right now.
“Byron was a co-worker and friend of mine in Denver, where we worked in a hospital together. He was a proper Colorado mountain man, spending any down time he had hunting elk or fishing for trout.
He also loved chicken wings.
My memory may not be entirely accurate, but I'm certain he brought a pack of hot wings from Safeway to work every night. He ate every bit of the wing, savouring the gristle, sinews, and skin, stripping a wing down to white bone in seconds.
Byron also required an angioplasty at 43. When my friend Kathy informed me two years later that he had been found dead, I was shocked and depressed; not surprised, but strangely caught off guard. The thing was, I'd always envied his huge persona and his lust for life and the way everyone who knew him loved and respected him.
I also envied his ability to consume chicken wings. Until he died, that is.
This year, I'll be the same age he was when he had his angioplasty and while there's plenty of junk food available for vegans, I'm happy to report that my cholesterol dropped by
35% after changing my diet and I feel healthier now than I did at 33. I only wish that I'd been able to help Byron make changes in his life before his lifestyle caught up with him. I would've shared these "wings" with him and can't help thinking that he'd be happy with them and the fact that there's nothing left on the plate but crumbs at the end.”
What are Vegan Buffalo Wings?
Vegan wings are the cunning vegan's way to still enjoy hot wings without the animal products. My version uses cauliflower florets to replace the chicken element, you can buy seitan wings from your local grocery store if you prefer a more "meaty" texture. I think the cauliflower gives them a great flavor and texture though that, whilst it won't fool any meat eaters, would hopefully satisfy them at least. They make a great side dish for the super bowl, game night (not that that's a thing in the UK), but are just as at home on a buffet table too.
I don't pre-cook my cauliflower, instead I coat the florets in a spicy buffalo sauce flavoured batter, and bake them until tender. Then I toss them in a spicy glaze and serve them with a vegan blue cheese dressing and some obligatory celery sticks.
You could deep fry these or cook them in an air fryer basket if you prefer. I think deep frying certainly improves the flavor of most things, but I am not of fan of the process! Baking them is easy peasy with very little mess.
Some other version of buffalo wings also use panko breadcrumbs as a crispy coating. I have added sesame seeds to the batter to add a little flavorsome crunch. Feel free to omit if you prefer.
You can get vegan Cauliflower Buffalo wings from your favourite fast food establishments too these day; Papa Johns do a passable version, and it is great that are catering to those of us with more plant-based tastes, but these homemade ones really are delicious, and you can use your own favourite vegan buffalo sauce! I like to use a mixture of Tabasco, Frank's Red Hot Sauce and Sweet Chilli Sauce, but you can choose your spice level, making these as spicy or as gentle as you like.
"Wings and Batter"
- Cauliflower florets of equal size. If you want to make buffalo cauliflower bites, cut the cauliflower into smaller, bitesize pieces
- Plain Flour you can substitute with gluten-free flour or chickpea flour
- Tapioca or corn starch
- Milk dairy-free, (unsweetened)
- Sesame Seeds
- Cayenne Pepper
- Black Pepper
- Hot Sauce (I used Sriracha because I like extra spice!)
Glaze for the "wings"
- Vegan butter
- Sweet Chilli Sauce
- Hot Sauce of your choice (I like Frank's Red Hot). You can just use all Hot Sauce or all Sweet Chilli if you'd prefer, or a combination of hot sauce
- Maple Syrup
- Preheat oven to 200c.
- Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Prepare your cauliflower by cutting into equal size florets.
- To mix up your batter, whisk all the batter ingredients together until you have a smooth batter.
- Drop the florets into the batter, using a spatula to fold the batter over the florets until they are thoroughly coated.
- Using a slotted spoon (to drain off any excess drip), move the coated florets to your prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes on each side, turning halfway through.
- Whilst they are baking, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze in a medium bowl.
- Once the wings are cooked, drop them one by one into the prepared glaze, coating thoroughly, then popping back into the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes then serve with blue cheeze dressing!
For the Batter
- 1 Cauliflower cut into wing-sized florets of equal size
- 130 g Plain Flour you can substitute with Gluten Free flour
- 2 tablespoon Tapioca or Cornflour Starch
- 240 ml Milk dairy-free, (unsweetened)
- 1 tablespoon Paprika
- 2 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
- ½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 120 ml Hot Sauce (I used Sriracha)
- 1 tablespoon Butter Vegan, melted
- 60 ml Sweet Chilli Sauce
- 60 ml Hot Sauce of your choice (I like Frank's Red Hot). You can just use all Hot Sauce or all Sweet Chilli if you'd prefer
- 2 tablespoon Maple Syrup
Blue Cheeze Dip
- 115 g Vegan Mayo (garlic flavoured if available)
- 60 g Vegan Sour Cream vegan (or plant-based plain yogurt)
- 100 g Blue Cheese vegan, grated
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 200c.
- Lightly oil a large baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, tapioca starch (or cornflour), paprika, cayenne pepper, sesame seeds, sriracha and black pepper to form a smooth batter. It should be thick enough to coat the florets evenly.
- Drop the cauliflower florets into the batter and coat throughly.
- Arrange the coated florets on the baking sheet so that they aren't touching.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then turn over.
- Bake for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the glaze ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Remove the Buffalo Wings from the oven and coat throughly in the glaze.
- Return to oven for 10 more minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving with the dip! Sprinkle with a little chopped chilli or spring onion.
- To make the blue sauce, blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or whisk it with a fork in a bowl, testing for seasoning. You may or may not need to salt the dip, depending on how salty your cheeze/mayo is.
- Serve with some celery, cucumber, radish for extra dipping.