These vegan & gluten-free buffalo cauliflower wings are a game day hit! Crispy cauliflower florets tossed in a spicy buffalo sauce are a party appetizer that everyone can enjoy.
It's game day woohoo! Time to break out your best appetizer recipes. Crispy, saucy, warm, and spicy - these vegan and gluten-free buffalo cauliflower wings are an appetizer than everyone will enjoy, regardless of dietary restrictions.
They are certain to be the talk of the party - perfect for sports fans!
They come together very easily using pantry staples and can be made ahead of time for easy game day prep.
Have I sold you yet? They're deliciously addicting. Keep reading to learn how to make buffalo cauliflower wings!
Ingredients you need
What's great about this recipe is that the batter comes together with pantry staples you most likely already have - yay for a short grocery list! Here's what you'll need to make buffalo cauliflower wings:
- 1 medium-sized head of cauliflower: Make sure it's fresh! I have not tested this recipe with frozen cauliflower and do not believe it would come out the same.
- Frying oil: If you can afford it's higher price tag, I really recommend using avocado oil. It can withstand high heat, and is healthier for you than canola, sunflower, or peanut oil. I explain later in the post why frying is critical to the texture of these wings!
- Buffalo sauce: Because it's game day! I opted for the Frank's Buffalo style sauce below, but use your favourite. Make sure to check that it's vegan and doesn't contain any butter.
- (Optional) vegan ranch sauce for dipping: This combo is so good! The heat of the buffalo sauce combined with the coolness of the ranch is winner for sure. Make sure your ranch is vegan as well! This one from President's Choice (Canada) is amazing!
- Gluten-free all-purpose flour: As usual, I recommend my favourite all-purpose gluten-free flour - Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour (in the blue bag). This is the only flour I've tested the recipe with, however I think any 1:1 replacement should do!
- Baking powder: This is the magic that makes the batter "puff" when fried to create that iconic crispy coating like a chicken wing.
- Salt: To amplify flavour!
- Cornstarch: This is important - don't skip the cornstarch! It works with the flour and baking soda to form the base of this fluffy, crispy, airy, delicious batter.
- Spices: The first time I tested this recipe, I didn't include any spices in addition to the salt. However, I found the wings lacking a little flavour, despite the buffalo sauce. Then I tried a couple cracks of black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and a little cayenne and WOW - such a little change led to big flavour. So now I recommend adding a little spice to the batter, just to complement and amplify the buffalo sauce.
- Water: The water forms a chemical reaction with the baking powder to create the "puff" of the batter - it's super cool!
How to make buffalo cauliflower wings
The first thing you'll want to do before preparing anything else is to begin heating up your oil. I like to use avocado oil in a cast iron dutch oven. It's fantastic because it holds the heat really well and constant - the downside is it can take a while to heat up. Any heavy bottom saucepan would work as a makeshift "deep fryer". Although to save money on the oil, I don't use enough to fully deep fry - but more on that later.
While the oil is heating, you can begin by chopping the cauliflower. Be sure to thoroughly wash and dry it first. Chop the cauliflower into good size florets. Since we're kind of emulating chicken wings here, think about that size - or a diameter of 1-2 inches.
Once that's done, it's time to mix up the batter. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry batter ingredients and mix thoroughly. Finally, add the water. You will notice the batter begin to bubble and thicken immediately. This is due to the reaction of the water and baking powder, and this is good!
Add the cauliflower florets to the batter and stir or toss to full coat.
Tip: You may need to do this in batches
Keep the cauliflower in the batter bowl as you prepare to fry in batches. You'll likely have to fry in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot.
Note about frying
Something that I want to note about this recipe is that frying is mandatory for the taste and texture to come out right. Yes, I did test this recipe with a baked version and it was simply not the same. The reaction between the batter and the hot oil makes the batter puff and bubble which results in the crispy, airy texture that unfortunately the oven cannot replicate. These buffalo cauliflower wings are quite authentic, texturally, to chicken wings and the frying is an important part of that!
Before you begin frying, it is important to test that the oil is at the proper temperature. Take a small scoop of plain batter from the bowl and gently drop it into the oil. It should immediately begin to bubble and puff, and brown in a minute or 2. If this happens - you're good to go!
If the batter does not bubble or puff, the oil is not hot enough. Either increase the heat slightly or wait for the temperature to come up. Test again with another piece of batter until you know it's ready.
If the batter immediately turns golden or dark brown, the oil is too hot. Turn the temperature down and wait a few minutes for it to come down. Test again with another piece of batter until you know it's ready.
Once the oil is at the proper temperature, it's time to start frying. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently place the battered cauliflower florets into the oil. Be sure to leave room between florets for the oil to reach. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye out for varying sizes - smaller pieces may be done sooner. When they are golden brown they are done!
Remove from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Repeat with as many batches as required to cook all the cauliflower! When done with the oil, turn off the heat and allow it to cool completely. Later, you can strain the oil into a reusable container to fry again some other time!
At this point, you are ready to sauce!
Just before that though, I will note that if you are not intending to serve all of the cauliflower wings at the same time, you can allow them to cool completely and freeze at this pre-sauced stage. When ready to cook, you would bake them in the oven at about 400 for about 10 minutes (or until crisp) OR air fry at 375 for 5-10 minutes (or until crisp). From there, follow with the saucing!
Sauce just before ready to serve. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl and generously coat with buffalo sauce (you may have to batch this). Toss and you're ready to serve!
I recommend serving these vegan buffalo cauliflower wings with a side of carrots, celery, and (vegan) ranch dressing! The coolness of these are perfect to offset the spicy buffalo sauce. Enjoy with a drink while watching the game!
These gluten-free and vegan buffalo cauliflower wings are sure to be a hit at the next game day party! They're crispy, crunchy, healthy, and delicious – not to mention gluten free, dairy-free or vegan. Perfect for anyone and everyone to enjoy!
Have you made these vegan buffalo cauliflower wings? Be sure to leave a comment telling me how much you loved it, and tag me on instagram @liv.glutenfree! I hope you enjoy as much as I do!
Looking for more gluten-free and dairy-free game day appetizers? Check these out!
Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Wings (Gluten-Free)
- 1 head of cauliflower, raw medium sized
- 500 ml frying oil, enough to fill 1 inch up a heavy bottom pot I use and recommend avocado oil
- ¾ cup buffalo sauce ensure vegan if required
- 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour I use Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour
- 2½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ¼ tsp each, cayenne and garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- few cracks of black pepper
- 1⅓ cup water
- Fill a heavy-bottom sauce pot with the frying oil. Depending on the size of your pot, the oil should be about 1 inch deep. Turn the heat to medium and allow the oil to slowly warm up.
- While the oil is heating, wash the head of cauliflower, dry, and chop into florets. They should be about 1-2 inches in diameter.
- In a very large bowl, combine the batter ingredients, mixing the dry ingredients thoroughly before adding the water. You will notice the batter will thicken and bubble.
- Add the cauliflower florets to the batter and stir to coat entirely. You may need to do this in batches.
- Test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small amount of batter in. If it bubbles, puffs, and browns, the oil is good to go.
- Carefully use tongs or a slotted spoon to drop battered cauliflower florets into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pot to ensure each floret has space around it. You will have to do this in batches.
- Fry for approximately 2-3 minutes before flipping and cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes. Watch the smaller pieces if you have varying sizes.
- Once golden brown, remove from the oil with tongs or a slotted spoon and place cauliflower on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Repeat the frying until all of the cauliflower is cooked.
- Just before you are ready to serve, add the fried cauliflower to a large bowl with the buffalo sauce. Stir or shake around to ensure the cauliflower get fully coated in sauce.
- Plate and serve with a side of (vegan) ranch. Enjoy!