Tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, this vegan buffalo cauliflower is a mouthwatering addition to your game-day appetizer or dinner table. We use cauliflower florets to mimic the texture of traditional buffalo wings and then toss them in a finger-licking, sweet, spicy buffalo sauce. Whether you use it as a starter or your main course, you will crave more after the first bite!
Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable that you can use to create the perfect vegan dishes. Check out some of our other flavorful and fun cauliflower recipes, such as our gobi manchurian, cauliflower korma, orange cauliflower, and vegan tikka masala.
What to expect?
This vegan buffalo cauliflower recipe is easy to make and does not require many ingredients. We first precook the cauliflower for a few minutes to give it a tender texture before tossing it in a seasoned batter and deep-frying it until golden brown.
Unlike other buffalo cauliflower recipes, we toss the cauliflower in cornflakes versus breadcrumbs to intensify the crispy texture. We then cover the cauliflower bites in a sweet and spicy sauce made with the popular Frank’s Red Hot sauce. The result is crunchy, spicy, flavor-packed vegan buffalo cauliflower wings that even meat eaters will enjoy!
Here is why you will love this vegan buffalo cauliflower:
- It is simple to make and ready to eat in just 30 minutes.
- It only requires a few ingredients, which are easily accessible.
- It is deep-fried versus baked, giving it a crispy texture on the outside with a tender inside.
- It is incredibly versatile. You can have it as an appetizer, snack, or main meal!
- Sunflower oil
- Yellow corn flour – You can also try chickpea flour instead.
- All-purpose flour – You can also use white rice flour to make it gluten-free.
- Corn flakes – You can also use panko breadcrumbs or one of these other breadcrumbs substitutes.
- Corn starch – Tapioca starch is another alternative.
- Frank’s Red Hot Sauce – Any other hot sauce also works.
- Dairy-free butter
- Maple syrup
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Preparing the ingredients
- Cut the cauliflower head into smaller florets. Blanche them in boiling hot water for five minutes, then drain. Make sure not to overcook them.
- Crush the cornflakes into a fine, breadcrumb-like texture. We used the small chopping bowl of our immersion blender.
- Create your wet batter by mixing the corn flour, rice flour (or all-purpose flour), corn starch, salt, and black pepper. Then, stir in the dairy-free milk until it turns into the texture of a pancake batter (slow-flowing but not too dense). The flour will thicken after some time. To thin it out again, add one teaspoon of water.
- First, dip the cauliflower florets in the wet batter, ensuring you coat them evenly. We find that using your fingers for this step is easier than using a fork or spatula.
- Transfer the coated cauliflower florets to the small bowl with the crushed cornflakes. Sprinkle the top with the cornflakes and pat it gently. Make sure that the dry coating sticks to it evenly.
- Place it on a plate until you are ready to fry. The coating will hold at room temperature for approximately an hour.
- Pour sunflower oil into a skillet or pot and heat over medium-high heat. You can test whether it is hot enough by dropping a small drop of the coating into the oil. If it sizzles, it is ready to go.
- Gently drop the cauliflower florets into the oil. Be careful not to let the florets splash into the oil, as it is extremely hot. Do not overcrowd the pan with florets, as it will cause the oil to cool and increase the overall cooking time.
- Fry the florets for 3-4 minutes until the coating becomes crispy and golden brown. Once they are ready, transfer them to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Making buffalo cauliflower
- In a large pan, add the vegan butter. Once it melts and starts to bubble, add Frank’s Red Hot sauce and maple syrup. Stir the two continuously until they are thoroughly mixed.
- Add the fried cauliflower florets and toss to coat them with the sauce evenly.
- Do not double-coat the cauliflower – Because the cauliflower florets are small, there is no need to double-bread them. Plus, the buffalo cauliflower bites taste much better when you do not pack them with breading!
- Coat the cauliflower florets while the sauce is hot – The sauce will stick to the breading much more evenly when the buffalo sauce is still hot versus when it is cold. If the sauce cools, reheat it over medium heat. However, avoid heating over high heat as it can affect the cornstarch and cause the sauce to thin out.
- Do not overcrowd the pan – Adding too much cauliflower to the oil at once will lower the temperature of the oil and increase its cooking time. The cauliflower and breading will continue to soak up the oil as you wait for the oil to return to the right temperature. You will know if you have overcrowded the pan if the intensity of the sizzling slows or stops altogether.
These vegan cauliflower wings are sure to be a favorite prepared as-is. However, if you want to swap out the cauliflower for another type of protein, you can try one of the following variations:
- With oyster mushrooms – Cauliflower has a very distinct taste. However, using hand-shredded oyster mushrooms as we do in our vegan buffalo chicken wings recipe gives it a spongy and chewy texture like the chicken has without a mushroom taste.
- Tofu – Another delicious protein-packed alternative to cauliflower is tofu. We recommend firm or extra-firm tofu since it is easier to press dry and make crispy. After pressing the tofu, cut it into ½-inch, bite-sized cubes or choose one of the 11 ways to prepare it. You can find more details in our orange tofu recipe.
- Additional spices – Kick up the flavor by adding garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and smoked paprika to the batter.
Buffalo cauliflower is a great starter dish or side dish for any occasion. However, you can quickly kick it up a notch or turn it into your main meal with one of the following serving ideas:
- On a platter: Serve it with carrots, celery, and vegan blue cheese or vegan ranch dressing.
- With salad: Serve it next to a fresh side salad or on top of crisp greens with vegan blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing for a delicious buffalo “chicken” salad.
- With rice or quinoa: Once it finishes cooking, serve immediately over steamed or cooked white rice, brown rice, riced sweet potato, or quinoa.
- In a tortilla: Wrap it up in our grain-free tortilla with lettuce, tomato, and your favorite vegan dressing for a spicy “chicken” wrap. Or, skip the lettuce and tomato and top with cabbage, avocado, and cilantro to make buffalo cauliflower tacos.
- Wok, skillet, or frying pan – A wok will give you much more pan space. However, you can also use any cast-iron skillet or non-stick frying pan to make the sauce.
- Deep frying pan – We recommend a deep-frying pan with a strainer basket, as it will be deep enough to avoid many splatters and allow you to cook a larger batch.
- Whisk – A whisk will ensure that the batter is lump-free.
When making fried or breaded recipes, it is best to serve it immediately to preserve its heat and crunchy texture. However, if you have leftovers, we recommend you store them as follows:
In the refrigerator: Place the buffalo cauliflower in an airtight container and store it for up to three days. For the crunchiest leftovers, use them within 24 hours. After the first 24 hours, they will become dry and soggy.
In the freezer: We do not recommend freezing this dish, as it does not freeze well.
Reheating: If not coated in buffalo sauce, reheat, and re-crisp leftover breaded cauliflower in an air fryer. You can also re-fry the cauliflower in hot oil for a few seconds. If already coated, it is best to reheat them in a toaster oven or a regular oven to preserve the crispy texture. We do not recommend reheating in a microwave.
Baking is possible. However, we tested it out and found that the coating is less crispy than when you fry the florets. Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit (ca. 204 °C) to make baked buffalo cauliflower. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the florets, so they do not touch. Bake for 20-30 minutes until crispy, flipping midway.
To save time, you can make the buffalo sauce in advance. Once the sauce is cooled, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months. Reheat on the stove over low heat, stirring frequently. We do not recommend coating the cauliflower in advance.
We have not tested this recipe with an air fryer. However, the air fryer’s primary purpose is the deep fry food without oil. Place the breaded cauliflower florets in the air fryer basket in one layer. Turn the air fryer on and set the temperature high. Fry only for a couple of minutes and check them for doneness.
THANK YOU so much for visiting our website. Please comment below if you have tried this recipe. We LOVE hearing from you! If you loved the recipe, please don’t forget to give us a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ RATING. We appreciate all of our readers.
Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower
- Cut cauliflower head into smaller florets. Blanche them in boiling water for 5 minutes. Then drain. Do not overcook it.
- We used the small chopping bowl of our immersion blender to crush cornflakes to a fine, breadcrumb-like texture.
Prepare wet batter for coating
- Mix in a shallow bowl corn flour, rice/all-purpose flour, corn starch, salt and black pepper. Pour in the dairy-free milk and start mixing. It should have a texture of a pancake batter, slow-flowing but not too dense. In time the flour will thicken the batter a bit, so add 1 tsp of water to thin it again.
Bread the cauliflower
- Dip the cauliflower florets first in the wet batter. Coat it evenly. I found it is easier to use your fingers to do that instead of using a fork or spatula.
- Transfer the coated cauliflower florets gently to the crushed cornflakes. Sprinkle the top and pat it gently. Make sure the crushed cornflakes-based mix sticks to it evenly.
- You can place it on a plate or fry it when it is coated. The coating will hold at room temperature for an hour or so without a problem if you need to wait before frying.
- Pour sunflower oil into a skillet or pot. Heat it on medium/high heat. You can test whether it is hot enough by dropping a bit of coating in it. If it sizzles, you are good to go.
- Gently drop the breaded “florets” in the oil. The oil is hot so pay attention to drop it gently without a splash. Don’t overcrowd the pan as the oil will cool down, and the cauliflower florets will need a longer time and thus will soak up more oil.
- Fry cauliflower florets for 3-4 minutes until the coating gets crispy. When they are ready, transfer them to a paper towel, so the excess oil is absorbed.
Cooking the buffalo sauce
- In a large pan add vegan butter. When it’s melted and bubbly add Frank’s buffalo sauce and maple syrup. Stir constantly until mixed completely.
- Add in the fried cauliflower florets and coat them with the sauce evenly.