This version of crunchy Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower is light on batter and simple to make. Dip it in vegan ranch or your favorite creamy vegan dressing.
When Buffalo cauliflower first got popular, I could NOT WAIT TO TRY IT. I love spicy food, so anything tossed in hot sauce is a plus in my book.
What I am not mad about is breading. I’m the weirdo that pulls most of the breading off of fried okra, and I found myself doing the same thing with the Buffalo cauliflower I was making. When I started working on my own recipe for air fryer Buffalo cauliflower, I knew that minimal breading was my main goal. I wanted it to taste more like cauliflower and less like breading, because cauliflower is delicious!
If you like a thicker battered veggie, this recipe is not for you. Kittee has a great recipe for air fryer Buffalo tofu that’s double-coated, perfect for batter fans. But if you prefer your breading on the minimal-to-none side, you’re going to love my version of Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower!
About this Buffalo Cauliflower Method
This recipe is super simple, but I spent SO much time on it before landing on this technique, you guys. I dredged in aquafaba. I tried potato starch. I tried both. I fussed with cooking times and temperatures. And it turns out that I had been totally overcomplicating the process.
Here are a couple of things to know about this method for making air fryer Buffalo cauliflower:
- I specify mixing the butter/sauce up in a mug. This is because you don’t need a ton of Buffalo sauce to make this, but you do want to coat most of the floret. A mug has a narrow bottom and high sides, so you get a deep dip that coats the florets.
- There is a range of cooking times. The cooking time can vary a bit, because there are variables to consider. A head of cauliflower that you cut right before using will most likely have to cook longer, for example, than pre-cut. Pre-cut cauliflower is drier, so it cooks faster. The time also depends on the exact size of your florets. If you lean bigger, you’ll need to cook longer. Just keep shaking every few minutes, checking for doneness. They’re done when the florets have a little bit of brown on them, but you don’t want them totally browned, because then they’ll taste burnt.
My Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower is based on my Avocado Air Fries, though as you’ll see, I’ve monkeyed with it a bit to get this recipe how I wanted. The light panko coating gives these cauliflower wings a little bit of crunch, but the cauliflower still gets to be the star of the show. Unlike the avocado fries, you’re not going to dip your air fryer Buffalo cauliflower in aquafaba. The buttery Buffalo sauce is all you need to get the panko to stick to your cauliflower.
EDIT: This recipe has been so popular, I decided to shoot a recipe video to accompany it. You can see the video here, and the written recipe is still at the bottom of the page, if you prefer to read rather than view.
Vegan Buffalo Sauce
When you’re choosing your Buffalo sauce, make sure to check the label for butter. Some companies include butter in the bottle, because you normally use butter to get the sauce to stick. In this recipe, I use vegan butter.
You can try using melted, refined coconut oil in place of butter, but I have not tested it in this recipe. I wouldn’t recommend unrefined coconut oil, because then your wings will taste like coconut. Unless you’re into that. Then, go for it!
I would not recommend using liquid-at-room-temperature oils, like olive or sunflower in this recipe. They’re not going to make the panko stick as well.
- 4 cups cauliflower florets Each one should be approx. the size of two baby carrots, if you put the baby carrots side-by-side.
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs mixed with 1 teaspoon sea salt I would not use regular salt here. Sea salt grains are bigger, and they add a little extra crunch to the breading.
- 1/4 cup melted vegan butter 1/4 cup after melting
- 1/4 cup vegan Buffalo sauce Check the ingredients for butter. I used Frank's Red Hot
- vegan mayo Cashew Ranch, or your favorite creamy salad dressing
Melt the vegan butter in a mug in the microwave, then whisk in the buffalo sauce.
Holding by the stem, dip each floret in the butter/buffalo mixture, getting most of the floret coated in sauce. It's fine if a bit of the stem doesn't get saucy. Hold the floret over the mug until it pretty much stops dripping. A few drips are OK, but if it's raining sauce, your panko is going to get clumpy and stop sticking as well.
Dredge the dipped floret in the panko/salt mixture, coating as much as you like, then place in the air fryer. No need to worry about a single layer. Just drop it in there.
Air fry at 350F (do not preheat) for 14-17 minutes, shaking a few times, and checking their progress when you shake. Your cauliflower is done when the florets are a little bit browned.
Serve with your dipping sauce of choice.
Buffalo cauliflower doesn't stay crunchy for long, so eat these immediately for maximum goodness. I'd recommend reheating these in the air fryer, so they'll get crunchy again. I gave some of these to my neighbor during testing, and he reheated them in the oven with good results, also. If you reheat in the microwave, they'll definitely be mushy.