Easy air fryer buffalo cauliflower is light on the batter and simple to make with a satisfying crunch and plenty of that buffalo heat! Dip it in vegan ranch or your favorite creamy vegan dressing.
Psst! For more vegan air fryer amazingness, check out this growing collection of vegan air fryer recipes!
When I started working on this recipe for air fryer buffalo cauliflower wings, I knew that minimal breading and maximum flavor were my main goals. I wanted this recipe to taste more like cauliflower and less like breading, because cauliflower is delicious!
I'm the weirdo that pulls most of the breading off of fried okra. And I find myself doing the same thing with most cauliflower wings, air fryer or otherwise.
If you prefer your breading on the minimal-to-none side, yet still want a nice crunch, you're going to love my air fryer buffalo cauliflower wings!
The breading technique
This recipe is super simple, but I spent SO much time figuring out this breading process before landing on this technique, y'all. I dredged in aquafaba. I tried potato starch. I tried a mix of both.
I fussed with cooking times and temperatures. And it turns out that I had been totally overcomplicating the process.
This air fryer buffalo cauliflower recipe is based on my avocado 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 nice crunch, but the cauliflower still gets to be the star of the show.
Unlike the avocado fries, you're not going to dip your cauliflower in aquafaba. The buttery buffalo sauce is all you need to get the panko to stick to your cauliflower. It brings the flavor and does the binding!
Frequently asked questions
Here are a couple of common questions that I get about this method for making air fryer buffalo cauliflower:
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 perfectly.
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 gently 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.
Choosing vegan buffalo sauce
When you're choosing your buffalo sauce, make sure to check the label for butter and other dairy ingredients. 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, which you add to the sauce to help the panko adhere to the cauliflower.
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!
Do not use liquid-at-room-temperature oils, like olive or sunflower in this recipe. They're not going to make the panko stick as well.
This recipe is a treat with buffalo sauce, but that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making cauliflower wings in your air fryer!
As long as your sauce amount stays the same, you can use this technique to make other flavors of cauliflower wings. Here are some ideas for you to try:
- teriyaki wings
- BBQ wings
- sriracha wings
- sriracha maple wings -- mix 2 tablespoons sriracha with 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- jerk seasoned wings
Get creative, and make your own flavorful sauces. Because you deserve a rainbow of cauliflower wings!
It's fine to use gluten-free panko to make this recipe totally gluten-free.
Dips to pair with buffalo cauliflower
Serve buffalo cauliflower up as an appetizer or side dish with your favorite creamy dipping sauce. Here are some of my favorite dips for these vegan wings:
Serving and storage instructions
Dipping is just one way to serve buffalo cauliflower! Try these other delicious ideas, too:
- Use them to make buffalo cauliflower tacos.
- Add them to a salad.
- Stuff them into a pita or wrap with arugula, vegan ranch, and avocado for an easy lunch.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. They'll keep for three to five days. Reheat in the air fryer or in the oven at 350° F for 5-10 minutes, until they're warmed through and crispy again.
Do not reheat these in the microwave -- they will be mushy!
Buffalo cauliflower recipe
For the cauliflower
- 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.
For the buffalo coating
- ¼ cup melted vegan butter - ¼ cup after melting
- ¼ cup vegan Buffalo sauce - Check the ingredients for butter. I used Frank's Red Hot
- If you are baking, preheat the oven to 375° F.
- 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 sauce 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 place it in there.
- To air fry: Cook at 350° F (do not preheat) for 14-17 minutes, shaking gently a few times (see note), and checking their progress when you shake. Your cauliflower is done when the florets are a little bit browned.
- To bake: Arrange the coated florets in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375° F for 30-35 minutes, until the coating browns slightly.
- Air Fryer optional
When you place the cauliflower on the rack, can it be layered or does it need to be flat. All images show it as a single layer.
It should be a single layer.
Has anyone put the panko in a ziplock and shaken the dipped cauliflower in that ? I coat my veggies this way a lot and it seems so much cleaner. (And yes, I wash and reuse the baggies if they’re not too bad)
Yes, that's the way I do it now. I love Becky's recipes and the way she does it, but the ziplock bag is much faster and I am lazy.
I'm going to have to give this Ziplock bag method a try next time!
These are delicious, light and crunchy and so easy to make! I actually changed the recipe a bit the second time around. Instead of vegan butter I used 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and added a dash of habanero sauce. Then ate the whole batch myself. This could become a problem! They are amazing!
I followed recipe but mine didn’t come out crispy. Would you know why?
Oh no! That stinks. Air fryers can vary, depending on things like brand, size, etc. If it wasn't crispy, I'd add a couple of minutes to the cooking time, check, then cook more, if needed. Keep cooking until it crisps up to your liking.
I set my air fryer on 400deg. And kept an eye on the crisping and they were lovely.
Awesome! I'm so glad you enjoyed them, Patricia. And thank you for coming back to share your experience, too!
Do you know the protein, fat, and carbs in the final product? Trying to track my macros
I don't, I'm sorry.
Can you use frozen cauliflower?
I haven't tried that with this recipe, so I'm not sure.
Looking soo delicious
We also got one for Christmas and have been waiting to find the perfect recipe to try it out! We follow the Keto wit so I used crushed pork rinds for the panko and it turned out ahhhhhhhmazing! Thank you!!
PANKO PANKO PANKO
The Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower recipe is what brought me to your site and it was my first experience with my new air fryer - delicous! I also love my Instant Pot, so I will be exploring your site for more recipes using these wonderful appliances. Thank you!
I'm so glad that you dug it. Enjoy all of the air fryer goodness!
Do you think I can use almond meal instead of panko?
It's worth a try! Let me know how it goes.
Would a chia/flax/hemp “egg” work here?
Thank you, Gina! I haven’t tested this with flax or chia as the binder, so I’m not totally sure. It’s a good idea though! Let me know how it works if you try it.
Just got my air fryer today and this was the first recipe I tried - so good!!
Oh I love that! Congratulations on the new air fryer!
Turned out amazing!
Can you use frozen cauliflower?
I haven’t tried it with frozen, so I’m not sure.
I believe panko is pronounced as
Pan-ko, not pawn-ko! Sorry I'm sick a stickler!!
You’re “sick” a stickler or “such” a stickler? LMBO!
Anyway, I can’t wait to try this recipe!!
I’m super-late to this party, but since panko is Japanese, and they only have one “a” sound, which is like our “a” in “father”, it’s actually pronounced “pahn-ko”, which is just how Becky says it.
Liked them but I would cut way back on the salt. Way to salty for us. Should have tested it first.
Thank you for telling me!
Could a lazy girl simply toss cauliflower florets in a bowl with the the buffalo sauce, then toss in a bowl with panko, then toss into the air fryer?
Totally. The coverage may not be as even, but worth it for the lazy factor!
Can be even lazier. I just air fry the florets, take em out and drown them in buffalo sauce. One doesn’t need the carbs/breading if it’s not going in a conventional fryer.
I'm always up for a lazier option!
Thanks for the recipe.
Unfortunatelly I burnt it the first time as I live in a "celsius" country and I miscalculated. I also left if for more time than what I should have.
Second time it worked fine... = )
Aw I'm sorry the first batch was a fail. I'm glad it worked out in the end!
You stated these are fried twice but the directions do not say anything about frying twice.
Ooh thank you for pointing that out. I'll delete when I get back to my computer. You don't fry twice. That note is left from an earlier test when I was still over complicating this recipe!
I'm about to chop the cauliflower now. Such a great snack for New Year's Eve :) Thank you for sharing!!
Enjoy it, Brandie! Happy New Year!!
Alisa @ Go Dairy Free
Dang it, I really should get an air fryer. I'm totally anti-gadget, but this sounds like too much fun and that cauliflower looks good!
Lol! You could probably do these in the oven, they'd just need more time.
Linda @ Veganosity
Holy Buckets that looks good! I love the breading and the cauliflower, just give me the entire batch, please.
We can split it, Linda! Haha
Aimee | Wallflower Kitchen
Looks seriously good! You've made me put an air-fryer on my amazon wishlist now ;-)
I cannot wait to try this one! I do love a battered veggie, and Kittie's recipe is fab... these just LOOK so crispy and light, I cannot WAIT. :)
Enjoy them, Kristina! Kittee's does look awesome - those crunchies on the outside are pure genius.
Jackie of Vegan Yack Attack
These look incredible! And I love the tip about using a mug for dipping. So efficient! :D
Thank you, Jackie! I'm all about kitchen efficiency. :)
This looks SO delicious, Becky! I really need to get an air fryer soon!! A friend of mine has one and she absolutely loves it. I just got a slow cooker for Christmas though. I think I really need to make some space in my kitchen... :D
Yeah, the space thing is no joke. It's about the side of my Instant Pot, if you need a point of reference for figuring out storage space.
Mmmmmm! LOVE buffalo cauliflower. This is very similar to how I make mine...although I bake them. Though I like how it tastes, I'm not a huge fan of the breading processes....too much work. So, I just throw mine in with some panko as well. Works perfectly! I still need to get an airfryer though!
Oh cool! Yeah, I always feel like there's too much breading on fried stuff and end up picking it off. This felt like the best of both!
Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day
I am so excited about this recipe, Becky! I can't believe how easy it is!
Thank you! I can't either. I tried soooo many complicated, multi-step things that didn't work.
Mary Ellen - VNutrition
So excited for these! I have the cauliflower but ran out of hot sauce so I'll be making them in my new air fryer asap!
Awesome! I'm pretty sure you could do these with sriracha, too. It's on my to do list for sure.
Yes, Yes, and yes! I am so into that recipe and the air fryer. Can't wait to make this.
Enjoy it, Ginny!!
Hey Becky, thanks for this neat recipe. I read through it to figure out what air frying was only to find that it's a kitchen appliance. Which do you have? Would you recommend it? My wife loves crispy so this might be a good solution for more healthy, crispy additions to our diet. Thanks!
Hey Kyle! We have the GoWise 4th Generation, and I definitely recommend it! It's on super sale right now, too: https://amzn.to/2i7S1PX
If you don't have an air fryer, you can try making these in the oven. Just double the cooking time, and use a Silpat- or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Check on it frequently during the second half of cooking, to see how it's going.
Thanks Becky! Just ordered that one - such a great deal! I'm excited to get started air frying new foods...starting with this cauliflower :)
Awesome! I have a ton of air fryer recipes here, if you need more ideas.
Santa brought me an air flyer for Christmas. I was saying yesterday that I was going to start out with one of your recipes, but I wasn't sure which one. Now I know! :)
Hurrah!! Enjoy these, Dianne!