Easy Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower is light on the batter and simple to make, yet has 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 index of vegan air fryer recipes from me and some of my favorite food bloggers.
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 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 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:
Why do you specify mixing the butter/sauce 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 perfectly.
Why is there 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 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 yourself.
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!
Serve these up as an appetizer or side dish with your favorite creamy dipping sauce. Here are some of my favorite dips for these wings:
My other favorite way to serve these up is in tacos! Need some inspo for how to do that? Check out my Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos recipe.
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
- vegan mayo - Cashew Ranch, or your favorite creamy salad dressing
- 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.
- About the Prep Time: The 5-minute prep time assumes that you bought pre-cut, fresh cauliflower. If you're using a whole head, they will take longer. Frozen cauliflower will not work in this recipe.
- About the Shaking: You'll want to shake these gently, especially at first. The batter will get firmer as it cooks, but if you shake too vigorously, it will fall off in the early stages of cooking.
- How to Reheat: Buffalo cauliflower doesn't stay crunchy for long, so eat these immediately for maximum goodness. You can reheat 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.