Buffalo "wings" are the perfect meat-free alternative to the classic game-day appetizer or snack.
These veggie bites have all the same flavor, spice and satisfying crunch as traditional buffalo chicken wings — just without the meat!
Whether you're serving vegetarians, health-conscious guests or picky eaters, these buffalo cauliflower "wings" are sure to be a crowd-pleaser. And trust us, this fake-out is so good, no one will be able to tell they're eating vegetables.
Ready to make some vegetarian-friendly homemade buffalo cauliflower wings? Here's everything you need to know.
Are buffalo cauliflower wings healthier than buffalo chicken wings?
While cauliflower wings aren't necessarily the healthiest snack, they're typically better for you than chicken wings — especially if you bake the cauliflower instead of frying it. Plus, cauliflower is one of the best foods to eat if you want to turn off your hunger hormones and feel fuller longer, according to holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque.
Why use cauliflower?
"The fun thing about cauliflower is that it takes on the flavor of whatever you're cooking it with," says Senior Culinary Producer Jeanette Donnarumma.
Cauliflower is the perfect sneaky veggie. It's easy to get into traditionally less-healthy recipes like mac 'n' cheese or grilled cheese because when you bake or fry it and coat it in sauce, it's barely recognizable.
Do I need to marinate the cauliflower?
Unlike buffalo chicken wings and other buffalo-flavored meats, it's not necessary to marinate veggies before you toss them in your buffalo sauce.
Should I bake or fry buffalo cauliflower wings?
Either! When making buffalo cauliflower wings, you can fry them up like you would with chicken wings — or you can bake the cauliflower in the oven for a healthier alternative. When it's all covered in buffalo sauce and dipped in ranch or blue cheese, no one will even be able to tell the difference!
Keep reading, because next up, we're breaking down the ingredients you'll need for baked or fried cauliflower wings, sharing directions and a recipe for each version and talking homemade buffalo sauce, ranch and blue cheese dipper recipes.
How To Make Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
Ingredients: For baked buffalo cauliflower wings, all you'll need is 1 cauliflower cut into 1-inch florets, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and hot sauce.
Get Jeanette's meat-free buffalo wing recipe here.
How long should I bake the cauliflower?
Preheat your oven to 450°F. Bake the cauliflower for 25 minutes, or until crispy and caramelized at the edges. Remove from the oven, place into a large bowl and toss with sauce.
"One really great tip whenever you're making buffalo wings at home [is to] find the biggest bowl you have, because the more surface area you have to toss the more coated they're going to get," Grant says.
How To Make Fried Buffalo Cauliflower
Ingredients: To make fried buffalo cauliflower bites, you'll need 1 large or 2 small cauliflower heads (to make 6 snack-sized servings), salt, all purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, granulated garlic and onion, one 12-ounce bottle of beer, and frying oil. For the oil, you can use safflower, vegetable or canola oil — whatever you prefer.
When Rach makes her buffalo cauliflower dish, she starts by cooking the cauliflower in salted, boiling water for one to two minutes. Then, she removes the cauliflower from the water and cold shocks it in ice water to stop the cooking process.
Dry the cauliflower completely before dunking in the beer batter.
How To Make Homemade Buffalo Wing Sauce
"Typically, buffalo wing sauce is just two things: hot sauce and butter," says Senior Associate Culinary Producer Grant Melton, "but I like to dress mine up and make it a little bit spicier by adding extra cayenne and some smoky paprika."
To make buffalo sauce, heat up your hot sauce of choice (Rach's go-to is Frank's Red Hot) with the butter until the butter is melted. Then, just add in the cayenne and smoked paprika and set aside.
What is the best dipping sauce for buffalo wings?
Ranch and blue cheese are two popular dippers for buffalo wings, because both cool down the spice from the buffalo sauce. Carrots and celery are often served alongside the buffalo wings and blue cheese or ranch dip as well.
How To Make Homemade Ranch Dressing
"Really when you boil it down, ranch dressing isn't very unhealthy. You can add wholesome ingredients by making it yourself," Jeanette says. She makes her own ranch in a mason jar using Greek yogurt, buttermilk, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard and chives. Making it in a mason jar means it's easy to shake up, plus if there's any left over you can store it in the fridge for a few days, Jeanette says.
Ranch Blue Cheese Dipper
Can't choose between ranch and blue cheese? You don't have to! Jeanette likes to serve her Meat-Free Buffalo Wings with a Ranch Dipper that has blue cheese crumbles, making it the best of both worlds.