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BBQ Buffalo Cauliflower Wings in the Air Fryer, Oil-Free

5 from 8 votes

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Seasoned just right, these crispy BBQ Buffalo Cauliflower wings are made in the air fryer. They are oil-free and make the perfect party food, snack, appetizer, or main course when you are craving that bbq buffalo flavor!

tray of cauliflower wings with limes in front, celery and dip

Oh my, back in the day, I always loved buffalo chicken wings! I loved the crispy coating, the slurpy spicy sauce, and the blue cheese dipping sauce. What I didn’t love – even back then – was the chicken part. It actually always bothered me…

These tender/crisp cauliflower wings have all the flavors, are air fried, and dipped in a delicious combination of barbeque sauce and buffalo sauce. To die for!

These vegan cauliflower buffalo wings are perfect for:

  • vegan AND non-vegans
  • game night
  • snacks
  • the main course (serves two)
  • appetizers
  • honestly, anytizers!

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tray of cauliflower wings with limes in front, celery and dip with pinterest text overlay

Ingredients needed to make buffalo cauliflower wings

  • 1 head of cauliflower 
  • all-purpose flour
  • plant milk unsweetened ( I use oat milk – use a very neutral tasting milk)
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • garlic powder
  • smoked paprika
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • your favorite bbq sauce 
  • buffalo sauce (I suggest Frank’s)
  • toppings such as green onions, a little sqeeze of lime, chives or parsely
  • You’ll need three bowls (two large) and a baking sheet
  • You’ll also need an air fryer
ingredients needed to make buffalo cauliflower wings

How to make this bbq buffalo cauliflower wings recipe

Step 1: Prep the ingredients

Preheat the air fryer to 350°. You will be cooking this recipe in two batches.

Wash and cut the head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Pat dry. Cut the cauliflower florets small enough so that they can be easily picked up and eaten in one bite, yet large enough to be a mouthful.

Step 2: prepare the dipping ingredients

Mix together the plant milk, flour, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper into a large bowl. Stir to combine well.

making the dipping sauce for cauliflower wings with the plant milk and spices

Use any unsweetened plant milk with a mild flavor. I use oat milk and have also used soy milk. I would not suggest almond milk as it has a very distinctive almond flavor.

In a separate bowl, measure out the panko breadcrumbs. It’s best to use a shallow bowl for the breadcrumbs. You will be dipping the cauliflower florets into the wet mixture and then into the breadcrumbs.

Step 3: Dip the Cauliflower florets

One at a time, dip each piece of cauliflower into the larger batter bowl and then transfer to the bowl with breadcrumbs. Cover well. Place the coated cauliflower pieces on a baking sheet or plate.

When you dip the cauliflower pieces into the batter it is important they are thoroughly dry before dipping. Cover each piece well with as much batter as it takes to thoroughly cover. This is a messy job, even if you use a long-handled spoon. I stop to wash my hands at about the halfway point (and sometimes more often).

dipping the cauliflower pieces in the sauce mixer before breading

Shake off the excess batter before dipping the covered cauliflower florets in the breadcrumbs. Make sure that the coated cauliflower florets are covered well with the breadcrumbs. The panko breadcrumbs make the outer coating nice and crispy.

Put the battered and covered cauliflower florets on a baking sheet while you are working with the other pieces.

breaded cauliflower wings on a baking sheet

Step 4: air fry the cauliflower wings

Only cook one-half at a time. Place half of the pieces into the air fryer basket in a single layer. Do not stack on top of each other. The cauliflower wings might stick together and end up a little soggy if they are stacked. If you did not shake off the excess batter before dipping your cauliflower wings in the breadcrumbs, your air fryer basket is going to get a little messy at the point.

uncooked cauliflower wings in the air fryer
Battered and dipped and ready to go. Place in the air fryer in a single layer.

Cook at 350°for for 8-10 minutes until light golden brown. Stop and shake a couple of times during the cooking process for even cooking.

Every air fryer cooks a little differently. Attend carefully the first time until you know how this recipe will respond in your air fryer.

cooked cauliflower wings in the air fryer
These buffalo cauliflower bites are a beautiful light golden brown.

Remove the cooked cauliflower pieces from the air fryer and keep them covered with foil while cooking the second batch. Repeat with the second batch.

Using oil for a crispier coating

I realize this recipe for cauliflower wings is advertised as oil-free. And they are! You will get a lovely crispy coating with just the breadcrumbs alone if cooking in the air fryer. BUT not all of my readers eat oil-free and this is not an oil-free blog. SOOO….for an even crispier coating that holds up well, you can spritz a little cooking spray or oil on the pieces before placing them in the air fryer.

Step 5: Prepare the sauce

They wouldn’t be vegan buffalo wings without the buffalo sauce. This recipe has a unique twist with a combination of barbeque and buffalo sauces.

mixing the bbq and buffalo sauces

Don’t use an outrageously flavored barbeque sauce, a basic flavor is best for this recipe. Try my Healthy Homemade BBQ Sauce for an oil-free processed sugar-free option.

My favorite buffalo sauce is Frank’s Buffalo Sauce. As of this writing, it is dairy-free, unlike many buffalo sauces that do contain dairy. If you are looking for a vegan buffalo sauce and can’t find one, you can try to make your own with hot sauce, melted vegan butter, and a little white vinegar – not apple cider vinegar. (A recipe will be coming soon.)

Mix the two sauces together in another large-sized bowl. Transfer the cooked cauliflower wings from the baking sheet into the bowl with the combined sauces. Lightly shake the bowl to cover the cooked cauliflower bites with the sauce mixture.

Serving suggestions for your buffalo cauliflower bites

tray of cooked buffalo cauliflower wings with a hand in photo placing a wing

Buffalo cauliflower wings can be served the same way traditional wings are, with a side of dressing, some celery sticks, and carrot sticks.

These bbq buffalo cauliflower wings are best served right away. If you save them for later, they will still be very flavorful but will have unfortunately lost some of their lovely crispiness.

The best vegan sauces for buffalo cauliflower wings

Some questions and some answers

What are vegan wings made of?

Vegan wings can be made of tofu, vital wheat gluten, or a combination of both. They can be made so that they realistically represent a chicken wing. For this recipe, we don’t even try to do that! We use lovely cauliflower florets for pure plant power.

Is Fred’s Red Hot Vegan?

Luckily for us, it is! You can use regular Red Hot, but I prefer to use Fred’s Wing Sauce – which again, luckily is vegan.

What to eat with cauliflower buffalo wings?

Wings are perfect with carrot sticks, celery sticks, all dipped in a lovely ranch dressing. Try my Jalapeno Ranch Sauce, Ranch dressing, or my brand-new fabulous Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing (it’s to die for!)

Are air fryer cauliflower wings healthy?

They sure can be! Cauliflower is a powerhouse of plant nutrition. These wings are air-fried and not cooked in oil.

Are these buffalo cauliflower wings oil-free?

As long as the sauces and bread crumbs you use are oil-free, then this cauliflower wings recipe will be oil-free as well. The wings are cooked in the air fryer – not in oil.

Can I use hot sauce instead of buffalo sauce?

No, not unless you know how to make your own buffalo sauce out of the hot sauce. Buffalo sauce has a unique flavor profile and is usually made with butter and yes, hot sauce. Many buffalo sauces contain dairy. Frank’s buffalo sauce does not. If you aren’t able to find one without dairy, then sure, use hot sauce and mix in a little vegan butter. I don’t know if the flavor will be the same, but you can try it!

For some other tasty plant-based ideas for game-night try:

The printable recipe card for bbq buffalo caulifower wings

tray of cauliflower wings with limes in front, celery and dip

Did you love this recipe? Want to share the love? It would thrill me to no end if you could leave five ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ stars and even a comment. Did you know that this will help google to find this recipe when others are looking for something similar? Thanks, Cindy

tray of cauliflower wings with limes in front, celery and dip

BBQ Buffalo Cauliflower Wings in the Air Fryer, Oil-Free

Seasoned just right, these crispy BBQ Buffalo Cauliflower wings are made in the air fryer. They are oil-free and make the perfect party food, snack, appitizer, or main course when you are craving that bbq buffalo flavor!
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, party food, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cauliflower wings, vegan wings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
new batch: 10 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 239kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Equipment

  • air fryer

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower about 11 ounces
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup plant milk unsweetened
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup bbq sauce or more to taste
  • ½ cup buffalo sauce or more, see notes for product suggestions

Instructions

  • Preheat the air fryer to 350°
  • Wash and cut the cauliflower into bit-sized pieces.
  • Combine flour, soy milk, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper into a large bowl. Stir to combine well.
  • Place breadcrumbs in a smaller seperate bowl.
  • One at a time, dip each piece of cauliflower into the batter and then transfer to the bowl with breadcrumbs. Cover well. Place the covered cauliflower pieces on a pan or plate.
  • Place half of the pieces into the air fryer in a singe layer. Do not stack on top of each other.
  • Cook at 350°for 8-10 minutes until golden crisp. Stop and shake a couple of times during the cooking process for even cooking.
  • Remove the cooked cauliflower pieces from the air fryer and keep covered while cooking the second batch. Repeat with the second batch.
  • While the cauliflower is cooking you can prepare the sauce. Mix the bbq sauce with the buffalo sauce in another large bowl. Taste and adjust proportions.
  • Transfer the cooked cauliflower wings into the bowl with the combined sauces. Shake the bowl to cover the cooked cauliflower bites with the sauce mixture.
  • Optional: Serve with celery and carrot sticks and a side of (vegan) ranch or blue cheese dressing. Try one of mine listed below in the notes.

Notes

Franks Buffalo Sauce is vegan as of this writing.
The nutrition information is based on 4 servings which is only enough for a small appetizer. Adjust accordingly if you are eating a larger portion.
Try my Vegan Ranch Dressing, garlic sauce,  vegan honey mustardBlue Cheese DressingJalapeño Ranch.
All vegan and ALL FABULOUS!

Nutrition

Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2056mg | Potassium: 587mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 329IU | Vitamin C: 70mg | Calcium: 128mg | Iron: 3mg
By on February 6th, 2022

About Cindy Rainey

Veggie Fun Kitchen by Cindy Rainey
Welcome to Veggie Fun Kitchen where you will learn to recreate family favorites the plant-based/vegan way! Let me know if I can help. I'm here for you.

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