Cauliflower Buffalo “Wings”

cauliflower wings

I was never a wing person. When I started dating Nor and he still ate meat, we would joke about how there was really no polite way to eat chicken wings. Regardless of how appropriate you’re trying to be, at the end of the day you’re still sucking meat off a bone with sauce all over your face and fingers. There is truly no polite way to do it. Nor was the most gracious wing-eater I’d seen, and to this day he is the only person I’ve ever seen eat a tray of buffalo wings and not be completely smeared with sauce and grease at the end of that ordeal.

As for me, I honestly don’t think I have ever eaten a chicken wing in my life (anyone who knows me in real life that might remember better than me, feel free to speak up). But since Nor gave up chicken four-plus years ago, wings have been one of the few things he really misses. I’ve tried to replicate with seitan – those are amazing and you’ll probably see the recipe here at some point – but they are deep-fried. And I. HATE. FRYING. So those have been SUPER special occasion wings – think, your team is in the Super Bowl type of special. But then I found the recipe for these, and I thought “this is too good to be true. They’re made of vegetables and BAKED.”  I could make these on any given Sunday and snack on them all day! And I did. For the “hey Mikey, he likes it!” factor, here are the reactions of my two cohabitants (the usual one and a guest) at the time I made these:

Chrissy: “Can I have a piece of cauliflower? OH MY GOD, this is amazing.” Note: her later reaction was that these are just as good before you toss them in wing sauce.

Nor: “Skeptical diatribe about using cauliflower for wings.” Pause for cooking time. “Whoa…these are really good. Can we have these next weekend? And for the Super Bowl?”

I wasn’t even thinking Super Bowl when I first tried these, but they are PERFECT for it. Especially if you have vegetarians, especially if you’re not looking to load up on apps, especially nothing. These are really good. Trust me, even as a devout veggie, I would never have thought the best wing substitute I’d come across would be cauliflower. And trust me, I wouldn’t have thought it’d come from PETA, of all places. The breading is a perfect, almost biscuit-like tender-crisp coating, and the cauliflower keeps more than enough of a bite to be satisfying rather than soggy. I’m going to need a new Swingline, because these are going to be a staple around here.

cauliflower wings

4.3 from 3 reviews
Cauliflower Buffalo "Wings"
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 1¼ cups non-dairy milk (almond or soy)
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
Buffalo Sauce
  • ½ cup cayenne pepper sauce (I use Frank's Red Hot)
  • ½ cup (8 Tbsp) margarine or Earth Balance
  • ½ tsp white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp kosher or sea salt
Garnishes and Dip
  • Baby carrots and celery, to serve
  • Vegan bleu cheese or, if you're not vegan, regular bleu cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or foil (spray if foil) and set aside.
  2. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar. Let sit for five minutes. Add the flour and garlic powder and stir to combine.
  3. Dredge the cauliflower pieces in the milk/flour mixture and place on the baking sheets, leaving a little room between each piece. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  4. While cauliflower is baking, combine hot sauce, margarine, vinegar and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Remove cauliflower from the oven and cover with hot sauce mixture. Toss to coat completely. Bake for another 6-8 minutes.
  6. Serve with celery, carrots, and vegan bleu cheese dressing.
If not vegan, you can replace the non-dairy milk/vinegar with buttermilk.

Source: adapted from PETA

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26 Responses to Cauliflower Buffalo “Wings”

    • I don’t see why not – it will be different because broccoli is a little less sturdy than cauliflower, but I bet it would still taste great. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

  1. Just made these tonight and Yummy! They were a little spicy for my husband but I LOVED it. Thank you!

      • Thanks! I’ll do that. I made the vegan blue cheese too. I’m just dipping my toe into the vegan pool and this was one of my first recipes. I’ve never used Tofu before. I saved some to use as a dressing on a salad tomorrow. I LOVED it!

        • That vegan blue cheese recipe is KILLER. One of my favorites. For the moment we still do dairy around here, but recipes like that one make giving it up a lot more fathomable.

  2. I’ve seen different versions of this recipe floating around, and I’ve been so tempted to try them!! It seems like they were a hit for you guys, so maybe this weekend will be the weekend I give them a shot! 🙂

    Julie is right – in your picture they look so much like real wings! haha YUM!

  3. Finally got around to making these tonight. I used a gluten-free flour blend and I found that the batter was a bit runnyish so I just added an extra 1/4 cup of the flour blend. These taste just great on their own and really do satisfy that craving for hot wings you might get once in a while. I didn’t add the extra vinegar to the hot sauce/margarine mixture. My hot sauce contains primarily vinegar so I figured it didn’t need more. One question I have … are the cauliflower pieces supposed to be browned when they’re baked up? It took me a lot longer than 20 minutes to bake these so that they’d be browned and then they were a bit softer than I’d have liked – though the flavor was still amazing. But then I thought maybe they’re not supposed to be browned. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Mine are usually a pretty browned on the bottom when I take them out (before tossing them with the hot sauce and putting them back in). Is your oven temp accurate? I also wonder if the GF flour might cook up differently but I’ve only tried it with all purpose so I can’t vouch for that. I’m glad you (mostly) enjoyed them though!

    • Just made these. I used gluten free flour mix, but added a pinch of xanthan gum. I was satisfied with the consistency. Only the bits that touch the pan brown. I used parchment paper on one pan, foil with olive oil spray on the other. Foil browned better but stuck more. I did 25 minutes followed by 8. I’m going to shorten the cooking time next time and not worry about browning. I didn’t add salt or vinegar to Franks. I love Franks!! I made half with the spicy sauce, added more Earth Balance for the “medium” wings. My family loved these! I made the vegan blue cheese dressing too. A real special treat.

    • Well, Tony, I wouldn’t recommend eating a stick of it a day, but Earth Balance sticks work much better than oil for a non-dairy version of a sauce like this that traditionally uses butter. Everything in moderation…

  4. Is there any way to make these with a different sauce? My husband hates spicy food but i’m dying to try them !!

  5. 6 months vegan with little to know cravings (I always say its the textures you may miss meat is usually lathered in a certain sauce anyway) slowly learning how to recreate these textures. This recipe was great! Served at a BBQ at the weekend and they went down a storm!