You’ll return bite after bite to this plate of Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower! The air fryer makes quick work of the cauliflower, turning it crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Tossing it with buffalo sauce brings some massive flavor to the appetizer!
Photography Credit: Nick Evans
I’m generally a traditionalist when it comes to chicken wings. Give me the classic, please! But if you are serving a vegetarian crowd or just want something different (and slightly healthier), this Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower has all the spicy earthy flavors you crave to get your wing fix!
This version is a riff on my normal air fryer crispy cauliflower. To get crispy on the outside, tender on the inside cauliflower add the sauce right at the end of cooking so it doesn’t burn and then just blast the florets in the air fryer for one final short cooking session.
Why Make Buffalo Cauliflower in an Air Fryer?
In short, it’s easier than a full on deep fryer and definitely healthier! I was amazed at how crispy and wonderful the finished florets get. It almost seems like a cheat code.
The buffalo sauce I used is a really classic mix of hot sauce, butter, and spices. It tastes like game day to me and goes surprisingly well with cauliflower.
No Air Fryer? Make Buffalo Cauliflower in your Oven!
Baking this cauliflower is absolutely an option. It takes longer and the cauliflower, honestly, doesn’t get quite as crispy, but it’ll work and turn out great.
I recommend lining a baking sheet with parchment paper for easier clean up and you’ll need to roast the cauliflower for at least 30 minutes at 400˚F, maybe as long as 45 minutes, to get a really crispy floret. Start checking the florets at the 30 minute mark. They are done when they are crispy on the outside, but you can easily pierce them with a fork.
Buffalo Sauce Swaps and Substitutions
There’s no reason you have to go with the standard for the hot sauce base. Try a more Tex-Mex style sauce by using something like Tapatio or go Thai with a Sriracha or Korean with gojuchang!
Dips for the Buffalo Cauliflower
Ranch dressing or blue cheese sauce is the standard here and I’m not sure I would mess with it too much. It’s a classic for a reason: it’s delicious!
Can you make Buffalo Cauliflower in advance?
You can absolutely prep the cauliflower and get it breaded and ready in advance and make the sauce in advance. The cooked cauliflower florets lose a lot of their pizazz though in the fridge so I would air-fry just the amount you can eat.
If you do have leftovers, don’t toss them though! You can bring them back to life (as much as possible) either in the air fryer for a quick 2-3 minutes reheat session or in an oven for 5-6 minutes. I wouldn’t microwave the leftovers!
More Great Air Fryer Recipes
Air Fryer Cauliflower Buffalo Wings Recipe
If you don’t have an air fryer, you can lay out the cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast it in your oven for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through. Then add a light coating of sauce to the cauliflower and roast for another 5 minutes. Then serve while warm with extra sauce.
1 large head cauliflower, broken into 1-inch florets
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
Non-stick cooking spray
1 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 Break apart the cauliflower: Cut the green stems back on the cauliflower head and then break or cut the head into about 1-inch florets. It’s easiest to start near the base of the cauliflower and work your way toward the center.
2 Dip in egg wash and breadcrumbs: In a bowl large enough to hold the florets, whisk together 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of water. Add the florets to the egg mixture.
Use a slotted spoon to stir the florets making sure each is well coated. Remove the florets from the egg mixture and add them to the breadcrumbs. Toss them around until they are well coated.
3 Air fry the breaded cauliflower: Spray the air fryer basket with nonstick spray. Place the breaded florets in a single layer in the basket. Try not to crowd them. Set the air fryer to 350˚F and fry the cauliflower for 7 minutes. Flip each floret and fry for another 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
Repeat this process until all the cauliflower have been fried.
4 Make the buffalo sauce: In a small bowl, combine the hot sauce, melted butter, salt, garlic powder and black pepper.
5 Coat the fried cauliflower: Dunk the florets of breaded and fried cauliflower one at time with a light coat of sauce. Return the pieces to the air fryer in a single layer and fry for another 4 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
Repeat the frying process with all your florets.
6 Serve: Serve the florets warm with blue cheese sauce, leftover buffalo sauce, and vegetables on the side.
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Nick has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of diaper changing, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo and his first book is Love Your Leftovers.
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