Fly to wing nirvana with the best spicy vegan air fryer cauliflower wings and an amazingly simple, and irresistible peanut-ginger dipping sauce.
Cauliflower bites with spicy buffalo-inspired sauce are a plant-based classic. We've taken ours to the air fryer, but we'll guide you through instructions to make these roasted in the oven too.
This post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. Below, you'll find a handy table of contents with links. But if you're in a rush, please use the link at the top to jump to the recipe card at the end!
⭐Why this recipe works
No bones about it. We’ve captured the addictive flavor of Buffalo chicken wings with the healthy alternative of crispy cauliflower slathered in a spicy-hot 3 ingredient sauce.
Buffalo cauliflower wings make the perfect snack, side dish, or game day treat. A big platter with your favorite dipping sauce and some celery sticks is darned inviting. If you want to make a meal of them, use the dipping sauce as a dressing and make a salad to celebrate or wrap 'em and stuff 'em.
📋 Key ingredients & notes
Cauliflower – Use a medium head (or 2 small heads ) of raw cauliflower cut int0 bite-sized pieces that are relatively the same size. This ensures even cooking. Adjust the sizes depending on your intended use. Think spicy cauliflower steaks if that’s your jam.
Chickpea flour – Chickpea flour, also known as gram, besan, or garbanzo bean flour, is gluten-free and makes an easy job of a light, lump-free batter. Alternatively, use all-purpose flour. Other gluten-free options include almond flour or corn starch.
Rice vinegar – Mellow and slightly sweet rice vinegar (rice wine vinegar) add tangy notes to the spicy sauce and peanut dressing. Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar are the best substitutes if you need one.
Sriracha – The heat and thickness of sriracha is the spicy part of our easy 3-ingredient vegan Buffalo sauce. If you don't have sriracha, use your favorite chili sauce or hot sauce such as Frank's red sauce.
Soy sauce – A quick mention of soy sauce. If you want to keep this recipe gluten-free, use Tamari. If you want to cut back on sodium, use light soy sauce.
Peanut butter – The dipping sauce/dressing is flavored and thickened with peanut butter. Smooth (creamy), low salt peanut butter works best. But use what you have. You may want to adjust the amount of soy sauce if your peanut butter contains salt.
Fresh ginger – Fresh ginger adds fresh spiciness to the peanut dressing. If you don’t like the flavor of ginger, consider a few cloves of garlic or even lime zest.
🔪 Pro tips
- Air fryers, like ovens, have their own peculiarities so use our instructions as a guide. You may want to check the cauliflower every 5 minutes when you try this the first time.
- In our experience, you need more cooking time before flipping the cauliflower than you do after. Try not to force the cauliflower from the bottom of the air fryer basket. If the pieces seem stuck, try cooking for another minute.
- Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to fry the cauliflower in batter in batches. Don't worry about keeping the first batch warm while the second cooks. It will be reheated after the spicy sauce is added.
- The secret to lump-free chickpea batter is to whisk, whisk, whisk. No whisk? Use a fork. Stir it with vigor to prevent lumps.
- Unless you are storing it overnight, keep the dressing at room temperature. Peanut butter thickens when it is cooled. If it thickens after sitting, stir it and add a bit of water or more rice vinegar.
⏲️ Oven-baking instructions
- The best way to bake cauliflower wings is to start with a hot oven. You want the batter to cling to the cauliflower, not to the bottom of your baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C) and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Coat the cauliflower florets with the chickpea batter. Then place them on the baking tray in a single layer and separate them. Immediately place them in the center of the hot oven.
- You should be able to bake all the wings in one shot which is a benefit of using the oven. Bake the wings for 15-20 minutes, flip them, and continue baking another 10 minutes until they are golden. As soon as the cauliflower is done, slide it off the parchment paper into a big bowl. Add the spicy sauce. Place the wings back in the oven and bake them for another 2-3 minutes until they are piping hot.
💭 Common Questions
Cauliflower wings will get soggy if you don’t add them to a hot air fryer or oven before cooking them in the batter. Once you add the hot sauce, don't linger. Immediately get them back into the heat for the final roast. This keeps the batter from getting soggy. If soggy happens, they'll still be tasty, but not as crispy as you might like.
If you try this recipe using frozen cauliflower, be sure to thaw it a little. Try to dry it as much as possible, but if it is super moist, try reducing the amount of water in the coating. Experiment with a piece of cauliflower by rolling it in dry chickpea flour. If the coating sticks, you may want to eliminate the added water altogether be sure to use a preheated air fryer and reduce the total cooking time to 8 minutes and toss after 5.
If you don't use (or have) peanut butter, substitute another type of nut butter such as cashew or almond butter. For a nut-free solution, consider tahini or sunflower seed butter.
The process of rolling battered cauliflower wings in breadcrumbs, panko, or a dry mixture with sesame seeds is one way to make crispy air fryer cauliflower wings. We don’t use it for our spicy wings because it never ends up being worth the mess. If you plan on making wings and dipping them in hot sauce, rather than coating and cooking them, it could be a tasty option.
After adding spicy hot sauce, only a little salt is needed. If you want to serve battered cauliflower and use the spicy sauce for dipping, consider adding ½ a teaspoon of garlic powder and/or onion powder, nutritional yeast, ground black pepper, or Italian seasoning.
🍽 Serving & storage
Serve spicy cauliflower bites over a large mixed salad with your favorite veggies. Thin out the dipping sauce and turn it into a pourable dressing. You can also accompany cauliflower hot wings with celery or carrot bites to vary the dipping experience.
If you want options beyond peanut-ginger dressing, try a few of our favorites:
Classic lemon-tahini dressing
Avocado Guasacaca sauce
Store leftover cauliflower wings in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 -3 days. The dipping sauce keeps for about a week. Store it in a sealed jar or container in the refrigerator. Thin it out with water or spruce it up with lime juice for a flavor twist.
To reheat the wings, place them in the oven or air fryer and reheat for 5-10 minutes until they are hot. You can wrap them or cover them in aluminum foil if you are concerned about them burning.
📖 Related recipes
👩🏻🍳 Spicy Vegan Air Fryer Cauliflower Wings
Fly to wing nirvana with the best spicy vegan air fryer cauliflower wings and an amazingly simple and irresistible peanut-ginger dipping sauce.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: Side Dishes
- Method: Air Fryer
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 medium cauliflower head
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup warm water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ - ½ cups Sriracha chili sauce
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Water to thin
- Prep the cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, trimming larger florets in half if needed. Place the cauliflower in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the chickpea flour and salt. Then add the water and vigorously whisk the mixture until it is smooth and lump-free.
- Preheat the air fryer and coat the cauliflower. Preheat the air fryer to 375 F (190 C). Add the chickpea flour mixture to the cauliflower florets and toss so that all the pieces are coated.
- Fry the cauliflower. Place half the cauliflower in a single layer into the air fryer basket. Set the cauliflower. Bake the pieces for 12 minutes total, tossing them after 8 minutes.
- Make the spicy sauce. In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, sriracha, and soy sauce. Set aside.
- Mix the peanut-ginger sauce. Add peanut dipping sauce ingredients to a separate dish or jar. Whisk to combine. Add warm water, a little at a time, until the dressing has a consistency you like. Set aside.
- Fry the second batch. When the first cauliflower pieces are done. Remove them and place them in a large bowl. Toss the remaining cauliflower pieces, place them in the air fryer and fry them for 12 minutes, flipping them after 8 minutes.
- Prep the salad ingredients. If you are serving this as a salad, while the second batch of cauliflower is frying. Prep the salad, using any kinds of greens and salad fixings you like.
- Add the hot sauce. When the cauliflower is done, remove it from the air fryer and add it to the bowl with the rest of the cauliflower. Add the hot sauce and toss the cauliflower until it is well-coated.
- Finish frying. Add all of the cauliflower to the air fryer and fry at 375 F. (190 C.) for 1 minute.
Oven baking instructions. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C) and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Coat the cauliflower florets with the chickpea batter and then place them on the baking tray in a single layer and separate them. Immediately place them in the center of the hot oven. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping the florets after 15 minutes of baking. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the spicy sauce and toss the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower back on the baking tray and bake for an additional 2 minutes until they are hot.
- The nutritional information includes the peanut-ginger dipping sauce.
- Cooking times can vary depending on the type of air fryer or oven you use. For the first time making cauliflower wings, check the cauliflower a few times if needed.
- Don’t force the cauliflower to flip, if it won’t release from the bottom of the air fryer when gently using a spatula, give it another minute and try flipping it again.
- Cauliflower wings will get soggy if you don't add them to a hot air fryer or oven before cooking them in the batter. Also, once you add the hot sauce, don't linger, immediately get them back into the heat for the final roast. Leaving them too long in the sauce before cooking may cause the battered layer to get soggy.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days (the dressing will last about a week). Reheat the wings in the air fryer or oven.
Keywords: air fryer cauliflower wings, Buffalo cauliflower bites, oil-free, plant-based, gluten-free