Even when I used to eat meat, chicken wings never appealed to me. For my entire life I have hated the idea of eating meat off the bone. However, boneless wings exist, so a wing-eater I was. It was never about the chicken though, it was always about the crisp texture and savory sauce part of eating wings. If only I could enjoy the same flavor profile without the chicken part. Well, I’m in luck because a relatively recent food craze gives me just that. You probably can guess what I’m talking about. Yep, cauliflower “wings”.
Cauliflower “wings” are everywhere these days, and it was about time I gave them a try. To keep these wings as healthy as possible, I decided to make them vegan (no butter or dairy milk in this version, unless you want to, of course) and I decided to bake them instead of frying. After making a super simple batter of flour, almond milk, coconut oil and spices, I just tossed the bite-size pieces of cauliflower in the batter and baked them off. Next, a quick toss in a simple homemade buffalo sauce (or your favorite wing sauce). Then, a final go in the oven to blend the flavors and crisp up the cauliflower a bit. So simple and so perfect. I didn’t make these tender, flavorful morsels of yummy-ness as an appetizer (although that is encouraged). I made these “wings” for a Buffalo Bowl filled with brown rice, fresh romaine, carrots and tomatoes. A drizzle of homemade dressing on top completed the masterpiece.
Despite using these spicy wings as part of a bigger recipe, I felt it necessary to make a post for the cauliflower wings on their own because I know I’ll be referring back to it for future recipes. Maybe honey-bbq “wings” stuffed in a tortilla with corn, black beans, red onion, avocado and yogurt ranch dressing? Like a southwest BBQ wrap type thing. I literally just came up with that idea. Sounds amaze, right?
Anyway, check back soon because my buffalo brown rice bowl is one of my all-time favorites and you don’t want to miss it!
Vegan Baked Cauliflower “Wings”
Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 1 hour
1 large head Cauliflower
1.5 cups milk or water (whole or 2% dairy, or use unsweetened non-dairy milk)
1 cup Flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)*
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tablespoon canola oil, olive oil or melted coconut oil
1 cup dipping sauce of choice (vegan buffalo sauce recipe follows)
Vegan Buffalo Sauce
3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (or use melted butter/vegan butter)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut cauliflower into big bite-size florets (see picture). Set aside.
Mix together 1 cup flour, 1.5 cups milk or water, salt, garlic powder, pepper, paprika and 1 tablespoon oil.
Dip florets into batter, gently shake off excess. Place on baking sheet in a single layer with as much space between florets as possible. A small pool of batter at the base of each wing is what you’re looking for.
Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Gently flip. Cook for another 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the buffalo sauce (if using). Combine 2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter with 3/4 cup hot sauce, garlic powder and salt in a small sauce pan. Heat over low heat for 3-5 minutes, whisking/stirring frequently.
When cauliflower is finished, allow to cool slightly then add to a mixing bowl. Pour sauce (in this case buffalo) over the “wings” and gently toss to coat. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.
*I’ve made this recipe with whole wheat flour and also with all-purpose flour. I found that the all-purpose flour created a better crispness and color, but the whole wheat was super good too. Generally I will stick with the whole wheat for the added nutritional value.
**These are tasty reheated so feel free to make ahead. Simply bake the refrigerated “wings” at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until crisp.