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), plus more to consistency*
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 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 hot sauce (like Frank’s or similar)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or use melted butter/vegan butter)
3/4 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. Add more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, if batter is too thin. It should be somewhere between a crepe batter and a pancake batter.
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 25 minutes. Gently flip. Cook for another 10 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. Bring to a rolling simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 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 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.