Appetizers

January 10, 2022

Vegan Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower makes a tasty appetizer for game day or any day! This buffalo cauliflower is completely vegan & plant-based, gluten-free, and oil-free. Make it in your air fryer or in your oven!

Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Close Up

Cauliflower is one of my all-time favorite vegetables. (Behind carrots, of course.)

Cover it in some buffalo sauce and crisp it up in the air fryer, and WOW what a delicious dish.

The cauliflower itself doesn't have a ton of flavor, so you just get a bunch of buffalo sauce goodness. It's crispy and creamy and spicy and so tasty!

This recipe is perfect to make and serve as an appetizer for game day (if you're into that). Or, ya know, just because you love cauliflower. If you have an air fryer, you'll get extra delicious and crispy bites. But if not, you can still make this dish.

Let's make it!

Why I love this Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

  • Dietary needs — vegan buffalo cauliflower is plant-based, gluten-free, dairy-free, oil-free, and sugar-free
  • Made in the Air Fryer or the Oven — this buffalo cauliflower is super tasty when made in the air fryer! No air fryer? No problem. I've included oven instructions too (and it takes just as good!)
  • Healthy appetizer — I mean, it's cauliflower! And the homemade buffalo sauce is made from whole food ingredients you can feel good about eating
  • Great for non-vegans — everyone loves buffalo sauce! And while this cauliflower doesn't taste like chicken, I promise even non-vegans will love the incredible flavor

Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower with celery dipped in ranch

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

  • Cauliflower: this recipe is meant for larger heads of cauliflower. If you can only get your hands on some smaller ones, use a third head.
  • Cashews: cashews create thickness and fat (which = flavor) for the sauce. We'll blend them into a sauce. If you don't have raw cashews or don't have a blender/food processor you can sub 1/3 cup of a neutral-tasting nut butter
  • Sriracha: these buffalo cauliflower wings are spicy! (Which is why they are best paired with ranch dip.) For less spice, reduce the amount of sriracha. Or for no spice, omit the sriracha altogether.
  • Vegan BBQ Sauce: most barbecue sauces are naturally vegan. If you can, try to find one that doesn't have any added sugar.
  • Vegan Yogurt: Most grocery stores have a vegetarian section near the refrigerated dairy products. You should find vegan yogurt in that vegetarian section or on some shelves near the dairy products. Like with the BBQ sauce, look for an unsweetened yogurt with few or no added preservatives.
  • White Vinegar: any light vinegar will do - apple cider vinegar is a good sub
  • Liquid Aminos: you can also use tamari, which is gluten-free, or soy sauce, which is not gluten-free
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt

Vegan Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Ingredients

How do you make Buffalo Cauliflower in an Air Fryer?

Step 1. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F

Step 2. Soak the cashews in boiling water. If you are using the nut butter substitution, skip this step. See instructions below for how to make this recipe without a blender.

Step 3. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Step 4. Drain the cashews, then add them to a blender or food processor along with the sriracha, BBQ sauce, yogurt, vinegar, liquid aminos, mustard, garlic powder, and salt. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

If the sauce is too spicy, add more yogurt until you reach your desired spice level. You can also plan to serve the dish with a non-spicy dipping sauce like ranch to help reduce the spiciness.

Step 5. Transfer the buffalo sauce to the bowl with the cauliflower and toss to coat.

Step 6. Place in the basket of your air fryer and cook for 12-14 minutes. Depending on the exact model of your air fryer, the time may vary. Keep an eye on the cauliflower to avoid burning.

Step 7. Serve with your favorite dip (like vegan ranch) and enjoy!

Buffalo Sauce on Cauliflower

How long to cook Buffalo Cauliflower in your Air Fryer

In this recipe you'll cook your buffalo cauliflower for 12-14 minutes in the air fryer.

Depending on the exact model of your air fryer, the time may vary. It's a good idea to check the cauliflower halfway through, check for burning, and give it a toss to ensure even cooking. Keep an eye on the cauliflower throughout the cook time to avoid burning.

For your reference, I used my Nuwave Brio 14 Quart Air Fryer. I know that this air fryer cooks food on the top slightly faster than the food on the bottom, so I gave the cauliflower a stir halfway through cooking. It came out perfectly after about 12 minutes.

How to cook this Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower in your Oven

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. You could also use parchment paper, but I prefer aluminum foil for a recipe like this, to avoid lots of cleanup.

When you cook without oil, things tend to stick a little more than they otherwise would. Aluminum foil is our best defense! And the cauliflower comes right off of the foil :)

Steps 2-5 are the same as above:

Step 2. Soak the cashews in boiling water. If you are using the nut butter substitution, skip this step. See instructions below for how to make this recipe without a blender.

Step 3. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Step 4. Drain the cashews, then add them to a blender or food processor along with the sriracha, BBQ sauce, yogurt, vinegar, liquid aminos, mustard, garlic powder, and salt. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

If the sauce is too spicy, add more yogurt until you reach your desired spice level. You can also plan to serve the dish with a non-spicy dipping sauce like ranch to help reduce the spiciness.

Step 5. Transfer the buffalo sauce to the bowl with the cauliflower and toss to coat.

Oven cook time differs slightly from the air fryer:

Step 6. Place the cauliflower on the lined baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Step 7. Serve with your favorite dip (like vegan ranch) and enjoy!

How do I make this buffalo cauliflower without a blender?

No blender? No problem!

I used cashews in this recipe to add some creaminess and flavor, but there's a simple swap you can make if you don't have a blender or food processor.

Instead of using whole cashews, use a nut butter instead. You can use cashew butter, almond butter, or another neutral-tasting nut butter. (Avoid peanut butter unless you want a strong peanut taste.)

When you get to step 4 of blending the sauce, simply place all the sauce ingredients, including the nut butter, in a medium bowl and mix by hand. For a super smooth sauce, use a whisk. But a fork or spoon would be fine too. Just make sure all the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Vegan Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

Serving Suggestions

You simply must serve this Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower with my Easy Plant-Based Ranch Dip! It's just a few simple ingredients and you can make it in 5 minutes.

For a party, pair this buffalo cauliflower with other tasty appetizers like vegan crostini, vegan queso and spicy guacamole.

Or, choose from my selection (read: billions) of hummus recipes for a variety of fun dipping sauces:

Recipe Prayer

Thank you God for this delicious and healthy dish. Help us to honor You with our bodies. Amen.

Vegan Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower dipped in ranch

Related Recipes

Want more air fryer friendly recipes? Try these next:

Tried this recipe?

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Vegan Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower makes a tasty appetizer for game day or any day! Ready in 30 minutes, this buffalo cauliflower is completely vegan & plant-based, gluten-free, and oil-free. Make it in your air fryer or in your oven!

Author:

Elizabeth

Serves:

8

Prep:

15

min

cook:

15

min

total:

30

min

Ingredients

  • 2 Large Heads Cauliflower
  • 2/3 Cup Cashews (sub 1/3 Cup nut butter)
  • 1/4 Cup Sriracha (for less spice, reduce to 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1/4 Cup Vegan BBQ Sauce
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Vegan Yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Liquid Aminos
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F or oven to 450°F. If using the oven, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Soak the cashews in boiling water. (If using the nut butter substitution, skip this step. See post instructions for making this recipe without a blender.)
  3. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Drain the cashews, then add them to a blender or food processor along with the sriracha, BBQ sauce, yogurt, vinegar, liquid aminos, mustard, garlic powder, and salt. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  5. Transfer the buffalo sauce to the bowl with the cauliflower and toss to coat.
  6. Place the cauliflower in the basket of your air fryer or on the lined baking sheet. Cook in the air fryer for 12-14 minutes or oven for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Serve with your favorite dip (like vegan ranch) and enjoy!
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January 16, 2022
Tracy Henry
Made this tonight. Absolutely delicious Elizabeth. You got this one just right!
Oh yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)
January 16, 2022
L Collins
Hi Could you please confirm two things:1. The amount of salt. Seems like too much. 2. The directions say there is lemon juice in the dressing but it’s not listed under ingredients. ThanksL.
Hi there! Confirming that the two teaspoons of salt in the dressing is correct. I didn't salt the cauliflower when roasting it or the salad after it was done, so this amount of salt was perfect. If you're concerned about it you can decrease the amount of salt in the dressing and then add more at the end if you need it. As for the lemon juice, SO sorry about that! It was a typo in my directions and I've removed it now. Hope this helps :)
December 20, 2021
Martha
This looks lovely! Do you have a recipe for the red pepper hummus also? Thank you!
Hi Martha! I don't have a recipe for red pepper hummus on my site. I suggest taking a traditional hummus recipe and blending in roasted red pepper.
November 22, 2021
Amanda J Lehmann
I tried these and they were delicious! A bit dense but flavorful and the "buckeye" blend of peanut and chocolate was on point! Recommend!
Yay! I'm so glad you liked them! -- Elizabeth
December 6, 2021
Grace
Hi, these look amazing. I was wondering, could I used powdered peanut butter in place of creamy for the recipe? thanks
Hi Grace! There is already some powdered peanut butter in this recipe, so adding more might make the texture more gluey. Also, the real peanut butter adds some fat, which helps create flavor. That said, if you want to use powdered peanut butter, I would suggest mixing it with a high-fat liquid like coconut cream and then measuring out 2/3 cup. Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes :) -- Elizabeth
November 15, 2021
Becky
You mention using vegetable broth in your introduction but it isn’t included in the recipe
Hi Becky - thanks for pointing this out. I have removed mention of vegetable broth from this post. You do not need any vegetable broth. The mushrooms will release natural liquid which will prevent any sticking. -- Elizabeth
September 23, 2021
Tracy Henry
Hi Elizabeth, LOVE you recipes. Please keep them coming. :)I was wondering, can you share what is the vegan chocolate bar you used in this recipe?
August 28, 2021
Henry (Hank) Mader
thank you for the oil free recipe. I'm getting introduced to wild Bolete mushrooms here in Colorado, and everyone sautes Bolete's in butter or olive oil. I'm on a veggie, oil free regimen for heart health reasons. and your recipe suggestion may fill the bill. I can't wait to give it a try.
August 13, 2021
Lindsey Kuhn
This is so fun! Loving your creamy photography :)
August 13, 2021
Lindsey Kuhn
This looks incredible! So yummy and pretty photography