Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

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This healthy alternative to deep-fried chicken wings will blow your mind!

Enjoy these low-calorie cauliflower bites as a healthy snack.

One of the easiest ways to maintain a nutritious diet is to find healthier recipes that still allow you to indulge in your favorite foods. Many of us can agree that the taste and textures of deep-fried chicken wings are irreplaceable, especially on football Sundays! Unfortunately, traditional wing recipes are loaded with unhealthy fats from deep-frying. So, we set out to find a recipe that offers all of the things you love about chicken wings, but with significantly fewer calories. This is how we came up with our absolutely delicious, 30-minute air fryer buffalo cauliflower!

Cauliflower Instead of Chicken?

This vegetarian-friendly appetizer tastes just like chicken wings!

I was a little skeptical at first, too. But I’ve got to tell you: It’s crazy how much this buffalo cauliflower tastes like chicken wings! These tasty, lightly-battered morsels are tender on the inside but perfectly crispy on the outside. There are a few things that contribute to the crispiness. 

First, the Panko has a dryer, flakier consistency than regular breadcrumbs, so it creates a crispier air-fried product. You can use regular breadcrumbs if you can’t find Panko, but the cauliflower won’t be as crispy. Second, the air fryer does a wonderful job of simulating that beloved deep-fried texture of chicken wings while keeping the inner layer of the cauliflower wonderfully tender.

And, of course, using classic buffalo sauce adds the perfect finishing touch to the bites. We’re confident that this simple recipe will be a hit with vegetarians and meat-eaters alike!

Let’s Talk About Nutrition

This is the perfect hot and savory appetizer for your next get together.

Traditional, deep-fried chicken wings contain about 100 calories per wing. And who eats just one? These air fryer buffalo cauliflower bites contain just over 100 calories in an entire cup (and possibly a little more depending on the size of your head of cauliflower!)

While chicken wings do offer more protein and are lower in carbohydrates compared to cauliflower, they do lack fiber. They’re also higher in cholesterol and are extremely fatty, with each wing containing a whopping 7 grams of fat. This cauliflower alternative offers 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of belly-filling fiber in each serving. Furthermore, you’ll only consume 2 grams of fat per serving! 

Our Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower is Incredibly Easy to Make

These healthy and nutritious bites are super easy to make!

While the air fryer is preheating, you can begin making the batter. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl and set it aside. In another bowl,  combine the panko, paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Be sure to mix well to evenly combine all of the dry ingredients.

Then, grab your cauliflower florets and dip them into the eggs before tossing them in the panko mixture. Make sure that each floret is coated evenly. Place the breaded cauliflower on a plate while you coat the remaining cauliflower.

When your air fryer is preheated, spray the breaded bites with avocado oil and place them in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Be careful not to overcrowd the basket. Doing so can cause the bites to not cook properly, and we want these little guys to be perfectly crispy all around!  Cook the cauliflower for 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re a beautiful golden brown color. If you have to do multiple batches, we highly recommend keeping the cooked cauliflower warm in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven while you finish air-frying the remaining cauliflower.

Once you’re ready to serve the cauliflower, toss the florets in the buffalo sauce. Doing this right before serving will keep them from getting soggy. 

The Best Ways to Enjoy these Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Dig into this air fryer cauliflower buffalo on football Sunday!

These delicious, vegetarian-friendly wings make a great party appetizer, but sometimes we like to enjoy them as a simple healthy snack or side dish. They’re also awesome on a salad! To tone down the spicy vibes a bit, we recommend serving this cauliflower with a side of ranch (homemade is best) or blue cheese dressing. You can also make a plant-based ranch dressing if you’d like!

If you’re throwing a party, you’re going to need more than one appetizer! Here are some of our favorites to pair with this air fryer buffalo cauliflower:

If you’re lucky enough to end up with leftovers, they’ll still taste amazing, but they won’t be as crispy as the first day. You can reheat them in the air fryer to get some of that delightful, crispiness back. 

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Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

This vegetarian recipe has all the flavor and texture of deep-fried chicken wings, but with a significantly improved nutritional profile.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 4 people
Serving Size 1 cup of florets (approximately)
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs gluten-free, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets
  • avocado oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup buffalo sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a shallow bowl, beat the egg with one teaspoon of water and set aside.
  • In a second bowl, combine the panko, paprika, garlic powder, and salt. 
  • Dip the cauliflower florets into the egg before tossing them in the panko mixture. Place the breaded cauliflower on a plate while you bread the remaining florets.
  • Spray the breaded bites with the avocado oil spray and place them in the air fryer basket in a single layer, being careful not to overcrowd the basket. Work in batches, if needed, holding the cooked cauliflower warm in a 200-degree oven while you fry the remaining cauliflower.
  • Air fry for 10 to 15 minutes, until the florets are golden brown and crispy. 
  • Toss the cauliflower with the buffalo sauce just before serving.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1cup of florets (approximately) | Calories: 114kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 1166mg | Potassium: 486mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 306IU | Vitamin C: 69mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 4
Keywords Air Fryer, Budget-Friendly, dairy-free, Vegetarian

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Chef Lindsay

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary School, Lindsay worked as the executive chef of a farm-to-table restaurant in Bend, Oregon. She is passionate about using local, organic ingredients and loves teaching home cooks how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to create beautiful meals for her family. She lives with her husband in Colorado, where she enjoys the trials and errors of gardening.

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