We’ve been leading up to this moment. From homemade buffalo sauce to chunky blue cheese dressing… this is it. The moment we’ve all been waiting for: vegetarian “wings”.
Ok, ok, maybe it’s a stretch to call these wings, so we’ll stick with bites, but when it’s game day and you need a finger-lickin’ good meatless appetizer that’s bite-sized, comforting, and totally dippable, these are your answer.
By popular demand, they’re oven-baked. The panko exterior makes each bite crunch-worthy, and there’s nothing better than a buffalo sauce and blue cheese combo, is there?!
So pour yourself a drink, and let’s get to cookin’!
And when I say simple, I mean it. We need just a few basic pantry ingredients to make the cauliflower bites:
- Cauliflower – cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. I recommend trimming the stems so they are more “nugget” shaped and easier to pick up and dip. Generally speaking, you want them to be relatively similar in size so they cook at the same rate.
- Panko + Seasonings – I’m really tempted to lump this as one ingredient because I am willing to bet you’ve got those seasonings in the cupboard already. We’re mixing in some salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to add more dimension to the crispy panko coating.
- Egg – the egg helps bind the panko to the cauliflower without becoming a goopy mess (as I find some flour and water methods can result in).
- Corn Starch – a light layer of corn starch directly tossed with the cauliflower helps the egg stick, and it helps them crisp up even more.
- Buffalo Sauce – use storebought or make it at home – it’s so easy to do! Find all the buffalo sauce details here.
The beauty of these crispy bites is that you can absolutely switch up the sauce, too — try a Bourbon BBQ Sauce or another favorite. More on that later, let’s look at the simple ingredients to make these baked cauliflower bites.
How to Make Crispy Cauliflower Bites
You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that despite the several steps of this recipe, it’s fairly easy, especially with a few key tips and tricks that will help you be most successful. Be sure to see the full recipe card below for all the details.
First, toss the cauliflower florets with cornstarch. Sprinkle the cornstarch across the cauliflower – opposed to pouring it all in the same place – so that it’s distributed evenly. Using a big bowl helps with this process, and you can toss the bowl or use a spoon.
Next, line up the dipping bowls: the whisked egg (with a little bit of water), and the panko mixture. This is your assembly line to coat the cauliflower.
Dip a corn starch-coated cauliflower floret and into the egg mixture, making sure it’s coated completely. It’s very important to let the excess egg drip off, or you’ll end up with a goopy mess. Be sure to tilt and turn the cauliflower so it drains from the nooks and crannies.
Then, toss the egg-coated cauliflower in the panko mixture until completely coated. Using the hand that you didn’t put in the egg helps keep everything clean and clump-free.
(Then place the panko-coated cauliflower on an oven-safe cooling rack that is on top of a baking sheet. I highly, highly, highly recommend using the cooling rack. It helps air circulate around the cauliflower, ensuring that each side gets crispy. No soggy bottoms here.
Once you’ve dipped and coated each cauliflower floret, it’s time to bake!
They’ll bake at 425°F for around 20 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
Toss with Buffalo Sauce
As I mentioned, you can really toss these cauliflower bites with your favorite BBQ sauce – or mix and match. We’re tossing (or dipping) them with homemade buffalo sauce today.
An important note about tossing the cauliflower bites: the panko will absorb your sauce, so I recommend lightly tossing in your sauce until you know your desired “sauce amount” shall we say.
Because the panko does absorb the sauce, depending on how much you pour on them, the crispiness can be affected. It also means that if you pour a ton of sauce on, then, well, you run the risk of them ending up quite spicy (which maybe you’re into, then perfect!).
Do you want to ensure the panko stays completely crispy? Dip the bites in your sauce instead of tossing them!
I actually prefer this as I’m a dipping kind of gal. Remember, the beauty of making it at home means you can take the route that works best for you!
So you’ve decided if you’re going to serve them pre-tossed or dipped in the buffalo sauce by now, but there are a few suggestions I have when it comes to serving these delicious bites.
First up, don’t forget some homemade blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing. The more dips the better, right? And you cannot have buffalo without one or both of those creamy, cooling sauces, so dip away, my friends!
It’s also a must to serve buffalo sauce with celery sticks since they help cool down those taste buds and balance out the spice.
If you’re looking for other appetizers to serve with these buffalo bites, I’d recommend other snacky game-day foods like black bean nachos, queso dip, or parmesan fries.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 egg
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 cup panko
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup buffalo sauce, or to taste
- Optional: blue cheese dressing, to dip
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Prepare a baking sheet by placing oven-safe cooling racks on top of it (if you don't have these, line with parchment paper); lightly grease the racks with cooking spray or olive oil.
- Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. I recommend trimming the stems so they are more "nugget" shaped and easier to pick up and dip. You want them to be relatively similar in size so they cook at the same rate.1 head of cauliflower
- Toss the cauliflower florets with the corn starch until completely coated. Set aside.1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and water until combined. Set aside.1 egg, 1 Tablespoon water
- In another shallow bowl, stir together the panko, onion and garlic powder, salt, and pepper.1 cup panko, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp kosher salt, ¼ tsp black pepper
- Dip the corn starch-coated cauliflower in the egg mixture, making sure all excess egg drips off of the cauliflower. Then, transfer to the panko mixture and toss until completely coated. It helps to use one hand for the egg wash, and one for the panko.
- Place on the cooling rack-lined baking sheet and continue the dipping process until all cauliflower pieces are coated.
- Bake for 18-23 minutes until the cauliflower is fork-tender and the panko is golden brown. While the bites bake, make your homemade buffalo sauce.
- Once baked, transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and toss or brush on the buffalo sauce, gently stirring to coat to keep the panko intact. To keep the bites extra crispy, skip tossing them and instead dip them in the buffalo sauce while eating.1/2 to 3/4 cup buffalo sauce
- Serve immediately (especially if you tossed the bites) with blue cheese, ranch, and/or celery sticks as desired.
By the Way…
This recipe is part of our easy vegetarian appetizer collection. Check it out!
I was VERY skeptical of this recipe going in (even though this blog has never lead me astray), but these turned out great — so crispy! I officially have a reason to be excited for game day with this great snack/meal!
Anna – that means so much, thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed them!
My family is from upstate New York, and I have many childhood memories of pregaming authentic Buffalo wings before heading to the game. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten those wings in Buffalo, as I’m vegetarian, but this is one of the best “wing” recipes I’ve made over the years. Crispy, and flavourful from breading to dip–make these ASAP!
Thank you so much, Sara!! True Buffalonian approved – I love it!
Delicious alternative to the classic Buffalo wing! I’m not a vegetarian but prefer to eat mainly plant based recipes, and these delivered!
Yay! So glad to hear! Thanks so much for leaving a review, Danielle!
Delicious and very easy to make!
I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed! Thanks so much for your comment, Jessika!
Can these be made ahead, or do they get soggy?
Hi Beth – they’re best fresh, but if you do make them ahead of time don’t coat them in the sauce and reheat them in an air fryer or in the oven to crisp them back up (see the notes in the recipe card for more info). Hope that helps!
i made these cauliflower bites i tell you enough how much we LOVE these . I made them for company and for just us. i put sauce on the side so they stayed crispy We also tried it will a little mikes hot honey which gave it a little twist too. Everyone loved them that i shared the receipe with all my friends. Cant wait to makle them again > These are 5 stars !!!!
Yay! I’m so glad to hear, Jacqueline! Thanks so much for your review!
turned out perfectly!
Awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review, Lisa!