Buffalo Cauliflower Bites are coated in crispy panko, oven-baked, and tossed with homemade buffalo sauce for an addictingly delicious, bite-sized appetizer (or dinner)!
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 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’!
This post is going to focus specifically on the crispy cauliflower bites – since you can 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.
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.
Recipe Steps + Tips
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.
(1) First, toss the cauliflower florets with the corn starch. Sprinkle the corn starch across the cauliflower (opposed to pouring it all in the same place) to ease even distribution; 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.
(2) Take a corn starch coated cauliflower floret and dip it 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.
(3) 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.
(4) 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.
As I mentioned, you can really toss these cauliflower bites with your favorite BBQ sauce – or mix and match. We’re tossing 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!).
Want to ensure the panko stays completely crispy? Dip the bites in your sauce! 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!
Once you’ve got the sauce (or are ready to dip it, if that’s the route you’re going), don’t forget some homemade blue cheese dressing on the side along with some celery sticks, because it’s only natural, right?!
More Game-Day-Worthy Appetizers:
- Layered Spicy Black Bean Nachos
- Cheesy Pepper Jelly Wonton Cups
- Creamy Artichoke, Kale, Leek Dip
- Spicy Parmesan Garlic Popcorn
- Loaded Kimchi Fries
Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
- 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); very 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.
- Toss the cauliflower florets with the corn starch until completely coated. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and water until combined. Set aside.
- In another medium mixing bowl, stir together the panko, onion and garlic powder, salt, and 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. 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.
- Serve immediately (especially if you tossed the bites) with blue cheese, ranch, and/or celery sticks as desired.