This buffalo cauliflower recipe has been a long time coming. I’m glad to get it to you just before the big game! This recipe is a vegetarian spin on buffalo wings, featuring caramelized roasted cauliflower with an irresistibly spicy coating. It’s the perfect watch party appetizer.
Restaurant-style buffalo cauliflower is typically deep fried (and delicious), but I wanted to make homemade buffalo cauliflower in the oven. I tried it every which way to get here, and many renditions were simply not good. The cauliflower was either soggy, too saucy, too salty, or otherwise not quite right.
I gave up on the idea last year after I landed on buffalo Brussels sprouts instead.
Here’s what I ran into along the way. Many homemade buffalo cauliflower recipes feature cauliflower tossed in a flour and water mixture before baking, with the promise that it produces a deep fried effect. It would be cool if that worked, but it doesn’t. Simply roasting the cauliflower on its own doesn’t yield crispy-enough results, and tossing the cauliflower in sauce after baking negates all crispness anyway.
I finally picked up a new tip from a loosely-written Bon Appetit recipe—cornstarch. Cornstarch helps make my baked sweet potato fries extra crispy, and it does the same for this cauliflower, offering a crispy outside to a high-moisture vegetable without frying. That means that this recipe is gluten free as well. Hooray!
It’s way too easy to eat this buffalo cauliflower straight off the sheet pan before it makes it to the serving platter. You have been warned.
How to Make the Best Buffalo Cauliflower
You’ll find step-by-step photos and the full recipe below, but here’s why this recipe works so well:
1) Bake at a relatively high temperature on a lower oven rack
Four-hundred twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit is my go-to temperature for tender, caramelized roasted vegetables and it is perfect for buffalo cauliflower. Lining the pan with parchment paper ensures that the cauliflower doesn’t stick to the pan, and that the sauce adheres to the cauliflower rather than the pan. We’ll bake the cauliflower on an oven rack in the lower third of the oven, which promotes extra browning (more flavor!).
2) Slice the cauliflower into large florets
Aim for two to three inches in size. The cauliflower shrinks considerably as it roasts. Don’t throw out the tiny cauliflower florets and crumbs, which turn into delicious little bits in the oven.
3) Toss the cauliflower florets with cornstarch and seasonings
Cornstarch helps crisp up the cauliflower. It makes a huge difference! We’ll lightly coat the cauliflower with cornstarch, garlic powder and black pepper, then toss with olive oil.
4) Roast the cauliflower until golden
Before we add any sauce, we’ll roast the cauliflower to evaporate excess moisture and bring out its best flavor. Bake for 20 minutes, toss, and bake until golden, about 10 more minutes.
5) Toss the roasted cauliflower with buffalo sauce
Homemade buffalo sauce is simply a mixture of melted butter and Frank’s hot sauce (you can substitute another red hot sauce, if you prefer, but Frank’s is classic). Combine the roasted cauliflower and buffalo sauce in a bowl and gently toss so the sauce coats the cauliflower all over.
6) Bake once more
Finally, return the saucy cauliflower to the oven until blistered and drier to the touch. This step brings out even more irresistible flavor and makes the buffalo cauliflower more finger friendly.
7) Serve as desired
Buffalo Cauliflower Serving Suggestions
We discovered that buffalo cauliflower makes a fun salad component. Try massaged chopped kale or romaine, my favorite chickpea salad or crispy baked chickpeas, and a creamy dressing, like ranch, blue cheese or Caesar.
Here are some Super Bowl-worthy recipes to serve with buffalo cauliflower:
- Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Favorite Chickpea Salad
- Homemade Vegetarian Chili
- Monster Cookies
- Ultimate Veggie Pizza
Please let me know how your buffalo cauliflower turns out in the comments. I love hearing from you.
Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Roasted
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
This buffalo cauliflower recipe is completely irresistible! It strikes the perfect balance of crisp, tender and spicy. Recipe yields 4 generous side servings.
- 1 large head of cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 10 twists of freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons Frank’s red hot sauce, to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Optional, for serving: Ranch dressing or blue cheese dip, carrot and celery sticks and strips of bell pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the cauliflower from sticking.
- Cut the cauliflower into large florets, about 2 to 3 inches in size. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower with the cornstarch, garlic powder and pepper. Then drizzle in the olive oil and toss until lightly and evenly coated.
- Arrange the florets evenly across the prepared baking sheet. Set the used bowl aside, but keep it nearby.
- Roast the cauliflower for 20 minutes on the lower rack, then gently toss. Return the pan to the lower rack and bake until the cauliflower is tender and golden, about 10 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, in your reserved bowl, combine the hot sauce and melted butter. Whisk to combine. Taste, and stir in another tablespoon of hot sauce if desired (it won’t taste as intense once it’s on the cauliflower). Once the cauliflower is golden, transfer it to the bowl and gently toss until the cauliflower is well coated.
- Arrange the cauliflower on the pan in a single layer once again. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the cauliflower is blistered in spots, about 10 more minutes. Serve as desired.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Substitute vegan butter, such as Miyoko’s Creamery brand. Serve with a suitable dip, if desired—this Creamy Avocado Dip might be nice.