The Simple Tip To Avoid Soggy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

Listen, sometimes you just don't want chicken wings, but you're still in the mood for buffalo sauce. Whatever the reason, there are substitutions that skew far from the appendages of chickens. One of the most popular is cauliflower, a cruciferous king that brings a substantial meatiness and mild flavor that lets classic buffalo sauce take the reins. That said, buffalo cauliflower — which works equally well with either a tahini dip or with blue cheese — can become a bit wan during the cooking process, but a bit of thoughtfulness can make for vegetarian wings that are both flavor-forward and satisfyingly-crunchy through and through.

The crucial mistake in making cauliflower wings lies in how they are sauced. It's easy to believe they should be thoroughly coated, if not downright dipped, before they go into the oven. The thinking goes that the sauce will permeate the wings as they cook through — but drenching them too heavily will lead to damp, limp cauliflower bites. Likewise, a minimal amount of saucing will undercut the base flavor. Thus, a deft hand with the buffalo sauce is required, and coating them lightly all on sides is all you need to do for cauliflower bites that are both toothsome and flavorful.

How to bake buffalo cauliflower

Cauliflower itself can be tough, so a simple approach is needed when using it for buffalo wings. As with traditional wings, crispiness is crucial for the overall effect. Powdering the cauliflower with dried herbs and aromatics like celery salt — or a bit of garlic for punch — can help accentuate the exterior crunch and develop deep flavor prior to applying the sauce. So too can a light application of sauce that gets brushed onto the vegetables before baking. The sauce not only adds flavor, but caramelizes in the heat of the oven, becoming a sort of crust on cauliflower.

Once the alternative wings are lightly sauced, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake the cauliflower in an air fryer or oven (preheated to between 400 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit) until golden brown and crispy, typically around 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway through to ensure even cooking. Once done, remove from the heat and let them cool slightly before serving.

With this approach, you'll achieve perfectly crispy buffalo cauliflower wings that are bursting with flavor, proving that sometimes, less sauce truly is more. So, next time you're craving this plant-based delight, remember the art of light saucing for wings that are sure to impress.