Buffalo wings are a game day favorite, but the standard ingredients used to make them –– chicken wings, wing sauce, and butter –– tend to load them up with saturated fat and sodium. Creating a healthier, vegetarian buffalo “wing” using cauliflower sounds like a stretch, but this appetizer is one even die-hard wing fans will love.
The secret to turning frozen cauliflower florets into wing-like buffalo bites is letting the thawed florets sit on clean paper towels for at least 30 minutes. The towels absorb a good bit of the cauliflower’s moisture, which is crucial if you want a crispy result. (If you’d rather use fresh cauliflower florets, you can skip this step and cut the baking time to 20 to 25 minutes.)
Many bottled wing sauces are high in sodium. Whipping up a quick, homemade version can help you keep salt levels down. Just prep the sauce using the directions below, then toss with the baked cauliflower. (Some hot sauces can also contain a good amount of sodium, so seek out varieties with less than 120 mg per tablespoon.)
Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
- 2 (12-oz) pkg frozen cauliflower florets, thawed
- Cooking spray
- ½ cup white whole-wheat flour
- ½ tsp garlic salt, divided
- ½ cup water
- 6 Tbsp hot sauce
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
1. Place thawed cauliflower florets on paper towels (or clean kitchen towels). Let sit at least 30 minutes to drain any excess moisture.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large, rimmed sheet pan with foil, and coat generously with cooking spray.
3. Combine flour, ¼ tsp garlic salt, and water in a large bowl, whisking to combine. Add drained cauliflower to mixture, tossing gently to fully coat all florets. Place cauliflower florets on the prepared baking sheet, making sure they’re evenly spaced. Lightly coat the cauliflower tops with cooking spray.
4. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until crispy and golden, turning once during cooking.
5. To make the sauce, combine hot sauce, melted butter, and the remaining ¼ tsp of garlic salt in a small bowl. Pour over the baked cauliflower, tossing to coat. Serve immediately with celery and carrot sticks.
NUTRITION FACTS (1/8 of recipe ): Calories 90; Total Fat 3.5g (Saturated Fat 2g); Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 240mg; Total Carbs 12g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Total Sugars 2g, Added Sugars 5g); Protein 3g.
CAROLYN WILLIAMS, PHD, RD