Sometimes it’s the combinations that seem the least compatible that turn out to be the most wonderful: Beauty and the Beast; peanut butter and jelly; Buffalo sauce and cauliflower. Yes friends, these Cauliflower Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Avocado Dip are a culinary romance for the ages.
With its plain hue and mild-mannered flavor, cauliflower is a bit of a wallflower—the shy girl who sits in the back of your math class, silently acing her every exam. Buffalo sauce is more akin to the starting quarterback—universally popular, essential to any football game, and hot-hot-HOT.
Yet, the two—gentle cauliflower and spicy Buffalo—are a match made in high school romantic comedy heaven. Inspired by the flavor and process of making Buffalo chicken wings, I created this healthy vegetarian version using often overlooked cauliflower.
About These Easy Cauliflower Buffalo Wings
Classic buffalo wings are deep fried, so to mimic that addictive effect, I tossed the cauliflower florets in a quick batter, then roasted them at a high temperature to ensure their exterior would be nice and crisp. Then, when the cauliflower bites were almost done roasting, I coated them in that orange elixir of fall and football: Frank’s Buffalo Sauce and a touch of melted butter.
After few additional minutes in the oven, the cauliflower emerged lightly crispy on the outside and soft and caramelized on the inside. Because cauliflower is so mild, it’s the ideal vehicle for bold flavors like buffalo sauce, and the light batter made the cauliflower bites feel indulgent, as any game day-appetizer should be.
To keep our cauliflower buffalo wing romance from getting too hot and heavy, I paired the buffalo cauliflower bites with a cool, creamy blue cheese avocado dip. A blend of Greek yogurt, rich avocado, and salty blue cheese, this dip is my healthier (and dare I say superior) spin on blue cheese dressing, a classic pairing with buffalo wings. I loved how much thicker the avocado dip is than simple blue cheese dressing, which allow me to easy scoop a satisfactory dollop with every cauliflower buffalo wing.
The blue cheese avocado dip is also easily customizable to your preferred level of blue cheese. Crazy for the crumbly blue stuff like me? Stir it in with reckless abandon. Prefer a more subtle taste? Just add a little. (The recipe as written uses a middle-of-the-road amount, but feel free to add more or less as desired.)
Make Ahead + Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. The dip can be prepared 1 day in advance. Refrigerate in a bowl or airtight container with plastic wrap pressed over the top.
- To Store. The cauliflower texture is best the day it is made, but the flavor will still be tasty leftover. Store cauliflower in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
More Appetizer Recipes for Game Day
Cauliflower Buffalo Wings, a Love Story. Too soon to file for the movie rights?
Cauliflower Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Avocado Dip
For the Cauliflower Buffalo Wings:
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, or swap additional all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 7 cups cauliflower florets about 24 ounces
- 3/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce I used Frank’s
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the Blue Cheese Avocado Dip:
- 1 medium ripe Hass avocado, pitted and diced
- 1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2-4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil, then coat with non-stick spray.
- In a large bowl, stir together the white whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, and garlic powder. Pour in 1 cup of water, then stir until smooth. Add the cauliflower to the bowl, then toss to coat.
- Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, shaking off any excess batter. Spread the cauliflower out so that the florets do not touch. Bake until lightly browned, 18-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the Buffalo sauce and butter over medium low heat. Stir until the butter melts, then set aside.
- Once the cauliflower has finished baking, remove it from the oven and pour the buffalo sauce over the top, using the entire saucepan. Toss to coat, using a spatula if the cauliflower is too hot so that you don’t burn your fingers. Return the cauliflower to the oven, then bake for 5 additional minutes, watching carefully so that the sauce does not brown too much on the outside. Serve hot with the Blue Cheese Avocado Dip.
- For the Blue Cheese Avocado Dip: mash the avocados in a medium bowl with the Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons blue cheese and stir to incorporate, the taste, adding extra blue cheese as desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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