BBQ Cauliflower Wings

BY : PUBLISHED : May 4th, 2022 UPDATED: August 30th, 2022

These vegan BBQ cauliflower wings are sweet, smoky, saucy, crispy, and perfect as a game day and party appetizer or side dish! Lightly battered and baked (or air fried) until crispy. Just a handful of ingredients, oil-free, egg-free, and gluten-free optional!

completed BBQ Cauliflower Wings plated on a white plate with a bowl of sauce in the background

Smoky, Sweet, and Moreish BBQ Cauliflower Wings

The neutral flavor of cauliflower has made it a popular choice for vegans, low-carb eaters, and healthy eaters alike. With little effort, it’s easy to transform this ingredient into a healthy pizza base, low carb rice or mashed ‘potatoes,cauliflower steaks, and this BBQ cauliflower wings recipe!

There are tons of recipes out there for buffalo cauliflower, and we get it, it’s delicious. But now it’s time for BBQ to take center stage. This barbeque cauliflower is a sweet, sticky, rich, and crowd-pleasing addition to your next game night, potluck, or party!

They’re lighter, healthier, and lower carb than other party dishes (not to mention 100% meat-free!). In addition, I packed cauliflower with Vitamin C and vitamin K. It is also a great detox food and loaded with antioxidants.

Best of all, these vegan cauliflower wings are simple and inexpensive to prepare too. All you need are 7 pantry staples (probably already in your kitchen!), cauliflower, and 35 minutes to get this delicious vegan appetizer ready to impress!

And if you’re looking for more ways to enjoy cauliflower, why not try cauliflower tacos, crispy cauliflower bites, a sweet potato cauliflower casserole, or crispy spiced okra and cauliflower!

The Ingredients

This easy BBQ cauliflower wings recipe is made even easier with an ingredient list entirely of inexpensive kitchen and pantry staples.

  • Cauliflower: Use cauliflower that is heavy for its size with no brown spots/blemishes.
  • All-purpose flour: Alternatively, use whole wheat flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour/ chickpea flour (GF).
  • Plant-based milk: Use any unsweetened vegan milk option. Water would also work.
  • Seasonings: These BBQ cauliflower wings use a combination of onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.
  • Brown sugar: Use coconut sugar for an unrefined option. This will enhance and encourage more caramelization while cooking.
  • BBQ sauce: Use your favorite BBQ sauce (yes, even flavored versions if you’d like). Use a KETO version if preferred.
  • Liquid smoke: (optional) Liquid smoke is perfect for adding a grilled depth of flavor.
  • Vegan ranch: (Optional, to serve) Because where would cauliflower wings be without their perfect sidekick?!
ingredients for BBQ Cauliflower Wings measured out against a light background

Optional add-ins & Dipping Sauces

  • Spice: You can mix a small amount of hot sauce into the BBQ sauce OR sprinkle the baked BBQ cauliflower wings with red pepper flakes before serving.
  • Black pepper: Season the batter, to taste, for subtle spice.
  • Herbs: Garnish the freshly cooked vegan cauliflower wings with chopped parsley, green onions/scallions, or dill for freshness.
  • Breadcrumbs: We find the batter is enough, but if you want even more crunch, roll the cauliflower wings into breadcrumbs (regular, panko, GF) after battering them.

Along with vegan ranch, there are several other dipping sauces you could choose from, too:

What do you like to serve the BBQ cauliflower wings with?

How to Make BBQ Cauliflower Wings?

  • 1) First, preheat the oven to 450F/230C and line a baking tray with parchment paper or spray with some cooking spray.
  • 2) Then, separate the cauliflower down into even-sized pieces/ cauliflower florets. We cut ours into strips around ½-inch wide and 2-3 inches long.

Adjust the size of the ‘wings’ to your liking. Larger florets will be more like traditional wings. Chop it down into smaller pieces for BBQ cauliflower bites.

  • 3) In a bowl, whisk the flour, non-dairy milk, seasonings, sugar, and liquid smoke until well combined.
  • 4) Then, dip the cauliflower wings into the flour mixture, ensuring they’re thoroughly coated.
process shot of mixing ingredients to cauliflower batter with mixer

It saves time to chuck them all in the bowl and toss well. Lightly shake off any excess batter.

  • 5) Transfer the wings to the prepared baking sheet and then bake for 15-20 minutes, until the wings are crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. The exact time this takes will depend on the size of the pieces you’re baking.
  • 6) Meanwhile, heat the BBQ sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. After the 15 minutes, toss the cauliflower wings into the sauce (or dip them) and then return them to the oven for a further 5 minutes and enjoy!

For extra crispiness, use a broiler for a minute or two at the end.

We love to serve ours with a vegan ranch dipping sauce.

How to Make Ahead and Store?

You can chop the cauliflower and prepare the batter a couple of days in advance, storing them separately in the fridge until you’re ready to continue with the recipe.

We recommend consuming the barbeque cauliflower wings immediately for the best texture. However, any leftovers will store in an airtight container for 3 days.

To reheat the cauliflower wings, place them back in the oven or an air fryer at 400F/205C until heated through.

FAQs

Can I make air fryer cauliflower wings?

We haven’t tried with this recipe (yet). However, if you want to try, we recommend preparing the battered florets as written above and then spreading them in a single layer in your air fryer basket, leaving space in between.

Cook them at 400F/205C for around 10-12 minutes, until tender in the middle and crisp outside. Then brush or dip each one in the BBQ sauce and return to the air fryer for a further minute or two.

Can I use frozen cauliflower?

We haven’t tried, though we’ve seen it been done with success. However, when using frozen cauliflower, they may not end up as crispy. We recommend allowing it to thaw first and patting away any excess liquid with a kitchen towel before battering and cooking the vegan cauliflower wings.

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Use even-sized pieces: Otherwise, the BBQ cauliflower wings will cook at different rates.
  • Don’t crowd the pan: The airflow around the BBQ cauliflower bites/ wings is essential for achieving crispy results. If there are too many, too close, then they will steam.
  • Cooking time varies: Based on the exact size of your cauli wings and your oven. So keep an eye on them the first time you make the recipe.
  • Tweak the flavors: BBQ sauce is already naturally sweet, so feel free to reduce or eliminate the amount of added sugar. Want more smokiness? Add some extra liquid smoke? Etc.
  • For less sauce: Use a brush to brush over the barbeque cauliflower rather than dipping them into the sauce.
  • For crispier results: Spray the vegan cauliflower wings with a bit of oil/cooking spray before cooking them.
completed BBQ Cauliflower Wings plated on a white plate with a bowl of sauce in the background

How to Serve Vegan Cauliflower Wings?

Along with serving these BBQ cauliflower wings as an appetizer with your choice of dip and other crudités (carrot sticks, celery sticks, etc.), you can also add them to other meals, such as:

More Vegan Appetizers

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed BBQ Cauliflower Wings plated on a white plate with a bowl of sauce in the background

BBQ Cauliflower Wings

Terrence Paschal
You won't believe how delicious these bbq cauliflower wings are! Using only plant-based ingredients you will enjoy tons of flavor!
5 from 68 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 291 kcal
METHOD Oven
DIET Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • ½ head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of plain plant-based milk
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 cup of bbq sauce
  • Vegan ranch

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C).
  • Cut the cauliflower into thin strips about ½ inch wide, and 2 -3 inches long.
  • Whisk the flour, plant-based milk, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, brown sugar, and liquid smoke together in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Dip the cauliflower pieces into the flour mixture, making sure to coat the entire piece.
  • Place the cauliflower pieces onto a non-stick baking sheet, or baking sheet coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • While cauliflower is cooking, heat the bbq sauce in a saucepan.
  • Remove the cauliflower pieces from the oven and dip them in BBQ sauce. Place pieces back on the baking sheet and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Enjoy with some more bbq sauce or vegan ranch.

Video

Notes

  • Use even-sized pieces: Otherwise, the BBQ cauliflower wings will cook at different rates.
  • Don’t crowd the pan: The airflow around the BBQ cauliflower bites/ wings is essential for achieving crispy results. If there are too many, too close, then they will steam.
  • Cooking time varies: Based on the exact size of your cauli wings and your oven. So keep an eye on them the first time you make the recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 291kcalCarbohydrates: 64gProtein: 6gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 782mgPotassium: 434mgFiber: 3gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 283IUVitamin C: 35mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

About Terrence Paschal

Plant based food, micro brews, punk rock, and running are what I am about.

View all posts by Terrence Paschal

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Karen says

    These sound yummy, but how might I lower the carbs and sodium?
    Thank you

    • Andrea White says

      I wonder if you can try changing the cauliflower to flour ratio. We at Plant-Based on a Budget, haven't tried it but let us know if you do!

  2. Janaye says

    5 stars
    Love this recipe so good!

  3. Teodora says

    5 stars
    Such a great idea! Can't wait to try it!

  4. Megan says

    5 stars
    Absolutely amazing! These wings have my name written all over them! Thanks so much Andrea.

  5. Michelle says

    5 stars
    totally love these!!

    • Andrea White says

      right?! so easy and delicious!

  6. Gina H. says

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! My mouth is watering just thinking about making them again. Appealing to the eyes, as well as the belly. Mmmmmm...

    • Andrea White says

      LOL such a relatable comment!

  7. Linda says

    5 stars
    I've been forcing myself to eat more veggies and this is a great idea to swab my regular meat intake

    • Andrea White says

      Definitely! It's an easy one to enjoy too!

  8. Tina says

    5 stars
    Oh my, I can't pass up a good cauliflower wing recipe! Can't wait to try it!

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! They're my favorite!

  9. Addie says

    5 stars
    I love getting extra veggies in this way! Such a great appetizer or side dish.

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! Such a sneaky way to enjoy your veggies!

  10. nancy says

    5 stars
    the flavour of the sauce and texture was spot on!

  11. Jacqui | thesimplesprinkle.com says

    5 stars
    This recipe is straight forward and easy to make! They turned out so delicious

    • Andrea White says

      So glad you enjoyed them! Love cauli wings!

  12. Emily says

    5 stars
    How fun are these?!? And they kind of look like chicken wings, which is so cool. Can’t wait to make these again!

    • Andrea White says

      Such a great substitute and just as tasty!

  13. Amanda says

    Delicious! I'm much more a BBQ than a Buffalo sauce person.

    • Andrea White says

      Agreed! But both are so good!

  14. Katie says

    5 stars
    Love the BBQ flavor of these wings, absolutely delicious!

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! So so good!

  15. Andrea White says

    Love the flavor and texture! So good!

  16. Cindy says

    5 stars
    These "wings" are amazing! They are my new go-to appetizer.

    • Andrea White says

      Aren't they?! I've been loving them!

  17. Jean says

    5 stars
    it was the best appetizer, the flavors of the spices compliments the caulifllower.

    • Andrea White says

      Agreed! Such a great combo of flavors!

  18. Peter says

    5 stars
    I admit I was a bit skeptical as I am looking for healthier, but these Cauliflower Wings didn't disappoint! Exceeded expectations and I will be making them again!

    • Andrea White says

      Wohoo! Love it when a recipe surprises you for the better!

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