Easy Vegan Cauliflower Buffalo Wings with Lime

With the start of fall, football season is underway. And that means game day festivities complete with food, glorious food.

Closeup view of a pan of "hot wings" made with cauliflower rather than chicken.

Maybe you’re hosting a tailgating party, you’re barbecuing at home, or you’ve been invited to a potluck event. Here’s a great appetizer that’s vegan friendly and also great for omnivores who aren’t looking to pack in extra calories and cholesterol despite the temptation of game day munchies.

Quick and easy, these cauliflower “wings” can be made in less than an hour.

Top-down view of a baking pan full of cauliflower chunks flavored to taste similar to hot and spicy chicken wings.

These spicy cauliflower hot wings (AJ said I’m not allowed to call them that because they’re not really hot wings… they’re mock chicken wings, made with vegetables. But let’s put propriety aside and call them what we like) are the perfect autumn-time game day food.

They will be your guests’ favorite appetizer on the table, and definitely the most talked about – even if everyone’s just talking about how their mouth is on FIRE from these little morsels.

Top-down view of a batch of spicy lime cauliflower hot wings on a rimless baking pan, with ranch dressing sitting off to the left side.

But, on fire they will continue to be, because these guys are surprisingly addictive. It’s kind of like hot salsa – the only way to make your mouth feel like it’s less on fire is to… eat more salsa!

Closeup oblique view of a batch of vegan cauliflower hot wings flavored with lime and agave syrup. The "wings" are sitting on a baking pan, and a glass jar full of ranch dressing accompanies them.

These most definitely require some sort of ranch dressing alongside them, for dipping. The first time I decided to make them, AJ and I were at the store and he ixnayed my idea to buy ranch dressing because, as he put it, “We don’t need that in our house.”

But man, was I right (ahem). The next time, we both made sure ranch dressing was in our cart before entering the checkout line.

Oblique view of a baking sheet full of honey lime cauliflower hot wings with two glass containers full of ranch dressing.

Did I mention that these are both gluten free and vegan? #Win!

I was inspired by a recipe I saw in Bon Appetit for Nashville-Style Hot Chicken. I took that idea and flipped it on its head to make it healthier, lower calorie, easier, and allergy friendly, all while maintaining the enormous amounts of heat that wings lovers crave in every single bite.

Top-down view of a rimmed baking sheet with buffalo wings made with cauliflower and flavored with hot pepper, lime, and agave syrup.

If you aren’t so hot on the hot appetizers, feel free to decrease the cayenne to just a teaspoon, or even half that. They will still be great. If you like your munchies hot-hot-hot, got for the whole 3 teaspoons. You won’t be disappointed.

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Close up oblique view of a batch of vegan cauliflower hot wings flavored with lime and agave syrup. They "wings" are sitting on a baking pan and a glass jar full of ranch dressing accompanies them.

Vegan Cauliflower Hot Wings with Lime

  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 5 appetizer servings 1x


An easy recipe for the best BBQ appetizer out there! Cauliflower is covered in a gluten-free batter and baked until crisp, then sauced with the spiciest cayenne sauce you can imagine! These are impossible to resist.


  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 13 tsp cayenne pepper*
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice*
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp agave syrup (or honey)


  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flax seed, water, and hot sauce in a large bowl to make a spicy flax egg, and set aside to thicken.
  2. Cut and break your cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Add the almond meal and brown rice flour to the flax mixture, and stir until no lumps remain. Add the cauliflower to the bowl and toss with a rubber spatula until the every piece is completely covered in the batter.
  4. Spread the cauliflower onto your baking sheet and space the pieces as far apart from each other as possible. Bake for 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
  5. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer the cauliflower to the bowl and toss to coat in the cayenne mixture. This requires quite a bit of tossing!
  6. Return the cauliflower to the pan and bake for another 7-10 minutes, until a bit crunchy. Serve immediately* with ranch dressing.


If you’re not so hot on the spicy, reduce the cayenne to 1 tsp, or even 1/2 tsp. If you like it hot (or are curious to see how hot it can get!) then use the full 3 tsp.

If you need to make these ahead, just cook, cool, and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, just reheat them in a 425°F oven for 10 minutes, or until heated through.

If you don’t need to make this recipe without gluten, you can use 1/2 cup all-purpose flour instead of the almond meal and brown rice flour.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: vegan, hot wings, buffalo wings, lime, spicy, cauliflower

What about you? Do you think other flavor combinations would be great with this recipe? Any tips for a fun game day gathering? Let us know in the comments below, and please give this recipe a rating if you’ve tried it.

And for more vegan appetizers, you might also like our:

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 4, 2016. Last updated: December 29, 2019 at 5:16 am.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now merged into Foodal).

7 thoughts on “Easy Vegan Cauliflower Buffalo Wings with Lime”

    • I think oat flour or sorghum flour may be a better substitution due to the texture, but let me know what you try and how it turns out!

  1. I had to bake these for a lot longer than 7-10min at the end to get them crisp. Great idea though!

    I substituted plum jam instead of hot sauce and wasabi powder instead of cayenne to make them nightshade free, too. 🙂

    • Sorry about that! Are you sure your oven temperature is accurate? I keep a thermometer in mine because it’s usually 50 degrees off!


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