Crispy, tangy cauliflower wings fired up on the grill. Make this classic BBQ appetizer the right way with our easy batter and homemade sauce recipe.
These grilled BBQ cauliflower wings make the perfect appetizer or vegan-friendly grill side dish. The results are perfectly-textured, seasoned, and irresistible BBQ cauliflower wings that even die-hard meat eaters will fall in love with. Best of all, they only take minutes to prepare.
Discover the ins and outs of perfectly grilling cauliflower, no matter what grill gear you have. From perfectly cut cauliflower florets to making the best homemade BBQ sauce, here’s how to make BBQ cauliflower wings today.
What Are Cauliflower Wings?
Cauliflower wings are a meat-free alternative to traditional chicken wings, swapping out the meat for cauliflower florets that we first coat in a light batter before firing on the grill, followed by a final stage of tossing in barbecue sauce. While most cauliflower wing recipes simply opt for baking or frying them, we want that light charr and smoke that outdoor grilling provides.
When used as a meat substitute, it can be easy for cauliflower to end up as bland or chewy. Not so with these wings. The batter coating helps provide the perfect crisp, while the addition of sauce at the end ensures we have flavor in every bite.
In addition to making savory, smoky grilled cauliflower wings, we will also make a tangy BBQ sauce to toss the wings in. This sauce takes minutes to make and has no Worcestershire sauce, making it completely vegan-friendly.
How to Make BBQ Cauliflower Wings
In addition to tasting great, making these grilled BBQ cauliflower wings couldn’t be easier. Even if you don’t consider yourself a grill master, you will have no problem making perfectly cooked cauliflower wings.
- Fire Up: Preheat the grill to medium direct heat while lightly oiling a grill pan. Place the grill pan on the grill so it warms up.
- Prepare the Cauliflower: Peel the outermost leaves of the cauliflower head off and cut them into fourths. Place each wedge of cauliflower flat-side down and cut the base of the rib off, removing as much stem as you prefer. Break the cauliflower pieces up into equal-sized pieces.
- Coat the Cauliflower Wings: Combine dry ingredients for the batter, then pour the milk into a separate bowl. Working in batches, coat each piece of cauliflower in the milk, followed by the dry mix. Set aside.
- Grilling Time: Grill cauliflower on the grill pan until it is slightly charred and fork-tender. This will take about 10 minutes on one side, then flip them over and grill for 10 more minutes.
- Sauce ‘Em Up: Make the BBQ sauce by combining all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss the cooked cauliflower in the BBQ sauce until each piece is coated.
This recipe for grilled BBQ cauliflower wings requires only a few essential ingredients, many of which you likely already have in your kitchen.
Here’s exactly what you’ll need to make these grilled BBQ cauliflower wings:
- Cauliflower: The star of the show, any color of cauliflower will work in this recipe. When shopping, look for heads of cauliflower that aren’t bruised, mushy, or browning.
- Non-Dairy Milk: Any type of unsweetened nondairy milk will work. If this recipe is not vegan, you can swap non-dairy milk for four large beaten eggs.
- Flour: All-purpose or gluten-free all-purpose flour will work.
- Corn Starch: Since corn starch is pure starch, it is much thicker than flour. This will give us that extra thick and crispy coating.
- Onion Powder: For added flavor, it can be swapped with spices such as garlic powder or paprika or omitted.
- Salt & Pepper: For added flavor, it can be adjusted to suit your preferences
- BBQ Sauce: We’ve included a vegan-friendly recipe, though you can swap it for your own preferred store-bought BBQ sauce. We like this Memphis Madness sauce (Amazon link).
Ingredient Swaps and Suggestions
This recipe is great as is, but there is definitely room for some simple modifications to make it truly your own. Here are some of our recommendations:
- Buffalo Wings: Swap BBQ sauce for equal portions of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce (Amazon link) plus two tablespoons of melted butter
- Carolina Gold Wings: Omit ketchup from the BBQ sauce recipe and replace it with equal portions of yellow mustard, then increase the brown sugar to ¼ cup
- Spicy BBQ Wings: Add ½ tablespoon of Sriracha (or more) to the BBQ sauce for a kick of heat
- To store leftover cauliflower wings, allow them to cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container and storing them in the fridge for up to four days
- To reheat cauliflower wings, place them in a baking dish and heat them in an oven preheated to 350°F (180°C) for about 10-12 minutes
- If you don’t have a grill pan, you can make one by laying out a sheet of foil wide enough for your cauliflower wings, plus several extra inches. Then, roll up each end of the foil until you have a contained basket. Use a set of tongs to handle the foil once placed on the grill.