Craving a healthier, low-carb version of buffalo-style chicken? I’ve got you covered: these Buffalo Cauliflower chunks look and taste fabulous. Just beware: you might bite off more than you can chew!
Tips for making the Buffalo Cauliflower
This is a relatively easy dish to make, although the preparations do take a little time. Still, there’s nothing difficult involved, and it’s well worth all the effort!
Since butter, hot pepper sauce, and pork rinds usually contain a decent amount of salt, you don’t necessarily need to add any salt to this dish. However, since I just LOVE salt (and because I actually need more salt in my diet than the average person because I follow a ketogenic diet), I always add a pinch of salt to my Buffalo Cauliflower. It’s really up to you.
Now let’s look at how to make this finger-lickin’ dish:
Pour the melted butter into a large bowl (or in this case, a large saucepan, since my large bowl was in the dishwasher!).
Add the hot pepper sauce.
Add the cauliflower chunks to the bowl.
Toss well so that the cauliflower chunks are completely covered with the butter and hot sauce mixture. Set aside.
Place the crushed pork rinds…
…salt (if using)…
…and pepper (if using) into a shallow bowl.
Dip each cauliflower chunk in the pork rind mixture. Pat gently to help the pork rind mixture stick.
Place the “breaded” cauliflower chunks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer so that the chunks are barely touching each other.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Let cool 10 minutes (or until they’re cool enough to handle).
Serve immediately with, for example, blue cheese dip or Homemade Ranch Dressing. (Polish them off — it’s easy since they are so delicious — in one sitting: since the coating will turn mushy, Buffalo Cauliflower doesn’t store well.)
My Buffalo Cauliflower experiments
For some time, I was completely obsessed with Buffalo everything. I had made this Easy Garlicky Buffalo Chicken Wings Sauce and it was really delicious.
Then I wanted to make a side dish using Buffalo-style sauce. I knew that cauliflower, a low-carb staple, would be the perfect ingredient here. Since I was feeling lazy, I was planning to use frozen, precooked cauliflower florets in my first experiment. I’d intended to thaw them first, but I forgot (and I had preheated the oven already when I realized, darn it!), so I used frozen florets.
The Buffalo sauce stuck very well to frozen cauliflower; a bit too well, actually, since the butter solidified as soon as it touched the surface of the frozen cauliflower. Plus, there wasn’t enough Buffalo sauce to cover all the cauliflower because it got stuck to the frozen chunks, and I had to make more sauce on the fly. Next time I’m definitely going to thaw the cauliflower first!
I had used equal amounts of melted butter and hot sauce: 1/2 cup (120 ml) each. I also added a little bit of garlic powder to the sauce together with 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos. A tasty result—but something was missing.
Then, it occurred to me that the goal I wanted to reach was a crunchy exterior with a crisp, tender center. Breading the cauliflower chunks with some flour or crumbs before baking would do the trick, I thought.
But I was caught in a culinary tug of war: I couldn’t decide whether I should try almond flour or crushed pork rinds. Since these Amazing Cauliflower Poppers already use almond flour, I thought I really should give pork rinds a shot this time around.
Seems like I hit the nail on the head, too. Using just the right amount of rich butter and fiery hot pepper sauce gave the cauliflower enough taste. Dipping the cauliflower chunks in the mixture of crushed pork rinds and garlic powder (a must-have ingredient in your kitchen!) was the final touch that produced a deliciously crunchy result.
|Nutrition information||Protein||Fat||Net carbs||kcal|
|In total:||101.9 g||93.7 g||22.1 g||1349 kcal|
|Per serving if 4 servings in total:||25.5 g||23.4 g||5.5 g||337 kcal|
|Per serving if 6 servings in total:||17.0 g||15.6 g||3.7 g||225 kcal|
Tips for variation
Feel free to add variety to this dish by using different seasonings. For instance, if you’re a garlic friend, add a serious amount of crushed garlic to the mixture of hot sauce and melted butter.
You can use this sauce and breading for chicken wings, naturally, for a nicely crunchy and exceptionally tasty variation. You can also try chunks of other veggies instead of cauliflower: Broccoli, turnip, rutabaga, zucchini (when baked for only a short time, to keep it slightly crunchy) are all great options. You could even make Buffalo fries with turnip or rutabaga sticks (quite like these Turnip Fries).
I have to confess that when I was making the final experiment and taking the photos for this post, I was running out of hot sauce. We were in our summer cottage in the middle of nowhere, and the nearest store (which doesn’t even carry hot sauce!) was miles away.
So I improvised. Luckily, I had red bell peppers and tomato paste, from which I made an “imitation” hot sauce. I added some vinegar and salt, and the result was surprisingly delicious! Even better, the milder taste was kid-pleasing—as well as senior-pleasing!—so my six-year-old son and my elderly parents could freely enjoy the dish. And they sure did: they raved about it for days afterward!