Buffalo cauliflower “wings” are a vegan junk food miracle, but making your own is a different story. If deep frying is a dealbreaker, your options are either sad, soggy “oven fried” versions or abstaining entirely. What’s a frying-averse vegan to do when the craving strikes? Easy — just buy a bag of potato gems.
When you think about it, frozen gems are an ideal substrate for buttery, spicy, vinegary Buffalo sauce. They’re scientifically engineered to get crispy and stay that way, so they can absorb plenty of sauce without completely falling apart. Not only do those crunchy exteriors hit the necessary textural notes, they also provide the distinct deep-fried flavour that anchors a proper Buffalo wing experience. (Seriously, “fry oil” is the overlooked middle child of this iconic flavour profile — without a little greasy goodness, it just tastes wrong.) To top it all off, potato gems are cheap, readily available, and take less than half an hour to cook.
To make your own Buffalo gems, you will need:
- 800g bag of frozen potato gems
- 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot (you can use a different sauce, but please don’t tell me about it)
- 4 tablespoons vegan or dairy butter, preferably salted
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
- Salt to taste
- Vegan ranch dressing, to serve
Cook the gems according to the package instructions, adding 3-5 minutes to ensure maximum crispiness. I air fried mine at 230 degrees Celsius for 18 minutes and they were perfect. If you’re also using an air fryer, you may not be able to make the whole bag in one go — mine only fit half the bag.
While the gems get nice and crispy, make the sauce: Combine the remaining ingredients (except for the dressing) in a microwave-safe container and cook on high in 15-second increments until the butter is melted, stirring frequently to keep everything smooth. Adjust the seasonings as needed, then set aside.
Toss the gems with sauce the minute they come out of the oven (or air fryer) and serve immediately with the dressing of your choice. If you find yourself with leftover sauce, store it in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can also double the sauce and keep it on hand so you’re always prepared for a Buffalo gems craving.