These Honey Chipotle Air Fryer Cauliflower Bites are perfectly crispy, hearty, made easily in the air fryer, and coated in the most mouthwatering honey chipotle sauce! This recipe is a copycat of Chili’s honey chipotle chicken crispers, but made vegetarian by using cauliflower instead of chicken.
This is one of my Air Fryer recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
Have you ever had Chili’s honey chipotle chicken crispers? They were one of my pregnancy cravings with my son, and if you haven’t had them, you definitely should give them a try.
This recipe for air fryer cauliflower bites is a vegetarian spin on those chicken crispers! Cauliflower bites are also known as cauliflower “wings”, because it’s the meatless version of boneless chicken wings.
A lot of people are eating meatless once a week (or more), and this is definitely a fun way to do just that.
I know cauliflower has been used for anything and everything over the past few years, but when it’s fried with a crispy and light batter, then coated in that mouthwatering honey chipotle sauce… you don’t feel like you’re eating vegetables.
We like to eat them as a side dish/appetizer, but they’re also great used in soft tacos, topped with this tequila lime coleslaw!
How to make air fryer cauliflower bites?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Combine breading. We like to use beer, but you can change that out for seltzer water or plain sparkling water.
- Batter cauliflower.
- Let excess batter drip off. I find the easiest way to do this is to use a wire cooling rack.
- Air fry. Cook for 10 minutes, flip, and cook 5 more minutes.
- Make sauce. The sauce will be thick, so you’ll need to warm it up (either in the microwave or on the stovetop).
- Toss. Combine the fried cauliflower with the sauce and serve.
When cutting the cauliflower into florets, try to keep the florets reasonably similar in size. This ensures even cooking in the air fryer.
Variations of this recipe
- Alcohol-free – if you’d prefer not to use beer, feel free to use sparkling water, seltzer water, etc.
- No chipotle chili powder – chipotle chili powder is a great addition to any spice cabinet, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute it with an equal amount of the adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce.
- Cauliflower – I like to buy a head of cauliflower so I can control the size of the florets, but if you’d like to get a little help from the store, you can absolutely use a big bag of pre-cut florets.
- Non vegetarian – if you love the idea of this recipe, but are an omnivore, you can replace the cauliflower with chicken. Keep in mind the air frying time will change, so you’ll need to play around to find the perfect time.
- No air fryer – I don’t like to create recipes that absolutely have to be made with a specific kitchen appliance, because I know not everyone has an air fryer. So I’ve also included regular frying instructions in the “chef tips” section right below the recipe.
Nope, this is just my version of that amazing crispy breading and honey chipotle sauce.
There are a lot of options, you can dip in more of the honey chipotle sauce, honey mustard, ranch, blue cheese dressing, etc.
Making cauliflower wings ahead of time
As with anything fried/breaded, these fried shrimp taste best when made right before serving.
However, there are parts of this recipe that can easily be prepped ahead of time, which will save you a lot of time when making these cauliflower wings.
- Seasoned flour – everything in the batter (except the beer or other liquid), can be whisked together and stored at room temperature until ready to use.
- Honey chipotle sauce – the entire sauce can be whisked together and kept in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Florets – the cauliflower can be cut into florets and kept refrigerated in a container until ready to use.
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6-7 days.
To reheat, preheat air fryer to 350°F and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp.
I love the larger, rectangular basket, and the basket is nonstick, removable, and dishwasher safe!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1 large head cauliflower cut into florets
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup beer or seltzer/sparkling water
Honey Chipotle Sauce
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 Tbsp bbq sauce
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne or less, to taste
- Preheat air fryer to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a wire cooling rack and set next to the air fryer.
- In a mixing bowl, add breading ingredients (flour, smoked paprika, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and beer), and stir until well combined.
- Add cauliflower florets to the mixing bowl and stir to coat. Add breaded florets to prepared wire rack and allow excess batter to drip off.
- Spray basket of air fryer with nonstick cooking spray, add cauliflower in a single layer (depending on the amount of cauliflower and size of your air fryer, you may need to do this in batches). Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray and air fry for 10 minutes.
- Flip cauliflower florets over and spray lightly again with nonstick cooking spray. Air fry another 5 minutes.
- While cauliflower is finishing in the air fryer, add all sauce ingredients (honey, bbq sauce, water, vinegar, chipotle chili powder, cayenne), and either microwave for about 3 minutes, or heat in a small saucepan until sauce is a looser consistency so you can easily toss the cauliflower in it.
- Remove cauliflower from the air fryer and toss in the sauce. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, or plain.
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- Recipe cook and prep time does not include the amount of time needed for the air fryer to preheat, since that will vary from person to person.
Deep Fried Instructions
- Add enough vegetable or peanut oil to fill a deep heavy bottomed pot by about 2 inches, and heat over MED heat until oil reaches about 350-375°F.
- While oil is preheating, line 2 baking sheets with 2 wire cooling racks. One is for letting the excess batter drip off, and the other is for placing the fried cauliflower on after they come out of the oil.
- Batter cauliflower as directed, letting the excess drip off, then add to the hot oil (I like to use stainless steel tongs, and add one floret at a time). Make sure not to overcrowd the pot.
- Fry for about 3-4 minutes per side, then transfer with a slotted spoon or spider to the wire rack.
- Toss with warmed sauce as directed.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Batter cauliflower as directed, letting the excess drip off on a wire rack.
- Transfer battered cauliflower to prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
- Toss with warmed sauce as directed.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.