This vegan buffalo cauliflower kale salad is easy to make in about 40 minutes and features spicy baked cauliflower mixed with kale, roasted red onions, avocado, tahini, and vegan parmesan.

Avocado, buffalo cauliflower, roasted red onion and kale in a bowl.

Recipe Features

  • vegan and gluten-free – this recipe is great for those with dietary restrictions
  • easy to make – once you prep the cauliflower and get it in the oven, the rest of the salad is quick and easy to throw together in about 40 minutes
  • for the hot wing lovers – if you love hot wings, this salad will satisfy a craving while getting in plenty of nutrition

Ingredient Notes

Tahini, avocado, kale, cauliflower, lemon, hot sauce and avocado on a counter.
  • Cauliflower. You’ll need a whole, medium-sized head of cauliflower. It doesn’t have to be an exact amount.
  • Buffalo sauce. I used Frank’s Buffalo Sauce but any kind works.
  • Brown rice flour. Can be substituted with wheat or spelt flour.
  • Red onion. A medium-sized red onion is great, exact size doesn’t matter.
  • Kale. Any kind of kale works! Wash, de-stem and chop it up nice and fine.
  • Tahini or tahini sauce. Drizzle the salad with plain tahini or make a quick lemon tahini sauce.
  • Avocado. Use 1/4-1/2 an avocado per salad – up to you!
  • Vegan parmesan (optional). Use store-bought vegan parmesan or learn how to make your own here with cashews and nutritional yeast.

How to Make this Recipe

Step 1. Make the buffalo cauliflower.

Wash and chop the cauliflower and place it in a large bowl. Mix up the batter ingredients in a separate bowl them add it to the cauliflower and mix it all up.

After baking for 25 minutes, add the buffalo sauce right onto the baking tray, mix and bake another 10 minutes until tender and browned.

Dumping milk over chopped cauliflower in a glass bowl.
Drizzling buffalo sauce over baked cauliflower on a pan.

Step 2. Roast the red onions.

Slice up the onion, toss with olive oil, sat and pepper and bake for 20 minutes until tender and starting to brown. It can go into the oven at the same time as the cauliflower, even on the same tray.

Pouring olive oil over sliced red onions in a glass bowl.

Step 3. Prepare the salad.

While the cauliflower and onion are baking, prepare the salad so you’re all ready to go when it’s done. Remove the kale leaves from the tough stem, wash and finely chop. Now, you’ve got a few choices for the kale:

  • option 1 – massage the kale with tahini or tahini dressing
  • option 2 – massage the kale with a bit of olive oil and lemon then use the tahini or tahini dressing on top of the salad (I like this option)

Why massage the kale? Raw kale is tough and bigger. Massaging it with a dressing or a bit of oil, softens it and improves its taste and digestibility. To massage kale, massage and squeeze it with your hands for 1-2 minutes until it softens and darkens in color.

Pouring tahini over a bowl of kale.
Baked buffalo cauliflower in a bowl.

Top the kale with buffalo cauliflower, roasted red onion, avocado, tahini and vegan parmesan and dig in!

A kale salad topped with buffalo cauliflower and avocado.

Tips and FAQs

  • Serving size. The cauliflower makes enough for 4 salads. Adjust the rest of the ingredients based on how many servings you want. Just making 1 salad? Save the leftover cauliflower for snacking or making these wraps later.
  • Ingredient swaps. No red onion? Any kind of onion works. No cauliflower? Try buffalo or bbq chickpeas instead.

How should I store leftovers?

Leftover baked cauliflower can be stored in the fridge for a few days. It will get a bit soggy but you can reheat it in the oven for a few minutes to crisp it back up and it’s still super tasty! Assembled salads can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Can I make this oil-free?

Yes. You can omit the oil from the buffalo cauliflower recipe and roast the onion without oil. Balsamic vinegar works well for roasting the onion if you want to try it!

A bowl of kale, avocado, buffalo cauliflower, roasted onions and parmesan.

Related Recipes

For more buffalo recipes, try my buffalo chickpea stuffed sweet potatoes or buffalo cauliflower wraps.

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A bowl of kale, avocado, buffalo cauliflower, roasted onions and parmesan.

Buffalo Cauliflower Kale Salad

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

This buffalo cauliflower kale salad is everything you could ask for in a salad. It has different textures and flavours that pair perfectly together. Cooling, spicy, creamy and crunchy, there’s a lot going on and each bite is even more delicious than the last!


Scale

Ingredients

For the Buffalo Cauliflower

For the Roasted Red Onions

  • 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt and pepper

For the Kale Salad

  • 6 cups of de-stemmed and finely chopped kale (about 1.5 cups per salad)
  • 8 tbsp tahini, lemon tahini sauce or ranch tahini sauce (about 2 tbsp per salad)
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 avocados, peeled and diced (1/2 an avocado per salad)
  • 6 scallions, finely chopped (a few tbsp per salad)
  • 8 tbsp vegan parmesan, optional (make your own with cashews or almonds and nutrition yeast)

Instructions

To Make the Buffalo Cauliflower

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place the chopped cauliflower in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the flour, water, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl then add to the cauliflower and mix to coat.
  4. Place the cauliflower in a single layer on a parchment or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes. While that’s baking, mix the buffalo sauce and olive oil in a small dish.
  6. After 20 minutes or so, coat the cauliflower with the buffalo sauce mixture then bake for another 10 minutes until starting to brown. You can broil for the last few minutes for a little extra crisp. Be careful not to burn it though.

To Make the Roasted Red Onion

  1. Slice the red onion, drizzle it with a tiny bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Place on a parchment or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet and add to the oven with the cauliflower.
  3. Bake for about 20 minutes until starting to brown.

To Make the Kale Salad

  1. While the cauliflower and onions are baking, tear the amount of kale you want into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Drizzle with tahini, add a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt and then rub it all in with your hands until all the kale is coated. If you’re making more than a single serving, add all the kale to a large bowl and massage with the tahini, lemon and salt before dividing it into serving bowls. Set aside.
  2. Once the cauliflower and onions are ready, you can assemble the salads.
  3. For each salad, start with a base of kale, then top with cauliflower, red onion, avocado, green onions and a generous sprinkling of vegan parmesan.

Notes

The buffalo cauliflower makes enough for 3-4 salads depending on how much you use for each salad. Adjust the rest of the ingredients accordingly. If you want more onion, kale or avocado, go ahead and use more.

Store leftover cauliflower in the fridge for up 4 days. It will get a bit soggy but is still tasty, especially if you reheat in the oven on broil for a few minutes. Assembled salads will keep for 2 days in the fridge (a bit longer if needed but its best within a day or two).

The recipe can be made oil-free but omitting the oil used for the cauliflower and onion. Balsamic vinegar makes a nice replacement for oil for roasting the onion.

If you prefer, massage the kale with 1/2 tsp olive oil instead of tahini and lemon, then drizzle the salad with tahini sauce. I like make it this way rather than massaging the kale with tahini so the salad has more dressing, but either way works just great!

Keywords: cauliflower kale salad, buffalo cauliflower kale salad

UPDATE NOTE: This recipe was originally published September 12, 2017. It was updated with new photos and text on April 20, 2020.