Recipe: Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bowls with Avocado and Green Tahini

updated Feb 5, 2020
Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bowls with Avocado and Green Tahini

A hearty vegetarian grain bowl packed with spicy roasted cauliflower, avocado, and a simple green tahini sauce.


Prep20 minutes

Cook18 minutes to 22 minutes

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(Image credit: Shelly Westerhausen)

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I truly can’t remember ever eating cauliflower as a kid — except, maybe, as part of a frozen vegetable medley we steamed in the microwave. But in recent years the unassuming veggie has experienced a resurgence, if you will. There are now so many ways to prepare it that half the time, you probably don’t even realize you’re eating it.

I like it mashed, and riced, and crisped into a pizza crust. But I actually enjoy cauliflower the most when it’s not masquerading as something else. Here, super-crispy florets get tossed in hot sauce for a bite-sized bowl topper that’s utterly crave-worthy.

(Image credit: Shelly Westerhausen)

How to Make Best, Crispiest Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

The first time I made Buffalo cauliflower bites, I discovered that most recipes are designed to mimic restaurant-style Buffalo chicken wings — the florets are dredged in egg, dipped in flour or panko, then baked or fried. Not only was this a lot of extra (very messy) work, but it also gave way to gummy cauliflower that was a far cry from the crispy bites I was going for.

But this version is so much easier: Just cut a head of cauliflower into bite-sized florets, drizzle with olive oil and seasoning, and roast at 475°F for about 15 minutes. Then remove, toss with hot sauce, and return to the oven until hot and crispy. This technique — roasting the florets first and then tossing with sauce — prevents sogginess, and is the best way to get crispy cauliflower no matter how you’re flavoring it. Pile into tacos, dip into ranch, or serve as part of this (vegan!) grain bowl.

When it comes to the hot sauce, I typically use Frank’s RedHot. But I’ve also discovered that harissa sauce is equally as delicious and often slightly less spicy. I like the Mina brand because it’s more of a sauce than a paste, making it easy to toss with the cauliflower. (They also make a mild harissa if you prefer less spicy food.)

Upgrade Tahini Sauce with a Handful of Fresh Herbs

To complement the crispy, spicy cauliflower, I packed this bowl with cooling avocado and a creamy tahini dressing. Anytime I’m using tahini, I typically add a little olive oil, lemon juice, and warm water to make it thin enough to drizzle. Just one extra addition — a generous handful of herbs — gives it a gorgeous green hue and a boost of fresh flavor. Here, you’ll toss the sauce with store-bought slaw and drizzle it over top of the cauliflower, but if you make a double batch, enjoy it with falafel, as a dipping sauce for summer rolls, or to dress any number of salads.

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bowls with Avocado and Green Tahini

A hearty vegetarian grain bowl packed with spicy roasted cauliflower, avocado, and a simple green tahini sauce.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 18 minutes to 22 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


For the cauliflower and bowls:

  • 1

    head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into bite-sized florets

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons

    garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/3 cup

    hot sauce, such as Frank's RedHot, or harissa sauce

  • 2 cups

    cooked brown rice (I like Trader Joe's Frozen Brown Rice, which is ready in 3 minutes in the microwave)

  • 6 to 8 ounces

    coleslaw mix or shredded green or red cabbage

  • 1

    medium avocado, quartered and thinly sliced

  • Thinly sliced radishes, for serving (optional)

For the green tahini (makes 1/2 cup):

  • 1 cup

    tightly packed fresh tender herbs, such as cilantro and parsley

  • 1/4 cup

    well-stirred tahini

  • 3 tablespoons

    freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons


  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Arrange an oven rack in the lowest position and heat to 475°F. Place the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with the garlic powder, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Toss to coat and arrange in an even layer. Roast, tossing halfway through, until beginning to brown and crisp, 13 to 15 minutes total.

  2. Remove the cauliflower from the oven. Pour the hot sauce over the cauliflower and use a spatula to toss until evenly coated. Return to the oven and roast until crispy and warmed through, 5 to 7 minutes more. Meanwhile, make the green tahini.

  3. Place the herbs in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses. Add the tahini, lemon juice, oil, 2 tablespoons of the water, salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. If tahini is too thick to pour, add the extra tablespoon of water and process until smooth.

  4. Place the slaw mix in a medium bowl, drizzle with half the tahini sauce, and toss to combine. Divide the dressed slaw and brown rice among 4 shallow bowls. Top with the cauliflower and avocado. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the bowls and finish with sliced radishes, if using.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Store the sauce in a separate container.