These gluten-free crispy cauliflower bites use a tempura batter mixed with nutritional yeast for an umami-rich snack. Served with a trio of quick homemade dipping sauces, these fritters are the perfect homegating game day appetizer!
This post is sponsored by Andronico's Community Markets, a year-long partner of Snixy Kitchen, but the opinions are all my own.
As a homebody with an aversion to loud crowds, the trend of "homegating" is 100% more my speed than tailgating. All the same stuff, but less rowdy, from the comfort of your own couch, with definitively better snacks. I'm here for it.
Specifically the game day snack part. Sign me up for the snacks (both the cooking and the eating). These gluten-free crispy cauliflower bites are the perfect football homegating finger food - complete with three different dipping sauces to keep things exciting: smoky marinara, special fry sauce, and buttermilk ranch.
Gluten-free cauliflower wings
Serve these crispy cauliflower bites as a vegetarian option to chicken wings and they'll satisfy even the most avid meat-eater (*coughmydadcough*). These cauliflower wings sneak in a bit of veggies to the typical heavy game day spread. These crispy cauliflower bites are delicious in their own right - they don't even need to pretend to be meat.
With a secret ingredient in the batter, they're crispy and salty on the outside while the soft inside melts with each bite.
Homegating with Andronico's
With the help of Andronico's, organic cauliflower gets a football makeover. All of the ingredients for these crispy cauliflower bites and the trio of dipping sauces came from my local Bay Area Andronico's Community Market. They've got a booming organic produce section, a large Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour section, and high-quality specialty sauces and condiments to use for the dips! Plus you can pick up your game day drink of choice while you're at it.
The batter for this crispy fried cauliflower was adapted from my gluten-free tempura asparagus recipe. The key difference between tempura cauliflower and this recipe is the addition of nutritional yeast in the batter.
Whenever I make gluten-free fried chicken or tofu, I always mix nutritional yeast into my breading, which adds a cheese-like umami flavor.
Mixing nutritional yeast into this egg-based white rice flour tempura batter creates an umami-rich crispy shell. The nutritional yeast also seems to melt and disappear when the cauliflower is fried, creating a very light and airy fritter.
Recipe for gluten-free fried cauliflower
Here's how you make this gluten-free fried cauliflower:
- Whisk together white rice flour, nutritional yeast, baking soda, and salt.
- Whisk together egg yolks with cold seltzer water then pour that into the dry ingredients.
- Whisk until just combined.
- Dunk a cauliflower floret into the batter, shaking off excess.
- Fry for 2 minutes. See below.
How to Fry Cauliflower
When I started my blog, I swore off deep frying over fear of burning myself, but the more confident I got in the kitchen, I realized it's really quite easy.
Heat 1-2 inches of oil to 350°F over medium-high heat, using a thermometer to keep an accurate temperature.
For this deep-fried cauliflower, dunk a floret in the batter with a fork, then lightly slide it into the oil. Use a slotted spoon to turn it while it cooks for 2 minutes, then lift it out of the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined wire rack set over a baking sheet to catch drips.
Repeat. When you're done, strain the oil into a large mason jar to reuse a few more times.
Dips for crispy cauliflower bites
The sauces are what really take them over the edge for game day, adding variety to each bite. A trio of sauces allows folks to choose their own adventure. These sauces are super simple to make and each batch yields just a small amount, perfect for serving with a single platter of cauliflower bites.
If only making one dip, you'll want to double the recipe to make sure there's enough!
Homemade ranch mixes buttermilk, sour cream, mayo, and a load of fresh herbs. With lemon and garlic, it's bright and flavorful. Be sure to use good-quality mild mayo that won't overpower the flavors.
Special Fry Sauce
This is my take on that secret proprietary sauce every burger joint has. Ever since my friend Erin from Cook Casual put out a fry spice seasoning recipe for sweet potato fries, I've been dreaming of turning the same flavors into a dipping sauce. Inspired by her blend, my special fry sauce combines mayo and ketchup with pickle brine (from that jar of pickles you have sitting in your fridge) and flavorful spices.
Smoky Marinara Dip
This third dip was inspired by my craving for the sauce on patatas bravas. To keep it super simple for this dip, I started with a high-quality marinara - Rao's Roasted Garlic Marinara - and added smoked paprika. That's it.
(Pro-tip: This is also how we dress the pasta in our house).
If you're in a hurry, there are so many good dips you can just pick up at Andronico's quickly! Serve with store-bought bbq sauce, ranch, tartar sauce, sweet chili sauce, Japanese BBQ sauce, buffalo sauce, pizza sauce, or blue cheese dressing. There are so many good dipping options at your fingertips!
How to store and reheat fried cauliflower
Store leftover crispy cauliflower in an airtight container for up to 3 days, and reheat in an air fryer at 400°F for 4 minutes.
Crispy Cauliflower Bites
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets (1-2 inches)
- 1¾ cup white rice flour
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1¾ cups cold seltzer water
- 3-4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
Smoky Marinara Dip
- ½ cup good-quality marinara (I use Rao's Roasted Garlic)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Special Fry Sauce
- ⅓ cup good-quality mayonnaise
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons pickle brine
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- Smidgen cayenne
- Prepare any desired dipping sauces by mixing all the ingredients together for the respective sauce in a bowl. Chill until ready to serve.
- Heat 1½ inches of oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F. Adjust the heat to keep the oil at 350°F. Set a paper-towel-lined wire rack set over a plate or baking sheet near the stove.
- Whisk together white rice flour, nutritional yeast, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolk and seltzer water until smooth and fizzy. Pour the egg and water into the flour and mix gently with a fork until just combined.
- One at a time, dip a cauliflower floret into the batter, making sure to the floret is covered in batter. Shake off any excess batter. Drop directly into the heated oil. Repeat. frying a batch of 6-8 florets at a time (more or less depending on the size of your pot), and fry for 2 minutes, turning gently with a spoon until crispy and lightly golden.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer each cauliflower bite to the paper towel-lined wire rack. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower.
- Sprinkle cauliflower with salt and serve immediately with dipping sauces.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and reheated in a air fryer at 400°F for 3 minutes.