Grilled Buffalo Cauliflower Salad

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Veggies are the star of this Grilled Buffalo Cauliflower Salad! Grill up a head of cauliflower until it's tender with irresistible smoky char, then baste it with homemade buffalo sauce for classic tangy heat. From there, toss the grilled buffalo cauliflower into an epic salad complete with cucumber, carrots, quinoa for extra plant-based protein, & a heavy drizzle of herbed yogurt ranch dressing. It's spicy, tangy, smoky, & fresh all at once – a satisfying meatless salad to enjoy all summer long!

Naturally vegetarian & gluten-free. Easily dairy-free & vegan. Meal prep tips provided!

An overhead shot of a large bowl of grilled buffalo cauliflower salad with wooden serving spoons atop a striped dish towel on a white marbled surface. A bowl of herbed yogurt ranch and small bowls of herbs sit beside it.

Classic Buffalo-Style Salad with a Plant-Based Twist!

ICYMI, we’re seriously obsessed with all things buffalo. Most of our recipes (sliders! crunchwraps! poppers! sandwiches!) use the classic combination of tangy buffalo sauce & chicken. This is our first entirely meatless buffalo-inspired dish &, I’m telling you, it might be our best! 🔥

This grilled buffalo cauliflower salad is the perfect dinner for summertime. It has the same fun, crave-worthy flavors & textures of a buffalo chicken salad, except a totally showstopping grilled buffalo cauliflower is the star. You’ll quarter a whole head of cauliflower & char it up on the grill until smoky & tender, basting in plenty of buffalo sauce along the way. It’s visually stunning but tastes even better – it’s spicy, tangy, smoky, & light-tasting all at once!

From there, toss the charred cauliflower florets with whatever salad add-ins you like. We love serving grilled buffalo cauliflower salad with plenty of greens, fluffy quinoa for extra plant-based protein, & crunchy veggies like carrots & cucumber plus some cooling tomatoes & avocado. A creamy homemade herby ranch dressing takes it all over the top. So, so good!

Buffalo Cauliflower Salad Recipe Highlights

You’ll love making this salad with grilled buffalo cauliflower all summer long! It’s …

CLASSIC WITH A TWIST. This grilled buffalo cauliflower salad packs a punch of classic buffalo-inspired flavor & texture, but it’s made entirely from plants! An utterly irresistible combo of spicy Frank’s RedHot buffalo sauce, crunchy veggies, & creamy ranch dressing – a veggie-lover’s dream!

FRESH & FUN. Load up your bowl with grilled buffalo cauliflower & your choice of crunchy veggies, hearty grains, & shredded cheese. The result is a fun blend of textures & flavors made just to your liking. Naturally vegetarian & gluten-free, plus easy vegan & dairy-free swaps & suggestions provided below!

LOW EFFORT. The grill handles most of the work. Once you’ve cooked up the buffalo cauliflower, simply gather your salad components & toss it all together! A low-effort summer dinner, made even easier with a little meal prep!

Time for the veggies to shine! 🌟 Read on to learn more about how to make this Grilled Buffalo Cauliflower Salad, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

Key Ingredients

Like many of our hearty bowls & salads, this grilled buffalo cauliflower salad layers a number of components to create an epic salad with satisfying textures & flavors. Thanks to charred cauliflower, crunchy fresh veggies, & creamy dressing, each bite ends up being perfectly smoky, spicy, & fresh all at once. Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients – this is a flexible recipe that you can easily tailor to your taste or schedule!

An overhead shot of grilled buffalo cauliflower salad ingredients atop a white cutting board and white surface: chopped cucumbers, quinoa, carrots, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, cauliflower, herbed yogurt ranch and spices.

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You need …

  • Cauliflower – Cauliflower is perfect for grilling since its relatively neutral flavor is a beautiful blank canvas for any number of different seasonings & sauces. You’ll want one whole head for this salad.
  • Spices Garlic powder & smoked paprika give the cauliflower an extra layer of aromatic, smoky flavor before it’s slathered with buffalo sauce.
  • Buffalo sauce – Feel free to use your favorite wing sauce. I like to whip up a quick homemade buffalo sauce using Frank’s RedHot (a must for all things buffalo!). Made from aged cayenne peppers, garlic, & vinegar, Frank’s is the tangy-spicy hot sauce that put buffalo chicken wings on the map in the first place.
  • Spring mix – The base of the salad! Feel free to use any other greens you love like kale, arugula, or spinach.
  • Quinoa This hearty grain is the main source of protein for this grilled buffalo cauliflower salad. It’s one of our favorites because it’s super filling & has the best light & fluffy texture.
  • Veggies Shredded carrots, diced cucumber, avocado, cherry tomatoes, & sliced green onions balance the spicy buffalo flavor & bulk up the salad with satisfying textures.
  • Cheese – Crumbled bleu cheese is a natural pairing with buffalo, but we also love sharp cheddar. Totally optional – use whatever you love most or omit altogether!

Easy Recipe Variation

Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Salad

While this recipe is naturally vegetarian, you can easily make it vegan salads by swapping dairy-based ingredients with a few easily accessible dairy-free alternatives. 

For a vegan grilled buffalo cauliflower salad, combine Frank’s RedHot with plant-based butter for basting the cauliflower in buffalo sauce. Then use your favorite non-dairy yogurt to make a vegan ranch dressing & skip the cheese add-in altogether, or use a non-dairy alternative. Easy!

How to Grill Cauliflower

The star of this salad is this grilled buffalo cauliflower recipe, which gets beautifully charred thanks to the high heat of the grill. If you’ve never grilled cauliflower before, there’s no need to be intimidated. Grilling cauliflower is a very straight-forward process – no special tools or equipment required!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

1

Prepare the cauliflower. Remove the outer leaves from the head of cauliflower, then slice down through the stem to create 4 equal quarters. Why? ⇢ The most common way to grill cauliflower is to cut it into planks that lie flat on the grill grates & mimic the shape of a classic steak. While this “cauliflower steak” method is great for making an impressive vegetarian main dish, a good portion of the cauliflower goes to waste since it’s not attached to the core. Slicing the cauliflower into quarters keeps all of the florets intact & makes it much easier to handle on the grill – after all, we want all the buffalo cauliflower we can get here!

2

Season the cauliflower. Brush the entire surface of each piece of cauliflower with avocado oil then generously season with garlic powder, paprika, salt, & pepper. Why? ⇢ Avocado oil has a high smoke point ideal for grilling. Plus, it prevents the cauliflower from sticking to the grates! The spices add an extra layer of flavor to complement the buffalo sauce.

3

Grill & baste. Cook the cauliflower over medium-high direct heat. After about 5 minutes per side, the florets will be tender & charred. Use a pastry brush to coat the entire surface with plenty of buffalo sauce & continue to cook a few more minutes per side, allowing the sauce to soak in as it cooks. No grill? ⇢ No problem! Roast your cauliflower in a 425 degree F oven instead.

4

Break into florets. Once it’s perfectly tender & saucy, break it down into grilled buffalo cauliflower bites that are easy to toss into a salad. The cauliflower should be nice & tender, so this is pretty easy going with a knife. Learn More! ⇢ How to Grill Cauliflower.

Homemade Herbed Yogurt Ranch

No matter how much you love store-bought ranch (🙋🏻‍♀️), an easy homemade version is always worth the extra effort! 

This creamy-dreamy yogurt ranch is the perfect dressing to bring a grilled buffalo cauliflower salad together – if you’ve been around PWWB for a while, you may recognize it from our favorite Hearty Buffalo Chicken Bowls. It’s like a glammed-up version of ranch dressing made with Greek yogurt & plenty of fresh dill & chives for punchy, herbaceous flavor. Plus, it’s so easy to make!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

Herbed yogurt ranch dressing. ⇢ Simply combine Greek yogurt with finely chopped garlic, dill, fresh chives or green onion, & a splash of apple cider vinegar. Season generously with S&P, then whisk in water until it reaches your desired drizzling consistency. It should be creamy but easy enough to pour ALL over your buffalo cauliflower salad.

Salad Assembly & Serving

Once the components of your grilled buffalo cauliflower salad are ready then the rest is all about assembly. This super simple step is also very strategic. We’re obsessed with creating the perfect combination of flavor & texture & love the role every layer plays in a bowl. 

An overhead shot of a large bowl of grilled buffalo cauliflower salad with wooden serving spoons atop a striped dish towel on a white marbled surface. A bowl of herbed yogurt ranch and small bowls of herbs sit beside it.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

Here’s how we suggest building your buffalo cauliflower salad:

  1. Start with a bed of greens to create a fresh base. I opt for spring greens for ease, but feel free to punch up your salad with extra texture from romaine lettuce or red cabbage!
  2. Add plenty of fluffy cooked quinoa for some plant-based protein.
  3. Top with veggies like carrots, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, celery, red onion – whatever you love! 
  4. Crumble in your favorite cheese (totally optional!)
  5. Add in plenty of grilled buffalo cauliflower wings. We love how their smoky tenderness pairs with the crunchy raw veggies.
  6. Finish with a heavy drizzle of herby yogurt ranch dressing.

From there, simply dig in & enjoy! This salad is great on its own for lunch or dinner, especially when you’re craving something fresh, fun, & no fuss. It’s also a great addition to a summer gathering or dinner with friends. Try serving it with wings or sliders for a full-on buffalo feast. 

Meal Prep Tips

Admittedly, making a satisfying salad is a lot of work. Creating layers of flavor & texture often means several components need to be prepared. The nice thing about this buffalo cauliflower salad recipe is that it’s very flexible & you can prep a number of components ahead of time. Get a 20-minute head start on dinner and…

  • Cook the quinoa & store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Feel free to reheat it before tossing it into the salad, but it’s also great straight-up cold.
  • Prep the herbed yogurt ranch dressing & store it in your fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Chop the salad veggies – the carrots, cucumbers, & tomatoes – so they’re ready to toss right into your salad bowl. Wait to dice your avocado until serving so it’s nice & green!
A close-up shot of grilled buffalo cauliflower salad with herbed yogurt ranch drizzled over the top in a white bowl atop a white surface.

I can’t wait for you to try this Grilled Buffalo Cauliflower Salad! It’s a fabulous balance of cooling freshness & tangy, smoky spice – exactly what an epic salad should be! The perfect no-fuss & fun summer dinner.

If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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An overhead shot of a large bowl of grilled buffalo cauliflower salad with wooden serving spoons atop a striped dish towel on a white marbled surface. A bowl of herbed yogurt ranch and small bowls of herbs sit beside it.

Grilled Buffalo Cauliflower Salad

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Entrée Salads & Bowl Recipes, Main Dishes
  • Method: Grilling & Smoking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This stunning Grilled Buffalo Cauliflower Salad is the perfect Buffalo-inspired summer dinner!

The star of the show is a head of grilled buffalo cauliflower, which is so fun to make! Simply quarter a whole head of cauliflower through the stem, season it with smoked paprika & garlic powder, & toss it right on the grill grates. It’s beautifully tender after about 12 minutes, at which point it’s ready to baste with a simple homemade buffalo sauce of Frank’s RedHot & butter. Not only is the grilled cauliflower completely stunning, it’s deliciously smoky & spiced, all with the signature tangy heat of buffalo sauce.

From there, simply toss it into a hearty salad with greens, fresh veggies like cucumber, tomato, & carrot for texture, quinoa for plant-based protein, & a heavy drizzle of homemade yogurt ranch dressing for a seriously craveable summer salad!

As is the case with any hearty salad or bowl-style meal, a little bit of prep is involved to pull together all of the components. Feel free to take or leave any component depending on how much time you have (e.g. skip the quinoa, use store-bought ranch dressing, work with a base of your favorite store-bought salad kit, etc.). This is a flexible recipe – have fun with it!

Easily vegan & majorly meal prep-friendly. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for the full how-to! ♡ Happy grilling!


Ingredients

Scale
  • grilled buffalo cauliflower, below
  • herbed yogurt ranch dressing, below
  • 5 ounces spring mix or greens of choice
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (⅓ cup dry quinoa cooked according to package directions)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled as desired & cut into matchsticks or shredded
  • ½ English cucumber, diced
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 avocado, pitted & diced
  • optional:4 ounces crumbled bleu cheese or shredded sharp white cheddar

for the grilled buffalo cauliflower: 

  • 1 large head cauliflower, outer leaves removed & sliced into quarters through the stem
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or high smoke point oil of choice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • ⅓ cup Franks RedHot Original or buffalo sauce of choice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

for the herbed yogurt ranch dressing:

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (whole milk or 2% is best)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 34 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives or green onions
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill: Prepare the grill for medium-high direct heat grilling, about 450-500 degrees F. Once preheated, clean the cooking surface by firmly brushing a wire brush over the grates. (If you do not have access to an outdoor grill, you can also preheat oven to 425 degrees F, ensuring one rack is positioned in the upper third of the oven.)Weber Genesis II Propane Grill on a deck.
  2. Prep the cauliflower & buffalo sauce for the grill: Meanwhile, as the grill preheats, prep the cauliflower & buffalo sauce. Place the quartered cauliflower on a small baking sheet. Use a brush to coat the entire surface of the cauliflower with avocado oil. Sprinkle the entire surface of the cauliflower with garlic powder, smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Set aside. To mix up the buffalo sauce, simply add the Frank’s RedHot Original & melted butter to a small bowl & mix to combine well. Set aside.

    An overhead shot of seasoned cauliflower on a small sheet pan atop a white and grey marbled surface. A small bowl of buffalo sauce and a pastry brush sit alongside the pan.

  3. Optional: Prepare the herby yogurt ranch dressing: Meanwhile, as the grill preheats, prep the ranch yogurt. In a small bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, garlic, chive or green onions, dill, & apple cider vinegar. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Whisk to combine well. Thin the mixture out with water, just until your desired consistency is reached. Set aside for serving, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.An overhead shot of herbed yogurt ranch dressing in a stoneware bowl atop a white surface.
  4. Grill the buffalo cauliflower: Place the cauliflower on the preheated grill. Close the lid. Grill 4-5 minutes per side, until the cauliflower is fork-tender. Once the grilled cauliflower is tender, generously brush the entire surface of the cauliflower with the prepared buffalo sauce. Cook 1-2 minutes per side longer, basting the cauliflower with extra buffalo sauce as desired. Remove from the grill & allow to cool slightly.An overhead shot of grilled buffalo cauliflower on a small sheet pan atop a white and grey marbled surface.
  5. Grilled buffalo cauliflower salad assembly: Chop the grilled buffalo cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Place the salad greens in a large bowl, topping with the cooked quinoa, green onions, carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, & cheese (if using). Place the grilled buffalo cauliflower over top. Drizzle the yogurt ranch dressing over top, then toss to combine well. Taste & season with additional salt & ground black pepper as needed. Serve immediately. Enjoy!An overhead shot of a large bowl of grilled buffalo cauliflower salad with wooden serving spoons atop a striped dish towel on a white marbled surface. A bowl of herbed yogurt ranch and small bowls of herbs sit beside it.

Notes

  • Dairy-free &/or vegan buffalo cauliflower salads: This grilled buffalo cauliflower salad is naturally vegetarian, but very easily made vegan as well with a few simple dairy-free subs. Swap butter for your favorite plant butter in the buffalo sauce, yogurt for your favorite dairy-free yogurt in the ranch dressing, & be sure to omit cheese or use your favorite dairy-free variety in the salads.
  • Make-Ahead & Storage: Prepared grilled buffalo cauliflower salad components will keep, stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. If desired, reheat the grilled cauliflower in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through, then assemble salads as desired.
  • Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for these grilled buffalo cauliflower salads comes from prepping the veggies & the yogurt ranch dressing. Prep either or both in advance to get a head start on your grilled buffalo cauliflower salads – it takes 20 minutes, tops:
    • Cook quinoa according to package directions. Cool slightly then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (>5 minutes active)
    • Vegetable prep: Break down 1 large head of cauliflower according to the Ingredients List, above, then grate 1 large carrots, dice ½ English cucumber, & halve or quarter 8 ounces cherry tomatoes. Transfer to individual airtight containers & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (>10 minutes active prep)
    • Prepare the herby ranch dressing according to Step 3 of Recipe Directions above. Store in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (>10 minutes active prep)

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 6.20.23
    Melody said:

    I made this last night after an intense, long day. When I started getting the ingredients out, I was missing green onions and cucumber AND my avocado was overripe. BUT it was still SO SO SO good and so easy to make. When my partner tasted the grilled cauliflower, he announced that I would be the person doing the grilling from now on. Also, I am eating the leftovers for lunch was I type this. Add this to your meal rotation immediately!

    • 6.21.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Melody, we’re so happy to hear this salad was a nice ending to a long day!! And we’re all for owning the grill, too. 🙂 Thanks so much for the kind review!!