Nashville Hot Cauliflower Sandwiches

February 15, 2021
0 Ratings
Author Notes

Nashville Hot Chicken—fried chicken doused in a heavily spiced oil post-fry—is a local staple in (you guessed it) Nashville, Tennessee. In this vegetarian-friendly riff on the sandwich, the chicken is switched out for crispy fried cauliflower. Cauliflower florets are double-dredged with seasoned flour and a hot-sauce-laced buttermilk mixture, then fried to deep-golden perfection. Finally, they’re brushed with a lip-tingling cayenne-infused oil and layered on an Arnold®, Brownberry®, or Oroweat® Sesame Seeded Sandwich Bun with cabbage slaw, pickles, and mayonnaise. The plush, pillowy bread is perfectly constructed to soak up some of that delicious spicy oil.

While cabbage slaw might not be traditional when it comes to Nashville Hot Chicken—or cauliflower, in this case—sandwiches, the cooling, herb-laced crunch tames the fiery cayenne pepper for a balanced bite. If you want to stay on the classic Nashville Hot Chicken path, skip the slaw and just enjoy the fried cauliflower with a generous slather of mayonnaise and some pickles.

Looking for a little more fire? I got you, heat-seeker. Just increase the cayenne powder by up to 1 tablespoon and decrease the paprika by the same amount. You just want to make sure that you have 4 tablespoons of the two spices in total. —Asha Loupy

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is shared in partnership with Arnold®, Brownberry®, and Oroweat®. —The Editors

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • For the Nashville hot cauliflower
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cayenne powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup canola oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 12–16 ounces), leaves removed and cut into very large florets
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar-based hot sauce, like Crystal
  • For the slaw and sandwiches
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, plus more for spreading
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups green or red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 4 Arnold®, Brownberry®, or Oroweat® Sesame Seeded Sandwich Buns
  • 12–16 dill or bread and butter pickle chips
In This Recipe
  1. In a small bowl, mix the cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and brown sugar. Take 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture and transfer it to a medium bowl. To the medium bowl, add the all-purpose flour, mix well, and set aside.
  2. Heat 1/3 cup canola oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Carefully pour over the remaining spice mixture and let sizzle for 1 minute before stirring. Stir well and set aside.
  3. Toss the cauliflower in the spiced flour, lightly coating each floret. In another medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce. Shaking off most of the flour from the florets, transfer them to the buttermilk mixture, tossing them to coat. Dip one floret at a time back into the spiced flour and then place on a wire-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining florets and then let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. (This will allow the buttermilk to hydrate the flour for a crispy crust.)
  4. While the cauliflower is resting, make the slaw by whisking together the buttermilk, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the shredded cabbage, carrots, and dill, then toss to coat and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
  5. To fry the cauliflower, add a couple inches of canola oil to a large, high-rimmed skillet or Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat to about 350°F. Fry the cauliflower in batches until golden-brown and crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer the cauliflower back to the wire-lined baking sheet after frying.
  6. Stir the reserved spiced oil and brush it on one side of the fried cauliflower, flip and brush the other side as well.
  7. To assemble the sandwiches, mound some of the cauliflower florets on the bottom bun . Pile some slaw on top of the cauliflower, along with a few pickle chips. Slather mayonnaise on the top bun and place on the sandwich. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches and serve immediately.

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