How to Cook Cauliflower 8 Different Ways—Including Roasted, Grilled, and More

Plus, cauliflower rice!



Yay, you have a cauliflower in your fridge! The possibilities for preparation and enjoyment are endless. Cauliflower is a neutral-flavored vegetable that can fit into a wide range of cuisines and meals, and it’s packed with potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, and many more valuable nutrients. 

Cauliflower has indeed become trendy at restaurants and on social media in recent years, probably thanks to its photogenic floral appearance, general low cost (it’s a vegetable that should be accessible at most supermarkets in almost every season) and its health benefits. Sure, cauliflower can be transformed into rice, pizza crust, gnocchi, or even alfredo sauce, but cauliflower on its own is also pretty great. Here’s how to cook cauliflower eight different ways, to enjoy the vegetable in all its wonderful flavor and texture.

How to Roast Cauliflower

Roasted cauliflower can take on whatever spices or sauces you coat it in, and is often crisp on the outside, and nice and soft on the inside. Cauliflower can be roasted whole, which will take the longest, but will result in the most dramatic plating. It can also be roasted when cut into florets or sliced widely like steak. The smaller the pieces, the quicker your cauliflower will roast. 

  1. To roast sliced cauliflower, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry your cauliflower and slice it into 2-3-inch pieces, discarding outer greens, if desired. 
  3. On a sheet pan, coat the cauliflower lightly with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Spread out the cauliflower so it has room to cook without steaming itself (pieces shouldn’t be overlapping) and roast for 20 minutes, flipping once at the halfway point. If you prefer a more well-done cauliflower, allow it to cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or broil for a few minutes after roasting for extra crispiness.

For a show-stopping, whole roasted cauliflower, check out this recipe.

How to Steam Cauliflower

Steaming cauliflower helps retain the cauliflower’s neutral flavor, and can be a hands off way to cook a big batch of the veggie. Steamed cauliflower can be eaten solo or used in more recipes, like a cauliflower mash or cauliflower soup.

  1. To steam cauliflower, heat a pot of water and place a steamer basket on top. 
  2. Slice cauliflower into florets and arrange on a steamer, allowing to cook for 5-10 minutes, until you reach your desired tenderness. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper, and toss with a pat of butter or drizzle of olive oil, if desired, and serve immediately. Cauliflower can also be steamed simultaneously with broccoli or similar cut vegetables.

How to Boil Cauliflower

Boiling cauliflower can be an easy way to cook an entire cauliflower or cut cauliflower, to eat boiled or to prepare as part of a larger dish. Boiling a whole cauliflower makes it quicker to roast or grill whole, and boiling pieces may also be the first step in a more complicated cauliflower recipe. The taste will be similar to steamed, but the texture will be softer, because the cauliflower is cooked directly in the water.

  1. To boil cauliflower, heat a large pot of water until boiling. Add salt. 
  2. Add cut cauliflower or whole cauliflower and stir. 
  3. Return to a boil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower reaches your desired consistency (you can test with a fork). 
  4. Drain and enjoy!

How to Grill Cauliflower

Grilled cauliflower is an excellent meat substitute at any cookout, and a wonderful way to enjoy the charred flavor of a grill. Grilled cauliflower can be sliced into steaks, or cut into florets, to cook on kebabs or in a grill basket. Cauliflower getting prepped for the grill can also be par cooked in the steamer, boiled, or microwaved, to expedite grill time.

  1. To grill cauliflower, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. 
  2. Slice cauliflower lengthwise into four steaks. Lightly coat in avocado oil. Season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Lay the flat side on the grill grates and cook for 6-7 minutes, flipping and finishing the cook. The thickness of the cauliflower will change the cook time, so check that a fork pierces through the stem before removing it from the grill.

How to Sauté Cauliflower

Sautéed cauliflower can be rich and crispy, and a wonderful addition to stir fries, pasta dishes and quiches, or enjoyed on its own. Cauliflower can be sautéed in florets of varying sizes, but the smaller you cut it, the quicker it will cook.

  1. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, butter, or a mix of both. 
  2. Cut cauliflower into 1-inch pieces. Add to the pan and season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Stir and cook, stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes, until cooked through. 
  4. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

For a flavorful sautéed cauliflower, try this Punjabi cauliflower recipe.

How to Cook Cauliflower in the Instant Pot

Cauliflower cooked in the Instant Pot is efficient and consistent, and only takes a few minutes to prep and cook. The Instant Pot also allows for various styles of cauliflower cooking, whether you like your cauliflower more crisp or more soft.

  1. To cook cauliflower in the instant pot, cut it into 1-2-inch florets. 
  2. Pour some water into the Instant Pot and add the steamer basket. Add cut cauliflower to the steamer basket and cover the pot. 
  3. Cook on high pressure for 1-2 minutes, depending on desired consistency. Use as you would use steamed or boiled cauliflower. Cauliflower can also be cooked without the steamer basket, or pressure-cooked in sauce for a quick infusion of flavor.

How to Cook Cauliflower in the Air Fryer

Air fryer-cooked cauliflower is beloved for its crispness and satisfying bite. And air-fried cauliflower is often used as a substitute for Buffalo wings—just use the same sauces and serve with sliced carrots and celery. Whole cauliflower likely won’t fit in your air fryer, so cut into florets or sliced is the best way to go for maximum crispness.

  1. Start by slicing vertical florets, and adding them to a bowl. 
  2. Lightly coat with olive oil (or avocado oil) and season with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices. 
  3. Then, spread the cauliflower out in a single layer to cook in the air fryer at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, flipping once midway through. Toss in Buffalo sauce, or serve with a dipping sauce, like salsa verde.

How to Cook Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is often used as a low-carb substitute for white rice. Though it can get mushy, when cooked properly, it can add a nice crunch and vitamin boost to recipes like fried rice and pilaf.

  1. To make cauliflower rice, cut your cauliflower into florets, Then, add it to a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is in small, rice-sized pieces. 
  2. From here, the preparation is up to you. Sub cauliflower rice into a recipe that calls for rice, sauté it in butter or olive oil to quickly serve the cauliflower rice as a side, or add some cooked cauliflower rice to a soup for another element. 

You can also freeze uncooked cauliflower rice and microwave it to defrost and cook it when you’re ready to enjoy.

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