Lightly charred and crispy at the edges, sweet and caramelized within, Roasted Cauliflower is transformative, especially if your only experience of cauliflower so far has been avoiding it raw on a veggie tray.
Roasted cauliflower is nutritious, and you can season it any which way. It makes eating vegetables a pleasure!
If you’re still waiting to fall in love with (or even tolerate) vegetables, roasting is the #1 way to get more of them in your diet and enjoy it at the same time.
We eat roasted vegetables almost every single night.
I even have an entire guide dedicated to them in my cookbook!
While I’ll vary what vegetables I roast based on the season—Oven Roasted Vegetables, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Roasted Broccoli are all on regular rotation around here—roasted cauliflower is the one I come back to most.
It tastes sublime, and the seasonings are ultra-flexible so I can pair it with whatever else we’re having for dinner.
At this point, I’ve roasted well over 100 heads of cauliflower, and I’ve learned tips along the way.
This post has everything you need to know to roast the best cauliflower of your life.
Ready for crispy (not mushy!) roasted cauliflower that you’re going to find yourself inhaling straight off the sheet pan?
This is it!
How to Make the Best Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
Roasting perfectly crispy outside and tender inside cauliflower is easy, with a few simple tips:
- Cut the cauliflower into evenly sized florets, maximizing the number of flat edges. The more flat edges that touch the pan, the better the caramelization. The more even the size, the more even the roasting. See step-by-step photos below.
- Use Enough Oil. Each floret should have a nice coating. You don’t need to drown them in oil, but make sure they do not feel dry or the cauliflower will burn.
- Season it Up. Salt is a must for roasted vegetables or they will taste bland. Even simple salt and pepper will make cauliflowr come alive. Or try making spicy roasted cauliflower or roasted cauliflower Parmesan for a change of pace.
- DO NOT CROWD THE PAN. This is the roasted vegetable golden rule. If you crowd the pan, the cauliflower will steam instead of roast, and your cauliflower will end up mushy.
- Use a High Oven Temperature. 400 degrees F to 425 degrees F is ideal for roasting cauliflower.
Cutting Cauliflower for Roasting
The more flat edges on your roasted vegetables, the better your results (it’s why I flip my Brussels sprouts cut-sides down when making Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic).
Here’s how to cut a head of cauliflower into florets for roasting.
It is easy, effective, and yields excellent results.
- Slice off the leaves and stem end so you have a nice, flat base.
- Stand the cauliflower head up on the cut size and cut it into four slabs or “steaks” (see this Cauliflower Steak if you’d like to cook them immediately without further cutting). Remove the inner core.
- Slice each slab into 1/2-inch florets, creating bite-sized pieces with flat surface area.
- Cauliflower. Often underestimated, cauliflower is a seriously tasty veggie when roasted properly. It caramelizes beautifully and pairs well with almost any dish.
- Olive Oil. The key ingredient for perfectly caramelized cauliflower with crisp edges.
- Salt + Pepper. Classic flavor additions that help make the cauliflower taste its best.
- Optional Seasonings. I love to use a simple yet impactful blend of paprika, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese. Feel free to dream up your own seasoning mixture, herbs, or check out some of my other ideas below.
- Cut the florets (see step-by-step photos above), then transfer your cut florets to a baking sheet. Toss them with oil and seasonings. Move them into a single layer. Do not cover baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Bake cauliflower at 425 degrees F for 22 to 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. ENJOY!
How to Season Roasted Cauliflower
- Spicy Roasted Cauliflower. Swap the spices listed in this recipe for 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Italian Roasted Cauliflower. Use the spices recommended in this recipe, adding 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Garnish your roasted cauliflower with chopped fresh herbs like parsley and lemon zest with a splash of lemon juice.
- Curry Roasted Cauliflower. Swap the spices in this recipe for 2 teaspoons curry powder and 1 teaspoon ground cumin.
- Mexican Roasted Cauliflower. Omit the paprika, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan. Add 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Garnish roasted florets with lime zest and chopped fresh cilantro.
Cauliflower as a Main Event
Once roasted, cauliflower becomes almost meaty. Here are a few ways you can cook it to turn it into a filling vegetarian meal.
- Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan. Recipe in The Well Plated Cookbook.
- Cauliflower Steaks. A true knife-and-fork experience! See Grilled Cauliflower Steaks.
- Cauliflower Tacos. A hearty, spicy meatless main that vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will enjoy.
- Healthy Fried Rice. Easy, delicious Pineapple Healthy Fried Rice made with cauliflower rice.
- Hearty Salad. Try Roasted Vegetable Salad, Curry Roasted Cauliflower Salad, and Lentil Salad with Roasted Cauliflower.
- Soup. Blend it into Cauliflower Chowder or add it to Roasted Carrot Soup for a change of pace.
- To Store. Refrigerate florets in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F or in a skillet on the stove.
- To Freeze. Yes, you can freeze roasted cauliflower. Place florets in an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen or let thaw overnight in the frigerator.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, cut the cauliflower into florets. Refrigerate the florets in an airtight container.
What to Serve with Roasted Cauliflower
Thanks to its mild flavor, roasted cauliflower goes well with just about any protein, including both meat and seafood.
- Chicken. This dish would make an excellent side for Pan Fried Chicken Breast, Air Fryer Fried Chicken Breast, or Grilled Chicken Tenders.
- Salmon. Serve this dish with Pan Seared Salmon or Blackened Salmon.
- Pork. Stuffed Pork Tenderloin or Air Fryer Pork Chops would be delicious with this recipe.
- Tofu. For a meatless meal, pair this recipe with Crispy Tofu or Air Fryer Tofu.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Sheets. Perfect for making this recipe.
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. Essential for easily slicing larger vegetables and fruits.
- Non-Slip Cutting Board. This cutting board will stay put while you chop.
Vegetables so tasty you can’t stop eating them?
With roasted cauliflower, the dream is real!
Frequently Asked Questions
No, it is not. Simply cut your cauliflower into florets, coat them with oil, then roast at a high temperature. Within 25 minutes, you’ll have tender roasted cauliflower. I would avoid boiling because it will make the cauliflower damp and mushy.
Roasted cauliflower can quickly become soggy if the pan is overcrowded, so make sure to leave room between the florets. Using too much oil is another common culprit. Ensure that the florets have enough oil to caramelize but not too much to become soggy. A light coating is perfect.
Sure! For roasted cauliflower in the air fryer, cut and season the cauliflower as directed. Place the florets in a single layer in the basket of an air fryer coated with nonstick spray. Cook at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, flipping the florets halfway through. Repeat with any remaining florets.
FOR CLASSIC ROASTED CAULIFLOWER:
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika regular or smoked
- 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Depending upon the size of your pan, coat 1 or 2 rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. You need enough pan surface area to hold all of the florets in a single layer without touching. Position a rack in the center of the oven (if using 1 baking sheet) or the upper and lower thirds (if using 2 baking sheets) and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut off the stem end of the cauliflower head so that you have a flat base.
- Stand it up on the base then cut it into four even wedges, slicing from the top of the head down through the stem. Trim away the inner core areas, leaving most of the wedge intact.
- Next, starting at one of the flat sides, cut the wedge into ½ inch “steaks” so that you have maximum flat surface area. Some of the florets will fall away. With the knife or your fingers, break up any remaining florets that are stuck together. If any florets are wider than 1 1/2 inches, slice them in half again (the goal is to maximize flat surface area, for the best caramelization).
- Transfer the florets to a baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the paprika and/or Italian seasoning (if using). Toss to evenly coat. Spread the florets into a single layer, dividing them evenly between the two pans if needed. For max caramelization, flip the florets so that the widest, flattest sides are touching the surface of the pan.
- Roast the cauliflower until it is dark and crispy at the ends and caramelized in the center, about 22 to 30 minutes, depending upon your oven's power and how closely the florets are spaced on the pan. Halfway through the baking time, toss the florets and spread them back into a single layer, rotate the baking sheet(s) 180 degrees F, and (if using 2 pans) switch their positions on the upper and lower racks. Sprinkle with parmesan (if using) and additional salt to taste. Inhale immediately.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate cauliflower in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Yes, you can freeze roasted cauliflower. Place cauliflower florets in a single layer on a baking sheet, then freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen florets to an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen.
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