If there’s a current reigning champion in the vegetable world, it’s definitely cauliflower. No other veggie has proven itself to be this versatile. In deft hands, it will seamlessly adapt in taste and texture. This collection of our best Cauliflower Recipes features favorites from soups, salads, and sides to plain, seasoned, and sauced.
Oh, cauliflower. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. What began as an innocent enough flirtation during my early years of January Whole30 has grown into a passionate year-round romance.
At some point, anyone who adopts a dietary lifestyle has a moment where the switch flips and they stop viewing certain foods as “alternatives” to others. Sure, Impossible Foods can market their products as impostor beef to the public, but for vegans, it’s just a burger. People on keto diets don’t call monk fruit a “sugar substitute;” it’s just a “sweetener.”
Cauliflower has that standing in this house. (If SEO didn’t demand it, I’d never use the word fauxtatoes again.) It’s now just a naturally-recurring part of my extremely “flexitarian” lifestyle, and it’s here to stay.
Lots of people jumped on the cauliflower bandwagon as part of a dietary change (myself included, so no judgement) but stayed on board because of just how darn delicious it is.
So whether cauliflower is a fully-fledged family member or you’re still just dipping your toes into cruciferous currents, this collection of our best cauliflower recipes will get you going, take you back to basics, or even expand your horizons. There’s always something surprising when it comes to cauli!
How to Pick the Perfect Cauliflower
COLOR: the florets should be uniformly creamy white with no brown spots.
TEXURE: The florets should be tightly packed and very firm. If the florets are soft and starting to separately, move on.
SIZE: a medium to large head of cauliflower, which is called for in most of these recipes, is roughly 6-8 inches in diameter and yields about 8 cups of florets.
WEIGHT: the cauliflower should feel heavy. Like most vegetables, cauliflower is over 90% water, so if it feels light or soft, it’s past its prime.
LEAVES: look for bright leaves that are tightly wrapped around the head of the cauliflower, not wilting away at the base.
How to Cut Cauliflower
This is our no mess, no fuss, less waste method for trimming a head of cauliflower into florets.
- Remove all leaves from the base. Break away by hand or use a paring knife.
- Place the cauliflower on a cutting board stem side up.
- Use a paring knife to cut away a single floret from the base of the stem.
- Continue around the base of the stem, using the paring knife to remove the lowest row of florets.
- Work your way upwards around the core, removing large florets.
- Trim the florets to your preferred sized by slicing into the stem with the paring knife until you reach the floret then, break apart.
For a comprehensive tutorial with additional photos and tips, click to view our How to Cut Cauliflower Guide!
Beginner Cauliflower Recipes
A curious girl in Wonderland was once told to “begin at the beginning,” and so shall we. Let’s start by celebrating cauliflower “as-is.” These basic cooking methods highlight its sweet, nutty, earthy flavor. Once you’ve learned to love this vegetable the way nature (and your kitchen appliances) intended, you’ve got quite a journey ahead of you.
How To Cook Cauliflower: Get right at the basics in this complete cooking guide for cauliflower. Learn our favorite preparation methods for this unicorn vegetable, including roasted cauliflower florets, whole roasted cauliflower, steamed cauliflower, and sautéed cauliflower.
Air Fryer Cauliflower: Cauliflower performs like a champ in the air fryer – soft, tender insides and crisp, charred outsides. Air Fryer Cauliflower gives you oven-roasted results in a quarter of the time. Click through for lots of seasoning ideas and serving suggestions!
Instant Pot Cauliflower: If you’re having childhood flashbacks of soggy, limp cauliflower that’s somehow both sulfurous and flavorless, then let this steaming method wash those memories away. Instant pot cauliflower is great on its own, lightly seasoned with hints of butter, lemon, and/or parmesan.
Cauliflower Steak: Nobody puts Cauliflower Steak in the corner! It may not be ribeye, but these thick-cuts are second to none, with lots of charred crust and tender flesh. Naturally vegan, grilled and roasted steaks are a fun and flavorful way to serve sliced cauliflower.
Cauliflower Side Dish Recipes
Cauliflower makes for one super (and super sneaky) side. Whether you’re craving a salad, a mash, or even “rice,” the versatility of this vegetable means it can show up on your plate in seemingly endless iterations. Great when its own flavor shines, but maybe even better when combined with… well, frankly almost anything – like the flavors from mushrooms, olives, lemon, parsley, parmesan, and more, in some of these simple sides.
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes: Whether you’re keeping it low carb – or simply looking to mix up your veggie routine – Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes are a game changer. No potatoes included, and no thickeners needed, this simple mash works great as a side or as a base to build a well-rounded dish. Perfect for keto and low carb diets, especially around the holiday season!
Cauliflower Risotto: How do you improve on a classic? By making it keto-friendly. Creamy Cauliflower Risotto has all the creamy, comforting goodness of the original but with less than a quarter of the carbs! Featuring riced cauliflower, mushrooms, parmesan, and thickened with cream cheese, the taste and texture are almost near perfect replicas. It’s a great way to sneak in more veggies.
Cauliflower au Gratin: Crowd-pleasing Cauliflower Au Gratin is an easy, cheesy side that’s the perfect combination of healthy veggies and homey comfort. Make the cheese sauce in advance or use frozen florets to save yourself prep time.
Cauliflower Hummus: Whether you’re dipping, scooping, or spreading, Cauliflower Hummus takes the guesswork – and guilt – out of healthy snacking. Aside from being nutritious and delicious, this creamy dip (sans cream) fits with any diet from keto to vegan and everything in between. Dress it up your way to go from savory and subtle to big, bold flavors.
Cauliflower Tabbouleh: Cauliflower Tabbouleh is a grain free version of the classic middle eastern bulgur salad. Loaded with vegetables and fresh herbs, it’s simply seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil. It’s so close to the original, you won’t believe it’s not the real thing! Even better, it fits Whole30, paleo, vegan, and low carb diets.
Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower: Take your taste buds on a little overseas flavor adventure. Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower is a unique sweet and salty twist on one of your favorite versatile veggies. Crunchy, caramelized florets get a big, bold boost from toasted pine nuts, sweet raisins, and briny olives. This recipe is a great side for anyone on paleo, Whole30, low carb, and vegan diets.
Broccoli Cauliflower Salad: Say goodbye to standard cruciferous salads weighed down with mayo and cheese. You won’t miss either in this super clean, but totally flavor-packed Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad. Packed with crunchy vegetables and a creamy sunbutter sauce, it’s super fresh, nutty, just sweet enough, and seriously loaded with nutrition. Perfect for lunch prep, picnic prep, or a simple side dish. Toss in a little chicken or bacon, and you’ve got a complete meal.
Cauliflower Main Dish Recipes
You definitely don’t have to be a vegetarian for cauliflower to star in your dinner show. From creamy loaded soups to nutrient dense power bowls, these recipes are anything but “light fare.” Sure, they go down easy and won’t leave you weighed down, but trust me – taste buds and bellies will not be left wanting after one of these satisfying and gratifying cauliflower meals.
Loaded Cauliflower Soup: Naturally thick and creamy, this simple soup takes on a whole new persona with the right disguises. Keto Loaded Cauliflower Soup eats like your favorite potato soup but with hardly any carbs and nary a drop of guilt. Bacon brings a smoky air of mystery, while added veggies sneak in more nutrients. Dress it up with green onions, sour cream, or shredded cheese for flair.
Curried Cauliflower Soup: If you weren’t a plant-based gourmet before, you will be after a single dive into this creamy and indulgent Curried Cauliflower Soup. This recipe features sweet roasted cauliflower, all of the curry, a punch of turmeric, and your very best non-dairy, feel-good-fats friend, coconut milk. This cozy bowl of sunshine is richly spiced with just the right kick of sweet, and it’s 100% vegan and Whole30 compliant.
Cauliflower Stir Fry: Other plant-based meals may leave you wanting more substance, but this fast, fresh, and flavorful Cauliflower Stir Fry with shiitake mushrooms fills the tank every time. This combo of hearty veggies, healthy homemade stir fry sauce, and bright, flavorful garnish is perfect when you’re short on time, but don’t want to settle for food on-the-go.
Cauliflower Curry: Cooler weather calls for cozier meals, and not many things will make you feel as warm and fuzzy as a good curry. Cauliflower Curry with Sweet Potatoes is a vegan one-pot-wonder the whole family (kids included) can feast on. Veggies simmered in creamy coconut milk and tangy tomato with an aromatic blend of spices are like a hug for your tummy.
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup: This roasted cauliflower soup is nutty and slightly sweet, with hints of bright flavor from the thyme and olive oil. Naturally paleo and gluten-free, it’s also friendly for vegetarian, vegan, and Whole30 diets. It’s creamy without creamy, dense, nutty, and satisfying enough for a meal. There are so many delicious reasons to make this creamy cauliflower soup!
Cauliflower Shawarma Grain Bowl: Power bowl. Grain bowl. Tomato. Toh-mahto. Whatever name you give these guys, it’s all good in my book as long as you’re partaking in this flavor experience. Because let me tell you, this Cauliflower Shawarma Grain Bowl has got it ALL going on. Spicy, hot, sweet, tangy, herby – it’s a perfectly balanced vegan and gluten free flavor bomb that you need in your belly, stat.
Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower Salad: When just a side of roasted cauliflower simply won’t do, reach for this roasted cauliflower salad. Sweet and nutty turmeric roasted cauliflower pairs so perfectly with briny, marinated olives and a tangy tahini dressing. This salad is packed with Vitamin C, and is so vibrant and nutritious. Clean, plant-based eating at its most delicious!
Cauliflower Rice Recipes
It’s a bold claim to make but honestly, I don’t miss regular old rice. Cauliflower rice has quickly become a regular fixture at mealtime and gives the whole family an awesome boost in nutrients. Ricing your own is not nearly as daunting (or messy) as you think it is. And isn’t that the biggest hurdle? Luckily, all of these can be made with frozen cauliflower rice if you’re just not ready for that level of commitment. (But I believe in you!)
Simple Sautéed Cauliflower Rice (Fresh or Frozen): Don’t sleep on this side because you think it’s a passing fad. Cauliflower Rice is incredibly healthy, versatile and flexible – and did we mention it’s totally delish? Click for our complete guide to cauliflower rice – how to rice and cook it from scratch, and our expert tips for using frozen cauliflower rice.
Cauliflower Fried Rice: With enough veggies to be super healthy and enough umami to be super satisfying, Cauliflower Fried Rice is gonna become a go-to. Stir-fried riced cauliflower, sweet peas, carrots, and scrambled egg (yay protein!) get a healthy dose of takeout flavor from sesame, soy sauce, and scallions. Whether you go fresh or frozen, it’s a quick and easy main or side dish.
Mexican Cauliflower Rice: This tasty side dish is the perfect addition to a festive Taco Tuesday spread and an easy way to squeeze just a little more nutrition onto your plate without sacrificing one bit of flavor! Mexican Cauliflower Rice is easy and flexible – made in one skillet and ready in under 30 minutes. Be generous with your seasonings – jalapeno, garlic, tomato paste, lime juice, and cilantro should each be prominent but balanced in this dish.
Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice: If you’re looking for a simpler, cleaner flavor profile without going plain, Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice is it. It’s a great alternative to white rice whether on a Whole30, paleo or keto plan, or if you just want to add more vegetables to your plate. Freshly riced cauliflower easily absorbs the fresh, vibrant flavors of lime and cilantro, and makes a perfect protein partner.
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