Learn how to cut cauliflower into florets with this simple, mess free method! Plus tips for how to store cauliflower after cutting and our favorite cauliflower recipes.
Have you ever cut into a head of cauliflower, looked at the resulting mess, and thought “there’s GOT to be a better way?!?”.
You’re right – there is! When it comes to cutting a head of cauliflower into florets, you might be doing it wrong. It’s all good, I did it wrong for years, and today I’m here to show you the path!
Follow this tutorial to learn how to cut a head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces with way less mess and very little waste.
How to Pick Cauliflower
But first – let’s quickly discuss how to pick a fresh, good quality head of cauliflower.
- Look for a firm head of cauliflower that is uniformly creamy white, with no brown spots, roughly 6-8 inches in diameter.
- The florets should be tightly packed and very firm.
- 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.
- The leaves should be tightly wrapped around the head of the cauliflower, not wilting away from the base.
When is Cauliflower in Season?
Cauliflower can be purchased year round, but it’s at peak season runs in the fall, September through November. Whenever possible, I try to source cauliflower directly from the farmer’s market during those times – NOTHING beats farm fresh cauliflower at its prime!
How to Cut Cauliflower Into Florets
- Place a head of cauliflower onto a cutting board stem side up.
2. Break off the outer leaves by hand, or trim using a paring knife.
3. The first cut is the trickiest, but it’s smooth sailing after. Use a paring knife to slice away a floret along the bottom row of the cauliflower.
4. Continue to remove individual florets around the base of the cauliflower.
5. Work your way around the next row, slicing individual florets from the core.
6. Trim larger florets into bite sized pieces. To do so, place the florets step side up on a cutting board. Insert the tip of the paring knife into the center and slice through, just until you meet the actual florets, then break apart (this will help with controlling any crumbles or mess).
The florets are ready to use! Notice there are very few crumbles and absolutely no waste. Optional – you can also peel the core using a vegetable peeler, then slice into coins. I always toss the core onto the roasting sheet or into the pot when I’m making soup.
How to Store Cut Cauliflower
It’s best to store cauliflower heads whole, and slice before using. If you’d like to store cut cauliflower ahead of time, plan to use it within 1-2 days. Sliced cauliflower can develop an unpleasant, sulfurous smell.
Store cauliflower in an air-tight container, like a zip lock bag, with several paper towels to wick up the moisture. Do not rinse before storing, as excess moisture can encourage mold. Simply rinse just before using.
If you’re coming up on your use-by date and cannot use the cut cauliflower, freeze the florets instead!
To freeze cauliflower florets, lay them onto a baking sheet in a single layer, then transfer to the freezer and chill until firm (about an hour). Place the flash frozen florets into an air-tight gallon zip bag and freeze for up to 2 months.
Favorite Cauliflower Recipes
- How to Cook Cauliflower Six Ways (Roasted Florets, Whole Roasted, Stir Fried, Instant Pot, Steamed, Microwave)
- Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower
- Cauliflower Curry with Sweet Potatoes
- Loaded Cauliflower Soup
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad
- Cauliflower Shawarma Grain Bowl
- Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad
- Curried Cauliflower Soup
- Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- Roasted Cauliflower with Spinach Pesto Pasta
- Creamy Pasta Sauce with Roasted Cauliflower
How to Cut CauliflowerPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe
- Cutting Board
- Paring Knife
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- Place the cauliflower on a cutting board stem side up. Break away the outer leaves by hand, or trim close to the stem (core) with a paring knife.
- Inspect the head of cauliflower and identify a floret at the base of the cauliflower with a reachable stem. Use the paring knife to slice away the floret. This first cut is the trickiest.
- Continue slicing around the base of the core to remove the first layer of florets. Then work around the next row and remove cauliflower florets with single cuts.
- Arrange larger florets on a cutting board stem side up. Insert the tip of the paring knife into the steam and slice just until you reach the floret, then break apart into small, bite-sized pieces.