Crispy, buttery, nutty and downright snackable, Roasted Cauliflower sets a pretty high bar for crave-worthy side dishes. With the right amount oil and seasonings, this versatile veggie has a full-on Cinderella story transformation after a trip through the oven.
Serve on its own, toss into pasta dishes, or even puree for soup (don’t worry, we’ve got recipes for all of that, and more!)
I’m not here to get in an “I liked cauliflower before it was cool” scuffle with anyone. And I’m certainly not here to steal thunder from the keto crowd, or any other grain-free group.
I love that cauliflower has magical properties that apparently include hypnotizing gazillions, if not bajillions, of people into loving it on a scale that they love McDonalds. (And honestly, a dish like parmesan roasted cauliflower, with its crispy crunchy edges and salty cheesy finish, is so good that you can literally eat it like fries #askmehowiknow.)
Every new post dedicated to the love of cauliflower means newer, better, tastier ideas are constantly being dumped into the ether, and I am all too happy to pluck them out and try my hand at making and eating them.
But, after all is riced and mashed and folded into pizza dough, the road always leads back to the O.G. (i.e. the gold standard, the cadillac, the champagne, if you will) – roasted cauliflower. I suppose the same could be said about all oven roasted vegetables, but whether you’re roasting florets, cauliflower steaks, or even a whole roasted cauliflower, our favorite versatile veggie handles the hot box particularly well.
Making the Best Roasted Cauliflower is Simple
Is there a better comeback kid than cauliflower? It took me over two decades to truly appreciate just how delectable cauliflower could be, but I’ve been hooked since 2004 and I’m not looking back!
Even my childhood nemesis, steamed cauliflower, has become a family favorite, and not just as a base for even tastier dishes. It can hold its own!
But simple roasted cauliflower is a family favorite. If you’ve been avoiding cauliflower since it’s peak in the 80’s as a sad, pale addition to crudites, then sit and look and listen – we’re going to learn to love this classic roasted vegetable side dish, one step at a time!
Our Most Important Tips
- Cut into evenly sized florets. Whether you’re dividing a whole head of cauliflower into florets or purchasing pre-cut cauliflower, make sure the florets are evenly sized. You can divide larger florets into smaller ones. This will ensure that every piece roasts to perfection in the same timeframe.
- Oil and season in a separate bowl. No one wants to create extra dishes, but in this case it’s a necessity. Combine the olive oil, cauliflower, and seasonings in a separate bowl and toss until very well coated and every single nook and cranny has touched oil and spice.
- Use enough oil. Our recipe calls for a quarter cup (four tablespoons) of olive oil. I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s enough to lightly coat every single floret. Dry spots on cauliflower = bitter, burned cauliflower.
- Use enough seasonings. Same gist as above! Roasted vegetables, cauliflower included, need seasonings to come alive. Salt alone will do the job, but we’ve got lots of suggestions for seasoning options further down in this post. Don’t skimp on the suggested amounts and you’ll be rewarded with extremely flavorful florets.
- Don’t crowd the baking sheet. Arrange the florets in a single, even layer leaving a bit of space in-between each. If the cauliflower florets (or any roasted vegetable for that matter) are crowded or touching, the florets will steam, not roast. Steamed cauliflower is an entirely different recipe 😊. Roasting results in caramelized edges, and that’s where most of the flavor comes from.
- Roast at a high heat. We prefer roasting at 425°F. This is the sweet spot for creating crispy, caramelized edges while ensuring the olive oil and spices don’t burn.
- Flip halfway through. Flip the florets halfway through the suggested roasting time for even cooking. I like to use a fish spatula for this kind of “delicate” vegetable work.
- Garnish! A squeeze of lemon juice, a dusting of grated parmesan cheese, and/or a sprinkle of fresh herbs can immediately elevate roasted cauliflower. Be bold!
How to Cut Cauliflower
We’ve all looked at the mess on our cutting boards after dividing a head of cauliflower into florets and thought “there has to be a better way!” And there is. Learning how to cut cauliflower isn’t rocket science, but there’s definitely a “science” to our mess-free methodology.
This is our method for cutting a head of cauliflower into florets. It’s simple, mess and waste-free, and puts you in control of how large or small the florets will end up being.
Put down the chef’s knife, pick up a pairing knife, and let’s cut some cauliflower!
How to Roast Cauliflower
Of all the ways to cook cauliflower, roasting is not only foolproof and fail-proof, it’s by far the most delicious. Depending on how you slice it (literally) you can have fork tender florets in under 45 minutes. Roasted Cauliflower is great as-is, but also totally adaptable for bigger, bolder flavors that pair with a variety of cuisines.
- Divide cauliflower into florets, then place into a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, and other seasonings as desired, then toss until very well combined. Then toss it a little bit more.
- Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single, even layer, leaving a bit of room between each floret.
- Roast in a 425F oven; roast small (1-2″) florets for 25-30 minutes or large (2″+) for 35-40 minutes. Gently flip about halfway through to ensure even browning.
- Remove from the oven, and garnish as desired. Serve right away and devour!
Seasoning Roasted Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a sponge, readily soaking up the flavors you lend to it. Try these seasoning combinations to find the perfect fit for you:
- Italian: add 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning along with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. After roasting, top with lemon zest and finely shredded parmesan.
- Mexican: add ½ teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon cumin along with the olive oil and salt; omit the pepper. After roasting, season with the zest and juice of 1 lime.
- Indian: add 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon turmeric along with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
- Mediterranean: after roasting, toss with the juice and zest of 1 lemon, ¼ cup toasted pine nuts, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.
How Long to Roast Cauliflower?
Cook time always depends on the size of your cauliflower florets. We roast at 425°F on a parchment-lined baking sheet for anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes depending on the size. After testing dozens (and I do mean dozens!) of batches of roasted cauliflower, we stand by the following roasting times:
- For florets 1-2″ in diameter or smaller: roast for 25-30 minutes
- For florets 2″ in diameter: roast for 35-40 minutes.
If you’re using our mess-free cutting tutorial above, you should have really good control over the size of the final florets and can choose your roasting time accordingly.
Serving Roasted Cauliflower
Oven roasted cauliflower yields a perfect, classic simple side. It goes with just about everything whether you serve it up straight out of the oven, or “accessorize it” first. Serve it naked, or dress it up, depending on the occasion, your taste-buds, or your family’s level of hangry:
- As is! Even my children will gladly eat cauliflower florets simply roasted with olive oil and salt.
- Add a sauce! Dress up roasted cauliflower with romesco sauce, pesto, Italian salsa verde, or chimichurri.
- Garnish away! Even a recipe as simple as roasted cauliflower benefits from a garnish. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice brings vibrancy to almost any roasted vegetable recipe – and cauliflower is no exception! Fresh parsley or basil add an earthy edge, while grated parmesan cheese adds a salty finish. Go forth and garnish!
Other Ways to Use Roasted Cauliflower
Whether you love, like, or just tolerate roasted cauliflower, there are so many more ways to work this versatile veggie into a meal than just stabbing with your fork. (Or, letting it cool a bit and eating it like popcorn with your bare hands. Which may actually happen more often than not in certain, unnamed households…)
- Make Soup. Roasted cauliflower is an incredibly flavorful base for soup. Add a head of garlic to the baking sheet, then make roasted cauliflower soup, or roast simply and make our curried cauliflower soup.
- Make Hummus. Substitute roasted cauliflower for steamed cauliflower in our cauliflower hummus recipe for a nuttier, sweeter spread.
- Add to pasta. Nutty roasted cauliflower pairs well with creamy pasta sauce or mild pestos.
- Make veggie bowls. Roasted cauliflower is meaty, so it’s a great stand-in for actual meat if you’re trying to add more plant-based meals to your rotation. Try our cauliflower shawarma grain bowl.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy roasted cauliflower? Tell us all about it! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Crispy Caramelized Roasted CauliflowerPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 medium head cauliflower, divided into florets (about 6 cups)
- ¼ c olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
Seasonings (Optional, but Recommended)
Garnishes (Optional, but Recommended)
- 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp fresh chopped parsley, or basil
- Heat the oven to 425°F with a rack positioned in the bottom third. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Divide the cauliflower into florets, then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and optional seasonings (if using), then toss until the florets are evenly coated with oil and seasonings.
- Roast 25-30 minutes for small florets (less than 1"), or 35-40 minutes for larger florets (about 2" florets). Remove the sheet from the oven once halfway through and flip the cauliflower to ensure even browning. The cauliflower is roasted once golden brown and the stems are tender; you should be able to insert the tip of a paring knife into the stem and meet little resistance.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately.