head of cauliflower

How to Cook Cauliflower

  • Author: Amy Palanjian
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


Use this to prepare cauliflower steamed, boiled, sauteed, riced, or roasted. You can make as much or as little as you’d like, though one small head is usually a good amount for a family.


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • olive oil, butter, and/or salt as desired


To Steam Cauliflower: Add two inches of water to a medium pot fitted with a steamer basket over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Add cauliflower florets, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and season to taste with butter or olive oil and salt and pepper.

To Boil Cauliflower: Add your cauliflower florets to a medium pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until cauliflower is tender when poked with a fork. Drain and toss with butter or olive oil and salt.

To Saute Cauliflower: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter or olive oil and when warm, add cauliflower florets. Toss to coat with oil. Cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes, or until the florets are tender when poked with a fork or a knife. I often cover it for about half of the cooking to trap some steam and help the cauliflower cook evenly all the way through.

How to Make Cauliflower Rice: 

  1. Place 2 cups cauliflower florets into a food processor. Grind into small, rice-size pieces.
  2. Place into a saucepan and cover with about 1 inch water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until tender.
  4. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer. Press with a spoon to release as much water as possible.
  5. Season to taste with butter or olive oil and salt.

How to Make Roasted Cauliflower:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place cauliflower florets onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat well. Roast for 12-15 minutes, turning once, or until tender when poked with a fork. Serve warm.
  3. You can also do this with slices of cauliflower, which is just a way to change up the way it looks. (The results are the same!)
  4. Follow the same directions as in Step 2, adding a few additional minutes if needed for the stem to soften.


Cauliflower, whether sauteed, steamed, or boiled, is totally delicious with cheese. You can simply sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over warm cauliflower and let it melt before serving. Or you can try making a Healthy Cheese Sauce to serve as a dip alongside your cooked cauliflower.

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