Cauliflower is one of those staple veggies that tends to be in rotation all year long, but finding new ways to cook it can be the secret to helping the kids actually enjoy it. Here are easy ways for how to cook cauliflower steamed, boiled, sauteed, roasted, riced, or blended into cheese sauce.

how to cook cauliflower

How to Cook Cauliflower

There are so many ways to make delicious cauliflower, but I’m going to focus on cooking cauliflower on the stove, in the oven, and turning it into cauliflower rice. These methods are easy and have the benefit of also being versatile when it comes to adding different flavors to keep things interesting.

TIP: Scroll down to the bottom to the recipe card for the full instructions for each method.

Cauliflower as Finger Food

I love having cauliflower around as a finger food for babies and toddlers since it’s so versatile. You can offer cauliflower rice on a spoon to babies and those doing baby led weaning, small soft pieces to those just starting with finger foods, and larger florets as they grow—with or without a dip!

head of cauliflower

Tips for Choosing Cauliflower at the Market

The best thing to look for when buying a head of cauliflower is white flesh without black marks, which would likely be mold and possibly indicate that the vegetable has been sitting around too long.

Since they are usually sold per head, rather than by the pound, I like to get the biggest one I can to make the most of my dollars.

how to cut cauliflower

How to Cut Cauliflower

Let’s start with the basics: How to cut up a whole head of cauliflower. (And yes, you can buy pre-cut florets in most produce sections near the bagged salad greens!)

  1. Trim the green leaves and excess stem from the bottom of the head of cauliflower.
  2. Cut in half.
  3. Break or cut off the florets. Halve any large ones to ensure they’re all a similar size for cooking evenly.
  4. You an also simply slice the head if you’re going to roast it in these large, impressive rounds.

TIP: You can store cut cauliflower, when totally dry, in an airtight container such as a mason jar or zip-top storage bag, for up to 5 days in the fridge. It’s a great veggie to meal prep.

steaming cauliflower

How to Cook Cauliflower on the Stove

You can steam, boil, or saute cauliflower on the stove depending on your preference. Here’s how to do each one.

*To Steam Cauliflower

Add 2 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 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 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, until the florets are tender when poked with a fork or a knife. I often cover the skillet for about half of the cooking time to trap some steam and help the cauliflower cook evenly all the way through.

What are the best ways to season cauliflower?

You can add all sorts of flavorings to cauliflower to season it, but here are some great options:

  • Butter, salt, and pepper if desired.
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper if desired.
  • Toasted sesame oil, with sesame seeds if desired.
  • Sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
  • Sprinkled with shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Sprinkled with nutritional yeast.

TIP: It really has such a mellow flavor that it can go in all sorts of directions flavor-wise!

cauliflower rice

Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice has been super trendy and it’s a nice option for a healthy side dish for family dinners and toddler meals. It’s also a nice, soft texture to eat with a spoon so it can be a good way to serve cauliflower to babies and toddlers.

TIP: You can also buy pre-made cauliflower rice fresh near the packaged salad mixes or frozen in the freezer aisle.

how to make cauliflower rice step by step

How to Make Cauliflower Rice

Here’s a look at a simple way to make cauliflower rice.

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

cheesy rice with cauliflower

Cheesy Cauliflower Rice

I love to use cauliflower rice to make a veggie-loaded Cheesy Rice. This is one of our lunch time staples and my youngest kiddo loves it so much!

how to roast cauliflower in the oven

How to Roast Cauliflower—in Florets or a Whole Head

Roasting cauliflower brings out the sweetness and is a super simple (and hands off!) way to cook it. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Preheat the oven. Place cauliflower florets onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat well.
  2. Roast. 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 flavor is the same!) Place it on a baking pan and rub with olive oil.
  4. Roast, adding a few additional minutes if needed for the stem to soften.

TIP: You may also like my other go-to Roasted Vegetables for Kids.

how to make cheese sauce
Cauliflower Cheese Sauce with veggies for dipping

How to Make Cauliflower with Cheese

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 make a Cauliflower Cheese Sauce to serve as a dip alongside your cooked cauliflower.

Kid-Friendly Recipes with Cauliflower

In addition to the basic techniques below, here are some recipes to try that use cauliflower!

Steamed Cauliflower with Parmesan
Use as much cauliflower as you need to feed your family. Store any uncooked florets in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Get the recipe
quick cauliflower with cheese
Easy Cheesy Rice (with Veggies!)
Choose one veggie to add from the flavor options below according to what you have on hand or what your family likes best.
Get the recipe
cheesy rice 4 ways with veggies
5-Ingredient Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Use yellow or white cheese according to your child’s color expectations!
Get the recipe
cauliflower mac and cheese
Strawberry Smoothie with Veggies
Make the simple base recipe or try one of the variations with a veggie and more nutrient-dense add-ins. All are delicious! Freeze the banana ahead of time.
Get the recipe
strawberry banana smoothie with cauliflower in glasses
Homemade Cauliflower Tots
With quinoa, cauliflower, and cheese, these healthy little tots are a great finger food for kids. This recipe makes about 20 tots, which is 4-6 servings for toddlers—or 1-2 servings for adults.
Get the recipe
cauliflower tots on white and red plate
One-Pot Pesto Chicken and Brown Rice
Add some warmed frozen peas, whole grain toast, or a side of fruit to add a few simple sides if desired. This recipe was updated in September 2019 to ensure the rice cooks through.
Get the recipe
healthy chicken and brown rice on kids plate

You May Also Like

How do you like to serve cauliflower to your family? I’d love to hear in the comments!

This post was first published May 2018.

head of cauliflower

How to Cook Cauliflower

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.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Sides
Calories 67kcal
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter and/or salt as desired)

Instructions

To Steam Cauliflower:

  • Add 2 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 the skillet for about half of the cooking time to trap some steam and help the cauliflower cook evenly all the way through.

How to Make Cauliflower Rice: 

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

How to Make Roasted Cauliflower:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • 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.
  • You can also do this with slices of cauliflower, which is just a way to change up the way it looks. (The flavor is the same!) Follow the same directions as above, adding a few additional minutes if needed for the stem to soften.

Notes

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 make a Healthy Cheese Sauce to serve as a dip alongside your cooked cauliflower.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Warm briefly in the microwave to serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 67kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 43mg, Potassium: 430mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin C: 69mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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