Cauliflower might have gotten its start as the plain jane of the vegetable world, but don’t feel sorry for this cruciferous veggie—it’s stepping into the spotlight in a big way! From pizza crust to a thickener in soups and stews, there are more ways to use this ingredient than you can count on one hand, and we’ve got all the insider tips to make the most of every floret.
What Is Cauliflower?
To truly appreciate the wonders of cauliflower, let’s go over the basics. Cauliflower is part of the Brassica oleracea family (along with broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale) and flourishes in the cooler months. With a mild flavor, cauliflower is super versatile, soaks up spices, and is friendly to a range of diets. White is the most popular variety, but you can also find it in a range of hues like purple, green, and orange!
How to choose the best cauliflower
When you’re on the hunt, look for cauliflower heads that are firm and tightly closed. You don’t want any limp florets or wilted leaves. This veg seems durable, but it can soften quickly, so keep it wrapped up in the crisper drawer until you’re ready to use it.
Benefits of Cauliflower
Cauliflower works for a range of diets including vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, low-carb, and gluten-free. And when you do the math, it’s easy to see why cauliflower is so popular, especially as a grain substitute. Check this out: A 1 cup serving of white rice contains about 170 calories, 37 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of fiber, but a similar portion of cauliflower contains just 25 calories, 5 grams of carbs, and triple the amount of fiber. (There’s also a dose of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K.)
Unique Ways to Use Cauliflower
First off, if you haven’t snacked on roasted cauliflower straight from the oven, you’re definitely missing out. We suggest making a double batch because once you start popping the caramelized, perfectly salted florets into your mouth, you won’t be able to stop. But beyond roasting, here are other fun ways to use this vegetable all week long.
- Rice: A favorite of Paleo eaters everywhere, cauliflower rice is the perfect stand-in for grains.
- Risotto: Once you have cauliflower rice, you can have cauliflower risotto, too! It’s creamy and flavorful, especially when you use homemade chicken stock and lots of fresh herbs.
- Pizza crust: Whether you buy it from the store or make your own, this trick has taken the food world by storm.
- Soup thickener: Potatoes are a go-to for thickening soups, but try adding cauliflower purée to the pot instead! It’ll blend up creamy without the cream for a perfect dairy- and starch-free dinner.
- Gnocchi: You’ll still need some potato as a binder, but you can easily go half-and-half with potato and cauliflower for an extra nutritional boost.
How to make cauliflower rice
Ah, cauliflower rice. Who would have thought this simple vegetable could stand in for side dishes, stuffings, and even taco filling? You can buy bags in bulk and stock your freezer, but it’s a cinch to make at home. Just break down a head of cauliflower and add the florets to a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. That’s it!
Products With Cauliflower
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Meet the very first dry, riced cauliflower that’s shelf stable and can be stored in your pantry just like regular rice. It’s ready to go for side dishes anytime—it cooks in 15 minutes!
Here’s a snack you don’t have to feel guilty about. These dairy-free, gluten-free, and plant-based puffs are made with cauliflower and probiotics to keep digestion on track so you can crunch in a diet-friendly way.
Eating in a hurry? Heat up this meal made with a bed of cauliflower rice, fresh veggies, and a savory curry sauce. The spoon’s included (they’ve thought of everything), so you can just stir and go!
12 Healthy Cauliflower Recipes
Get cooking with these easy cauliflower recipes that’ll bring some new flavors to your weekly rotation.
We’ve got a new hummus hack—make it with cauliflower! It whips up to a smooth base you’ll love for dipping everything from veggie chips to pita bread. An infused garlic oil makes every bite super tasty, we’re willing to bet it becomes a new favorite snack.
In the Thrive Market test kitchen, we’re big fans of Chef Chloe Coscarelli thanks to flavorful vegan recipes that are both creative and oh so delicious. These cauliflower “wings” are straight from her latest cookbook, Chloe Flavor, and make the perfect appetizer to feed hungry fans on game day.
Takeout fatigue? Here’s a recipe that’ll bring your favorite restaurant dishes home. The tomato-based sauce is infused with ginger, garlic, and fenugreek seeds. Paired with tender chicken and cauliflower, it’s a comforting weeknight fix.
This is a vegetarian Thanksgiving showstopper, but you can make it in any season. Honey and mustard concentrates the flavor of the cauliflower as it roasts, encasing it in a golden crust. The bright herb dipping sauce is the perfect finishing touch.
For your next pasta night, nix the marinara and swap in roasted cauliflower. Toss it with tagliatelle or linguini, not to mention a garlicky pine nut-parmesan sauce. It’s basically the perfect comfort food.
Here’s a side-dish superstar. Cauliflower is a perfect canvas for bold Indian spices like curry powder and cinnamon. Roasted with onions, the florets caramelize then get tossed with raisins and coconut flakes.
In this bowl, cauliflower rice serves as a bed for gorgeous roasted salmon and sautéed veggies. Middle Eastern spices like cumin, allspice, and cinnamon will pop in your mouth.
The whole family will love this veggie-filled appetizer that starts with pals cauliflower and broccoli. Pulsed with almond flour, parsley, spices, and coconut oil mayo, these tots are baked and served with a creamy dipping sauce.
Add some pizazz to roasted cauliflower with creamy tahini sauce, pomegranate seeds, and fresh herbs. It’s a super fast vegan dish that’ll impress your guests!
Distinctively Mediterranean in flavor, braised cauliflower takes on a substantial and almost meaty feel in this hearty dish. (A handful of kalamata olives help with that, too.) Try cooking the cauliflower in a slow cooker for an even easier version.
Are you sensing a theme? Cauliflower and Indian spices are always a good match. In this dish, the cauliflower is roasted whole, basted in a light sauce made with coconut milk, garlic powder, turmeric, and cumin.
Tagines sound exotic but they’re easier to make than you might think. You don’t need any special equipment—just a big pot—and everything cooks in the oven so it’s perfect to make ahead of time and reheat before guests arrive. In this dish, we swap cauliflower for couscous to make this a Paleo-friendly main course.
Dining in? Stir up this “caulisotto” for a cauliflower-meets-risotto approach to dinner. Added bonus? No constant stirring and it’s ready in about 20 minutes!