An easy recipe for roasted whole cauliflower, seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and paprika. The cauliflower comes out beautifully browned on the outside and tender on the inside.
It was my dad who inspired me to make roasted whole cauliflower. Dad is a great cook, always happy to try new recipes. When he sent over this beautiful photo, I just had to try it too!
Dad gave me a fairly exact recipe, but as per usual, I am incapable of following a recipe without making any changes. 😳
So I altered a few things, and we just LOVED the result. I’ve made it several times since because it’s so easy, pretty and healthy!
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
- Cauliflower head
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Spices: garlic powder and paprika
- Olive oil spray
How to roast a whole cauliflower head
It’s so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- Brush the cauliflower head with olive oil and sprinkle with spices.
- Spray it with more olive oil.
- Place in a pan with a little water on the bottom and roast for about 80 minutes at 350°F. Replenish the water after the first 40 minutes.
How long does it take to roast a whole cauliflower?
That’s the million-dollar question! There are so many variations on this recipe.
The main challenge when making roasted whole cauliflower is that you want to make sure it is cooked through before the outside is burned.
My dad boils the cauliflower head first for 10 minutes, then roasts it at 350°F for 45-60 minutes, depending on its size.
But I’m lazy. The thought of a two-step recipe (and an extra pot to wash) seemed daunting. So I decided to simply bake the cauliflower head in the oven, skipping the boiling part.
To ensure the inside becomes tender, I poured a little water into the pan. This ensures that the outside gets nice and crispy, while the steam from the water penetrates the inside of the cauliflower, helping it to soften.
What oven temperature is best?
When I make parmesan roasted cauliflower, I like to roast it at 425°F. But when making roasted whole cauliflower, it’s best to roast at a lower temperature, to ensure even cooking. I find that roasting for 80 minutes at 350°F works perfectly.
Should I remove the core?
No, you shouldn’t. Cauliflower stems (and the leaves too) are completely edible. Removing the core, even very carefully, can cause the cauliflower to fall apart.
I do remove the outer leaves and cut the bottom of the stem, but I leave the core intact, and I find that it softens nicely and it is delicious when baked. By the way, roasted broccoli stalks are also edible and very tasty!
How to serve roasted whole cauliflower?
First of all, make sure you bring it to the table whole! It’s so pretty. You can cut it at the table after everyone admires your tasty work of art.
As for what dishes go with it, anything goes, really. Much like cauliflower steak, it’s substantial enough to even serve as a main dish, with perhaps a side salad. Or you can serve it with fried or poached eggs.
If you’d like to serve it as a side to meat or fish, it’s completely your call. It’s such a versatile side dish, it goes with anything.
What about leftovers?
You can keep leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them gently in the microwave, on 50% power. They are also good cold!
Roasted Whole Cauliflower
- 1 medium cauliflower head (2 lb. untrimmed)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Olive oil spray
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour 1/4 cup water into a square baking dish.
- Remove the cauliflower’s outer leaves but leave the stem intact, trimming it just a little so that the cauliflower head can stand upright in the pan (as shown in the video).
- Wash the cauliflower and dry well with paper towels.
- Brush the cauliflower all over with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the seasonings. Spray the seasoned cauliflower with olive oil spray.
- Place the cauliflower head, stem side down, in the prepared baking dish. Roast, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
- Carefully remove the pan from the oven, placing it on a trivet mat and leaving the oven on. Use two wide spatulas to temporarily transfer the cauliflower to a plate. Wipe the pan clean with paper towels (careful, it will be hot). Pour 1/4 cup more hot water into the pan. Make sure water is hot, especially if using a Pyrex pan.
- Return the cauliflower to the pan, stem side down. Spray it with more olive oil. Place the pan back in the oven, and continue roasting the cauliflower until the outside is browned and crispy and the inside is tender-crisp, about 40 more minutes.