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.
I make cauliflower fairly often for my family. It's wonderfully versatile, and I am always on the lookout for new and interesting ways to prepare it.
That's why I was so excited about this recipe. It's amazing! The cauliflower looks so impressive when it emerges from the oven. But the best part? It's also delicious, and leftovers keep well for several days.
Dad's recipe ❤️
It was my dad who inspired me to make a 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 (even my own recipes!) 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 always such a big hit!
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make roasted whole cauliflower. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Cauliflower head: I use a medium-sized head. You'll probably need to adjust the cooking time if you use a small or a big one.
Extra-virgin olive oil: This is a delicious oil. But if you're unsure about cooking with it, you can use avocado oil instead. Or use refined olive oil with a higher smoke point.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use.
Spices: Garlic powder and paprika. An interesting variation is to use smoked paprika.
Olive oil spray: I use it to spray the cauliflower one more time after I season it. This helps keep the spices moist and prevents them from burning in the oven.
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 all over with olive oil and sprinkle it with spices, then spray it with more olive oil.
Place it in a pan with a little water on the bottom. 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 is that you want to make sure the cauliflower 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 bake it at a lower temperature, to ensure even cooking.
In my oven, I find that 80 minutes at 350°F works perfectly. But as you know oven temperatures vary, so you'll have to experiment and see what works in your oven.
Should I remove the core?
No, you shouldn't. Cauliflower stems (and the leaves too) are 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 it?
First of all, make sure you bring it to the table whole! Roasted whole cauliflower is 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! Seriously. They are.
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Roasted Whole Cauliflower
- 1 medium cauliflower head (2 lb. untrimmed)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Olive oil spray
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour ¼ 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 ¼ 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.