Whole roasted cauliflower is a gorgeous and delicious centerpiece meal or side dish recipe inspired by Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisines.
It’s one of the best ways to enhance the flavor of the cauliflower as it gets browned and flavorful outside while maintaining a succulent, juicy inside.
Make roasted whole cauliflower a meal with creamy Mediterranean spreads and sauces like yogurt tahini sauce, chermoula, and warm pita bread.
Table of Contents
Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet.
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What is Whole Roasted Cauliflower?
Whole roasted cauliflower is a gorgeous and delicious centerpiece meal or side dish.
You can prepare it with minimal effort in about 45 minutes tops. Boil it for 10 minutes in salted water first, then season it with olive oil and salt, and roast for 30 minutes.
This creates the perfect balance between a succulent, juicy core and a flavor-packed, perfectly crisp, and brown exterior.
Also, as the whole cauliflower roasts, you can prepare sauces and toppings to go with it!
Cauliflower has a mild and slightly nutty flavor that goes well with most world cuisines.
However, for this roasted whole cauliflower recipe, we recommend Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern ingredients and flavors like those we use in our Moroccan chickpea stew, roasted cauliflower soup, and roasted cauliflower salad.
Ingredients & Substitutions for Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
Pick a firm, fresh, medium, or large whole head of cauliflower.
You can use white cauliflower, green cauliflower, orange cauliflower, or purple cauliflower.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
We recommend extra virgin olive oil because it’s the least processed and the most flavorful oil to cook with.
Despite popular belief, EVOO is excellent to cook with thanks to its high polyphenol content, which makes it stable at high temperatures.
It also perfectly matches the flavor of cauliflower.
Substitute avocado oil or regular olive oil for extra virgin olive oil.
Salt and pepper
We recommend sea salt or kosher salt. Black pepper is optional.
Serves well with
How to Make Whole Roasted Cauliflower
US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
Trim the leaves and bottom part of the stem off, ensuring the florets don’t separate from the core.
Rinse, then boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes in a large pot with plenty of salted boiling water.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.
After 10 minutes, drain the cauliflower and put it on a baking tray. Season it with extra virgin olive oil all over and a generous pinch of salt to cover all sides.
Tip: Use a small square or rectangular baking pan, a baking sheet with rimmed edges, a cast iron skillet, and even a Dutch oven.
Roast for 30 minutes at 400°F or 200°C.
The cauliflower should be tender to the core and slightly charred outside. You can check core tenderness by inserting a skewer into the center.
You can serve whole roasted cauliflower as a side dish, or you can make it a meal by serving it with sauces, toppings, and warm bread.
We recommend serving it with the following:
- CHERMOULA SAUCE: a Moroccan herby condiment with garlic, red chili, cumin, salt, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil blended or pounded into a drinkable sauce. Substitute chimichurri, Italian salsa verde, or cilantro lime dressing.
- YOGURT TAHINI SAUCE: a creamy and refreshing Middle-Eastern condiment with Greek-style yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and water. Substitute tzatziki sauce, tahini sauce, or a classic hummus.
- PITA BREAD. Substitute with focaccia, naan, roti, or piadina.
Spread the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce on a plate and arrange the cauliflower on top. Drizzle with chermoula sauce on top and between the crevices.
Sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of pomegranate seeds or pistachios, cut it in half or quarters, and enjoy it with warm pita bread.
Recipes that go well with roasted cauliflower
Alternatively, you can serve whole roasted cauliflower as a colorful Middle-Eastern appetizer and dinner (mezze) with other small dishes such as:
- Baba ganoush (eggplant salad): creamy, smokey, and perfectly smooth eggplant dip.
- Creamy chickpea hummus or roasted red pepper hummus.
- Zaalouk or Moroccan eggplant salad: a pan-fried tomato and eggplant mix with North African flavors.
- The best avocado spread with tahini, a velvety smooth dip and spread idea. It’s incredibly delicious, and you’ll love it.
- Muhammara: roasted bell pepper, tomato, and walnuts combine in a creamy dip.
- Lentil Tabbouleh salad is a modern take on a classic tomato and parsley salad.
- Shirazi salad with finely chopped parsley, tomato, and onion.
- Greek Tzatziki sauce with garlic, mint, and yogurt.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa
This variation is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi. Boil the cauliflower in salted boiling water for 10 minutes.
As it boils, prepare the seasoning by whisking together 2 tablespoons harissa sauce, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
Drain the cauliflower and arrange it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place it upside down and fill it with half the harissa seasoning.
Turn it over and brush it with the remaining seasoning.
Roast at 400°F or 200°C for 15 minutes, then baste it with its liquid and roast for another 15 minutes, or until fork-tender and slightly charred on top.
Don’t skip the boiling step. Boiling the cauliflower first allows it to warm to the core, allowing it to cook faster and more evenly in the oven without burning outside.
With this technique, there is no need to cover the cauliflower with foil.
It also makes the cauliflower more succulent and juicy as it bakes faster.
Storage & Make Ahead
Make ahead: If you have dinner guests, you can roast the cauliflower a few hours before, undercook it slightly, then reheat it in the oven for 10 minutes before serving.
You can prep the sauces a day in advance and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
Refrigerator: keep the leftover cauliflower and the sauces in airtight containers for up to 3 days.
Freezer: whole roasted cauliflower is not a freezer-friendly recipe.
Reheat: warm whole roasted cauliflower in the microwave for a few minutes. You can also reheat it in the air fryer at 350°F or 180°C for 8 to 10 minutes or in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, take it from the fridge 15 minutes before serving and have it at room temperature.
More Cauliflower Recipes
If you like cooking with cauliflower, find new inspiration with these easy and wholesome cauliflower recipes:
- Moroccan chickpea stew
- Navratan korma
- Cauliflower rice
- Mediterranean cauliflower lentil salad
- Vegetable soup
- Cauliflower mashed potatoes
- Broccoli cauliflower salad
- Cauliflower mac and cheese
- Roasted broccoli and cauliflower
Even More Recipes With Cauliflower
- Chickpea flour muffins with cauliflower
- Tofu curry with cauliflower florets
- Red pepper pasta with roasted cauliflower
- Tortellini soup
- Vegan curry with roasted tofu and cauliflower
- Roasted vegetables
For even more cauliflower recipes, check out these 25 cauliflower recipe ideas.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- 1 whole cauliflower head medium or large size
- 1½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Trim the leaves and bottom part of the stem of 1 whole cauliflower head, ensuring the florets don’t separate from the core.
- Rinse, then boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes in a large pot with plenty of salted boiling water.
- In the meantime, preheat oven to 400°F or 200°C.Drain cauliflower and put it on a baking tray. Season with 1½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil all over and ½ teaspoon salt to cover all sides.
- Roast for 30 minutes at 400°F or 200°C until tender to the core and slightly charred outside. You can check tenderness by inserting a skewer into the center.
MAKE IT A MEAL
- Spread the yogurt tahini sauce on a plate and arrange the cauliflower on top.Drizzle with chermoula sauce on top and between the crevices.Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, cut it in half or quarters, and enjoy it with warm pita bread.