Cutting cauliflower into thick slabs and serving them as "steaks" that are deeply caramelized, almost to the point of charred, takes our most versatile vegetable from the usual side dish to a light vegetarian main. Here's an illustrated guide for how to cut cauliflower steaks, plus the best methods for cooking them. Shall we?
What is a Cauliflower Steak
Cauliflower Steak is a slab, or "steak," cut from a whole cauliflower head. The main center stem is left intact to keep as many of the florets together to create the "steak."
The steaks are prepped and cooked the same way regular beef steaks are cooked—grilled, pan-seared, or roasted. Because the cauliflower steak has two broad, flat sides, more of the cauliflower area comes into direct contact with the cooking surface for browning and caramelization.
Depending on how big the cauliflower is and what, if any, kind of sauce you add, Cauliflower Steaks can be a light vegetarian main dish or a hearty vegetable side dish.
Why Cauliflower Steak vs Cauliflower Florets
Pro-Tips for Success
Choose the largest, heaviest heads of cauliflower.
Use the sharpest knife so you don't have to jiggle it too much while cutting, which will loosen the florets.
Leave more of the stem than you think. The thick center stem of the cauliflower is something we usually discard. In the case of cauliflower steaks, you want to leave as much of the stem since that is what keeps the florets together as a "steak." You can trim the very fibrous parts of the stem after you cook the steaks, just before serving.
Cook at high temperature. Don't be afraid to cook at a high temperature, since the high temperature is what creates that dark golden brown char on the outside surfaces of the cauliflower while not overcooking the inside.
How to Cut Cauliflower Steaks
1. Carefully cut away the fibrous green leaves from the cauliflower head, leaving the the small tender leaves that are wrapped tightest around the florets.
2. Hold the cauliflower head on the cutting board, stem side down. Slice straight down the middle from top to bottom like you're cutting into a loaf of bread.
3. Holding the round part of one half of the cauliflower head, slice a 1-inch thick slice from the cut end. Try to keep the steak from falling over too hard onto the cutting board to keep the florets intact.
4. If the cauliflower head is large enough, slice another steak from the cut end. Save the floret pieces that fall off for another use, or just cook them along with your steaks. Repeat the slicing for the other half of the cauliflower head.
How to Cook Cauliflower Steaks
There are a few different ways to cook cauliflower steaks, all rendering slightly different flavors and textures. However they all start with lightly coating each cauliflower steak with avocado or olive oil and generously seasoning with salt on both sides. After that prep, here are the way to cook your cauliflower steak, with details following:
- Bake/Roast in Oven — This is my preferred method because it's least likely to break the steaks apart, and requires the least active cooking time
- Pan Sear on Stovetop — Produces caramelization on the most surface area
- Air Fryer — Similar to baking/roasting, but obviously only if you have an air-fryer.
- Grill — Adds a subtle smoke flavor if you really want that grilled vibe
Roast/Bake in Oven: Heat oven to 425°F. Place cauliflower steaks on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Pan-sear on Stovetop: Heat stainless steel pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add lightly oiled cauliflower steaks. Cook for 10 minutes without moving. Flip cauliflower steak and cook another 10 minutes.
Air Fryer: Air fry oiled and seasoned cauliflower steaks at 375° for 10 minutes on each side. You may have to adjust the temperature higher to achieve more caramelization, depending on the type of air fryer you have.
Grill: Heat grill to medium-high. Add cauliflower steaks being very careful not to break florets, since they will fall through the grill grates. Using a pair of steel tongs, flip cauliflower steaks after 8-10 minutes. Grill on second side 6-8 minutes.
Tools and Equipment
As I always say, you don't need any special equipment to make Cauliflower Steaks. However, that doesn't mean there are a couple of gadgets and tools that might make the recipe a little easier than it already is.
- 7-inch Chef's Knife. all-purpose 7-inch chef's knife (expensive but worth it!)
- Small Paring Knife that's helpful for slicing the leaves off and cutting off excess center stem
- Large Cutting Board. A large size cutting board is stable, sturdy, and has enough surface area to prep multiple vegetables
- Produce Wash helps to remove waxy residues
- Vegetable Brush especially helpful to scrub between all the florets
- Salad Spinner to really get vegetables dry so they roast better
- Colander. This over-the-sink colander that lets things—clean dishes, vegetables—drip dry right into the sink has changed my life.
Leftovers and Storage
You can store leftover Cauliflower Steaks in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for three days, or in the freezer for up to one month. After a month, the cauliflower may develop freezer burn unless you remove all air from the storage container.
How to Serve Cauliflower Steaks
A couple of thick slabs of golden, caramelized cauliflower with a salty, umami sauce on the side is an entire meal imho, and here are some recipes and ideas:
- Cauliflower Steaks with Italian Salsa Verde
- Sicilian-style Cauliflower Steaks with Golden Raisins, Pistachios, and Breadcrumbs
- Cauliflower Parm starts with Cauliflower Steaks and smothers them marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese
FAQs About Cauliflower Steaks
A: Yes, you can make parts of tis recipe in advance and assemble just before serving. Sear the cauliflower steaks in advance, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Before serving, reheat the Cauliflower Steaks in a sauté pan with a light drizzle of oil over medium-low heat.
A: No, you do not have to pre-boil cauliflower to make Cauliflower Steaks! In fact, maintaining some level of "bite" in the cauliflower is better for the overall dish. Unless you actually want super soft cauliflower, in which case, you can still skip the pre-boiling part and simply drop the temperature to 350° and roast the cauliflower for 10-15 minutes longer.
A: The number of cauliflower steaks you can get from one cauliflower head depends on the size of the original head of cauliflower and how thick you cut the steaks. Generally, a very large, dense cauliflower head will render four (4) steaks, along with a handful of florets that aren't attached to the main stem. You can just cook these alongside the whole steaks.
A: The number of cauliflower steaks that make up one serving depends on the size of the original head of cauliflower and how thick you cut the steaks. Generally, two steaks would make one main dish serving, accompanied with a small side like beans, lentils, or grains. One cauliflower steak would make a side dish serving.
Recipes for Cauliflower in Other Formats
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower "a la Brasa"
- Garlic Cheese Pull-Apart Cauliflower "Loaf"
- Cauliflower Parm
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas and Walnuts
- Roasted Curried Cauliflower
- Cauliflower Garlic Soup
- Cauliflower Gratin inspired by Chef Thomas Keller
Cauliflower Steak Recipe
- 2 large, heavy cauliflower heads
- 4 teaspoons avocado oil
- Kosher or sea salt
- Carefully cut away the fibrous green leaves from the cauliflower heads, leaving the small tender leaves that are wrapped tightest around the florets.
- Hold a cauliflower head on the cutting board, stem side down. Slice straight down the middle from top to bottom like you're cutting into a loaf of bread.
- Holding the round part of one half of the cauliflower head, slice a 1-inch thick slice from the cut end. Try to keep the steak from falling over too hard onto the cutting board to keep the florets intact.
- If the cauliflower head is large enough, slice another steak from the cut end. Save the floret pieces that fall off for another use, or just cook them along with your steaks.
- Repeat the slicing for the other half of the cauliflower head. You should end up with four good size steaks from each cauliflower head.
- Florets will break off from the rounded ends you hold. Save these for another use, or just go ahead and cook them alongside the steaks.