Cauliflower is one of those staple veggies that tends to be in rotation all year long, but finding new ways to cook it can be the secret to helping the kids actually enjoy it. Here are easy ways for how to cook cauliflower steamed, boiled, sauteed, roasted, riced, or blended into cheese sauce.
How to Cook Cauliflower
There are so many ways to make delicious cauliflower, but I’m going to focus on cooking cauliflower on the stove, roasting it in the oven, and turning it into cauliflower rice since those are the most common (and easy) ways. These methods are simple and have the benefit of also being versatile when it comes to adding different flavors to keep things interesting.
I love cauliflower because it has a mellow flavor and it stores well in the fridge and freezer.
Scroll down to the bottom to the recipe card for the full instructions for each method.
Contents hide 1 How to Cook Cauliflower 2 Your toddler won’t eat? Help is here! 3 Cauliflower as Finger Food 4 Tips for Choosing Cauliflower at the Market 5 How to Cut Cauliflower 6 How to Cook Cauliflower on the Stove 7 What are the best ways to season cauliflower? 8 Cauliflower Rice 9 How to Make Cauliflower Rice 10 Cheesy Cauliflower Rice 11 How to Roast Cauliflower—in Florets or a Whole Head 12 How to Make Cauliflower with Cheese 13 Kid-Friendly Recipes with Cauliflower 14 Related Recipes 15 How to Cook Cauliflower 15.1 To Steam Cauliflower: 15.2 To Boil Cauliflower: 15.3 To Saute Cauliflower: 15.4 How to Make Cauliflower Rice: 15.5 How to Make Roasted Cauliflower:
Your toddler won’t eat? Help is here!
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Cauliflower as Finger Food
I love having cauliflower around as a finger food for babies and toddlers since it’s so versatile. You can offer cauliflower rice on a spoon to babies and those doing baby led weaning, small soft pieces to those just starting with finger foods, and larger florets as they grow—with or without a dip!
Tips for Choosing Cauliflower at the Market
The best thing to look for when buying a head of cauliflower is white flesh without black marks, which would likely be mold and possibly indicate that the vegetable has been sitting around too long.
Since they are usually sold per head, rather than by the pound, I like to get the biggest one I can to make the most of my dollars.
How to Cut Cauliflower
Let’s start with the basics: How to cut up a whole head of cauliflower. (And yes, you can buy pre-cut florets in most produce sections near the bagged salad greens!)
- Trim the green leaves and excess stem from the bottom of the head of cauliflower.
- Cut in half.
- Break or cut off the florets. Halve any large ones to ensure they’re all a similar size for cooking evenly.
- You an also simply slice the head if you’re going to roast it in these large, impressive rounds.
TIP: You can store cut cauliflower, when totally dry, in an airtight container such as a mason jar or zip-top storage bag, for up to 5 days in the fridge. It’s a great veggie to meal prep.
How to Cook Cauliflower on the Stove
You can steam, boil, or saute cauliflower on the stove depending on your preference. Here’s how to do each one.
*To Steam Cauliflower
Add 2 inches of water to a medium pot fitted with a steamer basket over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Add cauliflower florets, cover, and cook until tender. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and season to taste with butter or olive oil and salt and pepper.
*To Boil Cauliflower
Add your cauliflower florets to a medium pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer. Simmer until cauliflower is tender when poked with a fork. Drain and toss with butter or olive oil and salt.
*To Saute Cauliflower
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter or olive oil and when warm, add cauliflower florets. Toss to coat with oil. Cook, stirring often, until the florets are tender when poked with a fork or a knife. I often cover the skillet for about half of the cooking time to trap some steam and help the cauliflower cook evenly all the way through.
What are the best ways to season cauliflower?
You can add all sorts of flavorings to cauliflower to season it, but here are some great options:
- Butter, salt, and pepper if desired.
- Olive oil, salt, and pepper if desired.
- Toasted sesame oil, with sesame seeds if desired.
- Sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
- Sprinkled with shredded cheddar cheese.
- Sprinkled with nutritional yeast.
TIP: It really has such a mellow flavor that it can go in all sorts of directions flavor-wise!
Cauliflower rice has been super trendy and it’s a nice option for a healthy side dish for family dinners and toddler meals. It’s also a nice, soft texture to eat with a spoon so it can be a good way to serve cauliflower to babies and toddlers.
TIP: You can also buy pre-made cauliflower rice fresh near the packaged salad mixes or frozen in the freezer aisle.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice
Here’s a look at a simple way to make cauliflower rice.
- Place cauliflower florets into a food processor.
- Grind into small, rice-size pieces.
- Place into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until tender.
- Drain in a fine-mesh strainer. Press with a spoon to release as much water as possible. Season to taste with butter or olive oil and salt.
Cheesy Cauliflower Rice
I love to use cauliflower rice to make a veggie-loaded Cheesy Rice. This is one of our lunch time staples and my youngest kiddo loves it so much!
How to Roast Cauliflower—in Florets or a Whole Head
Roasting cauliflower brings out the sweetness and is a super simple (and hands off!) way to cook it. Here’s how to do it.
- Preheat the oven. Place cauliflower florets onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat well.
- Roast. Serve warm.
- You can also do this with slices of cauliflower, which is just a way to change up the way it looks. (The flavor is the same!) Place it on a baking pan and rub with olive oil.
- Roast, adding a few additional minutes if needed for the stem to soften.
TIP: You may also like my other go-to Roasted Vegetables for Kids.
How to Make Cauliflower with Cheese
Cauliflower, whether sauteed, steamed, or boiled, is totally delicious with cheese. You can simply sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over warm cauliflower and let it melt before serving.
Or you can make a Cauliflower Cheese Sauce to serve as a dip alongside your cooked cauliflower.
Kid-Friendly Recipes with Cauliflower
In addition to the basic techniques below, here are some recipes to try that use cauliflower!
Steamed Cauliflower with Parmesan Use as much cauliflower as you need to feed your family. Store any uncooked florets in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Get the recipe Easy Cheesy Rice (with Veggies!) Choose one veggie to add from the flavor options below according to what you have on hand or what your family likes best. Get the recipe Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (5-Ingredient) With a simple cheese sauce—no standing and stirring over the stove here!—a solid dose of veggies, and a super creamy final result, this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a fast lunch or dinner option for toddlers. (And the rest of the family, too!) Get the recipe Strawberry Smoothie with Veggies Make the simple base recipe or try one of the variations with a veggie and more nutrient-dense add-ins. All are delicious! Freeze the banana ahead of time. Get the recipe Homemade Cauliflower Tots With quinoa, cauliflower, and cheese, these healthy little tots are a great finger food for kids. This recipe makes about 20 tots, which is 4-6 servings for toddlers—or 1-2 servings for adults. Get the recipe One-Pot Pesto Chicken and Brown Rice Add some warmed frozen peas, whole grain toast, or a side of fruit to add a few simple sides if desired. This recipe was updated in September 2019 to ensure the rice cooks through. Get the recipe