A stunning main or side dish, whole roasted cauliflower is tender, flavorful, and simple to make. A quick harissa sauce adds bold flavor.
Let’s make a whole roasted cauliflower! This veggie “roast” may be my all-time favorite dish for a dinner party or a holiday meal. It’s simple (the oven does most of the work for you!), it can pass as a main dish for some people and as a side for others, and it looks stunning in the center of the table.
And the whole roasted cauliflower recipe does not disappoint in taste either. Thanks to a long, two-part roast, it’s beautifully browned on the outside and tenderly tender to the core. I’ve included instructions for grilling it simply on the recipe card below, but you also have the option of dressing it with the colorful, harissa-based sauce pictured here. This sauce is quick and easy to whip up, and it adds a rich, earthy, smoky flavor to whole roasted cauliflower. I think you will like it!
Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe Ingredients
First things first: to make this whole roasted cauliflower recipe, you’ll need a cauliflower! Choose a medium-sized one that weighs about 2 pounds. A slightly smaller or larger head of cauliflower will also work well, but remember you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
If you want to grill it plain, you will need to olive oil to help it soften and brown in the oven and salt and pepper for its flavor.
If you’re making the sauce, you’ll also need these ingredients:
- Light harissa – I want Mine harissa brand.
- Ground cumin – For an earthy, savory taste.
- Smoked paprika – For smoke.
- Dried thyme – It adds a fresh, woody, citrusy flavor.
- And red pepper flakes – For warmth.
Either way, you’ll love it lemon wedges and fresh cilantro for delivery.
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Whole Roasted Cauliflower
You can find the complete recipe with measurements below, but here’s a quick overview of the process:
- First, make the sauce. It’s so simple to mix! Skip this step if you are making a simple version.
- Next, prepare the cauliflower. Remove any tough outer leaves, and use a sharp knife to carefully cut off the bottom of the stem so the cauliflower sits flat. Place it in a cast-iron skillet and brush with 1/3 of the sauce. If you’re making a simple version, rub the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Now for the roast part 1. Cover the pan with foil and roast at 425°F for 30 minutes.
- And grilled part 2. Remove the foil from the pan. If you’re making a simple version, drizzle the cauliflower with more olive oil at this point. Either way, roast for another 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender in the center.
- Season and serve. If you are making the sauce version, remove the cauliflower from the oven and brush it with half of the remaining sauce. Cut into wedges and serve with squeezes of lemon juice, fresh herbs, and the remaining sauce. If you make the simple version, serve the roasted cauliflower head with the sauce of your choice! Find some suggestions in the tips below.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe Tips and Variations
- Use two portions that are roasted. This technique is key to getting roasted whole cauliflower tender on the inside and brown on the outside. Roast it for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and roast until soft in the middle, for another 30 minutes. Note that the exact timing will vary depending on your oven and the size of your cauliflower.
- Add more sauce after cooking. It gives the cauliflower a gorgeous glossy look and adds a bold flavor. Serve with some sauce on the side!
- Experiment with different flavor profiles. I love the harissa sauce I recommend here, but you can take whole roasted cauliflower in many other directions. Make the simple recipe, and serve the slices with a drizzle of turmeric tahini sauce or dollops of romesco sauce, fresh parsley, and toasted almonds. It would be great to pesto, roasted tomatoesParmesan cheese, and pine nuts too.
- Make it food. Whether you’re serving whole roasted cauliflower at Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, you will likely have many side dishes to round out the meal. But you can also make this whole roasted cauliflower as a satisfying vegan main dish on its own. Plate wedges over herb-flecked farro and raise them to roasted chickpeasor serve them over a swoosh of hummus o white bean dip. These bean-based spreads add a delicious creamy texture and extra protein to this plant-based recipe. Enjoy!
More Veggie Main Dish Recipes
If you love roasting a whole head of cauliflower(!), try one of these veggie entrees next:
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
This whole roasted cauliflower recipe makes a delicious main or side dish! I offer two variations here. You can roast cauliflower in a flavorful harissa sauce, or you can roast it plain (see notes below). For either option, find delivery suggestions in the post above.
- 1 medium cauliflower, about 2 pounds, tough outer leaves removed
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon wedges, for squeezing
- Fresh cilantro, for decoration
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Make the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the harissa, olive oil, cumin, paprika, thyme, salt, and red pepper flakes.
Cut the bottom of the core off the cauliflower so it sits flat. Place the cauliflower in a cast iron skillet and pour ⅓ of the sauce over the cauliflower. Cover the pan with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Uncover and roast for 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is fork-tender in the center.
Remove from the oven and brush with half of the remaining sauce. Season with salt and pepper and squeeze lemon juice. Garnish with cilantro, cut into quarters, and serve with remaining sauce on the side.
**For the sauce-free version, slice the bottom of the core off the cauliflower so it sits flat. Place the cauliflower in a cast iron skillet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon sea salt. Use your hands to wear. Cover the pan with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Uncover, drizzle with another 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and roast for 30 minutes more, or until the cauliflower is golden brown on the outside and fork-tender in the middle.