This easy, prep-ahead Rosemary Roasted Whole Cauliflower is buttery crisp and golden brown on the outside and has a tender-moist interior.
Years ago I tried several recipes for roasted whole cauliflower. I'd seen pictures of the gloriously golden orbs in magazines and on Pinterest and was intrigued by the concept and the beautiful presentations. Sadly, my attempts didn't go so well.
The recipes I tried called for either boiling the whole cauliflower in a huge pot of water or covering it with foil in the oven before roasting in the oven. After one attempt, I nixed the boiling water method as it made the cauliflower soggy and was a huge pain to remove it from the steaming water. The foil method produced a pretty end product but the interior of the cauliflower was too firm and not enjoyable. I decided that roasting whole cauliflower just wasn't for me.
A different technique
Recently I decided to give roasted whole cauliflower another go. I wondered if steaming it in a small amount of liquid on the stovetop before roasting might work better. I saw this recipe online and used it as a baseline then adapted it to the technique and timing that I found work best.
I served the adapted cauliflower to Scott one evening with some roasted chicken. He didn't say anything about the chicken but commented on how delicious the cauliflower was and gobbled up a huge portion. I knew we had a winner as vegetables are generally not his favorite part of a meal!
I'm always a big fan of recipes that can be made or prepped ahead, especially when entertaining. And when cooking or steaming cauliflower that's especially important as cauliflower doesn't have the most pleasing aroma as it cooks. So if you can pre-cook it ahead, as in this Rosemary Roasted Cauliflower recipe, it's a big bonus!
This cauliflower can be steamed and then roasted directly afterward OR it can be steamed, cooled down, and then refrigerated until later in the day or even the following day. All that's left is to baste the pre-cooked head of cauliflower with olive oil, pop it into a hot oven... and let the magic begin. The transformation from pale, livid to gloriously golden, crispy brown is a beautiful sight to behold!
Pull out a pretty platter and you've got a delightful, delicious side that will bring lots of oohs and aahs!
I like to serve it with a knife and let guests slice wedges of whatever size they prefer.
Each piece is a little work of art!
This Rosemary Roasted Whole Cauliflower actually has a triple dose of fresh rosemary. I like to use chicken or vegetable broth to steam it with several sprigs of fresh rosemary to flavor the broth. After the cauliflower is steamed, it's brushed with a rosemary-infused olive oil which is made quickly and easily in the microwave. One last layer of fine flavor is added just before serving with a shower of finely chopped fresh rosemary.
Don't pass by that display of cauliflower next time you shop! Pick up one or more heads and give this Rosemary Roasted Cauliflower a go. I promise that if you think cauliflower is a little boring, this recipe will change your mind!
Café Tips for making this Rosemary Roasted Whole Cauliflower
- This recipe calls for a medium-large to large head of cauliflower. Whoever you serve it to will eat plenty so don't go too small. Scott wasn't home when I did the final testing of this recipe. It was so delicious, I'm a little embarrassed to say, that I ate half of a large head of cauliflower by myself!
- If you choose to go with a smaller head (or if that's all your grocery/market has) reduce the steaming time in accordance with the size.
- Unless you need to follow a low-sodium diet, don't be afraid to season this Rosemary Roasted Whole Cauliflower generously. Cauliflower has a fairly bland taste on its own. Salt enhances the flavors of the cauliflower, olive oil, rosemary, butter... everything!
- This Roasted Whole Cauliflower is a fabulous and impressive side for a holiday meal but it's also wonderful served with a simple lean protein for a healthy, everyday dinner.
- Every oven is a little different so watch the cauliflower carefully towards the end the first time you make it. Don't take it out of the oven before it's a beautiful golden brown. On the other hand, be careful not to burn it, especially after it's brushed near the end with melted butter.
- Don't care for rosemary? This Roasted Whole Cauliflower can also be made with fresh thyme. You might need to change the name though
Thought for the day:
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations, and ideas for variations.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 3-4 inch rosemary sprig
- 1 large cauliflower 2½-3 pounds before trimming (1134-1360g)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 3-4 inch sprigs fresh rosemary
- kosher salt
- rosemary oil from above
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- fresh ground black pepper optional
Place the olive oil in a small microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Cut the rosemary in half or thirds to that it will be submerged in the oil.
Place in the microwave and cook on high power for 1 minute. Swirl the oil in the cup then return to the microwave and cook for 1 more minute. Set the oil aside to steep with the rosemary while you’re steaming the cauliflower.
Place several thicknesses of paper toweling on a dinner plate. Set aside.
Trim the stem and any leaves from the bottom of the cauliflower.
Place the rosemary and broth in a large Dutch oven or pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the cauliflower and bring the broth to a boil.
Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the cauliflower to steam for 18-20 minutes or until the florets are softened when you insert a small sharp knife and no longer flat white in color.
Using a large spatula or 2 large spoons to carefully (it will be hot) remove the cauliflower from the pot over to the prepared plate. Allow the cauliflower to cool and drain for at least 10 minutes.
At this point, you can cool the cauliflower to room temperature and refrigerate it. About an hour before you’re planning to roast it, remove the cauliflower from the refrigerator to bring it up to room temperature, then proceed to the roasting.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a low pan (big enough for the cauliflower too and have a bit of space around it) with foil. I like to use a jelly roll pan.
Transfer the cauliflower to the prepared pan with the stem side up. Remove the rosemary from the oil and discard (it’s fine if a few rosemary leaves remain in the oil. Brush the underneath side of the cauliflower with some of the rosemary oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Carefully turn the cauliflower over so the stem side is now down. Use the remaining oil to brush the top and sides then sprinkle with kosher salt.
Roast for 30-35 minutes until medium golden brown.
Remove from the oven and brush with the melted butter. Return to the oven and roast for another 5-8 minutes until beautifully golden brown.
You can serve it immediately but the cauliflower will remain hot and steaming for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh rosemary and freshly ground black pepper (if desired) just before serving.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn't have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.