For weeknight or company fare, baked cauliflower with cheese is a simple, delicious vegetable side dish with lots of crispy caramelized bits. Just 5-minute prep and 4 simple ingredients (plus salt and pepper).
You can even turn this simple side dish into a complete one-pan dinner.
Best part? The caramelized edges! They give almost a nutty flavor. The cauliflower is roasted with Parmesan cheese, garlic, and oil. One of the easiest veggie side dishes ever and so yummy.
Always a huge hit and, hands down, one of my favorite ways to serve cauliflower.
What to expect
- Cheesy but no sauce: This recipe does not have a creamy cheese sauce with a dozen ingredients like many other recipes for baked cauliflower with cheese. It still tastes very cheesy though.
- Easy 2-step process: I combine all the ingredients and roast everything together in one shot. Some recipes have you roasting the cauliflower in two parts – initially without the cheese, then with it.
- Time savers: I cut the florets fairly small (they take less time this way) and bake them in a hot oven to get more caramelized crispy edges. Plus the prep is only 5 minutes with just a few ingredients as we are not making a sauce.
Not a cauliflower fan? Then check out our recipe on how to roast zucchini which uses a similar preparation.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Cauliflower: Use a regular head of fresh cauliflower or the looser-packed baby cauliflower. If you’re not a cauliflower fan, you can use brussels sprouts. Cut them in half (except for small ones), shed the outer leaves, then toss with the cheese mixture and roast.
Spices: In addition to the garlic, salt and pepper, feel free to add some heat with red pepper flakes. Or extra seasonings like dried thyme or Italian seasoning.
Garnish: It’s great as is, but you can jazz it up after roasting with lemon zest, fresh herbs (thyme, chives, parsley and/or basil), extra Parmesan cheese, or a drizzle of 5-minute basil pesto, red pepper sauce or chili crisps (for heat-lovers).
Vegan variation: Make the cauliflower dish with vegan Parmesan cheese.
Mix together oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
Cut cauliflower into florets, then break them into smaller bite-size pieces. Toss with the parmesan mixture.
Lay coated cauliflower in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until edges are brown, turning once or twice.
Garnish with chopped parsley if you like and serve immediately.
Cut the cauliflower florets fairly small to get more browned edges. But not too small or they will dry out before they get nicely caramelized.
Resist the urge to cut back on the oil – it makes a difference.
Make a one-pan dinner
To make a full main meal in one pan with the parmesan roasted cauliflower recipe, try combining the cauliflower with one of our roasted salmon recipes cooked at the same temperature.
Using a large rimmed baking sheet, give the cauliflower a 15-20 minute head start in the oven. Then add the salmon to the pan in the last 10-12 minutes to complete your meal.
- Buy cauliflower florets that have been pre-cut from a whole cauliflower.
- Substitute fresh garlic with minced garlic in a jar, tube, or frozen garlic cubes. Or, use 1/4 tsp garlic powder.
- Use pre-grated Parmesan cheese.
- Smaller florets will reduce the cooking time.
- Make the whole dish and warm it before serving in the oven or
- Under cook the cauliflower then complete the roasting just before serving.
- Store leftovers for up to 2-3 days in an airtight container.
What to serve with baked cauliflower
Although cauliflower doesn’t need to be refrigerated if you’re planning to use it within a day or two, it will last longer in the fridge (4-7 days) in an open bag.
Yes. The mayo clinic calls cauliflower a nutrition superstar. It’s an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, high in vitamin C and fiber. And low carb, low calorie, low cholesterol and fat-free.
To make the cauliflower dish vegan-friendly, replace the cheese with vegan-friendly alternatives such as vegan cheese or nutritional yeast.
Fresh parmesan cheese that you have to grate or shave has a much stronger flavor and aroma than the pre-grated forms. You can grate your own fresh parmesan to have it at the ready if you store it in a sealed container in the fridge for no longer than 2-3 weeks according to Cooks Illustrated.
More cauliflower recipes
- Roasted baby cauliflower
- Whole roasted cauliflower with grape relish
- Grilled cauliflower
- Roasted cauliflower with orange-balsamic drizzle
- Lemon herb cauliflower rice stir fry
- Cauliflower rice recipe with pesto
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Baked Cauliflower with Cheese and Brown Crispy Edges
- 1 medium whole head of cauliflower, Note 1
- 1/4 cup good olive oil (see tips on best oils for cooking)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1.5 ounces) use more if you like
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or more to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, extra Parmesan, lemon zest or pesto
- HEAT OVEN to 425F/218C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper of aluminum foil, sprayed with oil (for easy clean up)
- CUT CAULIFLOWER: Remove leaves, core and larger stems. Cut cauliflower into bite-size pieces, If you cut them a bit smaller, they will cook faster, but don't cut them too small or they will dry out before they get nicely caramelized. Rinse florets in a colander under cool water. Pat dry with paper or cloth towel. Set aside.
- SEASON WITH CHEESE MIXTURE: In a large bowl, mix together oil, Parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper. Add florets and toss to coat evenly.
- ROAST AND SERVE: Lay cauliflower florets in a single layer on on pan. Spread them out in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes (depending on size of florets), flipping them once or twice until golden brown and caramelized. Transfer to serving bowl. Garnish as you like with parsley, extra Parmesan, etc.
- Cauliflower alternatives: Instead of a regular cauliflower head, try the looser packed baby cauliflower (fioretto). If you’re not a cauliflower fan, try brussels sprouts. Cut them in half (except for small ones), shed the outer leaves, then toss with the cheese mixture and roast.
- Flavor add-ins: Add some heat with red pepper flakes. Or feel free to add extra flavor to the cheese mixture with dried thyme or Italian seasoning.
- Buy cauliflower florets that have been pre-cut
- Substitute fresh garlic with minced garlic in a jar or frozen garlic cubes. Or, use 1/4 tsp garlic powder.
- Use pre-grated Parmesan cheese.
- Make ahead:
- Make the whole dish and warm it in a 350F oven for 5-6 minutes;
- Or under-roast the cauliflower by 10 minutes, then finish roasting for the last 10 minutes before serving.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days.