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Baked Cauliflower With Cheese and Brown Crispy Edges

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 ingredients (plus salt and pepper).

You can even turn this simple side dish into a complete one pan dinner. 

roasted parmesan cauliflower in blue bowl

Best part? The caramelized edges! The cauliflower is roasted with Parmesan cheese, garlic and oil. One of the easiest veggie side dishes ever and so yummy. Always a huge it.

How is this recipe different? 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. I cut the florets fairly small and bake them in a hot oven to get more caramelized crispy edges.

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 head, oil, grated parmesan, minced garlic, salt, pepper.

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.

Spice it up: Add some heat with red pepper flakes. Or feel free to add extra flavor to the cheese mixture with 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 pesto.

Step by step instructions

parmesan garlic oil mixture in mixing bowl

Mix together oil, garlic, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese in a bowl.

cauliflower florets coated in parmesan mixture in bowl

Cut cauliflower into florets, then break them into smaller pieces Toss with the cheese mixture.

Lay coated cauliflower in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast until edges are brown, turning once or twice.

roasted cauliflower piled on a plate

Garnish with chopped parsley if you like and serve immediately.

Tip

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.

Turn the parmesan roasted cauliflower into a one-pan dinner

To make a full main meal in one pan, 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.

Here are a few suggestions for salmon recipes that will pair really well: Pecan-Crusted Salmon, Maple Glazed Salmon, Sweet and Spicy Salmon, and Salmon Stuffed With Lemon Ricotta.

Shortcuts

  • Buy cauliflower florets that have been pre-cut from a whole cauliflower.
  • 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.
  • Smaller florets will reduce the cooking time.

Make Ahead

  • 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 leftover for up to 2-3 days in an airtight container.

What to serve it with

Besides salmon, try serving the baked cauliflower with balsamic glazed chicken, sous vide pork roast, grilled steak or healthy baked broccoli burgers.

Other cauliflower recipes

roasted cauliflower piled on a plate

If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks!

roasted parmesan cauliflower in blue bowl
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4.83 from 29 votes

Baked Cauliflower with Cheese and Brown Crispy Edges

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 ingredients (plus salt and pepper).
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 (or 3 larger servings)
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 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

Optional garnish

  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, extra Parmesan, lemon zest or pesto

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Shortcuts
    • 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.
  4. 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. 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 462mg | Potassium: 440mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 72IU | Vitamin C: 70mg | Calcium: 127mg | Iron: 1mg
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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Recipe is fairly easy but the way it’s written could be tedious if you are cooking a lot of cauliflower. I didn’t use a whole cup of butter, just mixed in some oil with about 6 tbs of butter. Sautéd the garlic and took the larger pieces to dip into both mixtures. When it got to the smaller pieces, I put them in a bowl and just mixed all ingredients together before placing the rest on the tray. I used more garlic than was listed.

    Came out very tasty

    1. Glad you found the recipe tasty. Thanks for leaving a comment. I was a little confused about the butter as the recipe doesn’t call for any (let alone a cup) but a combination of butter and oil I’m sure would be great. I tried to keep the recipe simple by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl, tossing them in a pan and roasting. But I love when readers take a recipe and tweak it to make it their own.