How to Make Craveable Crispy Cauliflower

Updated: Apr. 20, 2024

Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, our crispy cauliflower recipe will delight vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Crispy foods have been all the rage recently. Crispy chickpeas, crispy rice, crispy potatoes…you name it, there’s a crispy recipe for it! Cauliflower is next up on the docket—and even if you’re not normally a cauli-lover, we think you just might become one when it’s prepared this way. Each floret is tender as you bite into it, while the edges stay nice and crispy and golden brown. What’s not to love? Here’s how to make crispy cauliflower that provides that satisfying crunch with every bite.

How to Prep the Cauliflower

If you don’t have a game plan, cutting cauliflower can easily become a mess. Cutting straight down into a head can cause it to crumble everywhere, causing tiny cauliflowerets to roll off the counter—and soon, you’re forced to add vacuuming to your to-do list that day.

However, prepping this cruciferous veg doesn’t have to be a pain if you know how to cut cauliflower properly, as learned from Ina Garten: First, turn the head of cauliflower upside down and cut out the core. Next, pull off the big florets from the head and separate them into smaller cauliflowerets. Finally, cut through the remaining stems to make bite-sized pieces. Simple as that! No vacuuming required.

Crispy Cauliflower Recipe

Our Taste of Home Test Kitchen developed this recipe that serves 6, with each person getting about a cup of crispy cauliflower to enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets (about 6 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Step 1: Prep your pans

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line two 15x10x1-in. baking sheets with parchment. Grease the parchment.

Step 2: Season the cauliflower

Place the cauliflowerets in a large bowl. Add the oil and seasonings and toss to coat.

Step 3: Coat the florets

In a shallow bowl, mix panko bread crumbs and Parmesan. Dip the florets into the crumb mixture to coat, patting to help it adhere.

Step 4: Bake the cauliflower

Place the coated cauliflower on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through baking to promote even cooking.

How to Serve Crispy Cauliflower

Crispy Cauliflower on a baking sheet with a spatula; some crispy cauliflower pieces are on a plate nearbyTMB Studio

Crispy cauliflower is versatile. It can be an appetizer or side, or even dressed up to be a main dish.

If you want to make your crispy cauliflower the main event, serve it up in soft tortillas with a little slaw, cubed avocado and drizzle ranch and buffalo sauce on top to make crispy cauliflower buffalo tacos. You could also serve crispy cauliflower in a bun for a hearty vegetarian sandwich.

Crispy cauliflower would also make a great topper for bowl recipes such as a bulgur bowl or a wild rice bowl. It would also work as a textural add-in for your favorite healthy salad recipe such as a Cranberry Orange Couscous Salad, Chicken and Brussels Sprouts Salad or Warm Squash and Quinoa Salad.

Crispy cauliflower makes a great vessel for a variety of sauces as well: spicy sriracha aioli, General Tso’s sauce, buffalo or ranch. Any one of these chicken wing sauce recipes would do the trick, too.

Tips for Making Crispy Cauliflower

How can you make crispy cauliflower your own?

  • Zhush up the spice blend you coat the cauliflower in! Our recipe calls for cayenne, salt and pepper, but you could add anything from chili powder and garlic powder to cardamom and paprika.
  • Make the crispy cauliflower in the air fryer instead of the oven with our guide to converting oven recipes to the air fryer.
  • Try our breaded cauliflower recipe if you want a thicker, more even coating.

How long will leftover cauliflower last?

Since you want the cauliflower to stay crispy, you’ll want to eat it fresh. The more time passes, the more the cauliflower will lose its crispy edges. If you do have leftovers, eat them within 1 to 2 days and reheat in the oven again or in the air fryer, but not the microwave.

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