22 Best Cauliflower Recipes for Low-Carb, Vegetarian Meals

Cauliflower has gotten a lot of love in recent years as a low-carb substitute in, well, nearly everything. It’s made its way into pizza crust, rice, mashed potatoes and even tater tots, but the humble vegetable is so much more than just a carb stand-in and deserves to be enjoyed in all of its natural glory.

When it comes to texture and flavor, the cruciferous vegetable has many sides. It can be crunchy or tender, nutty or sweet, and it’s loaded with nutrients, such as vitamins C and K and folate. It’s equally versatile in the ways it can be cooked and served. Cauliflower can be steamed and blended into sauces, cut thick and roasted as a showstopping entrée, deep-fried until crunchy as a party app, tucked into tacos, tossed in dressing for grain bowls — you get the idea. 

Cauliflower does also make a wonderful low-carb or plant-based substitute and you’ll find plenty of ideas for swapping it into classic recipes that typically call for grains or meat. It absorbs flavors wonderfully so don’t be afraid to go big when it comes to herbs and spices, or experiment with tossing it in sauces from your favorite cuisines. Just think of cauliflower as a culinary blank canvas.

Still not convinced that this cool weather vegetable needs to be added to your regular meal rotation? The 22 delicious cauliflower recipes below will give you plenty of reason to. Once you become a cauliflower convert, you’ll see why it’s truly an anytime, anywhere vegetable.

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Tahini

Courtesy Matt Armendariz

Roasting is one of the simplest, but most flavorful ways to prepare cauliflower. When cooked at a high temperature in the oven, the florets caramelize beautifully. They’re delicious on their own with a little salt and pepper, but this recipe takes things up a notch with a nutty lemon-tahini sauce. Pro tip: For the best char, don’t overcrowd the pan and make sure you use plenty of olive oil.

Whole-Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric and Dates

Priyanka Naik

This recipe makes cauliflower the main event and is perfect as a vegetarian centerpiece at your next dinner party. The whole head is first marinated overnight in a zingy mixture made with garlic, ginger, fennel, turmeric and chiles. It’s baked low and slow until fork-tender and served with a fluffy, spiced basmati pilaf.

General Tso's Cauliflower

Becca Jacobs

If you love the sweet, tart and savory flavors of General Tso’s chicken, you’ll love this vegetarian spin on the classic Chinese-American dish. The florets are coated in egg and cornstarch and fried until light and crispy, then tossed in a sticky, chile-spiked General Tso’s sauce. It’s so good that you won’t miss the chicken at all.

Cacio e Pepe Roasted Cauliflower

Courtesy Grace Elkus

The beauty of this cacio e pepe-inspired cauliflower is both its simplicity and versatility. Taking a note from the iconic Roman pasta, this recipe calls for adding butter, freshly ground black pepper and a generous heaping of pecorino Romano cheese to roasted cauliflower. The caramelized florets come out laced with crispy bits of cheese and a kick of heat from the pepper, ready to go atop grain bowls, fill tacos or be eaten straight from the pan.

Charred Cauliflower Soup

Courtesy Ed Harris

Broccoli, potato, butternut squash — we love a good vegetable soup and this vegan one does not disappoint. Cauliflower is cooked until tender and golden-brown in the pot and is flavored with thyme, onions and garlic. Coconut milk and vegan butter give it a nice, creamy texture.

Sheet-Pan Korean BBQ Cauliflower with Shiitakes, Bok Choy and Cashews

Casey Barber/Good Food Stories LLC

Sheet pan meals are the answer to “What’s for dinner?” on busy weeknights. This hearty, vegetable-packed recipe for Meatless Monday or any other night of the week when you’re craving a flavorful, easy meal. Korean barbecue sauce adds an umami-centric sweetness to a combination of cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms and bok choy, while raw cashews give every bite some crunch.

Ina Garten's Cauliflower Toasts

Nathan Congleton/TODAY

Ina Garten calls cauliflower an “underrated vegetable,” but she makes it the star of the show here. Roast small clusters of the vegetable until tender, then combine them with mascarpone, Gruyere, prosciutto and nutmeg. A quick trip under the broiler gets everything browned, bubbly and absolutely irresistible.

Shawarma Cauliflower with Green Tahini

Elena Heatherwick

The secret to giving cauliflower an intense shawarma-like char? Cranking your oven way up. Pile the pieces into a pita with the cabbage salad and vibrant green tahini sauce to make a tasty sandwich.

 Spice-Rubbed Cauliflower Steaks with Pistachio and Coriander Gremolata

Melissa Hom

These cauliflower steaks will make an impression with their many layers of flavor. The vegetables are first marinated overnight in a spice rub laced with red chiles and black peppercorns, then seared with onions and garlic, and finally plated with a tomato koshumbri and pistachio coriander gremolata.

Roasted Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with Black Buffalo Sauce

Elena Besser

Frying isn’t the only way to add texture to cauliflower. Toss roasted florets with toasted panko breadcrumbs for a crunch that’ll keep you coming back for more. Dip into the spicy buffalo sauce for a kick, or the tahini ranch dressing if you’re looking for something a bit more mellow.

Cauliflower 'Chicken'

Courtesy Sweet Potato Soul

With ample crunch and a kick of heat, this spicy fried cauliflower “chicken” has all the hallmarks of a great party appetizer. A double batter gives it a superior crunch, while spices like cayenne pepper and Old Bay, along with nutritional yeast and Dijon mustard, add big flavor.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Steamed cauliflower is blended into the sauce to up the veggie power of Siri Daly’s mac and cheese. With creaminess from whole milk and cheesy flavor from a mix of Monterey Jack and yellow cheddar, this casserole is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser with a bonus nutritional boost from the cauliflower.

Spiced Cauliflower Poppers


Forget popcorn chicken. Serve a plate of these spiced cauliflower poppers at your next gathering and watch them disappear in a flash. Breaded in almond meal — which makes them gluten free! — and tossed in warming spices, these bite-sized poppers come out of the oven crunchy and sizzling.

Vegan Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower


Enjoy the creamy goodness of mac and cheese without the dairy. Cauliflower florets and raw cashews not only make the sauce creamy, but also add vitamins and protein. Don’t skip the toasted breadcrumbs for a much-needed dose of crunch.

Charred Cauliflower with Garlicky Tahini and Lemon

Zach Pagano/TODAY

A good sauce can turn any veggie into the main attraction and this recipe features two distinctly delicious options. The lemon chimichurri is vibrant and fresh, while the garlicky tahini is earthy and nutty — both pair beautifully with the charred cauliflower florets.

Michael Symon's Sicilian Cauliflower

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Capers, anchovy, pine nuts… the Italian pantry all-stars are all here to lend a flavorsome hand in Michael Symon’s Sicilian cauliflower. With pops of brightness and saltiness from these ingredients, the roasted cauliflower dish is wonderful as a side to heavier entrees or as a vegetarian main course.

Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice

Nathan Congleton/TODAY

Blitzed cauliflower stands in for rice in this low-carb version of the takeout dish. Loaded with shrimp, carrots and peas cooked in a savory sauce, this versatile recipe is one you can easily customize to use up the odds and ends that inevitably remain after a week of cooking.

Kale and Cauliflower Fried Rice


This grain-free side dish doesn’t call for a ton of ingredients, but manages to squeeze out big flavor from everything it does use. Leeks are cooked down until golden and fragrant, then a teaspoon of curry powder is added for a warming heat. Best of all, it comes together in just 15 minutes.

Cauliflower Steaks with Lime Yogurt

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

When presented as thick “steaks,” cauliflower makes for a stunning main dish — even more so if you can find heads in an array of colors. Aarti Sequeira reaches into her pantry to make a flavorsome spice mix out of ground cumin, ground coriander and amchur (dried mango powder). She serves the roasted cauliflower with a cooling dollop of lime yogurt.

 Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

Tiara Chiaramonte / TODAY All Day

You don’t need a ton of ingredients to make this simple, creamy vegan fettuccine alfredo. A whole head of cauliflower — including leaves and all — adds a nutritious boost, while umami-rich vegan Parm and nutritional yeast give it the “cheesy” kick. Make sure to save some of the pasta water, which helps bring everything together.

Cauliflower 'Potato' Salad

Food Network

This spin on potato salad has everything you know and love about the summer classic — mayo, celery, fresh dill — minus the potatoes. But we promise you won’t miss the spuds at all when they’re swapped with tender, crunchy pieces of cauliflower.  

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY

Spicy, crunchy cauliflower buffalo bites are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, no matter if you serve them as a game-day snack, holiday party appetizer or everyday side dish. Even better, the from-scratch buffalo sauce can be made ahead of time so you don’t have to rush if you’re prepping for a big celebration.

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