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This spicy Grilled Cauliflower recipe blows all other cauliflower side dishes out of the water! The florets are tossed with smoky-spicy seasonings, then grilled to tender and lightly charred perfection. It’s an exciting and flavor-packed side dish that pairs well with any meal!
Cauliflower is a magical vegetable that can easily be transformed into dishes that look nothing like vegetables, like pizza crust and meatballs. But it’s just as good when cooked in its true form! Whether roasted, grilled, or air fried, the cooked florets deepen in flavor, quickly becoming buttery, tender, nutty, and slightly sweet.
This Grilled Cauliflower recipe showcases the best that this flexible vegetable has to offer. The ordinary, yet delicious cauliflower florets are tossed in olive oil and a smoky-spicy seasoning blend for maximum flavor. They’re then cooked on a hot grill until the inside is nice and tender while the outside is lightly charred and crisp.
And just like grilled zucchini and grilled potatoes, grilled cauliflower is a must-have side dish during spring and summer! The deeply flavored spicy and smoky florets pair perfectly with grilled meat, pasta salad, and other barbecue favorites. Or make it year-round and use the florets as a topping on salad and grain bowls. Yum!
- It’s a quick 25-minute side dish that’s a must-have for grilling season.
- Olive oil and a rich and smoky spice blend infuse every floret with irresistible flavors!
- The best side dish to pair with all of your favorite proteins, from grilled chicken to crispy baked tofu.
Cauliflower - Either chop a medium head of cauliflower into florets or save time by using pre-chopped cauliflower florets.
Dry spices - A warm and smoky blend of garlic powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne give the cauliflower big and bold flavors. If you don’t like spicy food, omit the cayenne.
Olive oil - The oil helps tenderize the cauliflower florets and encourages browning, giving you cauliflower that not only tastes great but looks irresistible, too!
Step 1: Make the seasoning blend. Whisk the oil and seasonings together in a medium bowl.
Step 2: Season the cauliflower. Add the cauliflower florets to the bowl with the seasonings and toss to coat.
Step 3: Grill. Pour the seasoned cauliflower into a grill basket and grill until it’s fork tender. Enjoy!
Tips and FAQs
- The cauliflower needs to be grilled in a grill pan or basket to prevent the florets from falling through the grates. If you don’t have a grill pan/basket, use aluminum foil instead.
- Don’t like spicy food? Omit the cayenne from the spice blend.
- Make a double batch of the olive oil-spice mixture and brush it onto the cauliflower florets as they grill for an even deeper, spicier flavor.
- If you don’t have an outdoor grill, roast the cauliflower or cook the florets on a grill pan or cast iron skillet instead.
- Make cauliflower steaks instead! Brush the olive oil-seasoning paste over the “steaks” and grill until they’re nice and tender.
Don’t overcook the cauliflower! It should be slightly firm and tender, and somewhat soft on the inside by the time it’s done grilling.
More ways to season cauliflower
- Keep it simple with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add a pinch of garlic powder for a savory flavor.
- Use a store-bought or homemade taco seasoning or Cajun seasoning blend.
- Use a blend of garlic powder and dried Italian herbs for irresistible Italian-inspired cauliflower.
- Finish the grilled cauliflower by tossing the florets in buffalo sauce or barbecue sauce.
- Garnish the grilled cauliflower with fresh cilantro, crushed nuts or seeds, grated parmesan cheese, or crumbled cotija cheese.
Do you need to soak cauliflower before grilling?
No need. The heat from the grill perfectly tenderizes the florets without having to soak or blanch them ahead of time.
How long does cauliflower take to grill?
The time it takes to grill cauliflower florets will depend on the size and amount of florets you’re using. For this recipe, bite-sized florets cut from a medium head of cauliflower will take between 15 to 20 minutes to grill.
Does this recipe work with frozen cauliflower?
I prefer fresh cauliflower for grilling over frozen. After it thaws, frozen cauliflower becomes quite soggy. You’ll likely miss out on the tender crunch and light crispy texture when you grill frozen cauliflower.
How do you serve grilled cauliflower?
The serving options are practically endless! The simplest way to serve grilled cauliflower florets is as a side dish with your favorite proteins, like grilled tempeh, BBQ chicken sliders, steak bites, or buffalo chickpea burgers.
The cauliflower is also tender and spicy enough to use as a filling in vegan or vegetarian tacos or as a topping on salad or grain bowls.
To jazz up the cauliflower, serve a dipping sauce on the side. You can cool down the heat with ranch dressing or lemon yogurt sauce, or add an herbaceous element with zhoug sauce, chimichurri, or almond pesto.
Refrigerator: Store the leftover cauliflower in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat: Gently reheat the florets in a skillet over medium heat or a 350ºF oven until they’re warmed through and lightly crisp again.
More easy cauliflower recipes
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- Whisk the oil, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne together in a medium bowl.
- Add the cauliflower florets to that bowl and toss to combine so that the cauliflower is coated in the seasoning mixture.
- Heat the grill over medium-high heat, then place a grill basket on top (either 1 large one or 2 smaller ones). Pour the cauliflower into the basket(s), then grill for 15-20 minutes, tossing every few minutes until the cauliflower is cooked and can easily be pierced with a fork. Enjoy!