Sauteing cauliflower takes ordinary vegetable, by some standards, and turns it into a rich nutty side dish that the whole family will love.
Cauliflower is a nice crunchy vegetable that has nutty undertones but can be a bit bitter raw. This is why sauteing it with just olive oil and salt can tame that bitterness and enhance the nutty taste all in just a few minutes of cook time.
We are big fans of cauliflower around these parts. That is why we have created detailed articles on cauliflower taste and how to cut cauliflower. Cauliflower rice is a fantastic substitute for rice and cauliflower mash is a wonderful substitute for mashed potatoes. So of course, we have to always pay tribute to how to saute cauliflower as well.
You can add so many delicious herbs and spices to sauteed cauliflower but don’t be shy about just keeping the dish simple. In this recipe, we will cover how to saute cauliflower with simply olive oil and salt. However, we are also going to give you some additional suggestions on adding even more flavor.
Can you prepare sauteed cauliflower in advance?
You can prepare sauteed cauliflower in advance but we believe it is much better served fresh.
If you are looking for a way to speed up the cooking process because you have a dinner party or you are just planning ahead, we do have a tip that will help. We recommend that you do the preparation work in advance and save the cooking for right before serving.
Go ahead and wash and dry your cauliflower. Then cut the florets from the stalks into small bite-sized pieces. You can cut the large florets with a knife and then use your hands to break them into smaller pieces.
Then place the florets in an airtight container and place it in the fridge. The cauliflower should last up to days in the fridge
How to reheat sauteed cauliflower
You can reheat sauteed cauliflower the next day. Our favorite method is to put a skillet over medium-low temperature and heat it up. While the skillet is heating up, set the cauliflower out on the counter so that it can start coming to room temperature.
Add one teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet and the cauliflower. Stir it constantly until the cauliflower is warmed through and through.
You can also reheat sauteed cauliflower in the microwave but the results won’t be quite as tasty.
Ingredients needed to saute cauliflower
A bonus that makes sauteing cauliflower so easy is that you really only need three ingredients. For a tasty yet simple dish, you only need cauliflower, olive oil, and salt.
While you only need three ingredients that doesn’t mean that you have to stop there. Feel free to spice it up with other herbs, spices, and even other vegetables.
Cauliflower - In order to saute cauliflower you will want to cut it into evenly sized floret pieces. We recommend that you cut it from the stalk and then cut the florets into bite-sized pieces. We have expanded tips on how to cut cauliflower for you here.
Olive oil - We prefer to saute the cauliflower in olive oil over butter because it handles heat for an extended amount of time better. Feel free to experiment with coconut oil or grapeseed oil as well. If you want that rich buttery flavor, feel free to add a pat of butter during the last two minutes of the cooking process.
Salt - Salt is technically optional in this recipe but we highly recommend it. Salt enhances the flavor and compliments the nutty flavor of the cauliflower perfectly.
Optional ingredients for sauteed cauliflower
Herbs and spices - Consider adding herbs and spices to your cauliflower as you saute it.
For example, consider adding capers and chives to the sauteed cauliflower for a unique flavor profile. The options here are truly endless. Consider using just one of the suggestions below or mix and match to try out different varieties.
- Maple syrup
- Lemon slices
What kind of pan is best for sauteing cauliflower
We prefer to saute the cauliflower in a large non-stick skillet with sloping sides. The sloping sides make it easier for flipping and stirring the cauliflower as it cooks. Our favorite skillet these days is the Le Creuset large frying pan.
You can saute in a cast-iron skillet and that does add a nice flavor but it requires a bit more olive oil and you will want to pay closer attention as to not burn the florets.
How to saute cauliflower
This is an overview of how to saute cauliflower with a few additional tips. Below you will see the detailed instructions that include temperature and measurements.
Step 1: Wash the cauliflower in a colander. Cut the cauliflower florets from the stalk. Then use your knife and cut it into smaller pieces or use your hands and break the florets into smaller pieces.
Try and make the floret pieces bite-size and close to the same size. They will cook more evenly if they are closer to the same size.
Step 2: Heat up a large non-stick pan. The cauliflower will turn out much better if the pan is hot when you add the oil and cauliflower.
Step 3: Once the pan is hot add the olive oil, salt, and cauliflower to the pan. Spread the florets out in the pan so that they are not stacked on top of one another.
If there isn’t enough room in the pan to keep them from stacking, saute the cauliflower in batches. If they are stacked they will steam instead of sauteing and you will not wind up with those perfectly charred edges that we all love.
Step 4: Allow the florets to cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes.
Step 5: Stir the cauliflower and continue to cook it for another 5 minutes. Stir the florets every minute. Cook until the florets are browned all over and starting to char on the edges.
Note that cook time varies based upon the size of the florets and the pan and temperature.
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 3 T olive oil
- Prep the cauliflower by washing it and cutting the florets from the stalk. Then cut the florets into bite-sized pieces.
- Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the cauliflower, olive oil, and salt to the hot pan. Stir the florets to fully coat them in the olive oil.
- Spread the cauliflower florets out so they have plenty of room in the pan. (If need be to create space, work in batches.)
- Cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes or until they start to brown slightly.
- Stir the cauliflower and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the florets are browned and starting to char on the edges.
- Serve immediately.