Air Fryer Cauliflower

Air Fryer Cauliflower

You don’t need to use the oven to get a roasted flavor and crispy browned edges for your cauliflower—the air fryer will do that, too, with a shorter cooking time. All you need are some simple seasonings and a small amount of olive oil add flavor and texture to the florets.

Cauliflower starts off with a strong, distinctive taste raw, but roasted it caramelizes into a mellow and highly versatile flavor. This recipe includes Italian seasonings, but feel free to adapt with different dried herbs and spices. Serve the cauliflower alongside any meat, sausage, poultry, or fish main dish.

Ingredients

  •  1 medium head raw cauliflower, about 1 1/2 pounds or 6 cups chopped

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, or olive oil spray

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed or minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb blend

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, optional

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the air fryer to 400 F.

    ingredients for air fryer cauliflower The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  2. Cut the cauliflower into equal-sized florets. Wash under cold running water and let it dry thoroughly. Transfer to a large bowl.

    bowl of cauliflower The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  3. Add the olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper to the cauliflower. Toss to coat evenly.

    seasoning the air fryer cauliflower The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  4. Place the seasoned cauliflower in the air fryer basket.

    cauliflower in the air fryer basket The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  5. Set the fryer to cook for 10 minutes. Shake the basket every 2 to 3 minutes so the florets cook evenly. Check for tenderness with a fork—larger pieces may take a little longer. If desired, add 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese to the cauliflower and continue cooking for 1 or 2 additional minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with more salt and pepper, if necessary.

    cauliflower in the air fryer basket The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  6. Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a serving bowl, then garnish with parsley and extra Parmesan cheese, if desired.

    air fryer cauliflower in a serving bowl The Spruce / Diana Rattray

How To Store and Freeze

  • Refrigerate leftover air fryer cauliflower in shallow, airtight containers for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze, transfer the roasted cauliflower to zip-close bags for up to 3 months.
  • To vacuum-seal, arrange the cauliflower on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Vacuum seal and freeze for up to 1 year or longer.

What To Serve With Air Fryer Cauliflower

  • Add the roasted cauliflower to a simple butter and herb pasta dish, spaghetti carbonara, or cacio e pepe.
  • Serve the cauliflower with ham, roasted pork, or Italian sausages.
  • Add air fryer cauliflower to a chicken dinner menu.
  • Serve with grilled or broiled steak or a roast beef.
  • Cauliflower is excellent with fish as well. Serve it with salmon, tuna, or mild white fish.

Should the Air Fryer Always Be Preheated?

  • While it isn't absolutely necessary to preheat the air fryer, doing so does benefit many foods. It's helpful for turning out a crispy outer crust for breaded foods and for searing meats.
  • For larger items like whole cuts of meat, frozen or raw foods, any foods you don't want crispy, and baked goods (doughnuts, cakes, pastries), it's usually best to avoid preheating.
  • Never place parchment paper in the basket while preheating—if the paper touches the heating element, it will burn. Wait until you're ready to add the food to the basket before lining it with parchment paper.

Recipe Variations

  • Change up the seasonings to suit your taste. Try coating with a paprika and cumin seeds, or your favorite curry powder, or a Cajun or a Creole seasoning blend, or toss with a few teaspoons of fresh herbs after cooking. You could replace the salt with a seasoning salt blend.
  • Drizzle the cauliflower with about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice just before serving.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes for a spicier flavor.
  • Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a baking pan and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place the cauliflower under the broiler and heat just until the cheese has melted.

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