by Olena

How to Cut Cauliflower

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Olena Osipov
5 from 1 vote

Learning How to Cut Cauliflower into florets is an easy way to avoid the awkward, messy, and nonuniform sizes, most of us are used to! Once you know the tips and tricks to cut cauliflower the easy way you’ll be looking for reasons to use it! Whether roasting it, boiling, grating, grilling, or mashing, this easy 4 step tutorial guide on how to cut a head of cauliflower, is what you’ve been waiting for!

As home cooks with busy lives and families, we can never have too many life hacks that make things a little easier and more convenient in the kitchen. I love learning about things as simple as how to cook dried beans to things a little more exciting as how to make kombucha fizzy! There is always a need for tips and tricks so I am happy to share them all with you!

How to Cut Cauliflower on a cutting board with knife

Why This How to Cut Cauliflower Method Works?

I feel like I have been cutting cauliflower wrong all my life. I would remove green leaves and then cut off each floret separately with a paring knife. If you’ve found yourself doing something just as awkward and thought to yourself there has to be an easier way, well, there is!

Learning how to cut a head of cauliflower is a game-changer when it comes to food prep. There are so many ways to enjoy it whether it’s steamed, mashed, roasted, boiled, or grilled and lately, it’s even being used as a substitute for rice! More often than not you’ll need to cut it into florets and that’s where this time-saving method of properly cutting the cauliflower into florets comes in handy.

You can buy chopped cauliflower which saves time but costs more and is not always available organic. Trust me, there is a difference in taste. I couldn’t believe how drastic it was. So, whenever I can, I buy organic or from a local farmer’s market.

This step-by-step guide will show you an easy way to cut cauliflower that will save you so much hassle. Then, use your cauliflower florets as a side dish, as part of a dish, or freeze them for later!

a bag with cauliflower florets and a head of organic cauliflower

Tips for Best Results When Cutting Cauliflower into Florets

  • Sharp knife. Carefully using a sharp knife will make a huge difference. If you’ve ever tried to use a dull knife, you know it gets you nowhere fast.
  • Size of knife. You’ll want to use a chef’s knife or cleaver initially just to cut the entire cauliflower head in half. Then switch to a paring knife for easy handling of the smaller cuts.
  • Slow and steady. The most important part about knowing how to cut a head of cauliflower is taking your time. Make sure to use a flat clean surface, and hold the cauliflower steady with one hand while cutting with the other.

How to Buy the Perfect Cauliflower

Luckily, by the very nature of the bright white cauliflower, it’s easy at first glance to notice any imperfections. It will be white without any brown or yellow spots and when pressed it will be firm to the touch. If you see a few spots or slight softening it means it’s on its way out. This doesn’t mean you need to throw it away, but it does mean you need to it sooner rather than later (much sooner). Cut around the spots if it is just a few here and there.

Head of Cauliflower vs. Prepackaged Cauliflower Florets

Taking a shortcut by using prepackaged florets is convenient so I can definitely see the appeal. However, whenever possible, I will always buy a whole head and cut it myself. Buying organic veggies will usually come with extra packaging because it needs to avoid cross-contamination to keep its organic status. Buying prepackaged veggies can come with even more packaging which can add up. Overall, the nutritional value of either choice is pretty much on par, as long as you find your prepackaged veggies in the fridge section. You want to be careful with reading the labels when buying non-organic because sometimes pre-washed veggies have been washed in a chlorine solution which is not something I recommend. There is also a greater chance of the cauliflower going to waste if you don’t use it soon enough. A whole head will last longer in the fridge than pre-cut cauliflower will.

Tools You Will Need to Cut Cauliflower Into Florets

There are no fancy gadgets you need for this. Just grab a pair of sharp knives and a non-slip cutting board and you’re on your way.

  • Chef’s knife – This is the largest knife in your knife set. It’s large enough to cut through the head of a cauliflower with a clean slice.
  • Paring knife – Typically one of the smaller knifes in your set. It will allow for easy handling when cutting into smaller florets.
  • Cutting board – A clean, sturdy, wooden cutting board is best. Make sure it’s large enough to hold sturdy and make room for all of the action.

How to Cut and Core a Head of Cauliflower

  1. Remove green leaves with a paring knife.
  2. Rinse cauliflower under cold water.
  3. Cut cauliflower head into 4 quarters, starting at the base and slicing through the core with a utility or chef’s knife.
  4. Lay each quarter on a cutting board, angle your knife and cut florets from the stem.

That’s it! All you have left to do is separate florets by hand.

Variations for Cutting Cauliflower

  • Steaks: Cauliflower steaks are great for grilling and roasting. They’re thick-cut rounds of whole heads of cauliflower. Unlike florets, these pieces are cut into steak size pieces, which means they won’t fall through the grill. To cut, simply remove the leaves, cut the cauliflower in half and leave the core right where it is. From there, you cut 1″ pieces lengthwise.
  • Bite-size: Larger florets are great for things like raw veggie platters, stir-fries, grilling, roasting, or boiling, but sometimes we want them even smaller. To get bite-size pieces, once you have your cauliflower florets, you can either spend the time breaking off the tiny pieces from each floret or use a paring knife to cut them up into small bits.
  • Rice: Cauliflower rice has become increasingly popular for good reason (you can even find it frozen!). It’s a great grain-free, low-carb replacement for rice in all kinds of dishes like Mexican cauliflower rice and even risotto! It’s also amazing as a pizza crust.

FAQs

What is a floret cut for cauliflower?

Much like the way you would see broccoli cut, the “little trees” are called florets. They’re the part of the cauliflower that branches off from the core.

How can I cut cauliflower without making a mess?

By following this guide, that’s how! Using the method of cutting out the core first, rather than cutting right through the top is the best way to avoid all of the flying pieces. Once you have cut out the core, you’ll have easier access to cut clean florets using your paring knife.

Should I wash cauliflower before cutting?

You should always wash your veggies before consuming them, however, it’s not necessary to wash them before cutting. You can cut the florets first and add them to a colander to rinse. Otherwise, yes, you can wash the whole head before you begin cutting.

Why is cauliflower good for you?

This is a vegetable (like all veggies) that comes with a ton of nutritional benefits. It’s high fibre and loaded with antioxidants, folate, and Vitamins B, C, and K. It’s a gluten-free, low-carb alternative to things like pizza crust (or breadsticks) and rice dishes, which not only serves a delicious purpose, it also means you’re increasing your intake of vegetables overall.

What if I find a worm in my cauliflower?

This is not an uncommon occurrence with cruciferous vegetables that are grown close to the ground or in organic produce that uses less pesticides. Some would say it’s inevitable! As for what to do when or if you find one, that choice is yours. Use your best judgment and decide what is best for you and your family. Some might choose to toss the worm, wash the cauliflower, and move on. Others might decide not to consume it.

Can I eat the cauliflower core and leaves?

Yes, definitely. Especially if it is organic cauliflower, but even with conventional cauliflower nothing goes to waste. Lots of vitamins and nutrients in the entire head of cauliflower.
Chop the core (stem) and incorporate it with the recipe you are using florets in. You can also do this with broccoli, FYI. It gives it a lovely crispy tender texture. Wash green leaves well, chop and add them to stir fries and soups along with cut up cauliflower core.

Cauliflower Serving Recommendations

This delicious vegetable has so many uses! From enjoying raw with your favorite dips, to serving it as a side dish, to incorporating it in a wholesome recipe. You’ll never run out of reasons to need to know how to cut a head of cauliflower!

Alternately, browse through all our recipes that contain cauliflower to see how versatile this veg really is!

How to Store Your Chopped Cauliflower

  • Pat dry the florets with linen towel before storing. You want to get rid of as much moisture as possible, otherwise they will get soggy, and possibly moldy, quickly.
  • Dried and cut up cauliflower will stay fresh in refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • Store in a bowl covered with a beeswax wrap, linen towel or plastic wrap with an opening. You want some air to circulate to avoid mold growth.
  • If you see any brown spots, shave them off with Microplane grater or cut off with paring knife.
  • Freeze cauliflower in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months. Rinse and re-use the bag.

More Easy Kitchen How To’s

a head of cauliflower and a knife on a cutting board
How to Cut Cauliflower

How to Cut Cauliflower {4 Easy Steps!}

Learning How to Cut Cauliflower into florets is an easy way to avoid the awkward, messy, and nonuniform sizes, most of us are used to! Once you know the tips and tricks to cut cauliflower the easy way you'll be looking for reasons to use it! Whether roasting it, boiling, grating, grilling, or mashing, this easy 4 step tutorial guide on how to cut a head of cauliflower, is what you've been waiting for!
5 from 1 vote
Print Save Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 cups
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 1 medium 2-3 lbs head of cauliflower

Instructions

  • Remove green leaves with a paring knife.
    How to Cut Cauliflower
  • Rinse cauliflower under cold water.
    How to Cut Cauliflower
  • Cut cauliflower head into 4 quarters, starting at the base and slicing through the core with a utility or chef’s knife.
    How to Cut Cauliflower
  • Lay each quarter on a cutting board, angle your knife and cut florets from the stem.
    How to Cut Cauliflower
  • That’s it! All you have left to do is separate florets by hand.
    How to Cut Cauliflower

Store: Pat dry florets with linen towel and refrigerate in a bowl covered with a beeswax wrap, linen towel or plastic wrap with an opening for up to 7 days. You want some air to circulate to avoid mold growth.

    Freeze cauliflower in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months. Rinse and re-use the bag.

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      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

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