Keep it simple when it comes to roasting cauliflower in the air fryer. With just a little olive oil, salt and pepper, you'll have crispy cauliflower florets that are golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside in only 15 minutes! You can serve it as an easy side dish, incorporate it into a main dish or even just snack on it by itself. It's that good!
As a self-proclaimed cauliflower aficionado, I love experimenting with different ways to prepare it. Given its neutral flavor and natural ability to absorb spices and seasonings, the possibilities are literally endless - ranging from buffalo cauliflower wings to cauliflower steak Marbella.
Count on me to always have cauliflower on hand. I'm big on nutrition given my background in public health and cauliflower is high up on my list! It is a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium (source), plus it is full of dietary fiber and great for digestion and iron absorption.
Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable that it's no wonder it has become one of my favorite vegetables. It can be transformed in just so many ways.
But sometimes the simplest ways are also the best, and that's often how I feel about cooking cauliflower. Similar to how I season broccoli or asparagus, with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper, cauliflower becomes the perfect side dish for basically any meal.
And the beauty of this crispy air fryer cauliflower recipe is that it can be easily adapted to add additional spices (such as garlic powder, paprika or cumin to name a few) and is neutral enough to enjoy with any sauce. I love pairing these crispy florets with creamy cilantro lime sauce, hemp seed pesto, herb tahini sauce or even roasted garlic dip.
Using the Air Fryer
The air fryer is quickly becoming a go-to method as my new favorite way to speed up dinner prep. I cook with a lot of vegetables and while I love roasting veggies in the oven, I don't always have that kind of time. The same goes for cauliflower: oven-roasted cauliflower is absolutely delicious but those 30 minutes of cooking time sometimes just aren't doable on a busy weeknight.
The solution? The air fryer. Air frying cuts the roasting time in half! Add in the bonus of requiring less oil and it becomes a no-brainer when I am seeking crispy roasted cauliflower in a jiffy.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
- Quick and easy: done in 15 minutes.
- Minimal hands-on activity: just cut, season and let the air fryer do the rest!
- Basic ingredients: just olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Kid-Friendly: my kids devour this as an after-school snack.
- Easy to customize: add any spices you like to dress it up.
- Nutritious: makes for a great low-calorie, nutrient-dense and healthy vegetable side dish.
The ingredient list really is as simple as it gets. All you need is:
- Cauliflower - Choose a cauliflower head with compact creamy white florets and bright green firmly attached leaves. It should feel heavy for its size and shouldn't have any brown spots or loose sections that spread out.
- Extra virgin olive oil - Just a little oil (2 tbsp) is all you need to get these florets nice and crispy.
- Salt and black pepper - This recipe is keeping it classic with just these two basic seasonings. There are tons of other delicious ways to season them though and I've listed several variations below.
How to Cut Cauliflower
Going from a full cauliflower head to small florets is actually pretty simple and only requires a few steps. I'll break it down below, but you can watch me cut one step-by-step if that helps as I'm a more visual learner myself!
- Remove the green leaves from the bottom.
- With the core side down, halve and then quarter the head using a large knife.
- Slice the core off of each quarter.
- Use your hands to separate the cauliflower into florets. If any pieces are too big, use a knife to cut them in half.
How to Make Cauliflower in the Air Fryer
1. Cut the cauliflower into small, evenly sized florets. Small florets cook faster, but more importantly they crisp up much better for that oh-so-perfect crispy exterior.
2. Dry the florets thoroughly. Use a towel to pat them dry. This is important because too much moisture will produce soggy, mushy florets which we obviously do not want!
3. Toss florets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the florets into a large bowl and add the seasonings. Toss well so that all florets are fully coated.
4. Place the florets in the air fryer in one single layer. Be sure there are no overlapping florets as that would steam them and prevent that golden brown crispiness.
5. Air fry at 350˚F for 15 minutes. There is no need to toss or shake the basket halfway through.
6. Serve immediately while hot. Use tongs to remove from the basket as the cauliflower will be hot! Feel free to squeeze some fresh lemon juice overtop for a nice finish (optional).
What to Serve with Air Fryer Cauliflower
This cauliflower recipe is tremendously versatile because it can be served as a side or used as a component of main courses (or enjoyed simply as a snack!).
Think of this recipe as your favorite white shirt - goes with anything and never goes out of style. But sometimes you might want to dress it up a bit to keep things interesting, right? Feel free to add another layer or two with these variations:
Savory: Depending on what flavors you like, feel free to add between ¼ and ½ teaspoon of paprika, cumin, garlic powder, turmeric, or any combination of these for a tasty seasoning blend.
Herbs: Similar to the spices, sprinkle between ¼ and ½ teaspoon of herbs such as rosemary or thyme.
Maple roasted: Sweeten it up a tablespoon of maple syrup similar to this maple roasted cauliflower.
BBQ: Toss with maple sugar, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper to make an addictive BBQ seasoning.
Cheesy: Sprinkle an even layer of vegan parmesan cheese over the seasoned florets with about 3 minutes remaining on the air fryer to add a delicious parmesan coating.
Storage and Reheating
Store leftover cauliflower in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the air fryer (350˚ for about 3 minutes) for the best way to crisp them back up. Microwaving will certainly work as well but they'll soften a bit and won't be as crispy.
I do not recommend freezing this side dish, but if you decide to it can store for up to 3 months. To reheat from frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then warm in the air fryer for 3 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don't skip the oil altogether: While the air fryer method requires significantly less oil than roasting in the oven, I wouldn't eliminate it entirely. You need some oil to help crisp the cauliflower and give it flavor.
- Don't use frozen cauliflower: Frozen florets contain a lot more moisture and therefore can come out mushy and lack those crispy edges you are seeking.
More Simple Vegetable Side Dishes
- Sugar snap peas
- Brussels sprouts
- Kabocha squash
- Purple cabbage
- Sweet potatoes
I hope you enjoy this crispy cauliflower recipe as much as I do. Please leave a rating or comment below!Print
Keep it simple when it comes to roasting cauliflower in the air fryer. With just a little olive oil, salt and pepper, you'll have crispy cauliflower florets that are golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside in only 15 minutes! You can serve it as a side dish, incorporate it into a main dish or even just snack on it by itself. It's that good!
- 1 large head of cauliflower
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Serve with my vegan sour cream or herbed tahini sauce (recipe in the notes section below)
- Cut the cauliflower into small, evenly sized florets. Small florets cook faster, but more importantly they crisp up much better for that oh-so-perfect crunch.
- Dry the florets thoroughly. Use a towel to pat them dry. This is important because too much moisture will produce soggy, mushy florets which we obviously do not want!
- Toss florets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the florets into a mixing bowl and add the seasonings. Toss well so that all florets are fully coated.
- Place the florets in the air fryer in one single layer. Be sure there are no overlapping florets as that would steam them and prevent that golden brown crispiness.
- Air fry at 350˚F for 15 minutes. There is no need to toss or shake the basket halfway through.
- Serve immediately while hot. Feel free to squeeze some fresh lemon juice overtop for a nice finish (optional).
Herbed Tahini Sauce:
- ¼ cup runny tahini
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 large clove garlic
- ½ cup parsley
- ½ cup cilantro
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large juicy lemon, juiced
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 15
Keywords: air fryer cauliflower