How to Cut Cauliflower

If you’ve ever come home from the store with a head of cauliflower and didn’t know what to do next, this How to Cut Cauliflower guide is for you! There are a few tricks for how to cut up cauliflower correctly, but soon you’ll be chopping up cauliflower florets with ease!

A photo of cauliflower florets in a bowl with this text above it: How to Cut Cauliflower.

Cauliflower seems to be the one veggie that many of us like, even as children. I particularly liked eating it raw with lots of ranch dressing. Of course, these days, I serve it with vegan ranch dressing.

However, as an adult, things seemed a little different. My biggest problem? What to do with the head of cauliflower once I got it home from the store. Let’s just say I had one too many heads of cauliflower go bad while I wrestled with what exactly to do with it.

Am I the only one? Somehow, I don’t think so!

A head of cauliflower with green leaves intact sits on a white counter.
Cutting cauliflower is easy with these simple steps!

I finally decided to master the cauliflower. Imagine the scene from Julia and Julia with the burgeoning chef and a table full of onions. She chopped at onions until she mastered the skill.

That was me with cauliflowers! And now, as a result, I am confident in the kitchen and know exactly how to cut a head of cauliflower. I love transforming it into cauliflower florets in a matter of minutes.

Sure, you can buy bags of cauliflower florets, but they go bad quickly. Besides, I’m on a mission to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bags in my life. So, buying a head of cauliflower and cutting it myself is the way to go!

Is Cauliflower Healthy?

Cauliflower is one of the healthiest vegetables because it’s in the cruciferous family. Not only that, it’s a low carb vegetable with a fairly neutral flavor, especially when cooked. That makes cauliflower a favorite go-to vegetable for both health enthusiasts and even those who are not necessarily vegetable enthused.

Cauliflower offers vitamins and nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and more!

Choosing the Best Cauliflower Head

When picking whole cauliflower heads, choose one that is heavy, firm, and relatively compact. Of course, finding a head without any brown spots is optimal, however, small brown spots and blemishes are easy to remove using a paring knife.

Buying Cauliflower In Season

Thanks to modern farming and grocers, you can find cauliflower year-round in the produce section of most stores. However, if the farmer’s market is your jam, you’ll first notice cauliflower around June. But peak season for cauliflower runs from August through November.

I love the creative colors you can find in cauliflower heads. Of course, most of them are white, but you can look for purple and yellow cauliflower too!

Storing Cauliflower

If your cauliflower head comes in a bag, you can store it in the fridge in that bag for several days. Otherwise, use a paper towel or kitchen towel to blot any moisture around the cauliflower head. To store it, place the cauliflower in a ziplock back with a paper towel to help absorb any moisture.

A whole head of cauliflower, when stored properly, can keep in the fridge for 4–7 days. The sooner you use it the better! If your cauliflower develops brown spots, simply use a paring knife to shave them off.

Cut cauliflower florets may last up to 4 days in the fridge, but note that browning will occur more quickly with cut florets. If you can’t use them immediately you can freeze them for use in soups or stir fry recipes.

How to Cut Cauliflower into Florets

When contemplating how to cut up cauliflower into florets, I think it helps to understand the structure of the cauliflower. There’s one main stem leading through the center of most heads of cauliflower. That stem has a few main branches coming off of it, and from those stems arise the florets.

So, the steps for cutting up cauliflower go like this:

  • Wash it and remove any green stems. I like to cut the base of the cauliflower core too. Then cut the head in half — straight down the middle.
  • Then cut out the core (or main branch) on both halves.
  • Once you remove the core, the florets fall off. If not, you can easily break them apart with your fingers. From there you can cut them down into smaller pieces if you prefer or leave them as is.

Let’s go into a little more detail about preparing cauliflower florets.

Step One: How to Prepare Cauliflower

First, it’s a good idea to wash the cauliflower to remove any debris. Then remove the leaves that may be attached at the base.

Quick Fix Tip

Here’s a quick tip for how to clean cauliflower. You can wait until after the cauliflower is cut into florets and transfer them to a bowl of cool water. Let the florets sit for a few minutes and then rinse with a cool stream of water.

I like to cut the base of the cauliflower so I have a nice, sturdy foundation to rest it on. Because, next, you’ll want to place the cauliflower stem side down (hopefully that’s flat enough so it sits on its own), and use a knife and cut straight down the middle of the cauliflower.

A head of cauliflower has been chopped in half.
There’s only a few, simple steps for how to cut cauliflower florets.

Step Two: How to Core Cauliflower

Next, is the important step — coring cauliflower. Use a paring knife to cut out the core on both halves of the cauliflower. You’ll see that the florets fall off the cauliflower at this point. If they don’t, use your hands to gently press the florets so they break apart.

Cauliflower florets on a cutting board, along with the stems of the cauliflower.

Alternatively, you can cut each half of cauliflower in half to create quarters. That makes removing the core even easier to do.

I have also seen people cut the whole head of cauliflower by placing it stem side up. Then use a paring knife to cut down around the core. This basically cores the cauliflower. Once you remove the core, the florets fall off in big chunks.

Step Three: Trim up the Florets

When I first pondered how to chop cauliflower, I actually would dig into the cauliflower with a knife, extracting the florets at random. That was a lot of work and mess!

This process is much easier. And if you’re fine with larger florets, then you’re done. However, if you want smaller florets, use your paring knife to cut them down into smaller florets.

Voila! You’re done!

Can you eat cauliflower leaves and stems?

You can eat cauliflower leaves and stems, including the core. Always be sure to rinse them before eating. The core can fibrous, so I recommend cutting it into bite-size pieces and steaming it for use with other recipes, such as cauliflower soup or cauliflower gratin. The steamed core pieces blend it quite nicely with the florets of that gratin.

You can also use leaves and stem pieces in stir-fries or as part of vegan fried rice.

You can refrigerate leaves and cut stem and core pieces for 5–7 days. Or you can place them in a freezer bag and freeze them for up to 2 months.

Cauliflower Recipes

Here are some favorite cauliflower recipes for your freshly-chopped cauliflower!

A spoon rests in a casserole dish full of cauliflower gratin. A blue towel is behind it.

This Cauliflower Gratin is a wonderful side dish to serve with any of your favorite plant-based meals

Cauliflower Gratin
This Cauliflower Gratin is the perfect creamy, vegan side dish! You'll love how simple it is to make and just how delicious it is too!
Cauliflower Gratin Recipe
A spoon rests in a casserole dish full of cauliflower gratin. A blue towel is behind it.
A bowl of soup has croutons in it and drizzles of hot sauce.

Cauliflower soup is a healthy meal to serve any day of the week. Add roasted chickpeas for croutons to keep this a low-carb meal.

Vegan Cauliflower Soup
Enjoy this healthy vegan cauliflower soup as a side dish or even as the main dish. Serve with crusty bread and hot sauce.
Vegan Cauliflower Soup Recipe
Looking down on a bowl of soup with croutons on top with a blue napkin beside it.
A closeup of a bowl featuring vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, black olives, and cauliflower florets.

Small florets work best in this cauliflower salad. That combined with other healthy ingredients and a tasty lemon vinaigrette makes for a perfect healthy side dish.

Cauliflower Salad
This Cauliflower Salad is a great, low-carb recipe that you can serve as a healthy side dish any time of year!
Cauliflower Salad Recipe
A bowl of cauliflower salad with another bowl of salad behind it and dressing and parsley behind it as well.

Here’s even more vegan cauliflower recipes you’ll love!

A bowl of cauliflower florets.

I hope you love this recipe as we do. Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!

A head of cauliflower with green leaves intact sits on a white counter.

How to Cut Cauliflower

Use this recipe to cut a fresh head of cauliflower easily.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 4 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 24kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower

Instructions

  • Wash the cauliflower and pat it dry. Remove any green leaves around the core. Then use a knife to cut the bottom of the core so the cauliflower can sit flat.
  • Place the cauliflower on the cut core. It should sit flat. use a sharp knife to cut down the center of the cauliflower.
  • Use a paring knife to cut the core out of both halves of the cauliflower. Large florets should fall off the at this point.
  • Trim the florets into smaller pieces, based on your recipe or preferences for size.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Notes

Florets for Appetizers: It’s best to trim the large florets that fall off after cutting the core into smaller florets if you’re serving them raw as appetizers with a dip like Vegan Ranch.
Florets for Steaming. If you’re wanting to steam cauliflower, you can leave it in larger florets based on your preference.
Eating the Core. The core of the cauliflower is safe to eat and can be steamed along with the florets and added as ingredients to stir fries, etc.
Nutrition Facts
How to Cut Cauliflower
Amount Per Serving
Calories 24 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 29mg1%
Potassium 287mg8%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin C 46mg56%
Calcium 21mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Enjoy!

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