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!

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:

  1. Wash it and remove any green stems.
  2. Cut the base of the cauliflower core to create a level foundation.
  3. Cut the head in half — straight down the middle.
  4. Then cut out the core (or main branch) on both halves.
  5. Once you remove the core, the florets fall off. If not, you can easily break them apart with your fingers.
  6. Cut larger florets down into smaller pieces.

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.

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!

How to Keep Cauliflower From Turning Brown

The best way to keep cauliflower from turning brown is to keep the head intact, rather than cutting it into florets. Once, cut, the florets will last maybe a day or two in the fridge.

To store a whole cauliflower, leave it in the bag it came in and place it stem side up so you won’t have moisture collecting in the cauliflower crevices.

If yours didn’t come in a bag, store it in a perforated plastic bag. This helps to keep moisture out while allowing some air flow, which can prevent discoloration.

Blanching Method: You can quickly blanch the cauliflower to inactivate the enzymes that cause the discoloration. To blanch the cauliflower, submerge it in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, followed by a cold water bath. This method not only helps keep the cauliflower looking its best but preserves its flavor, texture, and nutritional value for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Frequently-Asked Questions

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 be 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.

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!

How many cups in a head of cauliflower?

Depending on the size of your head of cauliflower, you can expect between 4 to 6 cups of cauliflower florets from the plant. So, if your recipe calls for 4 cups of cauliflower florets, one head of cauliflower should suffice.

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

Storage Tips

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!

For example, Cauliflower Gratin is a wonderful side dish to serve with any of your favorite plant-based meals. And cauliflower soup is a healthy meal to serve any day of the week. Add roasted chickpeas to keep this a low-carb meal or go all-in with these vegan croutons.

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

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

A bowl of cauliflower florets.
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 5 votes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 4 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 24kcal


  • 1 head cauliflower


  • 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)


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.
Calories: 24kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 287mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 46mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg

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.


3 Responses to How to Cut Cauliflower

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyPam Reply

    5 stars
    Thank you for this easy guide on cutting cauliflower. The photos helped me a lot!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMary Reply

    5 stars
    Didn’t realize how easy cutting cauliflower is. Great tips!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMina Reply

    5 stars
    This seems easy but very informative. I realized that I was doing it wrong. Lol. Thanks, Marly!

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