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Ready to learn how to roast a whole cauliflower head?! This whole roasted cauliflower recipe is a show-stopper, whether you’re a meat eater and having it as a side dish, or it’s the main course of a vegetarian meal. While it makes a stunning addition to a Christmas or Thanksgiving menu, whole baked cauliflower recipes are also easy enough to enjoy any night of the week.
This one is drizzled with a garlic parmesan sauce, perfectly cooked, and sliced into circles or wedges for serving. It’s similar in flavor to my garlic parmesan oven roasted green beans, but with a more dramatic table presence.
Why You’ll Love This Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
- Rich garlic parmesan flavor
- Tender inside, golden outside
- Just 10 minutes of active prep time, and the rest is hands-off
- Looks and sounds fancy, but super easy to make – it’s the best roasted cauliflower head!
- Naturally gluten-free, healthy, low carb, and keto friendly
- Perfect as a side dish or as the main course of a vegetarian meal
Ingredient & Substitution Notes
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for a whole roasted cauliflower head, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Cauliflower – I used a medium whole cauliflower head, so if yours is large, you may need to increase the amounts of the oil and seasonings. After you wash the cauliflower, be sure to dry very well — this roasts the exterior instead of steaming it in the oven and infuses the seasonings and cheese.
- Olive Oil – Helps the seasonings stick and adds flavor. Ghee would also work well and add a buttery taste. I don’t recommend using butter, which tends to burn too easily.
- Garlic – Use fresh garlic, since it will get crushed and blended into the sauce. Minced garlic is more likely to burn. If you don’t have any fresh garlic, you can substitute about 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, but fresh tastes best.
- Seasonings – Including dried basil, parsley, and thyme. You can also use an equivalent amount of homemade Italian seasoning instead to save time.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese – Parmesan is tangy and crisps up well on roasted whole cauliflower, almost like bread crumbs. If you don’t have parmesan, a variety of hard or soft cheeses will work, such as feta, blue cheese crumbles, or shredded cheddar, but the texture of the topping will be different. If your lifestyle allows or if you want a vegan option, swap the cheese for bread crumbs instead.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
How To Roast A Whole Cauliflower Head
This section shows how to cook a whole cauliflower head, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Prep cauliflower. Roasting a head of cauliflower whole requires removing the core while leaving the head intact. Use a paring knife to remove outer leaves and cut off the bottom so it’s flat. (See the video on the recipe card below to see how I do this!)
TIP: Be careful not to cut off too much.
Cut off the woody center of the bottom stalk, but be careful to avoid removing too much, as cooking whole cauliflower requires the head to stay intact. See the picture below for how it should look.
- Make sauce. Stir together olive oil, garlic, parmesan, basil, parsley, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper.
- Season. Place the cauliflower head upside down (core side up) in a dutch oven (this one is the perfect size for whole roasted cauliflower!). Drizzle 1/2 the sauce over the top of it and let it drip down the core.
- Flip. Turn cauliflower over and drizzle with remaining sauce. Use a basting brush to spread it all over. Make sure that the entire head of cauliflower is covered in sauce.
- Bake cauliflower in the oven whole. Cover the dutch oven with lid and bake until the cauliflower is tender. It should pierce easily with a knife or fork.
- Broil. Sprinkle more parmesan cheese on top and broil until the cheese is browned. If you like, sprinkle with fresh parsley for garnish, and/or even additional parmesan.
How Long To Roast A Whole Head Of Cauliflower?
For a whole roasted cauliflower recipe, roast it 35 to 45 minutes covered, followed by a few minutes under the broiler.
If you want to know how to make roasted cauliflower in the form of florets instead of roasting a cauliflower head whole, try a roasted cauliflower florets recipe instead. This will require much less time in the oven, but a bit more prep time. Broccoli and cauliflower florets can be roasted together and make a colorful addition to any meal.
How To Serve A Roasted Cauliflower Head
The “hardest” part of this garlic parmesan roasted cauliflower? Serving it! But don’t worry, I’m here to help. 😉 Here is how to serve whole roasted cauliflower:
- Carefully lift the full roasted cauliflower out of the dutch oven and onto a cutting board. I usually use two large forks and lift from underneath.
- Slice the whole baked cauliflower. You can slice the cauliflower into “steaks” (large circles) or cut it into thin wedges, kind of like a pie. I prefer wedges, but it’s up to you!
- Store: Place leftovers in a covered container in the fridge up to 4 days.
- Meal prep: Mix the garlic parmesan sauce in advance, then use when ready. Alternatively, you can also bake the whole roasted cauliflower with parmesan and reheat when you’re ready to eat it.
- Reheat: Warm a whole roasted cauliflower head in the oven by covering it in foil and baking at 350 degrees F. (You might want to add fresh parmesan on top before reheating.) The microwave works in a pinch, but the texture is best with the oven method.
- Freeze: Cut into slices or pieces, let it cool completely, and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
What To Serve With Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Whole cauliflower recipes can be the star or main entree of a vegetarian meal (plain or with a drizzle of tahini sauce!), but cooking whole cauliflower also makes the perfect side dish to your favorite protein. Try out some of these main entrees:
- Steak – For a fancier meal, you can’t go wrong with filet mignon, sirloin steak, or even New York strip.
- Chicken – Try chicken cacciatore, Tuscan chicken, creamy mushroom chicken, or simple chicken drumsticks.
- Pork – Pair whole roasted cauliflower with pan seared pork chops, stuffed pork chops, or pork tenderloin.
- Seafood – Make lemon cod or baked salmon for weeknights, or sea bass, lobster tails, or halibut recipes for special meals.
More Whole Cauliflower Recipes
There are so many ways to turn whole cauliflower into a mouthwatering side dish! While this is my only recipe for roasting cauliflower whole, these easy cauliflower recipes use an entire head as well:
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
With herby garlic parmesan topping, this whole roasted cauliflower head recipe is a showstopper — but so easy! Learn how to make whole baked cauliflower with simple ingredients.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).
Rinse the cauliflower head and pat dry. Remove the outer leaves. Carefully cut off the bottom so that it's flat and most of the woody stem is removed, being careful not to cut off so much that it falls apart. Be sure the head stays intact.
In a small bowl, make the garlic Parmesan sauce. Stir together the olive oil, minced garlic, 2 tablespoons (28.3 grams) grated Parmesan (half of the total amount), basil, parsley, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper.
Place the trimmed cauliflower head upside down (core side up) onto a 6-quart (5.6 liters) dutch oven. Drizzle 1/2 of the sauce over the cauliflower, tilting it to let it drip down the core and all around. Flip over and drizzle the remaining sauce over the top. Use a pastry brush to brush on any that had dripped down to the pan or didn't spread well.
Cover the dutch oven with a lid and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and pierces easily with a skewer, knife or fork.
Remove the lid. Sprinkle the top of the cauliflower with the remaining 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese. Place the cauliflower under the broiler and broil for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is browned.
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Serving size: 1/4 head of cauliflower
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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