Easy Sautéed Cauliflower

Simple ingredients come together to create Sautéed Cauliflower. This delicious side dish is made with pantry staples and is ready in less than 25 minutes!

Sauteed cauliflower in a blue enameled skillet. A wooden spoon is starting to take a scoop of the cooked cauliflower.

This easy recipe is perfect for the whole family. Since cauliflower takes on the flavors of the ingredients it’s cooked with, you can adjust the spices to make it your own.

Sautéing vegetables is a great way to pull together a simple meal on busy weeknights. Everything cooks in one large skillet to make clean up easy.

If you’re looking for more sauteed vegetable ideas try these similar recipes like sautéed eggplant, sautéed butternut squash, sautéed carrots and sautéed mushrooms and onions.

Why You’ll Love Sautéed Cauliflower

  • It’s simple! It comes together with just 4 ingredients.
  • It’s tasty! You can easily adapt the flavor to make it your own.
  • It goes with anything! Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable that pairs well with a variety of main dishes.

Ingredients You Need

This recipe is made with only a few pantry staples. You probably already have all of the ingredients in your kitchen.

All of the ingredients for sauteed cauliflower in a bowl on a white countertop including raw cauliflower, butter, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Cauliflower: Use fresh cauliflower for this recipe, not frozen. Frozen cauliflower does not retain the same texture and may result in mushy cauliflower. Regular white cauliflower is my go-to since it’s commonly available at the grocery store, but you can use any type for this recipe.
  • Olive Oil: Use a high quality extra virgin olive oil. You can also use avocado oil or substitute with more butter.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter for this recipe since you will be adding salt. If you want to make this recipe vegan or dairy free, you can omit the butter and use more olive oil.
  • Garlic: Mince fresh garlic cloves for the best flavor.
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: You can add another spice like ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, curry powder or Italian seasonings like dried thyme, oregano or basil.

How to Sauté Cauliflower

Follow this simple recipe for cooking cauliflower on the stove. Be sure to read through the variations and common questions below for more recipe tips.

Sauteed cauliflower in a skillet with the bowls of salt and pepper and garlic on the side.
  1. Prepare the raw cauliflower: Cut the head of cauliflower into cauliflower florets 1/2-inch thick. The smaller the pieces, the quicker this dish will cook. Cut the cauliflower into smaller bite sized pieces.
  2. Saute the cauliflower in the skillet: Heat the olive oil and butter together in a large skillet set over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped cauliflower and let them brown, stirring occasionally for 5 to 8 minutes until golden brown and crisp-tender.
  3. Steam the cauliflower in the pan: Lower the heat to medium low and add 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes to simmer. Remove the lid and cook until the water is evaporated. The cauliflower should be fork tender. (Do not steam the cauliflower for too long in the pan or it may become mushy.)
  4. Stir in the garlic: Add the minced garlic to the pan and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve: Transfer the sauteed cauliflower to a serving plate. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, as desired. Serve it with your favorite main dish.

Note about Steaming: If you like crunchier cauliflower, you can skip step 3 completely. The water helps to steam the cauliflower and soften them, but this is completely optional.

Pan sautéed cauliflower in a skillet before serving.

Variations

  • Add Parmesan cheese – Sprinkle the cooked cauliflower with Parmesan cheese before serving for extra flavor.
  • Add pine nuts for a nutty flavor. Sprinkle the nuts over the cauliflower when you add the garlic. Toast with the garlic for 30 seconds and then serve.
  • Add lemon – If you love lemon, you can squeeze fresh lemon juice or lemon zest over the cauliflower before serving.
  • Add heat with red pepper flakes – If you want to add spicy flavor, sprinkle red pepper flakes into the cooked cauliflower when you add the garlic.

Next time try making a different version of this sautéed cauliflower by adding different flavors and experimenting with the different variations.

FAQs

Does cooked cauliflower freeze well?

Cooked cauliflower is best eaten when cooked. It may become mushy when frozen. However, if desired, you can store it in a freezer safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight and reheat before serving.

Should you wash cauliflower before cooking?

Yes! It’s best to soak cauliflower in cold water for a few minutes. Pat the cauliflower dry before cooking.

How do you cook cauliflower so that it’s not mushy?

The best way to cook cauliflower so that it’s not mushy is to saute the cauliflower in a large pan. This helps to maintain the crisp texture. Also keep in mind that if you steam it for too long, the cauliflower will become mushy.

What spice goes well with cauliflower?

Many spices taste great with cauliflower. You can try ground cumin, curry powder, onion powder, garlic powder or Italian seasoning. Depending on the type of dish you are serving it with, you can adjust the spices to fit the desired flavor.

A spoon picking up sautéed cauliflower to serve.

Storing Leftovers

You can store leftover sauteed cauliflower in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit then cook in the oven for 10 minutes or until warm. Alternatively, you can reheat in the microwave.

What to Serve with Sauteed Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable that tastes great with a variety of dishes. Serve it with any of your favorite meals.

Did you try this Sautéed Cauliflower recipe? Leave a recipe review and rating below.

A spoon picking up sautéed cauliflower to serve.

Easy Sautéed Cauliflower

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Pan sautéed cauliflower with garlic is a great side dish for any time!
5 from 3 votes

Ingredients 

  • 1 head cauliflower, (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Break down the cauliflower and cut it into florets 1/4-inch thick.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter together in a large skillet set over medium heat. Once hot, add the cauliflower and let them brown, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes until golden brown and crisp-tender.
  • Lower the heat to medium low, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover for 3 to 5 minutes to simmer. Remove the lid and cook until the water is evaporated. (You can skip this step completely if you prefer a crunchier texture. The water helps steam the cauliflower to soften them a bit.)
  • Stir in the garlic. Saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the cauliflower to a serving dish.

Notes

STORAGE: You can store leftover cauliflower in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit then cook in the oven for 10 minutes or until warm. Alternatively, you can reheat in the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 125kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 191mg, Potassium: 438mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 89IU, Vitamin C: 69mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Ashley C.
If you try this recipe, don’t forget to leave a review below or share a photo and tag @spoonfulofflavor on Instagram.

2 comments on “Easy Sautéed Cauliflower”

  1. We made this last night and even my picky eaters gobbled it up! It was awesome!

  2. The BEST way to serve cauliflower! This was absolutely delicious.

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