Simple Roast Cauliflower

Simple Roast Cauliflower

This Simple Roast Cauliflower dish takes on a rich, nutty depth from the oven-roasting process, and is enhanced by a hint of thyme and lemon.

Cauliflower is not a widely appreciated vegetable. When boiled or steamed, much of the subtle taste of the fresh vegetable is leached away leaving a bland taste faintly reminiscent of old cabbage water. Roasting, on the other hand, produces a cauliflower treat that even confirmed haters can warm to… The subtle notes of the fresh vegetable are enhanced, instead of diminished, and the process gives a rich, in some ways ‘nutty’ depth to the vegetable.

The Basic Method for Simple Roast Cauliflower

The flavored Butter Blend
The flavored Butter Blend

The seasonings for the cauliflower in this recipe are Garlic, Thyme, Celery salt, Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice. These are quickly cooked in butter so that the butter takes on their flavors.

Obviously, this Simple Roast Cauliflower preparation is a dish you can improvise with in lots of ways. You can replace the butter with olive oil, vary the herbs and seasonings or change the relative amounts, and even add more substantial ingredients such as chopped red pepper, or tomato… The Lemon juice used here is just enough to add a faint background taste but you can increase the amount of zest or even omit the lemon altogether and substitute something else.

Flavoring the Cauliflower
Flavoring the Cauliflower

The raw Cauliflower florets then rest in the butter for at least a half hour in order to absorb some of the flavors it has taken on.

Roasting the Cauliflower
Roasting the Cauliflower

Roasting only takes about 20 to 30 minutes. The length of the time will depend on the size of the florets and the desired degree of ‘done-ness’. Ideally, you should finish with florets that are tender and have some dark golden caramelization here and there. It is this that adds yet more flavor to the finished dish.

After roasting, you will want to toss the florets in the remaining butter and add scallions for both additional flavor and an attractive touch of color.

Your Recipe Card:

Simple Roast Cauliflower

This Simple Roast Cauliflower dish takes on a rich, nutty depth from the oven-roasting process, and is then enhanced by a hint of thyme and lemon.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: General, Western
Keyword: Cauliflower, Roasted
Author: John Thompson


  • 1 small cauliflower separated into florets;
  • 2 tbsp. chopped Garlic;
  • ½ tsp Salt;
  • 1 tbsp. fresh Thyme;
  • 1 pinch Celery Salt;
  • 4 tbsp. Lemon juice;
  • ½ tsp minced Lemon Zest;
  • 8 tbsp. Butter;
  • 4 tbsp. thinly sliced Scallion green part only;


  • Combine all the ingredients except the cauliflower florets and scallion sections into a small bowl and zap in the microwave until the butter has melted and started to become ‘frothy’.
  • Put the florets in a large bowl and pour over the butter mixture, making sure that the florets are all well coated, and leave this to rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees and spread the florets evenly over a greased baking pan, leaving a little space between each. Spoon over any chunks of garlic left in the bowl and reserve the bowl and any congealed butter at the bottom for later.
  • Pop your florets in to the oven and roast for about 20 – 30 minutes, until they are tender and showing a little golden-brown coloring here and there.
  • Once the florets are roasted to your taste, put them back in to the bowl with the remaining butter and add the scallion. Toss until the leftover butter is melted and absorbed, and the scallion is just lightly wilted by the residual heat.
  • Plate and serve immediately.


  1. Slow roasted cauliflower is my favorite, at 325 instead of 425 degrees. It’ll take a lot longer, over two hours, but it’s worth it. Also, acidity and water works against Maillard, so I’d add the lemon juice after roasting.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!