How to Blanch Cauliflower

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Learn How to Blanch Cauliflower to transform its strong bitter taste into something mild and mellow. Use it for quick-cooking sides or mains, on veggie platters, or added to salads and grain bowls.

Blanched cauliflower in a colander.


 

Cauliflower in general is a versatile vegetable packed with nutrition. It’s an outstanding side dish, snack, or meal prep component. If you add blanching to your skill set, you open the door to even more possibilities.

Blanching is great because it allows you to par-cook cauliflower while mellowing the flavor. After blanching, you can finish it fast in stir fries, soups, or pasta dishes. Or, you can eat it exactly as is: a mellow, crunchy vegetable perfect for grain bowls, salads, and snack platters.

Blanched cauliflower freezes well, too, so you can stock up and have it ready to go for your future healthy meals. Use frozen cauliflower in omelets, quiche, stews, Vegetable Casserole, and more.

Tutorial notes

  • Uniform size: Remove the stems, then cut the cauliflower florets with a knife into pieces that are all about the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Buying: Choose bright white cauliflower heads that has a firm heading without brown spots. Cauliflower should feel heavy for its size.
  • Storing: Whole heads of cauliflower should be stored in an open bag in the refrigerator. Use cauliflower within 3-4 days.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Carefully lower the cauliflower florets into the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. The cauliflower should be just barely tender.
Cauliflower florets soaking in water in a metal sauce pan.
  1. With a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower and immediately plunge into the ice bath.
Cauliflower florets in a glass bowl of ice water.
  1. When the cauliflower is completely cool, drain it from the bowl of iced water into a colander and pat dry with a paper towel.
Blanched cauliflower in a colander.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 6 servings (½ cup blanched cauliflower each). 1 pound cauliflower yields about 6 cups raw florets or 3 cups blanched florets.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: Arrange drained cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or waxed paper and put it in the freezer. Transfer the frozen cauliflower to freezer bags and freeze up to 9 months. Remove and reheat any portion size, or thaw the whole bag overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Sauce it up: Blanched cauliflower is delicious with a drizzle of hollandaise or teriyaki sauce.
  • Cauliflower rice: For a low-carb side dish, learn How to Rice Cauliflower in a food processor or with a box grater.
  • Smoothie: Add blanched cauliflower to a smoothie for a secret source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You won’t even taste it or know it’s there!
    More vegetables to cook: 
    Try blanching green beans,  blanching asparagus, and blanching broccoli.
  • Leftovers: Use leftover blanched cauliflower in an omelet or scrambled eggs, pasta salad, or green salad. Or, add it to a Veggie Platter or use it for dipping in Cheese Fondue.
Someone dipping a vegetable into dill dip on a veggie platter.
A Veggie Platter with Dill Dip.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the easiest way to blanch cauliflower?

The easiest way to blanch cauliflower is to drop it in a large pot of salted boiling water. Leave it for just a couple of minutes, then pull it out and plunge it into an ice bath until cool.

Why do you blanch cauliflower before cooking?

Blanching is a cooking process that removes the harsh, bitter taste of raw cauliflower while ensuring a crisp-tender texture. It also ensures that the cauliflower won’t be overcooked as it can just be tossed with a finished recipe at the end.

How many minutes does it take to blanch cauliflower?

If your water is already boiling, it takes about 2 to 3 minutes to blanch it in boiling water, and then another 2-3 minutes to cool it down in an ice bath. Plan on 5 to 10 minutes total depending on whether you are starting with cauliflower florets or need to cut them up yourself.

More tasty cauliflower recipes

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Blanched cauliflower in a colander.

How to Blanch Cauliflower

Learn How to Blanch Cauliflower to transform its strong bitter taste into something mild and mellow. Use it for quick-cooking sides or mains, on veggie platters, or added to salads and grain bowls.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Cooling Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings (½ cup each)
Course Pantry, Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 51
5 from 2 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Bring 4 quarts water and 2 teaspoons salt to a rapid boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice.
  • Carefully lower the cauliflower florets into the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. The cauliflower should be just barely tender.
  • With a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower and immediately plunge into the ice water.
  • When the cauliflower is completely cool, drain it from the ice water into a strainer and pat dry with a paper towel.

Notes

  1. Uniform size: Cut the cauliflower into pieces that are all about the same size so they cook evenly.
  2. Buying: Choose bright white cauliflower that has a firm heading without brown spots. Cauliflower should feel heavy for its size.
  3. Storing: Whole cauliflower should be stored in an open bag in the refrigerator. Use cauliflower within 3-4 days.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes 6 servings (½ cup blanched cauliflower each). 1 pound cauliflower yields about 6 cups raw florets or 3 cups blanched florets.
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5 cupCalories: 51kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 825mgPotassium: 478mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 942IUVitamin C: 135mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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