Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn

Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn Recipe

Between the spicy cauliflower side dish I had earlier in the week at Pizzeria Delfina, and the Pan Roasted Cauliflower recipe that caught my attention in Molly and Fran's latest book, I've been thinking about cauliflower a bit...and that is where this roasted cauliflower popcorn recipe come in.

Let me start by telling you about the cauliflower at Pizzeria Delfina. It is browned and tender, punctuated with a healthy dose of capers, garlic, and Calabrian chiles. Is it roasted? Baked (possibly in the pizza oven)? Not sure, definitely not grilled. Anyhow, it is very good and as I was enjoying a small plate of it I was thinking that the little florets were very popcorn-like in shape. Fun.

Apparently (to my surprise) I'm not the only one who has had this revelation. My hopes of doing an original post featuring some sort of remix of cauliflower as popcorn were trashed with a single Google search. Was I the only one who has never heard of this?

So, here is my take on cauliflower 'popcorn'...I'm a little less excited about it now that I know its not exactly a fresh concept. That being said, it still tastes really good, takes under five minutes of active cooking time, and with everyone getting sick this time of year it is a delicious way to load up on a super healthy cruciferous vegetable.

Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

4-inch segment of a thin day-old baguette
1 medium head of cauliflower, washed
extra-virgin olive oil
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh red chile pepper, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place racks in the middle.

Give the baguette a spin in a food processor until you have textured, not-too-fine bread crumbs.

Trim the cauliflower. Get rid of the big stalks and stems and strive for uniform, bite-sized little florets. Little trees.

In a big bowl toss the cauliflower with a few generous tablespoons of olive oil and the salt. Toss until the cauliflower is well coated and then place it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. You are going to bake for about 25-30 minutes total.

There will be some residual olive oil in the big bowl you used to toss the cauliflower. If not, add another tablespoon or two. Add the bread crumbs, garlic, and chiles. Mix.

After the cauliflower has been baking for about 15-20 minutes anything in contact with the pan should be nicely browned. Pull the pan out of the oven, rotate each piece of cauliflower so that another side will get some color, and then sprinkle the entire pan with the breadcrumb mixture. Return the pan to the oven and finish with another ten minutes or so. The cauliflower should be tender throughout and the breadcrumbs nicely toasted. Serve immediately, it really isn't half as delicious after it has been sitting on the counter getting cold.

If you want to work the popcorn angle, serve in little cups. Or I've even seen little, mini, paper popcorn containers at party stores. Kids seem more wiling try try good for you vegetables when you make them taste and smell really good and have some fun with the context.

Serves 4.


- Sprinkle with dukkah as the cauliflower comes out of the oven instead of the garlic and chiles.

- Puree the roasted cauliflower (and crumbs) with some broth and a splash of cream for an easy soup.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Cute name! I've been roasting spice cauliflower for ages!


I recently tried a recipe that I had copied some months back and it is WONDERFUL! Try: and click on to read about it or go to: for the recipe.


What a coincidence. I just roasted cauliflower last night. Kinda made it up after we enjoyed a similar dish at Border Grill in Santa Monica, CA. I tossed the cauliflower with olive oil, caramelized butter, panch puran (Indian 5-spice blend), and salt before slipping everything into the oven. Now I'm going to try your recipe!


I've been roasting most cruciferous veggies for years rather than steam or boil. The cauliflower can simply be done with a scattering of purchased Italian breadcrumbs, a misto spraying of olive oil, and a generous sprinkling of aleppo (Turkish chili pepper from Penzey's). I use a very hot oven (425°). Fresh bread crumbs are superior -- but not to discourage the faint of heart...


Susan, that looks delicious.

And for those of you who are interested in the Delfina recipe - the stars have aligned. It is in today's SF Chronicle food section (what are the chances of that happening?):


i first tried this when i came across a recipe for cumin roasted cauliflower. yum!


I had gone on the Delfina website looking for the recipe; thanks for supplying it ... It sounds and looks great! We eat a ton of cauliflower now and I always detested it as a kid. Same with brussels sprouts.


I started roasting cauliflower about two years ago and do it two ways - with lots of garlic (about 5 or 6 cloves coarsely chopped per head of cauliflower), dried red pepper flakes, lots of kosher salt and thyme, or with crushed coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Roast for about 20 mintues at 450 (stir half way through) and it is yummy. It is interesting to see how different heads of cauliflower have more or less water content based on how brown they get...


I tend to think of cauliflower as being rather bland, but this recipe seems like it could change that!


I love cauliflower, and if I remember correctly cauliflower popcorn is a common Weight Watchers recipe!


Heidi, your site has been such an inspiration. My husband loves cauliflower. He will be very excited when I prepare this tonight.


Don't feel bad, I have never heard of anything like this...and I am always looking for new ways to simply prepare veggies. I always thought cauliflower was only good raw but now I cannot wait to try these "wintery" cauliflower recipes.


this sounds great, and i've been thinking about cauliflower lately, oddly enough. hopefully it's not $8 a head at whole foods. ah, how i miss that SF produce (i feel like this is a recurring theme in my comments on your site.)

i hadn't heard of dukkah before. sounds good. i first read it as the only similar word i know, dukkha, which is really not terribly similar.


We all like cauliflower too much. At present in India, these are available for ten rupees a kilo.We roast them, fry them, cook with potato, beans and carrots as a mixed vegetable. We put them in 'dal' for added taste, but one thing, if not cleaned properly, live crawling insects are found the very next day, why????
The dish, you have described is almost identical to ours.
Thank you.
Keep sendig new dishes.


I never try this before, but I had culiflower tempura.


What a great idea to bake together cauliflower and baguette !!! I used bake garlic bread separately from vegetables... I'll try your recipe today .I'll be a hit at our dinner. Top recipe ! Thank you.

home cook

Never heard of it, never thought about it... sounds pretty original to me... ^_^ Got try this sometime!

Bruno Vieira

I love roasted cauliflower. I've done it southwest style with chipotle , cumin, and garlic and I've done it with a vindaloo or garam masala. The browner the better.


I too have been roasting cauliflower for years using a method similar to Heidi's. I find that adding a spritz of lemon juice after drizzing the cauliflower with olive oil is a big improvement. While I love Delfina's cauliflower, I always feel that it would be oh so much better with just a spark of lemon.


Just a thought, but you might try to throw a little jerk into the mix. It will spice it up and is great on vegtables like these.


We also roast cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli or asparagus in the following fashion. They all come out beautifully sweet & delicious. temp at 450, 1-2 T of olive oil, salt, pepper, sliced garlic plus veggie..roast 20-30 mins until browned & garlic is carmelized. Remove from oven, squeeze on lemon juice, top with parmesan & cover to melt the cheese. Red pepper flakes is an optional addition.


Ooh,I love cauliflower... mMMmmmMMMmmmm

King K.

I have prepared cauliflower florets passed in egg , breaded and fried..delicious! But your recipe sounds just superb, tasty and! I feel like trying it for dinner...



Heidi, one thought: Instead of a baking sheet, how about using a cazuela? These oven-proof earthenware dishes from Spain and Portugal really hold the heat and will carmelize the cauliflower beautifully (also fantastic for potatoes, lamb, chicken, etc.). Check out the "cazuela" section at


I love that you used the word "cruciferous"--referring to the plant family, Cruciferae (at least, that's what I thought.)
I am definitely going to try this recipe soon. I'm envisioning it as a possibility for my New Year's Eve party snack assortment.
I just recently discovered your site, thanks to the G-mail text ads, and I just love it.


I love roasted cauliflower.
My husband loves cauliflower. He will be very excited when I prepare this tonight.
Thanks !!!

Chinese N.

Thanks for a great tip on a veggie that I'm not a fan of... maybe this will change my mind. I also posted a reference to the recipe on Food Notebook:


Maybe I can get my kids to eat it this way. Great idea!


hmmm nice!! quite innovative!! a dash of cumin maybe, as cauliflower and cumin go together beautifully :)


Yummy. I tried this recipe, substituting the breadcrumbs for capers and butter.

You're right about the room temperature enhancing the taste. I make "Put onto the windowsill to cool" a required step.


What a great idea to bake together cauliflower and baguette !!! I used bake garlic bread separately from vegetables... I'll try your recipe today .I'll be a hit at our dinner. Top recipe ! Thank you.

Handbag P.

Cauliflower gives me gas...


Oh, I love this. I've roasted cauliflower, and love it that way, but the addition of the seasoned breadcrumbs brings it to a whole new level. Divine.


sounds soooo good, going to have to try it.. roasted other veggies...keep commin up with nwe ideas..thanks


Hey, long-time lurker but first-time poster here... I've made a dish almost exactly like this for a while, except I usually use store-bought bread crumbs instead of making my own (I know fresh ones are a ton better but the canned ones are easier to keep on hand). The main difference is that instead of chiles, I grate parmesean cheese and add that. The cheese gets all bubbly and goes really well with the breadcrumbs. Yum!








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