The Perfect Grilled Cauliflower Steaks (How to Grill Cauliflower)

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Learn how to grill cauliflower this summer with these Perfect Grilled Cauliflower Steaks! With just 4 simple ingredients & less than 30 minutes, you’ll have a platter of gorgeously charred cruciferous goodness. As a bonus, this simple recipe also works for grilling cauli’s cousin, broccoli! Once you try grilling cauliflower, you’ll want to put it on everything from grain bowls to tacos, & so much more!

Naturally vegetarian, vegan, & dairy-free.

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Grilled cauliflower with char marks arranged on a white ceramic plate. The cauliflower is garnished with ground black pepper, kosher salt, & fresh herbs. The plate sits on top of a white & gray marble surface.

The Perfect Grilled Cauliflower Steaks, Every Single Time!

Simply put, I’m completely smitten with grilled veggies! Charred, smoky-sweet veggies are my absolute favorite thing to grill. And while they may not be the first veggies that come to mind when you think of grilled vegetables, grilled cauliflower & grilled broccoli are both FABULOUS. The edges get totally crisp & charred, & they absorb the smoky flavor of the grill beautifully.

The trick to figuring out how to grill cauliflower or broccoli? You have to break the larger heads down into smaller planks or ‘steaks’. Grilled broccoli & cauliflower steaks stand on their own as an amazing vegan summer meal (hint – don’t forget the chimichurri!), but they are also a great, easy & good-for-ya side dish or add-in for any grilled meal. You can swap grilled for practically any dish that calls for roasted cauliflower & broccoli – from grain bowls to weeknight pasta dishes & tacos to curries.

Grilled Cauliflower Recipe Highlights

Once you’ll learn how to grill cauliflower, you’ll be obsessed! It

  • HAS THE BEST TEXTURE! With a charred & crisp exterior & a tender interior, you’ve never had a better piece of cauliflower (or broccoli, for that matter) than a grilled cauliflower steak.
  • IS QUICK & EASY. Some thoughtful-yet-simple knife work & about 15 minutes of grill time are all that stands between you & smoky delicious cauliflower steaks!
  • IS SUPER-VERSATILE. Whether you’re on the hunt for a meatless entrée or an easy side dish, this perfect grilled cauliflower has you covered. More tasty ideas & inspiration below!

I’m thoroughly convinced: There’s almost nothing grilled cauliflower can’t do! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make the Perfect Grilled Broccoli & Cauliflower, or jump straight to the recipe & get grilling!

Grilled cauliflower ingredients arranged on a white & grey marble surface - a whole head of cauliflower, sliced cauliflower steaks & a few florets, avocado oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper, & chopped fresh herbs. A pairing knife rests on the surface next to the ingredients.

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

Key Ingredients For Grilled Cauliflower

  • Cauliflower – If you’re in the market for a cauliflower or broccoli steak, you’re going to need to start with a whole head. (If you’ve only ever eaten their florets, note that you can eat their stalks & leaves, too!) A large head of cauliflower will result in 3-4 steaks, so plan accordingly! (If the rest will likely fall into smaller pieces, which you can easily grill with the help of a grill basket.)
  • Avocado oil – I always have a bottle of avocado oil at the ready when grilling. It’s the perfect neutral oil with a nice, high smoke point. If you don’t have any on hand, feel free to swap in grapeseed, vegetable, corn, or even peanut oil.
  • Salt & ground black pepper – Simple, simple!
  • (Optional!) Fresh herbs – Fresh herbs are pure summertime magic. If you opt to add-in fresh herbs, fresh basil, oregano, or thyme are all great options. A vibrant fresh herb sauce, like basil pesto or chimichurri, also takes delicious grilled cauliflower steaks completely over the top!

*have fun with it!

The beauty of cauliflower is the fact that it’s a deliciously blank canvas, so feel free to get creative with your grilled cauliflower steaks! Sprinkle them with your favorite spice blend, coat them with your favorite marinades, baste them with BBQ sauce, or serve with a simple squeeze of grilled lemon or drizzle of your favorite summer sauces. Want to add even more flavor to your grilled veggies? ⇢  Check out our 15 Go-To Grill Marinades!

Ingredient Spotlight

What are Cruciferous Vegetables?

What do kale, cauliflower, and cabbage have in common? They’re all cruciferous vegetables! This special class of veggies also happens to include broccoli, brussels sprouts, arugula, collard greens, & bok choy. 

While cruciferous veggies come in all shapes and sizes, they happen to share some pretty impressive nutritional benefits. They’re generally loaded with fiber, low in calories, & rich in important vitamins & minerals like vitamin K and folate. 

TL;DR? ⇢ If you’re looking to include more cruciferous veggies into your diet, this easy recipe for grilled broccoli and cauliflower steaks is an excellent place to start.

How To Grill Cauliflower & Broccoli

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

1

Prep the broccoli &/or cauliflower steaks. To cut a whole head of broccoli or cauliflower into steaks, remove any excess outer leaves taking care to leave the stem completely intact. Use a sharp knife to slice through the stem, creating 1/2-1 inch thick ‘steaks’. Place the cauliflower steaks on a small baking sheet or large plate. Drizzle a little bit of avocado oil over top, & use a pastry brush to coat the broccoli & cauliflower ‘steaks’ with oil. Season with kosher salt, ground black pepper, & any other fresh hardy herbs or spice blends you’d like.

2

Grill the cauliflower. Place the cauli steaks directly on the grates of a grill preheated for medium-high direct head grilling (about 450-500 degrees F). Grill 6-7 minutes per side (12-15 minutes total), until fork tender & charred as desired. When you flip the broccoli or cauliflower steaks, do so gently, grabbing the center of the ‘steak’ with your grill tongs. If you lose a floret or two along the way, it’s totally fine – no big deal!

3

Serve. Serve your grilled cauliflower steaks immediately, hot off the grill. Enjoy them on their own, or finish them off with a squeeze of lemon juice & a sprinkling of fresh herbs as desired. Enjoy!

An angled shot of a variety of grilled veggies including grilled broccolini, grilled asparagus, grilled cauliflower, grilled zucchini, grilled onion, & grilled peppers that are being grilled on gas grill grates. A woman's hand holds a pair of tongs that is picking up a grilled cauliflower steak ready to flip it over. Many of the veggies have grill marks on them after being flipped to the other side.

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How To Use Grilled Cauliflower Steaks

When it comes to a gorgeously caramelized cauliflower steak, I’m more than happy to dig right in! We like to eat these as a main dish for our Meatless Mondays, especially when they’re served with a flavorful sauce. Consider zippy chimichurri (or try this creamy version!), creamy lemon tahini sauce, or double down on your cruciferous cravings with my damn good kale pesto.

Grilled cauliflower & broccoli can also be used as a side to countless other BBQ recipes, not to mention can step in for regular roasted cauliflower & broccoli in almost any other dish. Try using your grilled veggie steaks to make…

Quick Tips & Tricks

Look for large heads with florets that are compact & don’t extend beyond the stem too much – they’ll be easier to cut into steaks!

Use a sharp knife & cut vertically. ⇢ Cauliflower needs to be sliced through the stem in order to grill without a basket.

Play with your food! ⇢ The best part about grilled cauliflower & broccoli is that it is super versatile. Keep things simple, seasoning with just salt & pepper, or have fun playing with different flavors & seasonings! A simple lemon or an herbaceous Tuscan-style marinade also works great here, as do spice blends like BBQ dry rub (for cauliflower) or aromatic za’atar.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you cook cauliflower on the grill?

So long as you have preheated your grill to a scorching 450-500 degrees F, roughly 1/2 – 1 inch cauliflower or broccoli steaks should be ready to eat in about 12-15 minutes.

Can you grill cauliflower whole?

Great idea! If you wanted to get the smoky char of the grill all over a whole head of cauliflower, you’ll want to try a slightly different method so you don’t end up with burnt edges & a raw center. Try grilling the head cauliflower with indirect heat (learn more about 2-zone grilling!) or poaching it in a flavorful liquid (think veggie broth, or even water dressed up with some herbs and lemon slices) until you can easily poke it with a fork. If poaching, drain it thoroughly, then pat to dry — moisture is the enemy of all things crispy! – then pop it on the grill & carefully maneuver it around, letting each side cook for 5-7 minutes or until well charred.

What if I have a smaller cauliflower head?

No problem! The methodology will remain the same no matter the size of your cauliflower. You may just want to grab an extra though; these cauliflower steaks are simply crave-worthy.

Why is my cauliflower soggy?

This might be an issue of either overcrowding your grill grates (which causes the cauliflower to steam) or overcooking it. That said, I think you’re more likely to end up with mushy cauliflower if you roast it in the oven rather than tossing it on the grill.

How to get extra char on your cauliflower head?

If you follow it to a T, this recipe for the perfect grilled cauliflower will result in some beautiful charring! However, you can amp up the smoky grill flavor by adding a dry rub to it prior to grilling. Anything that has a little sugar in the mix will end up caramelizing, once it touches the grates!

What are some variations or different spices I can add?

There are so many options here! Try your favorite BBQ dry rub (and then serve it with your favorite BBQ sides for the full effect). Or, try using some za’atar for a Mediterranean flair and serve on a bed of hummus? Maybe go the Everything Bagel Seasoning route instead, then serve with a creamy yogurt sauce? Just trust your gut and have fun with it…there are no wrong answers here!

Grilled cauliflower with char marks arranged on a white ceramic plate. The cauliflower is garnished with ground black pepper, kosher salt, & fresh herbs. The plate sits on top of a white & gray marble surface.

I can’t wait for you to try this recipe for the Perfect Grilled Cauliflower Steaks! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Looking for more grilling season inspiration? You’re in the right place! 🙌🏼 Be sure to try our Best-Ever Grilled BBQ Chicken, Perfectly Grilled Buffalo Wings, or Best-Ever Grilled Turkey Burgers next, or check out our A-Z Guide to the Best Grilled Vegetables. ♡ Happy grilling!

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Grilled cauliflower with char marks arranged on a white ceramic plate. The cauliflower is garnished with ground black pepper, kosher salt, & fresh herbs. The plate sits on top of a white & gray marble surface.

Perfect Grilled Cauliflower Steaks (How to Grill Cauliflower)

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 2-4 1x
  • Category: Main Dish, Side Dish
  • Method: Grilling & Smoking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Learn how to grill cauliflower this summer with these Perfect Grilled Cauliflower Steaks! With just 4 simple ingredients & less than 30 minutes, you’ll have a platter of gorgeously charred cruciferous goodness. Once you try grilling cauliflower, you’ll want to put it on everything from grain bowls to tacos, & so much more! (As a bonus, this simple recipe also works for grilling cauli’s cousin, broccoli!)

Naturally vegetarian, vegan, & dairy-free.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 large head cauliflower (see Recipe Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • optional: 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (e.g. thyme, rosemary, oregano, etc.)
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: grilled lemon, fresh basil, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, etc.Grilled cauliflower ingredients arranged on a white & grey marble surface - a whole head of cauliflower, sliced cauliflower steaks & a few florets, avocado oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper, & chopped fresh herbs. A pairing knife rests on the surface next to the ingredients.

Instructions

  1. Grilled cauliflower prep: Preheat the grill for medium-high direct heat grilling, about 450-500 degrees F. While the grill preheats, prep the cauliflower. If needed, trim the stem of the cauliflower, so the head lies flat on the cutting board. Carefully remove any excess leaves, taking care to leave the stem completely intact. Slice the cauliflower lengthwise, through the stem, into 1/2-inch thick ‘steaks’. Place the cauliflower steaks on a small baking sheet or in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil over top, brushing to coat the cauliflower ‘steaks’ with oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, ground black pepper, & any other fresh herbs or spice blends as desired. Multiple fresh & uncooked cauliflower steaks seasoned with oil, kosher salt, & ground black pepper lie on an aluminum baking sheet. The baking sheet sits on top of a white & gray marble surface.
  2. Grill: Place the cauliflower ‘steaks’ on the grill. Grill 12-15 minutes, carefully flipping halfway through, until fork-tender & charred as desired. An angled shot of a variety of grilled veggies including grilled broccolini, grilled asparagus, grilled cauliflower, grilled zucchini, grilled onion, & grilled peppers that are being grilled on gas grill grates. A woman's hand holds a pair of tongs that is picking up a grilled cauliflower steak ready to flip it over. Many of the veggies have grill marks on them after being flipped to the other side.
  3. Serve immediately with lemon juice & a sprinkling of fresh herbs as desired. If serving on a grilled vegetable platter, drizzle with a light & bright herbaceous sauce, like pesto or chimichurri. Grilled cauliflower is also amazing add-ons for any variety of meals, from grilled chicken bowls to tacos to hearty salads. Enjoy! Grilled cauliflower with char marks arranged on a white ceramic plate. The cauliflower is garnished with ground black pepper, kosher salt, & fresh herbs. The plate sits on top of a white & gray marble surface.


Notes

  • Best cauliflower for grilling: In order to grill it without special equipment (e.g. grill basket), you need to choose a head of cauliflower or broccoli that will stay intact once it’s cut into steaks. Look for large heads with florets that are compact & don’t extend beyond the stem too much – much easier to slice into steaks!
  • Easy variations: The best part about grilled cauliflower & broccoli is that it is super versatile. Keep things simple, seasoning with just salt & pepper or have fun playing with different flavors & seasonings! A simple lemony Tuscan-style marinade or a delicious spiced Shawarma marinade works great here (check out our 15 Go-To Grilling Marinades for more inspiration!), as do spice blends like BBQ dry rub (for cauliflower) or za’atar (yum!)

Keywords: grilled vegetables recipe, grilled cauliflower steaks, grilled cauliflower recipe

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

Ready to Hit the Grill?

If this all still feels new to you, I encourage you to head over to Grilling 101, a compilation of tips & tricks for all of the grilling basics – everything from how to light your grill to how to clean your grill.

All this talk about grilling have you feelin’ ready to hit the grill? Me too! Be sure to check out this post for my 15 go-to marinades you need this grilling season. At our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season. I’m positive these marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! For even more grilled goodness, be sure to check out all of our Grilling & Smoking recipes.

& lastly! Be sure to give @playswellwithbutter a follow on Instagram – I’ll be teaching you how to grill up some goodness all summer long, & we have so much fun on Instagram!

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Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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