Whole roasted cauliflower in a cast iron skillet with carrots and potatoes.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Butter Sauce

Whole roasted cauliflower with butter sauce is infused with fresh lemon then baked in the oven with baby potatoes and carrots for a wholesome and impressive dish! It’s vegan, dairy free, gluten free, easy to prepare and a favorite!

Whole roasted cauliflower with sauce in a cast iron skillet with carrots and baby potatoes.

This cauliflower is amazing! Yes, I said it. Cauliflower is amazing. Especially when it is whole roasted, it gets so deeply flavorful and then with a lemon butter sauce, it is downright delicious


I have made this whole roasted cauliflower with butter sauce multiple times over the last few months and not only for our own dinner! Friends have enjoyed it, too.

It’s a no-fuss way to make a whole head of cauliflower. A little prep and the oven does all the work for you!

It can be a veggie side or a the main entree and no one will complain. If you love roasted cauliflower, you will love it baked whole!

Why You Will Love This Roasted Cauliflower Head

  • Flavorful: A rich dairy free butter sauce infused with lemon, garlic and fresh thyme keeps the cauliflower moist while roasting and adds amazing taste.
  • Beautiful presentation: It really looks so gorgeous on the dinner table! Be prepared for ooo’s and ahhs!
  • Healthy: Gluten free, grain free and if you eat just the cauliflower low carb, too!

Ingredients for Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Oven roasted cauliflower head requires only a few simple ingredients and is flexible enough to substitute what you have on hand.

  • Whole cauliflower: You will need one whole cauliflower head. I like to use a medium sized one.
  • Butter: I used Earth Balance dairy free butter.
  • Lemon juice: Fresh lemon juice will give you the best taste.
  • Garlic cloves: While freshly minced will add the best taste, I often will use the jarred garlic as it is convenient.
  • Fresh thyme leaves: This will add the best flavor to your garlic butter sauce. I have not tried dried thyme.
  • Vegetable stock: Use your favorite brand.
  • Baby potatoes: You will need 16-20 halved, these potatoes are also called creamer potatoes.
  • Carrots: Whole carrots that are peeled and cut into pieces will taste best.

How to Make Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Butter Sauce

Roasted cauliflower with butter sauce is an impressive dish, but is actually simple to put together! First, we will roast it covered in the oven in a cast iron skillet to steam it and then uncover and roast some more to get that beautiful browned look!

  1. Prep cauliflower: Wash head cauliflower then flip upside down. Cut stem out, but be careful not to go too deep – you need your cauliflower intact. Remove outer leaves. Put cauliflower into prepared pan upside down.
  2. Butter sauce: Melt butter with lemon, garlic and thyme in small saucepan on stovetop. Infuse mixture for 3 minutes. Pour half of the lemon butter mixture into upside down cauliflower. Flip right side up and brush cauliflower with rest of the lemon butter mixture.
  3. Add vegetable stock: Place potatoes and carrots around cauliflower. Then pour 1/2 cup vegetable stock over everything.
  4. Roast: Cover with foil and roast in oven for 35 minutes. Remove foil and baste with additional 1/4 cup vegetable stock. Roast uncovered for another 25-30 minutes until all vegetables are tender.
  5. Serve with our Romesco sauce!

Tips for Roasting a Whole Cauliflower

  • Carefully cut: When cutting out the core of your cauliflower be careful to gently not cut all the way through or you will end up with florets.
  • Lemon juice: While condensed lemon juice may be used fresh will bring out the best taste, 4 Tblsp is roughly 1 whole lemon.
  • Vegetable broth: I love Better than Bouillon Vegetable base and you might not use the whole 1/4 cup leftover to baste it. Use your judgement. I usually only use 2 – 3 Tblsp for basting as I like my vegetables caramelized.
  • Check for doneness: Gently pierce the top of the cauliflower with a sharp knife, if it pierces through easily, your whole roasted cauliflower with butter sauce is ready. Larger cauliflower heads may take longer, while smaller ones will be done quicker.

Variations

Cooking is a great time to experiment with flavors and be creative. Here are a few variations to try when making this whole roasted cauliflower with butter sauce.

  • Rutabaga is a delicious substitute for baby potatoes, use 1-2 cups peeled and cut into cubes.
  • Roasting vegetables: Add some sliced portobellos and onion.
  • Lower carb: Omit the potatoes and carrots, you will need less broth.
  • Seasonings: Use fresh parsley instead of thyme, or dry rubbing your cauliflower with dry spices such as Italian seasoning, cumin, smoked paprika or your favorite.
  • Heat: Skip the thyme and add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes to your butter mixture.
  • White wine: Add some white wine in place of the vegetable broth.

What to Serve with This Whole Roasted Cauliflower Vegan Recipe

This whole roasted cauliflower with butter sauce is spectacular looking side and would be a great addition to any holiday meal! I love to serve it with this romesco sauce.

While this is a main dish vegetarian meal it can be served with other sides if you wish. I love to serve it with a simple green salad.

How to Store and Reheat

If you have any leftover whole roasted cauliflower with butter sauce, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days.

When you’re ready to reheat, simply warm in the oven at 350°F until warmed through. You can also reheat in the microwave in 30 second intervals until warmed to desired temperature.

Do not freeze your whole roasted cauliflower as texture will changed when thawed.

FAQs

Can I make this recipe with cauliflower florets?

Yes, but roasting time will decrease as florets are smaller in size. You will not need to tent any of the cauliflower with foil.

Can I make this in the air fryer?

Possibly this will work but only if you are using a smaller cauliflower head that can fit inside the air fryer basket. Try roasting it at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, checking around 20 minutes to ensure it is not browning too quickly.

Can I roast more than one cauliflower head?

Yes, if you have room in your oven, this will work.

Why is my cauliflower not tender in the middle?

It needs to be roasted longer or if you forgot to first ‘steam’ it under the foil this could cause your cauliflower to be less than tender.

More Cauliflower Recipes You’ll Love

Whole roasted cauliflower in a cast iron skillet with carrots and potatoes.
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Butter Sauce

Whole roasted cauliflower with butter sauce infused with fresh lemon is baked in the oven with baby potatoes and carrots for a wholesome and impressive dish!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main Dish, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan
Keyword: whole roasted cauliflower with butter sauce
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 whole cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup dairy free butter
  • 4-5 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock divided
  • 16-20 16-20 baby potatoes, halved (rutabaga makes an amazing substitute! Use 1 – 2 cups diced)
  • 2 carrots peeled and cut into strips
  • lemon juice and fresh thyme optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Prepare large roasting pan or cast iron skillet.
  • Wash cauliflower, flip upside down. Cut stem out, but be careful not to go too deep – you need your cauliflower intact. Remove outer leaves. Put cauliflower into prepared pan upside down.
  • Melt butter with lemon, garlic and thyme in small saucepan on stovetop. Infuse mixture for 3 minutes.
  • Pour half of the lemon butter mixture into upside down cauliflower. Flip right side up and brush cauliflower with rest of the lemon butter mixture.
  • Place potatoes and carrots around cauliflower.
  • Pour 1/2 cup vegetable stock over everything.
  • Cover with foil and roast in oven for 35 minutes.
  • Remove foil and baste with additional 1/4 cup vegetable stock.
  • Roast uncovered for another 25-30 minutes until all vegetables are tender.
  • Garnish with additional lemon juice or fresh thyme.
  • Serve with our Romesco sauce!

Notes

  • I used Earth Balance butter.
  • Fresh or condensed lemon juice may be used – but fresh will bring out the best taste, 4 Tblsp is roughly 1 whole lemon.
  • I love Better than Bouillon Vegetable base and you might not use the whole 1/4 cup leftover to baste it. Use your judgement. I usually only use 2 – 3 Tblsp for basting as I like my vegetables caramelized.
  • Rutabaga is a delicious substitute for baby potatoes.
  • Other vegetables that could be included are sliced sweet onion and sliced portobello mushrooms.

2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I was searching for different recipe to try this Sunday and I think I just got it! Thanks Sarah!

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