How To Steam Cauliflower

5 from 2 votes

Learn how to steam cauliflower with this simple method. Steamed cauliflower is so versatile and can be used in many recipes!

steamed cauliflower in a bowl
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One of my favorite ways to eat cauliflower is to steam it.

Steamed cauliflower can be used for so many things – from side dishes to mixed in pasta, turned into sauce, cauliflower rice, and more!

I’m going to share my easy method for steaming perfect cauliflower (no steamer needed!)

raw cauliflower florets

How to steam cauliflower

Step 1: Cut up your cauliflower into florets.

Step 2: Place the raw cauliflower florets into the metal strainer.

Step 3: Place a few inches of water into the bottom of the pot.

The only kitchen tools you will need are a medium sized pot and fitting lid, and a metal strainer/colander.

The size pot you need will probably be the one that you cook spaghetti in.

Medium sized, holds a lot, but it does not need to be huge.

head of raw cauliflower

You want to make sure that your strainer fits into the pot nicely, but leaves several inches of space at the bottom for the water.

Once you cut up your cauliflower, it’s time to steam!

cauliflower florets

Place the lid over the cauliflower so that it covers the top.

This traps the steam which will cook the cauliflower.

This method is perfect for me because it uses kitchen pots and pans that I use in everyday life.

I once purchased an actual steamer, and it was such a pain to use and clean that I just stopped using it all together.

This method works better for me and is so simple to do.

How to steam cauliflower with a pot, strainer, and lid

Tip: do not let the water evaporate

The only thing that you need to watch out for when steaming this way is that the water does not all evaporate.

Every 5 or 10 minutes, check the pot to make sure there is still water in the bottom.

If it gets low you need to add some more. If the water evaporates, you may end up with a burnt pan.

How to steam cauliflower with a pot, strainer, and lid

how long to steam cauliflower

Anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes can be how long to steam cauliflower.

This will depend on how you want your cauliflower for the dish you are making.

If you are making cauliflower rice, or want your cauliflower with a little bit of texture still, check often after 10 or 15 minutes until it is cooked to your liking.

steamed cauliflower in a bowl

For me, I usually steam my cauliflower for around 20 – 30 minutes, until it is fork tender.

I know that it’s done when I can easily run a fork through it and the cauliflower falls right apart.

Ways to eat steamed cauliflower

There are so many options! Here are a few favorites of mine.

1. Make it into cauliflower alfredo sauce – this is my FAVORITE way to eat cauliflower.

You will not believe how incredibly decadent this sauce is!

cauliflower alfredo sauce

2. Pair with veggies and penne for this mushroom cauliflower alfredo pasta bake – total comfort food!

3. Serve with melted butter, salt, pepper and any other spices you love for a healthy and delicious side dish!

4. Run a knife through it and dice it up to form already cooked cauliflower rice (I do this a lot with stir fry recipes!)

5. Top it with this easy cheese sauce for veggies.

a fork taking a piece of steamed cauliflower from the bowl

More Cauliflower Recipes

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image with text "how to steam cauliflower"
steamed cauliflower in a bowl
5 from 2 votes

How To Steam Cauliflower

Steamed cauliflower is a great side dish that can be made without a steamer!
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to steam cauliflower
Yield: 4
Calories: 32kcal
Author: Joy Shull


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • water as needed
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Place a colander into a large saucepan.
  • Chop the cauliflower into florets, and add to the colander basket
  • Add enough water to cover the bottom of the saucepan
  • Place saucepan with the colander basket over medium high heat, and cover the cauliflower with a lid
  • Steam until fork tender, around 15 – 25 minutes, or until desired texture
  • Serve with butter, salt, and pepper, or with cheese sauce
  • To make cauliflower rice, run a knife through the steamed cauliflower until it is in small rice like pieces, serve immediately


Serving: 1g | Calories: 32kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 97mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g

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  1. Finally someone who knows how to steam cauliflower! Why does every other recipe say to steam it for 3-8 minutes? After 8 minutes it’s still rock hard! This is the only recipe I found saying 15-25 minutes, which is correct! Do most people like hard cauliflower?? I’m trying to understand this…