Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower. Photo © Molly Watson
  • 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ratings (18)

A few spices (okay, a fair number of spices!) and just a bit of sugar turn a head of cauliflower into a caramelized, spicy, golden treat. Serve this as a side dish or simply as a stunning appetizer—the spice is lovely alongside drinks. It's also a lovely addition to a mix of roasted vegetables as part of a large feast, buffet, or potluck offering.

Why so many spices? The hot paprika adds heat (obviously), but also a deep earthiness. Sweet paprika piles on that earthiness without much more heat. Cayenne adds a sharper heat for those who like it, turmeric brings its brilliant golden color and rich flavor, and cinnamon adds a touch a warm sweetness. If you only have sweet or regular paprika, you may want to use that in place of the hot paprika, and then add a touch more cayenne, if you like things spicy.

What You'll Need

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric*
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

How to Make It

  1. Preheat an oven to 450F. While the oven heats, cut out the core of the cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower florets into bite-size pieces. Instinct may have you cut off increasing amounts of stem to get smaller florets, but cutting up and into the stem to divide the florets into longer, more elegant versions is an equally easy, and less wasteful, way to go. You can discard the core, or cut it into sticks or small floret-size cubes and cook them up with the florets.
  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Take off the heat and mix in the sugar, salt, pepper, hot paprika, sweet paprika, cayenne (if using), turmeric, and cinnamon. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Add all the cut-up cauliflower and toss to coat the cauliflower as evenly as possible with the spicy butter. Be warned: This will take a fair amount of tossing.
  2. Lay the cauliflower pieces in a single layer in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet. The less they touch, the better, but you don't need to be fussy about it. Cook them in the oven until browned, sizzling, and tender with crispy bits forming on the edges—mine took about 25 minutes, but all ovens and pan are different. The cauliflower matters more than the clock.

Serve the roasted cauliflower hot or at least warm. The cauliflower is delicious all on its own, but if you want to add another element, plain yogurt makes a pretty tasty dip or thing to drizzle on this. Jazz it up by mixing a clove of minced garlic and a bit of ground cumin or some minced mint leaves into the yogurt for the world's easiest sauce.

*The turmeric is used primarily to add its gorgeous bright golden color, but it has a lovely earthy flavor, too. If you don't happen to have some on-hand, this dish will still be utterly delicious, if a touch less gorgeous.