Air Fryer Cauliflower

Looking for a quick and healthy side dish recipe for dinner tonight? This air fryer cauliflower is exactly what you need! Using an air fryer to roast the cauliflower at a high temperature creates amazing caramelization on the outside of the florets and crispy edges. I’ve also included recipe options to make this recipe with Parmesan cheese or with bacon or spicy. Grab that air fryer and let’s get cooking!

Air Fryer Cauliflower

Why I Love This Recipe

If you’ve been hanging out here at MKE for the past few months, you know how obsessed my whole family is with our air fryer. And, we’ve been kicking ourselves for waiting so long to finally jump on board. I’ve had such a blast creating so many delicious air fryer recipes and can’t wait to keep making more of them!

In fact, this recipe is the premier of my brand new air fryer after my last one died right after I finished making this amazing air fryer shrimp for dinner. Within a few hours, a new one was up and running in my kitchen. Yes, we are that obsessed 🙂

Especially now that my kids are becoming more responsible and do most of the cooking around here, the air fryer is their favorite cooking appliance. They find it much easier to use than standard kitchen appliances. My teenage daughter loved this air fryer cauliflower recipe so much, she made even more the next night for dinner. No complaints from me because cauliflower is my favorite veggie and this recipe creates the most amazing crispy edges!

Air Fryer Cauliflower Ingredients & Tools

  • Small head of cauliflower
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Large bowl
  • Air fryer
Air Fryer Cauliflower

How to Make Air Fryer Cauliflower

If you have 15 minutes, you can make this amazing side dish recipe that is not only healthy but has the best crispy edges!

Time needed: 15 minutes

How to Make Air Fryer Cauliflower

  1. Prepare the head of cauliflower

    Either cut or break the head into small florets. Try to keep the florets all about the same size so they cook evenly.

  2. Season the cauliflower florets

    In a large bowl, combine the florets with the olive oil, lemon juice, fresh garlic, salt, and pepper.

  3. Roast the cauliflower in the air fryer

    Set the temperature at 400 degrees and air fry the florets for 5 minutes.

  4. Shake the air fryer basket

    Doing this halfway through the cooking time helps the cauliflower roast evenly and promotes browning all around the florets.

  5. Roast for a second time in the air fryer

    Depending on the power level of your air fryer, it will take between 3 – 7 more minutes. This recipe was written using a 1500-watt air fryer and it took 5 minutes.

  6. Add freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Finishing the roasted cauliflower with a bit of Parmesan adds the perfect finishing touch of salt to the dish.

Air Fryer Cauliflower

Recipe FAQs

How do you make crispy roasted cauliflower?

To get cauliflower crispy while roasting, you need two things. First, a hot enough oven or air fryer. In an air fryer, that means 400 degrees. In an oven, bump that up to 450 degrees. Second, there needs to be enough space around the cauliflower florets for the moisture to escape as it cooks. If the cauliflower is crowded, the moisture will be trapped and it will steam instead of roast.

Why is my roasted cauliflower mushy?

If your roasted cauliflower is mushy, it’s because it is steaming instead of roasting. Be sure you are using a high enough temperature in your oven or air fryer and that the pan or basket isn’t overcrowded. Leave enough space for the moisture to escape. If the florets are too close together, the moisture gets trapped and you end up steaming it. Also, using a very hot temperature allows the florets to cook through quickly while caramelizing on the outside.

Adjusting the recipe for different power levels

Since there are different air fryer power levels, it is important to know what yours is. There will be a sticker on the bottom or inside of yours that will tell you. This air fryer cauliflower recipe was written using a 1500-watt machine. If you have a 1300-watt machine, you will need more cooking time. If you have a 1700-watt machine, less.

Which Air Fryer Do You Recommend?

Yes, there are a million different air fryers on the market so it is very overwhelming. Here are the most important features to look for. First, go for a large capacity fryer. A higher volume air fryer is better so you won’t have to make multiple batches of this air fryer cauliflower or any other recipe.

You also want to look at the temperature range and power level of any air fryer you are buying. Many of them get hot but not all of them have a lower temperature range. Definitely select one that goes as low as 250 so you can make all types of recipes, like these Air Fryer Hard Boiled Eggs. Also, look at the power level of the machine you are considering. I’ve found 1500 watts to be perfect because that’s what most recipes are written using.

This is my long way to say that I highly recommend the COSORI 5 qt air fryer. I actually own two air fryers and this one is my go-to machine out of the two.

Air Fryer Cauliflower

Air Fryer Cauliflower Recipe Variations

Trying out new recipes at home is an amazing opportunity to experiment with recipes, personalizing them to your tastes and creativity. Try out any of the following variations and let me know what you think! Each would be great spin-offs of this air fryer cauliflower.

  1. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top of the roasted cauliflower. I like to use a balsamic syrup because it adds both acidity and sweetness. You can also use plain balsamic vinegar but just add a few shakes over the top so it doesn’t overpower the flavor.
  2. Grate fresh parmesan cheese on top of the finished cauliflower. And please, don’t use the pre-grated cheese or stuff in the green can. A simple Google search will tell you why. 
  3. Add chopped bacon if you want both some protein and an extra boost of flavor. Add the already-cooked bacon pieces to the last 3 minutes in the air fryer. 
  4. Add spice with a squeeze of your favorite hot sauce or some red pepper flakes mixed in with the oil and seasonings.

Looking for More Great Air Fryer Recipes?

If this air fryer cauliflower recipe was exactly what you wanted for dinner tonight, be sure to check out these other delicious recipes. Go grab them now before you forget!

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Air Fryer Cauliflower

Air Fryer Cauliflower

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Ready in 15 minutes and perfectly crispy all over each floret!

  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic,  minced

Rounded 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Combine the florets with the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat the cauliflower evenly with the seasonings.
  2. Place the florets in the basket of your air fryer. Cook for 5 minutes at 400 degrees.
  3. Remove the basket and shake.
  4. Cook for another 3- 7 minutes at 400 degrees. The amount of time depends on the power level of your air fryer. This recipe was made using a 1500-watt machine and took another 5 minutes.
  5. Grate the Parmesan cheese over the top and serve immediately.
  • Author: Carole Jones
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Air Fryer
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4
  • Calories: 77 kcal
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 205 mg
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 1 mg

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Carole Jones

Carole Jones is an Arizona-based cookbook author & food blogger. She's authored The 30 Minute Cooking From Frozen Cookbook and the self-published Take 5: Chicken e-cookbook. For the past 15 years, Carole has shared her culinary adventures cooking and baking for her six brutally honest children here on My Kitchen Escapades. Hot, crusty bread is Carole's love language, but her two adorable grandchildren are a close second. Yes, second. Don't judge.

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