Saffron Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Roasting summer vegetables comes quite naturally to most cooks, I believe, but not everyone thinks to submit their winter counterparts to the same treatment. And it’s a pity, really, when you know what good it does root vegetables and winter squash, yes, but also broccoli and cauliflower.

And this is my favorite, ultra-facile way to cook cauliflower, tossed with ras el hanout — a magic wand of a Moroccan spice mix you should really add to your kit — and a pinch of saffron threads.

You’ll get golden florets so flavorsome you’ll have to fight the temptation to just transfer the batch to a big bowl and eat the whole thing while watching a movie.

The glamorous spices (what, you don’t think of saffron as glamorous?) together with the roasting method efficiently offset the cabbage-like acerbity that cauliflower detractors whine about, leaving you with golden florets so flavorsome you’ll have to fight the temptation to just transfer the batch to a big bowl and eat the whole thing while watching a movie — unless that’s your initial plan, of course.

If not, this makes a beautiful side to a duck magret or pork tenderloin, or, when spring returns, a shoulder of lamb. And because it fares just as well warm and at room temperature, it is an amenable item to add to a holiday spread.

(And if you hunger for more cauliflower recipes, I give you:
~ My mother’s cauliflower gratin,
~ Cauliflower soup with turmeric and hazelnuts,
~ Cauliflower semolina with dried fruits.)

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Saffron Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serves 4.

Saffron Roasted Cauliflower Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • a pinch saffron threads
  • 1 large head cauliflower, about 1.5 kg or 3 pounds (two if they're small)
  • 2 teaspoons xeres vinegar (a.k.a. sherry vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout, or your favorite curry powder
  • fine sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Combine the olive oil and saffron in a ramekin.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200° C (400° F), and place the ramekin on top of the oven (or some other warm spot) as it preheats, about 10 minutes, so the saffron will impart some of its flavor to the oil.
  3. In the meantime, trim the cauliflower and separate it into florets. Spread the florets in a baking pan large enough to accomodate them without overcrowding.
  4. Add the vinegar, sprinkle with ras el hanout, and salt.
  5. When the oven has finished preheating, add the saffron and olive oil.
  6. Toss well to coat and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes, stirring every now and then to ensure even roasting, until the tips of the florets are slightly browned and the texture is to your liking -- al dente or soft.
  7. Sprinkle with pepper and serve, hot or just barely warm.
  • Dear Clotilde,

    Wow, this looks great, and I happen to have a forlorn head of cauliflower in my fridge at the moment that I was just going to use in a rather boring old “gratin”.


    Laura in Burgundy

  • Mmm. We have been enjoying both the “cheddar” and purple cauliflowers this year. Roasting them lets the caramelization do its magic. Love the saffron and ras al hanout idea. I’m thinking also of Indian spices which work so well with cauliflower.

  • Adam of The Amateur Gourmet recently wrote about roasted broccoli. I love broccoli and cauliflower, but the idea of roasting them never occurred to me. I’ll have to try this!

  • While I’m not usually a huge fan of cauliflower, I am excited about the spices you use and the possibility of trying them with other vegetables.

  • Hi Clotilde – this is my first post to C&Z, although I’ve been reading for ages. Thanks for so much good reading.

    I was impelled to post because I love cauliflower and saffron so much! I’ve not made it for ages, but we do something similar at home with soaked currents and flaked almonds thrown in – the sweetness of the fruit is delicious with the cauliflower and warm spices. Thanks for reminding me! And for directing towards that delicious sounding recipe for cauliflower soup with hazelnuts. Can’t wait to try!

  • We like roasted cauliflower better than roasted broccoli — maybe because cauliflower is “earthier” to start with somehow? Not sure about the food chemistry there, but I do know it’s always fun to experiment. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Why, that sounds simple, fragrant, and delicious. Roasted cauliflower could become a new winter comfort food for me. And I don’t need another excuse to use curry powder! Thank you.

  • Tamsin

    Ooh, perfect, I have all the ingredients already and was debating how to use the cauliflower that’s been lurking in the fridge.

    I bet any leftovers could be worked into a soup too…

    Thanks Clotilde!

  • We love cauliflower around here. I’m always looking for new cauliflower recipes. This one sure sounds good. I just have one question: Does the ras el hanut taste like curry powder? I was alwas afraid of buying this spice, because of the dried rosebuds in it. Flowers in my food freak me out for some odd reason.

  • I have mixed feelings about Saffron. Although I do like the flavor it brings to dishes I still think it’s a little overrated. I think the allure and high price of it gives it more credit than maybe it deserves.

  • Yumm! I love cauliflower and was always looking for another way to make them. They are in season and I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    I have started my own blog not long ago check it out it’s called One Bite At A Times!

    Thanks for your inspiration!!!

  • Pat

    this is perfect! i just came home with a head of cauliflower for dinner and signed on to see if you had any ideas! thanks!

  • I’ve been seeing roasted cauliflower on Thanksgiving posts. It looks lovely and adding saffron would give it a beautiful color.

  • Oh, I love cauliflower. My dh & kids, well let’s just say they think they’re not fond of it. I will have to try some of your beautiful recipes to see if I can change their minds. Thanks!

  • I find your first line of this post interesting. I’m the opposite. I roast vegetables all the time in the winter but never think to do it in the summer!

  • Thanks for this timely post – I have a head of cauliflower in my fridge that I was going to ‘just’ roast in olive oil, but the saffron & curry sounds so much more interesting!

  • dory

    I love roast cauliflower. I liked cauliflower just fine while I was boiling it and steaming it. I now adore it roasted with cumin. I am going to try it with ras el hanout. I have never tried t his but just found a recipe for combining spices to make it. Thank you. I am going to make cauliflower gratin as well.


  • I have roasted brocolli and cauliflower many times but just simply olive oil salt and pepper. Your spices sound like a new twist I’ll have to try. This cauliflower soup I make you might enjoy. My kids think it is potatoe soup and I don’t tell them any different.
    Coarse salt and coarse black pepper
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    3 tablespoons butter
    2 small heads cauliflower, or 1 large, cut into small bunches of florets
    3 ribs celery and leafy tops from the heart of stalk, finely chopped
    1 medium onion, chopped
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 quart chicken broth
    1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
    Hot sauce, optional
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves or chives, for garnish
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan, for passing at the table
    In a large pot, heat up the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter, over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower florets and stir with a wooden spoon. Add celery, onion and thyme and cook for 3 minutes. Push the vegetables to 1 side of the pot. Melt 1 more tablespoon of butter on empty side of pot and add flour to the butter. Cook for 1 minute, stirring the flour in the butter. Mix in chicken broth and half-and-half. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Puree soup using an emersion blender, food processor or blender and return to pot. I like to leave it a little chunky. Check seasoning and add a dash of hot sauce, if desired.

    Garnish soup with hot pepper sauce, chopped parsley or chives and serve with grated cheese to sprinkle on top.


  • Monica

    Roasted cauliflower is one of the most delicious things ever. My teenage brother loves it, and that is quite a statement coming, as it does, from a die-hard vegetable hater. I look forward to trying out these spices. I always make mine with olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary and garlic.

  • Marcia

    I read your message and thought about the head of cauliflower on my stove top. I got up from the laptop and went to work on it. It was put in the oven with a few other things to take advantage of the space.

    Left overs will be good for lunch too. I’ve roasted many root vegetables, but never cauliflower. I will do this again!

  • Rachel

    This sounds like a cousin of aloo gobi, which is one of my favourite cold-weather dishes. It’s definitely going on the menu!

  • franko

    would this same idea work well with something like brussels sprouts, too? they are quite cabbage-y, and maligned. anyway, this sounds fab. i would like to make my own spice mixture — any favorite recipes for ras el hanout? : ))

  • Vicky

    I am definitely a cauliflower “detractor” (nice term). Just the smell of it turns my stomach. I love the Moroccan spices though, so this ALMOST makes me want to give it a go…

  • I love roasted cauliflower. I often cut it in large pieces, toss it with olive oil and salt, and add cheese part way through baking.

  • dory

    I think all of the brassicas, with the possible exception of cabbage are good roasted. Actually they tend to be better roasted than steamed, because something about steaming brings out that sulfury smell that veggies in the brassica family get. I have roasted brussels sprouts until the outer leaves get brown and crispy and they are good that way.


  • A-girl

    Oddly enough I have everything for this recipe, including the ras el hanout. I see this on my dinner table tonight.

  • I love cauliflower and am always looking for new ways to prepare it. This looks pretty perfect :)

  • I actually do think of saffron as glamorous — how could one not, given that golden hue it tends to impart to everything it touches? And I use it rarely enough that it still feels special.

    Thank you for this post. I’m re-learning to enjoy cauliflower thanks to recipes like this one.

  • I’ve been thinking about trying to make a variation of aloo gobi by roasting the cauliflower and I think you’ve motivated me!

  • Great looking recipe, I am always looking for recipes using Cauliflower but seldom find good ones! Will have to give yours a try!

  • Hooray for cauliflower! I agree that it’s an entirely underappreciated vegetable. I happen to love it in every form, but especially roasted, and I recently posted a similar recipe for Quick Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower and another for Cauliflower with Breadcrumbs & Parmegiano on my own blog.

    By the way, I’m a long-time reader, first-time commenter, and I’m always dreaming on Paris…

  • Hi,

    It’s been a while since I’ve visited yuor blog (I guess it’s on my favourites).
    Here in Portugal we don’t have the use of roasting vegetables and when I eat them like that is when I go to a restaurant where the owner or cook lived in another country.
    I have to try it one of these days.

    Kind regards,


  • Aiyana

    J’adore les choufleurs!

    Thank you for this post, and for the links to other recipes. I actually have a recipe quite similar to this for curried cauliflower, but I like this one, too, and will have to track down some ras el hanout or whatever it’s called.

    I didn’t feel like heating up the oven, so I made this in a heavy skillet on the stovetop instead. It required a bit more oil (perhaps 1/4 C), and I sort-of stir-fried it a few minutes, then put the lid on and let it steam for about 8 minutes more. Turned out fabulous.

    And yes, I did eat the entire thing by myself, in front of a movie!


  • Cherie – Because rose is just one in twenty-something spices used to make (a good) ras el hanout, you can’t discern its individual flavor. Give it a try sometime!

    Franko – Roasted Brussels sprouts are also very good, and this mix of spices should work well with them, too.

  • I love roasted cauliflower, and this version looks terrific! I have some saffron from La Tienda and I can’t wait to give this a try!

  • Aiyana

    I knew there was a comment I forgot to make here!

    I urge everyone to go find at least a picture of a Romanesco Cauliflower– Choufleur Romanesco– they are unbelievably beautiful. The only downside if that I can’t quite imagine cutting one up to cook it– they’re just too lovely!

  • I tried it but the saffron didn’t work for me. It was quite tasty, but not all gold and pretty. I wonder if I had bad saffron, or maybe my oven heats too quickly so I didn’t have enough infusion time? I’ve always infused saffron in milk or water before, never oil, but I assume that’s not the problem since it worked for you. A mystery.

  • Potiron

    I made some the other day and it was great!!! something I’ll redo often at home. For people who don’t usually like cauliflower on top of that!!! Mmmmmmm


  • Vicky

    I tried it, I of the cauliflower detractor persuasion, and I agree with the other poster about the saffron problem. It’s just a weird flavor. But it did turn the olive oil a lovely golden hue! I would make it again minus the saffron, and maybe even some curry instead. I actually liked it!

  • Cath – The reason why the saffron is infused in oil here rather than a liquid (as is indeed more customary) is that it is a roasted dish that doesn’t call for any liquid ingredient: if you were to infuse the saffron in a liquid and add that to the cauliflower, the liquid would just evaporate in the oven and would be of little use. Hence the infusion in oil, which won’t go anywhere.

    But I’ve actually made this on a couple of occasions by simply tossing the saffron with the cauliflower (skipping the infusion step) and the flavor came through very well, too.

    Could it be that the saffron you used was somewhat past its prime?

  • Looks simple and delicious! I think I know the next vegetable I’ll be cozying up to on a cold Colorado night!

  • Amy

    Have never roasted cauliflower before, so can’t wait to try your recipe!

  • wendy

    I’ve tried it last week and it turned out pretty well, even despite not having ras el hanout (mixed some spices I did have)and not having sherry vinegar (just left that out).
    I’ve never seen sherry vinegar for sale here (Netherlands), any suggestions for a replacement?

  • Wendy – Sherry vinegar comes from Spain, and also goes by the names of Jeréz vinegar or Xeres vinegar; perhaps the Dutch name is closer to those? But if you can’t find it, balsamic vinegar is a good substitute.

  • wendy

    Thanks clothilde,

    managed to find some sherry vinegar in a specialist oil&vinigar shop yesterday, and bought some ras-al-hanout this morning, so I’m planning on giving the recipe another try this weekend. Really liked it the first time around, so it will be intersting if it will be even better!

  • Just trying it now. My friend Nick who is a photographer ( brought back some saffron from Kashmir after last year’s harvest. It’s smell is sublime and it’s definitely a “glamorous” spice(worth more than its weight in gold)!

    I used a bit of pumpkin oil as well…lets see how it goes…

  • …It was delicious. A dash of pumpkin oil worked well. Also we used Garam Marsala as we didnt have the other spice and it was nice too! Thank you!

  • Just tried this last night and it turned out great! Made it along side the recommended pork tenderloin and my husband raved about it. :)

  • I unearthed another gem from your archives ~ saffron roasted cauliflower. My daughter postponed going out with friends so she could eat it. We had a lovely meal.

  • julie

    You really must parboil the cauliflower for a few minutes, dunk it in ice water, pat it dry and then start. Makes a world of difference

  • Julie

    This recipe is divine!!! It is so delicious! I substituted the sherry vinegar for plain sherry and it came out great. I love that it’s simple and healthy. THANK YOU!

    • Great to hear, Julie, thanks for reporting back!

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