Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

This spicy roasted cauliflower is a quick and easy side dish made with a whole cauliflower broken into florets and roasted in a chili powder and paprika spice blend until crispy at the edges and tender throughout.

Florets of spicy roasted cauliflower on a baking sheet with squeezed lime wedges and a bowl of green sauce beside them.

“This Spicy Roasted Cauliflower is so good even a non-cauliflower-eater will change his or her mind.” That’s what we’re hearing about this recipe with hints of smoked paprika and cayenne. As for that cooling cilantro sauce alongside the cauliflower in the photo above, we gotta say, we’re so focused on the sassy and spicy roasted cauliflower, we sometimes forgot about making it. It’s not at all necessary since roasting turns ordinary cauliflower into a surprisingly complex side that requires almost no effort. That said, try the two in tandem and you have yourself a company-worthy side for ANY occasion.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 15 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 3 to 4
4.8/5 - 4 reviews
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Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).

Cut the cauliflower into quarters. Then cut away the thickest part of the core. You can now pull the florets apart with your fingers or cut them with the tip of a paring knife. You want the florets to be 1 1/2 inches or so in size. (Cutting the cauliflower into uniform pieces is essential for even roasting. You should have about 4 generous cups florets.)

Dump the cauliflower in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, chili powder, paprika, salt, and a good grinding of black pepper. Pour the oil mixture over the cauliflower florets and toss to thoroughly coat.

Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and roast, stirring once, for 20 to 30 minutes. You want the cauliflower to be deep golden and beginning to crisp at the edges.

Serve the roasted cauliflower with the lime wedges and cilantro sauce, if desired. Originally published October 6, 2014.

Print RecipeBuy the The Messy Baker cookbook

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    Crisper Spicy Roasted Cauliflower Variation

    • The author notes that for even crisper results, you should rely on your oven’s convection setting, if it has one, and adjust the temperature accordingly.

    Recipe Testers Reviews

    I love cauliflower AND smoked paprika AND lime, so the combination of flavors in this spicy roasted cauliflower recipe intrigued me. Factor in the fact that the cauliflower is roasted and, well, this recipe is just heavenly. My family and I loved this.

    The flavors were amazing. This is a great side dish or it could even be a main dish for a vegan or vegetarian. Totally great!

    I like this spicy roasted cauliflower recipe for its simplicity and also for the smoky spicy flavors that are so good they will make even a non-cauliflower-eater change his or her mind! The squeeze of lime brightens the smoky flavor and creates a bit of a sauce with the spices.

    The recipe is easy to follow and the timing was spot-on. I roasted my cauliflower at 400°F in my convection oven. As suggested, the cauliflower got a turn after 15 minutes, then another turn after another 10 minutes, when it was very tender, but not quite golden brown. After a total cooking time of 29 minutes, a beautiful golden brown hue blanketed the cauliflower.

    I feel like the side dish could be elevated a bit by adding sliced fresh jalapeño and maybe even some sliced onions along with the cauliflower while roasting to give texture to the dish. But just as is, the dish is still delicious, easy, and certain to be your quick, go-to cauliflower dish.

    This spicy roasted cauliflower recipe is a winner. You can have melt-in-your-mouth cauliflower within an hour.

    It took about 15 minutes to prepare the dish. I used the convection setting on the oven at 425°F. The total roasting time was 25 minutes. I rotated the pan and stirred at the 15-minute mark. It’s a fine line between crisp edges and burning the cauliflower. I would recommend to start checking during the last 10 minutes of bake time. I had some extremely crisp cauliflower, but it still tasted good.


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      1. Thanks so much for your comment, Denise. Really glad that you were able to find a method to make it work with frozen cauliflower.

    1. I bought myself one of those mini-smokers with a dome and have been having a blast smoking everything in sight! And, smoking my own Paprika! Killer. This recipe gets done tonight I absolutely know I will love it!

    2. Well aren’t these just the most delectable little nuggets of deliciousness! We like serious heat in my family, so next time I’ll use ancho chile powder or spike the liquid with some cayenne pepper. If served with a dipping sauce, I feel like this cauliflower is substantial enough to stand on its own as a main dish. As a loud-and-proud carnivore, I can’t believe I just said that!

      1. Google “Messy Baker: Recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with Green Sauce” and it will come up. It’s a cilantro dipping sauce made of 1/4 cup canola or light veggie oil, 1 T fresh lime juice, 1 T fresh lemon juice, 1 cup rough chopped cilantro, 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped, 1 tsp honey (or sugar or agave nectar), fine sea salt to taste, fresh ground pepper. Blend it in a blender and scrape down the sides as necessary. Can’t imagine why the publisher wouldn’t give it to you!

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