How To Cut Cauliflower Without Making A Mess

A close-up shot of a cauliflower rosette with cuts of cauliflower on a wooden cutting board in the background.

Quick Overview: How To Cut Cauliflower?

  1. Remove the leaves.
  2. Cut and detach the stem.
  3. Separate the florets with your hands.
  4. Use a chef's knife to remove the stem from each floret.
  5. Cut the florets into your desired shape.
  6. Wash and drain

Cauliflower is one of the most versatile and nutritious vegetables. But, to take full advantage of its benefits and flavor, it is important to know how to choose, store, cut, and prepare it properly. Read on to discover how to get the most out of this healthy treat!

1. How To Choose The Best Cauliflower?

Shot of a girl wearing green buttoned top holding a fresh cauliflower.

Knowing how to choose the best cauliflower is easy and simple if you know what to look for. 

  • Always choose cauliflower with the tightest florets. If the florets have started to separate, the cauliflower is past its prime.
  • The size of the cauliflower is no guarantee of quality. While it does not have to be large, it should be heavy for its size.
  • Check that it looks clean and has a uniform, creamy white color, without soft parts or brown spots (or dark, or grayish). It should also be free of mold, specks, and any "fuzzy" looking texture. These are all signs that the cauliflower is not fresh.
  • Raw cauliflower has no odor. It is normal for cauliflower to give off a pungent odor when cooked, but not when fresh. If the cauliflower you choose gives off a strong, pungent, or ammonia odor, it is likely to be unfit for consumption.
  • The leaves should look alive and bright green. They should not be wilted, discolored, or moldy. Here’s a tip: split the midrib of a leaf in two, if it breaks with an audible snap, the cauliflower is fresh. 

2. How To Cut Cauliflower Step-By-Step (Without Making A Mess) A photo of different cuts of cauliflower on a wooden cutting board.

Cutting cauliflower is very straightforward if you use a smart technique and a sharp knife. You’ll need:

  • A chef's knife 
  • A paring knife
  • A cutting board


  1. Place the cauliflower on the cutting board with the stem side up and remove all the large leaves with your hands. Use a paring knife for the smaller leaves.
  2. Cut around the stem to detach it from the head. Discard it.
  3. Separate the large florets from the head of cauliflower with your hands, it should be easy.
  4. You can use a chef's knife to remove the stem from each floret if they’re too long.
  5. From there, you can handle the cauliflower florets according to the recipe. For example, you could gently separate them with your hands, or cut them into slices. 
  6. Wash and drain the florets before cooking.

By following these steps and using the proper (sharp) knives, the task of cutting the cauliflower will be fast, efficient, and clean!

NOTE: The most commonly used method is to cut the head of the cauliflower into quarters. The thing about this method is that it will usually leave a mess of crumbs all over your countertop. The technique we recommend here is cleaner and still practical.  

3. Dalstrong Products You Need To Cut Cauliflower

1. 3-Piece Knife Set: Chef + Santoku + Paring | Gaia Series

3-Piece Knife Set: Chef + Santoku + Paring | Gaia Series 

This new set from Dalstrong includes the three most essential kitchen knives: A chef’s knife, A Santoku and a paring knife. This set is useful for every possible recipe using cauliflower: the wide blade of the 8'' Chef knife will cut large cauliflower pieces; the narrower blade of the 7" Santoku is ideal for cutting cauliflower into florets; while the 4" straight-edged paring knife is perfect for peeling and cutting the ends of the stems, skin, and inedible parts of the cauliflower.


  • The three knives are great for cutting cauliflower, and the combination will allow for different cuts in different recipes. In general, this set is ideal for meal and vegetable preparation.
  • Each knife is forged with premium recycled German steel and made with sustainable and recycled materials, making the set environmentally friendly.
  • Incredibly durable high-density wood fiber handles.
  • Each knife comes with a sheath with a magnetic fastener
  • Lovely design and aesthetics.


  • Some chefs may consider that investing only in a chef knife is enough for cutting a cauliflower.
  • This is a high-quality set, therefore, the price is also high. Even though the value is justified, some will have to readjust their budget.

2. Chef's Knife 9.5" | Shogun Series ELITE


Chef's Knife 9.5" | Shogun Series ELITE

With this full-length chef's knife, made from ultra-premium Japanese steel, you'll be able to quickly core and cut cauliflowers in bulk. While a standard chef’s knife is meant to be used at tasks like this; this model will excel and have you move on to the next task in no time.  


  • This is a lightweight and maneuverable knife, even lighter than the 8” version of the same series!
  • Scalpel- like edge with an extraordinary angle of 8º to 12º per side.
  • The hammered finish creates air capsules that prevent food from sticking. 
  • High levels of carbon for durability and strength. 
  • Includes a PerfectFit sheath to protect the blade.   


3. Paring Knife 3.5" | Frost Fire Series 

Paring Knife 3.5" | Frost Fire Series

The small, agile blade is great for detailed cuts, such as when you need to separate the stems from the florets. The handle design is ergonomic and non-slip, allowing for a comfortable and secure grip when peeling and chopping vegetables and fruits.


  • The “frosted” finish is not only beautiful, but it improves non-stick properties.
  • 7 layers of high carbon steel, plus added chrome and cobalt.
  • The premium handle is sealed with aluminum mesh for maximum durability.
  • Easy to keep clean.
  • Easy to sharpen.
  • Certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).


  • The minimalist design may not be to the taste of some who prefer a more traditional or rustic look.
  • Some cooks prefer a bird's beak shape to make smaller, more detailed cuts. If you're one of them, check out the Bird's Beak Peeling & Paring Knife 3".

4. Santoku Knife 7" - Shadow Black Series

Santoku Knife 7" - Shadow Black Series

This premium culinary tool brings together the all-around qualities of its Western counterpart, the chef's knife, but its distinctive straight edge allows for the push-cutting technique needed to cut vegetables such as whole cauliflower. And it stands out for its unique geometric design and striking midnight black appearance.


  • The exclusive black coating enhances the knife's resistance to water and corrosion.
  • The geometric design of the handle allows it to fit perfectly in the palm of the hand.
  • This knife is sophisticated, beautiful and out of the box.
  • It is forged from a single piece of premium German high-carbon, ultra-strong steel. 
  • With the edge at 16-18°, your cauliflower steak cuts will be clean and precise.


  • The knife has a unique aesthetic design that sets it apart from the most common knives in the kitchen. If you are looking to maintain some sort of aesthetic coherence, consider that purchasing the whole series is a significant investment.
  • Some may prefer blades with the usual stainless steel finish, considering that the matte black finish could show scratches with prolonged use if you’re not careful.

5. Teak Cutting Board | Medium Size

Teak Cutting Board | Medium Size

To cut and prepare cauliflower, you need a flat, stable and safe work surface, such as this cutting board made of 100% teak wood. Cutting boards not only make it easier to prepare vegetables, fruits and food, but also help keep the kitchen clean, protect knife edges and avoid scratching countertops. 


  • Teak wood is renowned for its impressive natural resistance to moisture and mold.
  • Strong enough to ensure precise, clean cuts, while being elastic enough to protect the cutting edge of your knives. 
  • The compact grain ensures a hygienic cutting surface, especially suitable for the humid environments found in kitchens. 
  • The board has engraved measuring lines that are very useful for cutting cauliflower and other vegetables.
  • It has a long groove to collect the juices from certain foods.
  • Perfect to show off as a serving board.


4. Easy Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

Overhead shot of cauliflower cuts on a tray freshly baked from the oven.

A fast and simple way to prepare cauliflower is in the form of roasted steaks, which can be cooked in the oven, on a grill or in the air fryer. This dish can be an appetizer, a main, or a side dish. 

Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 30 min
Servings: 3


  • ½ cauliflower head
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper 
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder 
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika 
  • ½ teaspoon oregano 

Step by step:

  1. Line your baking sheet using a parchment paper while preheating your oven to 425°F
  2. In a small bowl, prepare a marinade with the olive oil and spices. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Wash the cauliflower, removing all the leaves.
  4. Place the half head on a cutting board with the flat side down. Using a chef's knife, cut it into ¾ inch thick slices for three steaks. 
  5. Arrange the filets evenly on the baking sheet and coat them generously with the marinade.  
  6. Bake the cauliflower steaks in the oven for 15 minutes. 
  7. Remove the tray from the oven, turn the steaks, and brush them again with more marinade. Bake for another 15 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. To serve, sprinkle with a little more oregano and enjoy!

Cauliflower steaks in the air fryer

Place the marinated fillets in a single layer and set the fryer to the right mode or set it manually to 375 °F for 14 minutes. Halfway through the time, turn the steaks over.  Easy as that!

All the other steps are exactly the same!

5. How To Store Cauliflower?

A photo of cauliflowers lined up and on top of each other.

Now that you have learned how to choose the best cauliflower and how to cut the perfect florets, you can prepare your favorite recipes. But what if you're not going to use it for several days? Or if you have leftovers? Here are several ways to store cauliflower, either for a few days, a few months or even years!

1. The Refrigerator

If you are going to cook fresh cauliflower in the next 7 days, or if you want to keep leftovers from your last recipe, the refrigerator is the best choice. You have several options here:


Wrap the cauliflower head in a perforated plastic bag with the stem side up. Place the bag somewhere with minimal exposure to light and oxygen. If stored this way, cauliflower can last 5 to 7 days. 

In chunks

If you cut cauliflower before refrigerating it, you will get a head start whenever you decide to cook. Wash the cauliflower head under running water and drain well. Cut the florets to the size you need and store them in the refrigerator inside an airtight container. 


Leftovers. You can keep leftovers for 2 or 3 days by putting them in any airtight container in the refrigerator. To prevent the cauliflower from turning yellow, sprinkle it with some lemon juice.

2. The freezer

Once cut into florets, blanch the cauliflower for about 3 minutes in boiling water. Drain and immediately pass them through iced water for 2 minutes. Drain again. Store the florets in a freezer bag, eliminating as much air as possible and sealing the rim perfectly. They can be preserved in the freezer for up to a year.

3. Fermented cauliflower

If you like the taste and aroma of pickled vegetables, then you might find this method to be the right one for you. Simply keep small pieces of cauliflower in vinegar or vinegar solution (vinegar, water, salt, herbs and spices) inside sterilized jars in the fridge. 

Some people like to go further with the canning technique: boiling vacuum-sealed jars of cauliflower pickles for 45 minutes, before putting them on the shelf where they can last for years.

6. Frequently Asked Questions About Cauliflower

What are some good cauliflower recipes?

There are many ways to prepare cauliflower: Cauliflower rice, cauliflower curry, cauliflower soup, buffalo cauliflower steaks, and even pizza crusts made of cauliflower!

Can you cook cauliflower in the air fryer?

Yes! Cooking cauliflower in the air fryer guarantees fast and even cooking in half the time of a traditional oven. 

Shop Dalstrong Knives Today

Written by Eva Contreras
Food & travel writer based in Buenos Aires. Superpowers include relentless curiosity and high tolerance to spicy foods.

How To Cut Cauliflower Without Making A Mess

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