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The Easiest Way to Cut a Head of Cauliflower Is with Scissors

Not sure how to break down a head of cauliflower into small pieces? Our technique is shear genius.
By Published Apr. 21, 2022

Cauliflower has become a darling of the vegetable world over the past few years. And it makes sense: This versatile vegetable can be blended into a creamy soup, tossed into a light salad, blitzed into cauliflower “rice,” or roasted until it’s caramelized and nutty. Whatever the use, how you prepare the cauliflower is important.

How to Buy Cauliflower

Most cauliflower is bright white, but you can find it in green, purple, or orange varieties. Whatever the color, make sure that it’s evenly colored and free of any brown spots. Look for heads that feel heavy and have tightly packed florets. Any leaves that are still attached should be green.

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Storing Cauliflower

Cauliflower can be stored in the plastic packaging it is often sold in at the grocery store. But to make it last longer, take it out of that packaging, wrap paper towels around the head to absorb any excess moisture, and transfer the paper towel–wrapped head to a loosely closed produce bag. Be sure to store the vegetable in the refrigerator. 

While cooking cauliflower whole is doable, most of the time, you need to cut up a head of cauliflower before cooking it. Start by removing any green leaves, and then cut the stem flush with the head of the cauliflower.

How to Cut Cauliflower into Wedges

  1. Halve the cauliflower lengthwise through the core. 
  2. Place the halves cut side down on your cutting board for stability. Angle your chef’s knife to cut each half into equal-size wedges, keeping the core and florets intact. 

How to Cut Cauliflower into Florets

  1. Use kitchen shears to cut the stems vertically around the core to break off large florets. You can use a paring knife here, but using scissors results in more individual florets and minimizes any cauliflower rubble (small bits) that break off while cutting. 
  2. Switch back to your chef’s knife or a sharp paring knife to cut the florets through the stem into the desired size. 
  3. Don’t toss the core; you can peel it and then roast it or blend it into a soup or sauce. 
. . . using scissors results in more individual florets and minimizes any cauliflower rubble (small bits) that break off while cutting.” 
Cook’s Country Test Cook Amanda Luchtel breaks down a head of cauliflower.

If you’re roasting or searing cauliflower, be sure to cook it cut side down. That way the flat side will have more contact with the hot pan, so you’ll have more of that deeply roasted, caramelized flavor, as we did in our Roasted Cauliflower with Mint and Olive Sauce. For this recipe, we tossed cauliflower with a sauce of fresh mint, parsley, Castelvetrano olives, garlic, pepper flakes, lemon juice, and pine nuts. The roasty notes from the well-browned cauliflower take the flavor over the edge for a simple yet bold side.