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Here’s the easiest way to cook cauliflower! This lemon herb steamed cauliflower cooks in minutes and is so tasty, it’s life changing.

Steamed cauliflower

Did you know steamed cauliflower can taste incredible? Until very recently, we didn’t! Yes, Alex and I have been making cauliflower roasted for years. It comes out lightly charred with a sweet, almost caramelized flavor. The problem is, it takes about 40 minutes to roast: and that doesn’t work for a quick weeknight meal. Enter: steamed cauliflower! This easy side dish cooks in just 10 minutes. Mixed with savory Italian seasoning and bright lemon zest, the flavor was so good we couldn’t stop eating it. At the risk of sounding cheesy: it’s life changing.

Got a pressure cooker? Go to Instant Pot Cauliflower!

How to make the best steamed cauliflower

Making steamed cauliflower is seriously easy: all you need is a steamer basket and a covered pot or deep skillet. It cooks up in about 10 minutes. You’ll want to make sure not to overcook it, or it gets pretty mushy. The goal here is crisp tender: so make sure to taste it to assess whether it’s done! Here are all our secrets on the very best steamed cauliflower that we know you’ll fall in love with.

Gear required: You’ll need a steamer basket or steamer pan to make this recipe. Here’s a steamer basket you can buy online.

Step 1: Chop the cauliflower into florets.

Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. If you’re not sure the best method, Alex and I have a way to easily cut it without ending up with crumbles all over the counter! Go to How to Cut Cauliflower or see the video below.

Step 2: Bring water to a boil.

Rule number one of steaming vegetables: bring the water to a boil first! It might seem intuitive to put everything in the steamer and bring the water to a boil: but this results in irregular cooking. Boil the water first, then add the veggies. If you have a steamer basket without a handle, add it now: the water surface should be just under the basket.

Steamed cauliflower

Step 3: Steam for 10 to 12 minutes.

Once boiling, add the cauliflower (in the steamer basket, if it has a handle). Cover the pot with a lid. Steam with the lid on 10 to 12 minutes until just tender. Taste test a piece with a fork to assess doneness. The cook time will be slightly different every time based on the freshness of the cauliflower and thickness of the pieces.

How to steam cauliflower

Step 4: Drain and season.

Carefully remove the cauliflower to a bowl. Now here’s where the magic begins! Season with olive oil, sat and pepper, Italian seasoning, and lemon zest. (PS Here’s how to zest a lemon.) Then give it a taste! We hope you’ll love this steamed cauliflower as much as we do.

Steamed cauliflower

Ways to season steamed cauliflower

The best way to season steamed cauliflower is the example in this recipe (we think!): olive oil, Italian seasoning, and lemon zest! But if you’re looking for other options, here are a few ideas for add ons:

  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • Drizzle of balsamic reduction
  • Slivered toasted almonds or toasted pine nuts and raisins
  • Goat cheese or feta crumbles
  • Minced garlic
  • Panko and dried herbs
  • Green onion or chopped chives
  • Fresh dill, oregano or thyme
Steamed cauliflower

Our favorite ways to serve it!

Alex and I have made this steamed cauliflower several times already. In particular our son Larson loves to gobble it up. Here are a few ways we’ve served it that we’ve enjoyed:

  1. As a side dish. It’s a great side dish along with to go with salmon, sauteed shrimp or pasta.
  2. As a snack. Leftovers for us have become a snack, right out of the dish! Serve with Homemade Ranch for a dipping sauce.
  3. With gravy. Might sound odd, but it’s a great low carb version of mashed potatoes and gravy. (We had a bit of our easy vegan gravy left over and accidentally found out it was delicious!)
  4. In a bowl meal. This steamed cauliflower would be perfect in a grain bowl! Make a big pot of brown rice, quinoa, or farro, then top with chickpeas or lentils, baby greens, and our Best Tahini Sauce.
  5. As mac and cheese. Top with your favorite mac and cheese sauce for a cheesy version of your favorite pasta. Make a double recipe of cauliflower, and try our Pesto Mac and Cheese or Best Gouda Mac and Cheese.

Another favorite way to cook cauliflower? BBQ Grilled Cauliflower. It’s fantastic on the grill, infused with a charred, smoky flavor.

This steamed cauliflower recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Steamed cauliflower

Lemon Herb Steamed Cauliflower

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Here’s the easiest way to cook cauliflower! This lemon herb steamed cauliflower cooks in minutes and is so tasty, it’s life changing.


  • 1 small head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (zest from 1/2 lemon)


  1. Chop the cauliflower into florets.
  2. Place 1 ½ cups water into a saucepan or pot. If using a steamer basket without a handle, add it to the pot now: the water surface should be right under the basket. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, add the cauliflower (in the steamer basket, if it has a handle). Steam with the lid on 10 to 12 minutes until just tender, testing with a fork to assess whether it’s done.
  4. Carefully remove the cauliflower to a bowl, draining any excess liquid. Toss with the remaining ingredients and serve. (Store leftovers refrigerated.)
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Steamed
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Steamed Cauliflower

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. After I steamed the cauliflower for 10 minutes, I weighed it and it weighted 2 lbs., so I doubled the dressing and It turned out perfect and would make it again.

  2. Made this tonight and is all gone and other half doesn’t usually eat cauliflower! Did a little tweaking, added the juice of the half lemon along with zest, and used 2 fresh minced garlic cloves instead of garlic powder. Will definitely make again.

  3. Made this a few weeks ago and forgot to comment! It was lovely and fresh. I had it as a side with chicken and have saved it for future use too. Thanks for the recipe!