Fun fact: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi are all the exact same plant.Brassica oleracea. That’s right, they’re not just closely related members of the same botanical family or genus, they’re literally all the same species, each a variant cultivated for a specific trait. In the case of cauliflower (and broccoli), the plant was bred to have pronounced flower buds, which are the florets we love so much.
Cutting cauliflower into florets is easy, especially if you can visualize the branching structure of the buds all growing from a central stalk; this stalk is often referred to as the “core” when talking about cauliflower.
Here’s how to easily divide cauliflower into florets, plus tips for making cauliflower “steaks.”
How to Cut Cauliflower
A step-by-step guide to cutting florets and steaks.
Cut the cauliflower into florets
Using a paring knife, cut off all the leaves around the base of the cauliflower. Then cut the head into quarters.
Cut out the central “core” of each quarter. Note: The kernel can be cut and used in many recipes. Don’t throw it away unless you’re sure you don’t need or want it.
Once the core has been removed, using your hands and/or a knife, break the large florets following their natural divisions. In some recipes, you may want to stop there and use the large florets as is.
For smaller florets, use a knife to cut each floret into smaller portions. If you want a more natural split without a perfectly flat cut side on each flower, you can use a knife to split the branch holding the flower buds together, then use your hands to separate the flower buds; this will break them more naturally and unevenly, which is sometimes desirable. Use as desired.
For cutting cauliflower steaks
The key to cauliflower “steaks” is to keep the core intact and attached to each steak: it is needed to hold the steak together. Start by cutting off all the green leaves growing from the base of the cauliflower head, then cut it vertically into slices about 1/2 to 1 inch thick. You’ll inevitably create trimmings with this, as the outer florets won’t be attached to the core when cut (this, in all honesty, makes cauliflower steaks a much better idea for restaurants and a worse idea for homes, since restaurants can collect enough toppings to turn it into another menu item, while home cooks cannot as easily).