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How do you blanch raw cauliflower?

Blanching raw cauliflower is a simple process that helps lock in flavor, brighten color, and soften texture before cooking. With just a pot of boiling water and a few minutes of time, you can prepare raw cauliflower for all kinds of delicious recipes.

Why Blanch Cauliflower?

There are a few key reasons to blanch cauliflower before cooking:

  • Brightens color – Blanching helps retain cauliflower’s white color which can otherwise turn dingy when cooked.
  • Softens texture – The short boil softens the cauliflower florets so they are more tender for recipes.
  • Enhances flavor – Blanching brings out the cauliflower’s sweet, nutty flavor.
  • Preserves nutrients – Quick blanching helps lock in vitamins and minerals that can leach out during longer cooking.
  • Precooks – Blanching partially cooks the cauliflower so it takes less time to finish cooking later.

How to Blanch Cauliflower

Blanching cauliflower only takes a few easy steps:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use at least 6 cups of water for 1 head of cauliflower.
  2. Prepare the cauliflower by cutting the head into small, evenly sized florets. Rinse and drain well.
  3. Once the water is rapidly boiling, add the cauliflower florets. Leave space between them.
  4. Blanch for 3-4 minutes until the cauliflower is slightly softened but still crisp. Do not overcook.
  5. Drain immediately and either shock in an ice bath or rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  6. Use as desired in recipes. Blanching buys you a few days in the fridge.

Tips for Blanching Cauliflower

  • Use a large pot and plenty of water so the cauliflower can move freely while blanching. This ensures even cooking.
  • Cut florets to roughly the same size so they blanch evenly. About 1-2 inches is ideal.
  • Test doneness after 3 minutes. Cauliflower should be slightly softened but still retain some crunch.
  • Time the blanching and immediately drain and rinse to prevent overcooking. Overcooked cauliflower will be limp and dull in color.
  • Shock in an ice bath if you want to completely stop cooking. Alternatively, a cold water rinse works too.
  • Pat dry before using blanched cauliflower in recipes. A little moisture is ok but you don’t want excess water.
  • Enjoy blanched cauliflower within 3-4 days for best quality and flavor.

How is Blanching Different from Boiling or Steaming?

Although blanching, boiling, and steaming all use hot water to cook cauliflower, there are a few key differences:

Blanching Boiling Steaming
Time 3-4 minutes 10-15 minutes 15-20 minutes
Doneness Crisp tender Fully cooked Fully cooked
Texture Retains crunch Very soft Soft, not mushy
Flavor Bright, sweet Mild Bright, concentrated

The quick 3-4 minute blanch brightens flavor and color while softening the cauliflower without fully cooking it through. The texture remains crunchy. Boiling and steaming fully cook the cauliflower until very soft.

Blanched Cauliflower Recipes

Blanched cauliflower is great to have on hand for using in all kinds of recipes. Here are a few delicious ways to use up blanched cauliflower:

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasting caramelizes and intensifies the flavor of blanched cauliflower. Toss florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 400°F for 15-20 minutes until browned.

Cauliflower Soup

For smooth, creamy cauliflower soup, simmer blanched florets in broth or milk before blending. Garnish with cheese, croutons, or bacon.

Cauliflower Rice

Blanched cauliflower florets can be pulsed into grain-sized pieces to make low-carb cauliflower rice. Saute and use like regular rice.

Curried Cauliflower

Toss blanched cauliflower with curry powder and garam masala. Saute with onions, garlic, and spices for a flavorful cauliflower curry side dish.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

For a veggie pizza crust, pulse blanched cauliflower in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Bake into a crust shape topped with sauce and cheese.

Cauliflower Mash

Whip blanched cauliflower with butter, milk, and seasonings for a lighter, fluffier alternative to mashed potatoes.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

For low-carb fried rice, saute riced cauliflower with diced veggies, eggs, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Garnish with scallions.

Cauliflower Gratin

For an easy vegetarian gratin, layer blanched cauliflower with cheese sauce and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and bubbly.

Storage and Freezing

Properly stored, blanched cauliflower will last:

  • Fridge: 3-4 days in a container with a damp paper towel to retain moisture.
  • Freezer: 2-3 months in an airtight freezer bag. Works well frozen for roasting or ricing later.

To freeze, first drain blanched cauliflower well and pat very dry. Freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan before transferring to bags for easy portioning.


Blanching cauliflower before cooking locks in nutrients, brings out sweet flavor, and creates the perfect texture for using in all kinds of recipes. With just boiling water and a few minutes, you can transform raw cauliflower into a versatile ingredient. Keep blanched cauliflower on hand for effortless meals and sides throughout the week.