Cauliflower Parmesan


The Spruce / Jennifer Perillo

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Love gooey, cheesy Parmesan dishes, but looking for a low-carb or keto-friendly alternative to breaded chicken or eggplant? This cauliflower Parmesan is a delicious twist on the classic Italian-American dish and it couldn’t be easier, making it the perfect healthy meal for busy weekdays.

A quick roast in the oven is all the cauliflower needs to soften and slightly caramelize before getting topped with tomato sauce and a mix of mozzarella and pecorino cheeses. We’re even including a recipe to make a quick, homemade marinara while the cauliflower roasts, but we won’t tell anyone if you opt for a store-bought jar of sauce.


  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for coating baking sheet
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole-peeled tomatoes
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Cauliflower Parmesan Ingredients
     The Spruce / Jennifer Perillo
  2. Preheat oven to 450 F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet or large oven-proof oval casserole. Leaving core and stem intact, cut the cauliflower crosswise (through the core) into 1-inch thick planks. Place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast on bottom rack until cauliflower is browned underneath and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. 

    Cauliflower Parmesan
    The Spruce / Jennifer Perillo
  3. Meanwhile, use kitchen scissors to finely chop tomatoes in the can. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small pot over medium-high. Add garlic and cook until lightly golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook at a vigorous simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, 7 to 8 minutes.

    Cauliflower Parmesan
    The Spruce / Jennifer Perillo 
  4. Stir in the basil. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Cauliflower Parmesan
    Image by The Spruce / Jennifer Perillo.
  5. Switch oven to broil. Flip the cauliflower so the browned side is facing up. Spoon half of the sauce on top. Sprinkle mozzarella and half of the Parmesan cheese over. Broil on top rack until cheese is melted and browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes (watch closely as broilers vary). 

    Cauliflower Parmesan
    The Spruce / Jennifer Perillo
  6. Serve cauliflower Parmesan immediately with remaining sauce and Parmesan cheese on the side.

    Cauliflower Parmesan
    The Spruce / Jennifer Perillo 

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.


  • In a meal-planning mood? Double up on the cauliflower, and roast a double batch. Use half for the cauliflower Parmesan, and store the rest in a covered container in the fridge so you'll be halfway ready for your next meal.

Recipe Variations

  • We love that this cauliflower Parmesan is a naturally vegetarian main course. For a meatier main, sauté a 1/2 pound of ground beef in the pot before preparing the sauce in step 3.
  • Mozzarella and pecorino are widely used in Italian-American cheesy baked dishes but any melting cheese will work in this dish. Experiment with a soft gouda, Gruyere, or even mix in some sheep's milk feta for a Mediterranean twist.