Microwaving cauliflower is the quickest and easiest way to cook it. And the best way to cook cauliflower in the microwave is to steam it!
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How to steam cauliflower in the microwave
Perfectly cooked cauliflower florets make a delicious and healthy side dish. If you are wondering how to cook cauliflower in the microwave without it becoming soft and unappetizing, then there are a couple of things you need to know.
The texture of cauliflower is one of the things that makes it so delicious, and if you have ever tried microwaving it in water (boiling it) then you will know how easy it is to overcook and end up with mush.
Microwaving cauliflower is actually easy, you just need to take a little care to ensure that it retains its texture and flavor. The way to do this is to gently steam it, rather than attempting to boil it. This means only using a small amount of water, and getting the timings just right.
Steaming vegetables in a microwave is such a quick and convenient way to cook them, here are some of my other favorites: Microwave carrots, microwave steamed green beans and microwave steamed broccoli.
What do you need?
Microwave-safe bowl with a lid
To steam cauliflower in your microwave, you will need a microwave-safe dish with a close-fitting lid. You could also use a microwave safe bowl with plastic wrap on top (you need to pierce the plastic wrap a few times with a sharp knife).
I normally use fresh cauliflower, but you can also cook frozen cauliflower florets in the microwave. If using fresh cauliflower, half a medium cauliflower head is usually a good amount for four servings.
You just need a small amount of water in the bottom of the bowl. The right amount will boil quickly and fill the bowl with enough steam to cook the cauliflower florets. I usually find around half a cup of water works well.
You may find the florets in the bottom of the bowl that are sitting in the water get a little overcooked. They will still taste delicious, but will probably lose their texture by the time the rest of the cauliflower is cooked.
Optional: microwave-safe steamer basket
You can avoid this by using a microwave-safe trivet or steamer basket to raise the cauliflower up out of the water before cooking. I have this Joie silicone vegetable steamer*, which works perfectly.
Cut the cauliflower into florets. You can keep as much of the stalk as you like. I personally quite like cauliflower stalk when it is steamed correctly. If you usually discard it, why not give it a try?
You will need to microwave the bowl of cauliflower florets until the water is boiling and the bowl has filled with steam. It needs to boil continuously for around 2-3 minutes, and then should be left for two minutes with the lid on to allow the cauliflower to finish cooking in the steam.
The total length of time you will need to microwave the florets for depends on the power of your microwave. The times in the recipe card below are perfect for my 1000W microwave, so if you have a lower wattage you may need to increase the times a little.
Cooking times chart
You can estimate cooking times for a different wattage microwave using the chart below:
|Wattage||Cook time||Steam time|
|500W||8min 20s||2 min|
|600W||7min 40s||2 min|
|800W||6min 20s||2 min|
|900W||5min 40s||2 min|
|1100W||4min 20s||2 min|
|1200W||3min 40s||2 min|
You may need to use a little trial and error to get it exactly right. I would recommend printing off the recipe card below and making a note of how long worked for your microwave to make it easier next time! Soon you will be able to perfectly steam cauliflower in the microwave without a second thought!
Steamed cauliflower is perfect on its own as a side dish, however you can easily make it much more exciting with a few simple additions. Here are some fun ideas to try:
- Top cooked cauliflower with cheese sauce, or for a simple version add some cream cheese on top of the cauliflower while it is still piping hot and let it melt over the florets
- Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top
- Or, for a vegan version, sprinkle cauliflower with nutritional yeast
- Keep it simple with melted butter and a light sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper
Storage and reheating
Store cooked cauliflower in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
To reheat in the microwave, place cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and pierce a couple of times. Microwave on high for around 1 minute until piping hot.
Microwave Steamed Cauliflower
- 1 head of cauliflower
- ½ cup water
- Cut cauliflower into florets.
- Place cauliflower florets in a microwave-safe bowl with a lid (use a microwave trivet if you have one).
- Microwave cauliflower on high for 5 minutes, then allow to steam for an additional 2 minutes (do not remove the lid from the bowl during this time).
- Once steaming time is up, carefully remove the lid from the bowl, it is full of hot steam, which will all escape when the lid is removed.
- Serve cauliflower with a sprinkle of kosher salt, or topped with butter. Enjoy!
Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.