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Best Whole Roasted Cauliflower

One of my favorite vegan dinners, this whole roasted cauliflower is easy to make and looks stunning at the center of a holiday table! Every person I have made it for has absolutely loved it – including meat eaters.

Whole roasted cauliflower in a large cast iron pan surrounded by carrots and potatoes.

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The very first time I roasted a whole head of cauliflower, I made it for a holiday dinner and the whole family LOVED it. 

It’s so dang good and tastes crazy similar to a traditional pot roast, while still being 100% vegan.

Admittedly, I could eat the gravy by the spoonful. The secret to making a “meaty”-tasting gravy is to use soy sauce and a little Worcestershire sauce (be careful not to get one that contains anchovies.)

I also add some smoked paprika for a little umami oomph. Smoked paprika is a must-have in my pantry! It’s what gives bacon alternatives that perfect smokey flavor.

Keeping up with the roast tradition, this cauliflower roast is surrounded by carrots and potatoes. I love how the potatoes just soak up all that savory gravy. Classic comfort food with incredible flavor!

Enjoy with vegan green bean casserole and baked mac and cheese for a traditional holiday meal.

Gravy brushed over a whole head of cauliflower, ready to go into the oven for a vegan dinner!

Oven roasted whole cauliflower is the perfect vegan roast for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas or a Sunday dinner with family. While very simple to make, it does need a little TLC while roasting. I like to baste the cauliflower with the homemade gravy to keep it moist and really amplify the flavor.

The trick to getting even more flavor inside of the cauliflower is…putting the gravy literally inside. Place the cauliflower bottom-side-up and pour in some gravy. Then, give it a little shake to evenly distribute that yummy flavor between the florets. Set the cauliflower right-side-up and brush more gravy all over.

Gravy being drizzled into the inside of a cauliflower for vegan pot roast flavor.

Ingredients

Reminder: You can find the full, detailed and printable recipe in the recipe card below.

For the gravy, you’ll need:

  • Vegetable stock: Buy a carton at the store or make your own. You can also buy bouillon paste – it’s usually cheaper to make veggie stock that way!
  • Soy Sauce: Adds a rich umami flavor to the gravy without using beef.
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce: Traditionally, Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. However, many brands are anchovy-free. The Kroger store brand and Annie’s brand are vegan. You can also make homemade vegan Worcestershire sauce.
  • Maple syrup: Adds a touch of sweetness.
  • Seasonings: Garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, thyme, sage, smoked paprika, and pepper
  • Cornstarch mixed with water for a cornstarch slurry to help thicken the gravy.

For the roast:

  • Head of cauliflower: Choose a medium-sized whole cauliflower. A larger cauliflower will increase the cooking time.
  • Carrots and potatoes: I love to add these for that vegan pot roast flair.
  • Vegetable stock: To add moisture and help cook the veggies.
Gravy being poured over a whole head of cauliflower, surrounded by carrots and potatoes.

How to Roast Whole Cauliflower

Reminder: You can find the full, detailed and printable recipe in the recipe card below.

The Gravy

  • In a medium-sized pot, whisk together all of the gravy ingredients EXCEPT for the cornstarch & water. 
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. (This will allow all the flavors to marry.) Remove from the heat.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a cornstarch slurry.
  • Once the pot is no longer simmering, slowly whisk the cornstarch slurry into the gravy a little at a time. Going slow will ensure that no clumps form.
  • The gravy will begin to thicken as soon as the cornstarch is whisked in. Put the pot back on the stove and return to a simmer for an additional 3 minutes.

The Roast

  • Preheat oven to 450F degrees. 
  • Arrange the potatoes and carrots in a roasting dish with the cauliflower in the center. Be careful not to overcrowd the dish.
  • Place the cauliflower upside-down and pour 1/3 cup of the gravy into it. Give it a good shake to distribute the gravy. 
  • Place cauliflower right-side up and brush more gravy on the top to cover it (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup)
  • Add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock to the bottom of the dish (this will help steam the veggies.) 
  • Pour about a 1/3 cup of gravy over top of the potatoes and carrots.
  • Cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, brushing the cauliflower with more gravy halfway through.
  • Uncover the cauliflower roast and brush more gravy on. Bake for another 30 minutes (uncovered), brushing with more gravy halfway again. 
  • Remove from the oven and serve while hot. 

Once the whole roasted cauliflower comes out of the oven, I recommend cutting it like you would a round cake. Serve alongside those potatoes and carrots, and perhaps some salad, green bean casserole or stuffing, and that’s a complete meal!

A slice of cauliflower being cut from the roast.

FAQ

Why is my cauliflower undercooked?

If you have a larger-than-average head of cauliflower, allow for additional cooking time OR if it’s super large, steam the cauliflower for 10-15 minutes beforehand. Make sure to cover the roast tightly for the first 40 minutes of cooking time. This is really important to help steam the roast in the oven. To cover, I recommend using aluminum foil, a casserole dish with a lid, or a dutch oven. You could also cover your dish with a baking sheet if your dish is deep enough. Also, avoid overcrowding your dish. If you only have a small casserole dish or roasting pan, just cook the potatoes and carrots in a separate dish.

My gravy isn’t thickening, what’s going on?

Make sure to bring the gravy back to a simmer after adding the cornstarch and water mixture (aka, cornstarch slurry). You can also make more cornstarch slurry to add to the gravy.

What can I use in place of soy sauce?

Coconut aminos or tamari are good substitutes.

I can’t find vegan Worcestershire sauce! What can I use instead?

Make a homemade Worcestershire sauce or just leave it out, it adds a nice touch but won’t compromise the overall flavor of the gravy if you don’t add any.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Please leave a comment and a ⭐ star review below!

Whole roasted cauliflower in a large cast iron pan surrounded by carrots and potatoes.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Karissa Besaw
Oven roasted whole cauliflower made with potatoes, carrots, and a delicious gravy.
4.75 from 229 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course, Vegan
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 4 people
Calories 186 kcal

Ingredients
  

The Gravy

The Roast

  • 1 whole cauliflower leaves and outer stalk trimmed off
  • 4 large carrots chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock

Instructions
 

The Gravy

  • In a medium-sized pot, whisk together all of the gravy ingredients EXCEPT for the cornstarch & water. 
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. (This will allow all the flavors to marry.) Remove from the heat.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a cornstarch slurry.
  • Once the pot is no longer simmering, slowly whisk the cornstarch slurry into the gravy a little at a time. Going slow will ensure that no clumps form.
  • The gravy will begin to thicken as soon as the cornstarch is whisked in. Put the pot back on the stove and return to a simmer for an additional 3 minutes.

The Roast

  • Preheat oven to 450°F. 
  • Arrange the potatoes and carrots in a roasting dish with the cauliflower in the center. Be careful not to overcrowd the dish.
  • Place the cauliflower upside-down and pour 1/3 cup of the gravy into it. Give it a good shake to distribute the gravy. 
  • Place cauliflower right-side up and brush more gravy on the top to cover it (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup)
  • Add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock to the bottom of the dish (this will help steam the veggies.) 
  • Pour about a 1/3 cup of gravy over top of the potatoes and carrots.
  • Cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, brushing the cauliflower with more gravy halfway through.
  • Uncover the cauliflower roast and brush more gravy on. Bake for another 30 minutes (uncovered), brushing with more gravy halfway again. 
  • Remove from the oven and serve while hot. 

Video

Notes

*Many brands of Worcestershire sauce contain anchovies. Vegan Worcestershire sauce does exist (Annie’s brand and Kroger brand are vegan for sure), but if you can’t find it, you can omit it and substitute apple cider vinegar for a little zing.
If you dig onions, you can slice up an onion and add it right in with the carrots and potatoes. Mushrooms would be great, too!
Making sure your pan is not too crowded will help everything cook through properly. If you find the potatoes are drying out, add a little more veggie stock to the pan.

Nutrition

Calories: 186kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 6gFat: 0.5gSugar: 7.6g
Did you try this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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