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This Microwave Cauliflower Recipe with garlic, butter, salt and pepper is a healthy side dish. Learn how to steam cauliflower in the microwave in just a few minutes with this easy recipe! It’s fork tender and delicious!

steamed cauliflower in white serving bowl with parsley

We love to cook cauliflower in the microwave! It’s the easiest way to steam cauliflower, and it comes together in just a few simple steps.

Plus, it comes out perfectly cooked every time. All you need it a little butter, water and seasoning.

Microwave cooking is healthy, since veggies retain more nutrients this way. I also love to cook baked potatoes, carrots, green beans, broccoli, asparagus and sweet potatoes in the microwave. We even microwave ramen!


You only need 2 ingredients to make this healthy side dish, but I like to add a few more simple ingredients to make this delicious side dish extra flavorful.

  • Head of fresh cauliflower
  • Water
  • Sea salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground black pepper
  • Butter

How to Steam Cauliflower in the Microwave

First, you’ll need to rinse the cauliflower under cold water. Then, carefully cut off the base of the cauliflower, using a sharp knife.

Cut the cauliflower head into smaller florets, cutting off as much of the stems as possible.

Smaller heads of cauliflower are easier to work with. Look for those when you can.

If you can only find a large head of cauliflower, you can either cook it all at once or chop up half of it and save the rest for later.

cut raw cauliflower into florets

Try to keep the florets around the same size. They’ll cook more evenly this way. You’ll probably have some that are smaller then others, but this is fine.

The smaller pieces will just be on the soft side. Or, you can munch on them for a healthy snack! They’re super tasty with just a touch of sea salt or perfect for dunking in homemade ranch dressing or cucumber dill dip!

Place the cut cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl, microwave-safe dish, or even a serving dish. That’s why this cooking method is the best way to make cauliflower — there’s fewer dishes!

Then, add a little water, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and butter to give this great side lots of flavor.

cut cauliflower in dish with salt, pepper, garlic powder and butter

Now, cover the dish with plastic wrap or cling film — make sure to vent it. Or, use a microwave cover if you have it. You can also use a large plate or a paper towel.

How Long to Cook

So, how long does it take to microwave cauliflower? The total to cook time for cauliflower in the microwave depends on how much you’re cooking and how big the pieces are. Small heads yield about 3 cups of florets, which take about 4 minutes to cook until fork tender.

Start off with 4 minutes. If the cauliflower is still too hard, cook in one minute increments until it’s just easy enough to pierce with a fork. Keep in mind, cauliflower will keep cooking after you take it out.

cauliflower florets in the microwave

Always take care when removing the lid from cauliflower or any food after microwaving. The steam is hot, so use oven mitts or pot holders.

You can drain the excess water before serving or pour some over the steamed veggies for extra flavor.

Steamed cauliflower is buttery, with a slight nutty taste and so delicious!

steamed cauliflower floret on fork

How to Store and Reheat

Store any leftover cooked cauliflower in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep well for about 4 days.

You can reheat this great side dish in the microwave by cooking it for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until it’s warm.

Total cooking time depends on how much you’re reheating.


There are a few ways to customize this easy side dish.

You can add a squeeze of lemon juice after cooking to give it a fresh flavor. Just don’t add the juice before cooking because it will turn the fresh cauliflower brown.

Add a drizzle of olive oil instead of butter to keep this a plant based dish.

In my opinion, the best way to jazz up this dish is by sprinkling some cheese on top after cooking. I like to use parmesan cheese on cauliflower, but you can add cheddar, American or any type, even cheese sauce!

For extra flavor, substitute water with vegetable broth.

One of my favorite ways to add more flavor is to sprinkle in some soy sauce. I love doing this when an Asian main dish is also on the menu.


Can cauliflower be microwaved?

Yes, you can microwave cauliflower in just a few minutes.

Can you microwave cauliflower without water?

You should add a little bit of water to help steam build up in the microwave. Half a teaspoon water is really all you need.

Is it better to boil or steam cauliflower?

Steaming cauliflower is better since more nutrients are retained with this method.

Can you microwave broccoli and cauliflower together?

Yes. You can microwave broccoli and cauliflower together as they both take the same amount of time to cook.

5 from 8 votes

Microwave Cauliflower

By: Dee
Microwave cauliflower with butter, salt, pepper and garlic for a healthy low carb side dish. Learn how to steam cauliflower in the microwave in just a few minutes with this easy recipe! It's fork tender and delicious!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 14 minutes
Servings: 5


  • 1 small head of cauliflower
  • ½ teaspoon water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
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  • Rinse the cauliflower under cold water — do not dry
  • Cut the stem off, then cut the head into smaller florets, and trim as much of the smaller heads off as possible
  • Place the florets into a microwave safe dish or bowl. Add water, sea salt, garlic powder and pepper, and stir. Add butter
  • Cover with microwave safe cover, plate, paper towel or plastic wrap – make sure to vent
  • Cook for 4 minutes on high. It's done when fork tender. Cook for another minute if necessary or until easily pierced with fork


Always be careful when removing food from microwave. Use oven mitts to avoid hot steam.
Cauliflower will continue to cook as it sits, so don’t over cook.
Larger heads of cauliflower may take longer to cook. All microwaves are different, and cook time may vary.


Calories: 35kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 269mg, Potassium: 164mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 71IU, Vitamin C: 26mg, Calcium: 13mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Like this? Leave a comment below!

This simple method is by far the quickest way to cook cauliflower. It’s one of my favorite recipes, so I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. It really is such an easy way to make fresh cauliflower!

Please leave a star rating and comment in the comment section if you make this simple side.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Shelby says:

    Omg this is now my new favorite side dish! The flavor is superb, and the texture is amazing! I also love how quick and easy it!!5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      Thanks a bunch, Shelby. I’m so glad you liked the cauliflower!

  2. Krystle says:

    This was such a flavorful side dish. It is great when the oven is busy cooking your main dish.5 stars

  3. Cathy says:

    Love how quick & easy this is!

  4. Erin says:

    This Microwave Cauliflower looks like such an awesome side dish!5 stars

  5. Sandra says:

    Such an easy and delicious side dish! Thanks for this idea!5 stars

  6. Kevin says:

    Had to try this. Would never have thought of doing them in the microwave. So easy and delicious!5 stars

  7. Allyson Zea says:

    This is such a great idea for cauliflower! Easy dinner side dish!