Cauliflower is a delicious and very nutritious veggie, and you might feel tempted to cook the entire head when you find a good looking one. But what if you get leftovers ? Can you reheat cauliflower ? And what if you’re meal prepping, does cauliflower reheat well and does it get mushy later on ? Let’s talk about how you can rehear cauliflower, how each method differs, and what you need to know before you even start cooking.
Can you reheat cauliflower ?
Yes, you can reheat cauliflower through microwaving or reheating in an oven or airfryer, or on a stovetop if that is what you have. The microwave takes the least amount of time and is the most common and easily available method. The oven or airfryer gives you a more even heat distribution but takes the longest. The stovetop is a nice middle ground, and you will find all three method explained below.
Before you get to these though, we should talk about how cauliflower’s texture is affected by reheating. This is very important if you’re meal prepping for the week ahead. No one likes mushy, soggy cauliflower, so here’s how to mitigate that effect.
A word on meal prepping cauliflower
If you’re making cauliflower for the rest of the week, know that you definitely need to take the texture into account, since this veggie will soften when reheated if you cook it fully the first time. So a good idea is to undercook your cauliflower by a minute or two. It also matters if you’re using fresh or frozen cauliflower.
Frozen vs fresh cauliflower. This matter a whole lot, and most of the reason has to do with the cauliflower’s texture, which greatly influences the cooking time. Fresh cauliflower is tougher than frozen and thawed cauliflower. This means it will take a bit longer to cook through, especially the stems.
Frozen cauliflower already has the cell walls damaged (due to freezing), so softening through cooking will take less time. Fortunately these come in pre-cut florets that you can just add to whatever you’re cooking.
Read also: Can You Reheat Broccoli ?
Reheating cauliflower in the microwave
To reheat cooked cauliflower in the microwave, you should take the texture into account. If these are leftovers from a meal, reheating fully will turn the cauliflower quite mushy. So you can either reheat a little to preserve texture, or reheat fully and accept a softer meal.
Generally the cauliflower will reheat about as fast as any other vegetable, especially since it has a lot of moisture. High moisture foods reheat the fastest, and most evenly. A quick 1 minute reheat on medium-high should be enough to warm the cauliflower. Add another minute if it’s from the fridge.
If this is meal-prep cauliflower and you’ve left it a bit undercooked so it won’t turn mushy, it should become the right texture when fully heated (about 2 minutes on med-high). Of course, these times are more of a guideline since not all microwaves are as effective. For example my home microwave boils a cup of water in 2 minutes on high, while the microwave we had in the dining hall at work needed a full 4 minutes to bring a cup of water to boiling point.
Reheating cauliflower in the oven or airfryer
If you’re going to reheat your cauliflower in the oven or airfryer (same logic) you’re going to need to account for the loss of moisture. If this a gas oven it will dry out the veggie faster. If it’s an electric oven it won’t be as crispy when done. To get around the dryness problem, loosely tent some tinfoil over the cauliflower before putting it in the oven (if gas).
Ovens and airfryers take longer to heat cauliflower, but you get a more even heat distribution. You also shouldn’t reheat on high heat, since by the time the inside of the veggie is hot the outer layer will be too dry. Go with medium-low heat, and it might take you about 15 minutes to fully heat the cauliflower.
Reheating cauliflower on a stove top
If all you have to work with is your trusty stovetop, you will need a skillet or frying pan, with a lid. The issue here is, again, loss of moisture. So add your cauliflower to the cold pan, add a little bit of water (like a couple of tbsp), put the lid on, and turn on the meat to medium-low.
This is faster than in an oven or airfryer, but slower than a microwave. Do not stir the veggies, just let them sit there. The steam resulting from the water you added will heat the top of the cauliflower. The bottom will be hotter, of course, but it won’t be a significant difference. This should take about 5-10 minutes, depending on how cold the cauliflower was and how hot you cant it to be when done.
Read also: Can You Eat Raw Cauliflower?
Can you make cauliflower in advance ?
You can make cauliflower ahead of time, such as meal prepping or cooking a larger batch for 2-3 days of at-home food. Usually cauliflower lasts well in soups, stews, braises, and other similar foods. Cooking cauliflower as-is to later add it to a salad is also a great idea. If you’ve got a big meal to host, you can safely cook your cauliflower dish the day before, and then reheat or serve as-is when you need it.
How long does cooked cauliflower last ?
Cooked cauliflower lasts about 72h in the fridge, in airtight container. Like a container with a good lid, or a pot with a very well fitting lid. You may also put a layer of cling wrap under the lid to further make the pot airtight.
An airtight or very well closed container is necessary for two reasons. First, the lack of air transfer between the cauliflower and the rest of the fridge means less of a chance for the veggie to spoil. And second, cauliflower has a strong sulfur smell, like all cabbage-related veggies. It can easily permeate your other foods in your fridge and in many cases it’s not what you want.