20 Minute Air-Fryer Cauliflower

Get dinner on the table fast with our recipe for crisp, tender air-fryer cauliflower. Enjoy it as is, or dress it up with our three easy variations.

Overhead view of airfryer cauliflower on an orange table setting
Serious Eats / Morgan Hunt Glaze

As a kid, I was disgusted by cauliflower. I'd insist on removing it from my plate before even considering the rest of my meal. I know I didn't give the vegetable a fair shake, but then again, the only cauliflower I knew was bland, pale, faintly sulfurous, and nearly always either under- or overcooked.

It wasn’t until adulthood that I learned the joys of nutty, rich, roasted cauliflower. Roasting it at a high temperature creates a crisp exterior with a tender—but not mushy—interior. The high heat also ensures that those unpleasant sulfurous compounds don't form. Today, cauliflower is a staple in my dinner rotation: It’s easy to make, pairs well with just about everything, and can be dressed up with a favorite seasoning blend, fresh herbs, or a simple sauce I already have on hand. 

On a busy weeknight, my favorite way to roast cauliflower is in my air fryer. I just press a few buttons, and the air fryer is ready to go. There’s a reason why the appliance is such a popular powerhouse: It’s basically a tiny convection oven that circulates air efficiently to promote browning on food, which is why it’s so great at quickly and perfectly roasting vegetables.

Though cooking cauliflower in the air fryer isn’t complicated, there are a few tips and tricks to help you make flavorful cauliflower that’s both crisp and tender. We asked seasoned recipe developer Julia Levy to methodically test air-fryer–roasted cauliflower by cooking batch after batch until she'd perfected the process. Here’s what you need to know.

Tips for Making Great Air-Fryer Cauliflower

Cut into evenly sized florets. Keeping all the florets roughly two inches in size creates more surface area for crisping, while also allowing for more uniform cooking. Cutting up cauliflower into florets is relatively easy, just make sure to remove the fibrous center core, then cut with the natural branching system of the florets to minimize waste.

Overhead of cutting cauliflower
Serious Eats / Morgan Hunt Glaze

Add moisture before cooking. In her air-fryer roasted broccoli recipe, Genevieve points out that for perfectly roasted broccoli, keep moisture at a minimum, but with roasting cauliflower, the opposite is true. Cauliflower and broccoli look similar at first, and the goal is the same when you're roasting them in your air-fryer—sweet nuttiness from browning and caramelization—but cauliflower is denser than broccoli, and needs to be treated differently to achieve florets that are tender inside and crisp and on the outside.

To cook, flavor, and crisp up the cauliflower in the air fryer, we learned that tossing it with oil and water does the trick. Oil and water together might seem counterintuitive, but here's what happens: The water steams the dense vegetable initially to soften it, and when the water evaporates, the oil provides optimal heat transfer for browning. The result is cauliflower that’s creamy on the interior and lightly crisped outside.

Crank up the heat. As with other brassicas, high heat is what you're after here in order to get the most flavor out of cauliflower. 

Overhead view of airfryer in basket after being cooked
Serious Eats / Morgan Hunt Glaze

Keep it simple or dress it up. While crispy air-fryer cauliflower is fantastic with nothing more than a sprinkle of salt and the oil it’s cooked in, it’s also a great canvas for your favorite seasonings. Gussy it up with a blend of Madras-style curry powder, garlic powder, and cumin before roasting, finish it with a blend of fresh herbs and lemon, or toss it with an easy Buffalo-style hot sauce. See the Variations section below the recipe for detailed ideas on dressing up your air-fryer cauliflower. You can also incorporate the cooked cauliflower into a quiche or salad or toss your favorite pasta with it. Personally? I like to turn mine into a warm salad with a zesty lemon vinaigrette.

Preheat a 6-quart air fryer to 400°F (205ºC) for 5 minutes. Cut cauliflower into 8 wedges, then cut into 2-inch florets (should be about 4 cups total). In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with oil, salt and pepper until well coated; use your hands to make sure all nooks and crannies are coated with oil and seasonings. 

Two image collage of prepping cauliflower for airfryer
Serious Eats / Morgan Hunt Glaze, Prop Stylist: Priscilla Montiel, Food Stylist: Julian Hensarling

Arrange half (about 2 cups) of the florets into the preheated air fryer basket; cook, shaking basket twice during cooking, until tender and well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm; and repeat cooking with the remaining cauliflower. Combine cauliflower and serve.

Two image collage of cauliflower in airfryer before and after being baked
Serious Eats / Morgan Hunt Glaze

Special Equipment

6-quart capacity air fryer

Make-Ahead and Storage

Cauliflower can be chopped into florets and refrigerated in a zip-top bag or airtight container up to 3 days before cooking.

Air-fried cauliflower can be made up to 4 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat in a microwave or air fryer preheated to 340ºF (170ºC) until warm.

Variations

Curry and Cumin: Add 2 teaspoons Madras-style curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin with the oil to toss with the raw cauliflower in step 1.

Dill and Lemon: In a large bowl, toss the roasted cauliflower with 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice before serving.

Buffalo-Style: In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons melted butter with 2 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Sauce or other Louisiana-style hot sauce to combine. Once cauliflower is done roasting, transfer to a large bowl and toss with the prepared buffalo sauce before serving.

The Clever Trick for Upgrading Your Standard Tomato-Watermelon Salad

This vibrant summer salad pairs juicy watermelon and tomatoes with creamy feta, fragrant mint, and a tangy dressing with lime, honey, shallots, and chiles.

A dark bowl with tomato-watermelon salad, sprinkled with mint and feta,
Serious Eats / Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

There’s a popular culinary saying that what grows together goes together, and in the case of this summery tomato-watermelon salad, that's definitely true. Crisp, fresh watermelon and ripe tomatoes are a perfect pairing for an easy, fresh hot weather salad. Here, the two sweet, juicy fruits (yes, tomatoes are a fruit) are perfectly complemented by fresh mint and creamy, salty feta cheese.


While the combination of ingredients makes total sense, for the perfect tomato-watermelon salad we had to ensure that the fruity watermelon and tomato flavors didn’t get drowned out when tossed with savory ingredients. Seasoned recipe developer Julia Levy put the salad through its paces in our test kitchen to get a version that is salty, sweet, acidic, and with a hint of spice.

Julia also figured out a way to tame the juiciness of the two star ingredients while preserving their texture and flavor. The result is a salad that's not just delicious, but also has an absolutely gorgeous presentation to show off summer's bounty. Here are a few tips for making it.

Sprinkling feta on a tomato-watermelon salad
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

7 Simple Tips for the Best Tomato-Watermelon Salad

  1. Start with three types of tomatoes. As clichéd as it may sound, this salad really is a celebration of summer’s bounty. And we lean into this idea by calling for not just one type of tomato, but three varieties. The larger heirloom tomatoes (any larger heirloom variety will work well here) are thinly sliced and fanned out underneath the dressed salad. This creates a gorgeous presentation, but it’s also practical: The undressed thin slices of tomatoes will catch all of the excess dressing and juices from the tossed salad that’s layered on top of it, so none of the flavorful dressing is lost on the plate. Smaller cocktail and cherry tomatoes, which are bursting with sweet flavor, are cut and tossed with the dressing and the watermelon. For a really pretty salad, we recommend looking for multicolored tomatoes.
  2. Salt and drain the heirloom tomatoes. We use our go-to Serious Eats technique of salting and draining tomatoes with the thinly sliced cocktail tomatoes in this recipe. It not only ensures the tomatoes are dry and don’t leach excess water onto the serving platter, but salting them in advance draws out their water to concentrate the tomato's flavor.
  3. Marinate the cherry and cocktail tomatoes. While salting the larger sliced tomatoes keeps them from leaving behind an unwanted puddle of juices, with the smaller cherry tomatoes and cocktail tomatoes that marinate in the dressing, we actually want a puddle of tomato juices collecting on the bottom of the bowl. In the case of this salad the flavorful tomato liquid contributes to the dressing—it adds fresh vegetal flavor to the salad that pairs well with the sweet watermelon.
  4. Let the salad sit. The naturally released liquids from the cherry tomatoes are critical in this recipe. When combined with the added acid, oil, salt, and chile in the dressing, the juices from the cherry tomatoes form an even more flavorful dressing. To this end, it's necessary to let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes before serving so there's time for the dressing to "make itself." The marinated, softened cherry tomatoes are also a welcome contrast in texture to the crisp watermelon.
  5. Add the watermelon just before serving. While the tomatoes benefit from being pre-salted or marinated to draw out excess moisture, Levy found that pre-treating the watermelon with salt negatively affected its texture. Instead, to retain the watermelon’s crips bite, it is best to not salt the watermelon in advance, and instead to toss it with the dressed cut cherry tomatoes right before serving.
  6. Balance the sweet watermelon and tomatoes with an assertive dressing. To counter the juiciness and sweetness of the watermelon and the tomatoes, we made an intense dressing with assertive ingredients such as white balsamic vinegar, honey, lime juice and zest, and fresh serrano chile for a welcome kick.
  7. Finish with feta and mint. Fresh mint and salty, creamy feta cheese add not only an attractive array of colors, but these final garnishes also bring welcome contrasting textures to the soft tomatoes and the crisp watermelon, as well as a pop of earthy flavor from the mint, and a briny, salty bite from the cheese. Levy found it best to sprinkle both the mint and feta on top before serving. When they were tossed into the salad, their vibrant colors were lost when coated in the dressing.
A platter of tomato-watermelon salad with feta and mint
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

 In a medium non-reactive bowl, whisk together vinegar, lime juice, honey, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in shallot and let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in oil, lime zest and juice, and serrano.

Two bowls with shallots and salad dressing for tomato-watermelon salad
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

Toss cocktail and cherry tomatoes in dressing and let sit at room temperature to marinate for 30 minutes, gently tossing occasionally.

A bowl with cocktail and cherry tomatoes in shallot dressing
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

 While the cocktail and cherry tomatoes marinate, place the heirloom tomato slices on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. Pour any accumulated tomato juices into the dressing mixture. 

Sliced tomatoes on a wire rack set over a sheet pan
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

Arrange heirloom tomato slices on a serving platter. Gently toss watermelon cubes with cocktail and cherry tomatoes and dressing; using a slotted spoon, spoon tomato and watermelon salad over heirloom tomato slices. Sprinkle with feta, mint, and flaky salt. Serve immediately with the remaining marinade/dressing on the side for drizzling. 

2 images: 1 assembling tomato-watermelon salad and 1 sprinkling on feta
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

Special Equipment

Wire rack and rimmed baking sheet

Notes

Cocktail tomatoes are small tomatoes on the vine, roughly the size of a golf ball. Any small heirloom tomato will work well here. If you can't find them, you can simply use additional cherry tomatoes.

Make-Ahead and Storage

This salad is best eaten fresh, but it can sit at room temperature for up to 4 hours, or be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Note that as it sits, excess liquid will puddle on the bottom.

The Easiest, Creamiest Hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Spinach-artichoke dip is the perfect party appetizer—our recipe nails the ideal proportion of spinach to artichokes, and a trifecta of cream cheese, mayo, and sour cream give the dip its ultra creamy texture. Baked until golden and bubbling, it’s the perfect pairing for any cracker, chip, or tortilla chip.

spinach-artichoke dip hero
Serious Eats/Morgan Hunt Glaze

Rich creamy dips are one of life’s greatest pleasures, and the old party stalwart, spinach-artichoke dip, is among the best. As a child of the 90s, I’ve enjoyed countless bowls of spinach dip at parties, as well as my fair share of sizzling cast iron skillets of the iconic dip at chain restaurants like TGI Fridays. It’s a bonafide crowd pleaser and edible proof that the only thing better than plain mayonnaise is mayonnaise bubbling with cheese and chunks of savory spinach and chopped artichoke hearts.

While it’s a beloved restaurant staple, I’d argue that the best version of spinach-artichoke dip is enjoyed fresh out of the oven at home, where you have total control over the ingredients. And that ratio of ingredients needs to be perfect: There’s nothing worse than scooping up a bite of dip and winding up with too much spinach, not enough artichoke, or worse, a dip with a grainy or greasy texture. Our recipe nails the perfect proportions of spinach to artichokes and uses a blend of cream cheese, mayo, and sour cream with a mixture of cheese to create the ultimate creamy texture and balanced flavor. If you’re looking to perfect this party dip for your next gathering or game-day spread, or even just a cozy night in, here’s what you need to know to get it right.

spinach artichoke dip headnote 1
Serious Eats/Morgan Hunt Glaze

Tips for Rich Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

Use a trifecta of creamy ingredients for the richest dip possible. Many versions of spinach-artichoke dip call for just one creamy ingredient (often mayonnaise or cream cheese) to fold into the cheese mixture before baking. But we didn’t hold back here: This recipe calls for mayonnaise, sour cream, and cream cheese for the richest, creamiest dip possible. On top of the silky texture each of these three ingredients has, they each add a slightly different tangy note for a flavor that’s both nuanced and cohesive.

Double down on cheese. Monterey jack cheese or a mild white cheddar cheese melt easily into the dip when baked, and their mild flavor is balanced by sharp, nutty, and assertive Parmesan cheese.

Add lemon zest, garlic, and Dijon mustard to balance the rich, creamy base. This dip is rich, there’s no skirting around it. But it needs a few bright additions to balance it out, so you’ll want to eat bite after bite. A small amount of lemon zest, fresh garlic, and Dijon mustard perk it up nicely. We also love the savory appeal that one tablespoon of white miso adds to the dip, but feel free to omit it if you don’t have miso on hand. 

spinach-artichoke dip headnote 2
Serious Eats/Morgan Hunt Glaze

Stick with frozen spinach but make sure its the right cut. We started testing the recipe with fresh spinach, as we assumed the old adage “fresh is best” would ring true here. But while we loved the idea and the look of the dip made with vibrant green fresh spinach, the added steps of chopping, cooking, and wringing out the excess moisture from the spinach was not worth the effort. The flavor of the fresh spinach versus frozen was almost indistinguishable once mixed into the cheese-laden dip. Make sure to use frozen spinach labeled “cut-leaf” and not “chopped.” Frozen chopped spinach is too finely chopped and creates a mealy texture in the dip. Meanwhile, frozen cut-leaf spinach is the perfect size for scooping onto veggies and chips. 

Go with canned artichokes. The outcome was similar when comparing fresh artichokes to canned artichokes in this recipe. It was silly to take the time and labor to prep fresh artichokes just to mask their flavor in a cheesy dip. Fresh artichokes are glorious and have their time and place, but this dip is not one of them. So stick with canned artichokes, rinse them well to remove excess salt, and chop them into bite-size, scoopable bits.

Bake at a steady moderate heat. When attempting to bake and melt a large amount of cheese and cream into a cohesive mixture, you want to avoid heating the mixture too quickly or at to too high a temperature. This can cause the cheese and dairy to separate, leaving you with pools of leached fat swimming on top of the dip. To avoid this greasy mess, bake the dip at a steady moderate temperature. Do not be tempted to speed up the baking process by raising the oven temperature.

Skip the cast iron. Another way to avoid an unpleasant separated dip is to choose the right pan for baking. When seasoned recipe developer Julia Levy was developing this recipe in the test kitchen, she started by baking the dip in a cast iron skillet. She assumed the cast iron’s great heat retention properties would keep the dip warm for longer when left out to enjoy (which it did). But she found that the cast iron skillet's heat retention overheated the dip, even when baked at a moderate temperature, causing the dip to break. We wished that wasn’t the case since, as Julia noted, the skillet was also just so cute! But because we here at Serious Eats are firm believers that a practical, foolproof recipe is more important than a cute “‘gram-worthy” presentation, we recommend baking it in a standard glass or ceramic baking dish.

spinach-artichoke dip headnote 2
Serious Eats/Morgan Hunt Glaze

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F(190°C). Grease a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. 

spinach-artichoke dip step 1
Serious Eats/ Morgan Hunt Glaze

Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, miso (if using), lemon zest, and garlic in a large bowl. Stir in cream cheese until fully combined. Fold in spinach, artichokes, 2 1/2 cups of the Monterey Jack cheese and 1 3/4 cups of the Parmigiano until evenly distributed.

spinach-artichoke dip step 2
Serious Eats/ Morgan Hunt Glaze

Transfer to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup Monterey Jack and remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano. 

spinach artichoke dip step 3
Serious Eats/Morgan Hunt Glaze

Bake until the edges are bubbly and the cheese on top is light golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit to cool slightly for 5 minutes. Serve hot with crackers, pita chips, tortilla chips, and/or crudités.

spinach artichoke dip step 4
Serious Eats/Morgan Hunt Glaze

Special Equipment

2-quart baking dish

Make-Ahead and Storage

The dip can be combined and assembled through step 2 and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Increase the baking time by about 15 minutes.