Cauliflower nachos, the healthier alternative to classic nachos! The gluten-free snack can be topped with all your favorite nacho toppings but not the guilt!
Cauliflower anything recipes have been trending these days, and I kind of get why. Cauliflowers have such subtle flavor, it's easy to incorporate it into any dish, both for substance or substitute. Plus, in instances of substitution, cauliflower is a much healthier option, like this nacho...and it's gluten-free!
Cut the cauliflower into slices
For this cauliflower nachos, it is aesthetically crucial that you cut the cauliflowers into ½ slices, not florets. ½ inch slices kind of imitate how nacho chips look, kind of flat and kind of triangular. Although, if want, regular florets work perfectly fine. As you can see, some of our cauliflowers are cut into florets rather than slices to prevent the tiny florets from falling off. So feel free to cut your cauliflowers into florets instead.
Toss the cauliflower in a bowl
After testing this recipe a couple of times, we found that the easiest way to season the cauliflowers is to toss the cauliflower with the oil in a large mixing bowl. Then, sprinkle in the seasonings and spices and gently toss again to distribute the seasonings. We've tried tossing everything straight on a sheet pan (cuz we're lazy 😆 ) and that worked okay. Our cauliflower didn't get the best coverage and some pieces had very stingy amounts of seasoning while some had way too generous amounts. The other method we tried was mixing the oil with all of the seasonings and spices. Yeah...that did not go too well, haha. The spices ended up thickening the oil, and it became clumpy and stuck to just a few florets. So we recommend the mixing bowl method, but if you're feeling lazy, the sheet pan method works pretty well too!
Pre-bake the cauliflower
We highly recommend pre-baking the cauliflower florets until tender before adding any toppings. Cauliflower florets are just much bigger in size and heartier than most nacho toppings. So, if you toss everything onto the pan and baked it straight, your cauliflowers may be perfectly cooked, but the rest of the toppings will probably be overcooked. Plus, saving the toppings for later makes for a better presentation because everything will stay vibrant.
When are cauliflowers done?
Cauliflowers are done baking when it's tender. The time for baking will depend on how big each cauliflower florets are. That's why it is very important to cut the florets into similar sizes. To check when the florets are cooked, insert a fork or knife into the stem. If the fork or knife goes through easily, the cauliflower is done. Our cauliflowers were mostly cut into ½ inch slices, around 1½-2 inches wide. They took about 15 minutes to bake. Now, if you prefer your cauliflower to have a bit more crunch, feel free to bake it for a lesser time.
Toppings for your cauliflower nachos
This is my favorite part: adding nacho toppings! Just like classic nachos, you have an unlimited combination of toppings to dress your cauliflower nachos. Our favorite/ go-to toppings are: cheese (of course), onion, refried beans, tomatoes, avocado/ guacamole, and either fresh or pickled jalapeños. Sometimes when we feel like indulging, we would add some sour cream or shredded meat of some kind. One of our favorite, easy meats to top nachos is the chicken filling to our Instant Pot chicken taquitos. It's super quick and easy to make, but sooo tasty! Lastly, we like to top our cauliflower nachos with some cilantro leaves. Yeah, haha. Our nacho's pretty loaded, lol.
So feel free to modify this recipe as you see fit, because nachos are all based on personal preference. My favorite is when I'm able to use whatever's leftover in the fridge.
If you're looking for other healthier snacks, you may like these:
- Citrus Vinaigrette Salad
- Vegetarian Bao Buns (Korean Style)
- Spinach Pesto Flatbread
- Okonomiyaki Recipe (Japanese Savory Cabbage Pancake)
Cook with love!
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For the cauliflower:
Optional toppings for the rest of the nacho:
- ½ medium red onion , thinly sliced
- 6 ounce Mexican cheese
- ½ cup refried beans
- 1 cup cherry tomato , quartered
- ½ jalapeno , thinly sliced
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves , for garnish (not packed)
- ½ avocado , roughly diced (or guacamole)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, gently toss the cauliflower with the vegetable oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning and spices onto the cauliflower and gently toss to evenly distribute.
- Transfer the cauliflower to a sheet pan lined with parchment, try to keep the cauliflower slices evenly spread out. Sprinkle the sliced red onions on top of the cauliflowers and bake the cauliflower for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cauliflowers are tender and slightly brown here and there.
- Once the cauliflowers are tender, push all the cauliflowers and onion together onto the center of the sheet pan. Be careful! It will be extremely hot! *Try to keep the cauliflower slices close to each other but in a single layer.*
- Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of the cauliflowers, then top it with scattered dollops of refried bean, the quartered tomatoes, and jalapeño slices. Sprinkle on the remaining Mexican cheese and bake for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Top the cauliflower nacho with fresh cilantro and avocado. Enjoy!
- Feel free to substitute, add, and adjust the nacho toppings to your liking!