Grilled Lemon Pepper Cauliflower

July 8, 2021

Grilled Lemon Pepper Cauliflower

With fresh and smoky grilled lemon juice, this grilled lemon pepper cauliflower is a simple side dish finished with pine nuts and chopped parsley.

With fresh and smoky grilled lemon juice, this grilled lemon pepper cauliflower is a simple side dish finished with pine nuts and chopped parsley.

Grilled Lemon Pepper Cauliflower

Despite my commitment to eating by the seasons, I always make an exception with cauliflower. Its peak is technically autumn to winter, but it tastes so good no matter the date on the calendar.

And it’s made an appearance in my fruit and veggie farm box for the last few weeks. That’s definitely not the case with delicate spring and summer produce like berries, tomatoes and corn, which have a much shorter seasonal window.

I give cauliflower credit for its consistency as an affordable, readily available vegetable that’s pretty much a blank canvas. And please consider that a compliment!

With a subtle nutty flavor to start, cauliflower can take on a number of cuisines and cooking methods. Plus it’s an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C and lots of other nutrition.

Grilled Lemon Pepper Cauliflower

How To Cook Cauliflower

There are 5 ways that I like to cook cauliflower:

  1. Roast It: All you need is a sheet pan and an oven to roast cauliflower. At its most basic, I will toss it in olive oil, salt and pepper. And if I am in the mood for something more, I will add dried spices, tahini or harissa.
  2. Grill It: This is where cauliflower can become a summer side. Grilled cauliflower turns out smoky, and this veggie still keeps its crunchy bite. Also, it’s very quick. It’s about charred grill marks and smoky flavor.
  3. Steam It: I don’t recommend steaming it longer than 10 minutes, or your cauliflower will end up too soft. This is the most plain way to prepare it.
  4. Sauté It: Cauliflower is a great addition to any stir-fry that uses fresh or frozen vegetables.
  5. Don’t Cook It: You enjoy raw cauliflower and serve it on a veggie tray with hummus or another dip. Slice it very thinly or shave it for a salad.

How To Grill Cauliflower

It’s all in the prep when it comes to grilling cauliflower. You can choose to do a quick marinade like I do with this grilled lemon pepper cauliflower.

Or you can just stick to olive oil. The point of the marinade is to add flavor, and it won’t do anything to tenderize it, which you don’t need.

It’s important to slice your cauliflower and attempt to keep those slices intact as much as possible. I realize this is easier said than done considering you can’t control the shape of the stem and florets.

Just try to avoid pieces that are so small that they will fall through the grates.

The Ingredients

This is what you need for this grilled cauliflower recipe:

  • Cauliflower: Remove the leaves from a head of cauliflower and just trim the base of the stem. The more stem you keep, the more likely the slices won’t fall apart. It’s best to slice the cauliflower head, so you end up with more flat sides that will make better contact with the grates.
  • Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil since this is a recipe with so few ingredients, and I want the best flavor.
  • Lemons: In the marinade, I include fresh lemon juice. Then I grill another lemon to squeeze on this smoky juice when the cauliflower is finished grilling.
  • Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper is best.
  • Salt: Even though pepper gets top billing, salt is the seasoning that brings out the overall taste of the entire dish.
  • Pine nuts: To finish the grilled cauliflower, I add toasted pine nuts.
  • Parsley: For some fresh herbs, I sprinkle on chopped parsley. You can also use cilantro or a combinations.
Slice the cauliflower on a cutting board. Brush it with marinade.
Marinated cauliflower on a plate. Cauliflower on the grill.

How To Make Grilled Lemon Pepper Cauliflower

  1. Prep the grill. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill for medium direct heat.
  2. Prep the cauliflower. On a cutting board, remove the leaves from a head of cauliflower. Then cut off the base of the stem. Use a sharp knife to cut it into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  3. Make the marinade. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Then brush this mixture on the cauliflower, making sure to coat every surface.
  4. Grill the cauliflower on both sides until it is grill-marked and has softened slightly. I like the cauliflower to retain its crispness. Think of its doneness like cooking pasta till it’s al dente.
  5. Grill the lemon quickly while the cauliflower is on the grates.
  6. Finish the cauliflower with grilled lemon juice and more pepper.
  7. Plate the cauliflower and top with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley.

Don’t Have A Grill? No Problem.

I know not everyone has access to an outdoor grill. A great option, especially for cooking vegetables, is a stovetop grill pan. They go right on top of 1 or 2 burners depending on the size of your pan. How To Use a Grill Pan

Grilled cauliflower and lemons

How To Serve Grilled Cauliflower

You can treat this grilled cauliflower like a side dish and pair it with whatever grilled main you are making from chicken to burgers to pizza.

If you want to think of these as grilled cauliflower steaks, I recommend pairing them with a salad.

More Cauliflower Recipes

Roasted Cauliflower Spinach Pesto Pasta
Cauliflower White Bean Tahini Soup
Tomato Olive Artichoke Cauliflower Rice 
Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Herby Tahini
Roasted Cauliflower Kale Salad
Harissa Roasted Cauliflower Couscous

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Grilled Lemon Pepper Cauliflower

Grilled Lemon Pepper Cauliflower

  • Author: Paige Adams
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x


With fresh and smoky grilled lemon juice, this grilled lemon pepper cauliflower is a simple side dish finished with pine nuts and chopped parsley.


  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lemons, (one juiced and the other halved)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley


  1. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.
  2. Cut the leaves off the cauliflower and trim the rough end off the stem. Cut the cauliflower into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Brush the cauliflower all over with this mixture.
  4. Grill the cauliflower until grill marked and slightly tender to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side.
  5. Grill the halved lemon, cut side down, for 1-2 minutes, giving it a slight char.
  6. Juice the grilled lemon over the cauliflower and toss with 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Top with pine nuts and parsley before serving. 


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