Smoked Cauliflower – Caribbean inspired plant-based barbecue side dish that’s a great alternative to traditional meat options.
This smoked cauliflower is the truth! One of the things I love about cauliflower is that its mild flavor allows it to easily take on other flavor characteristics such as the applewood smoke used in this recipe.
This smoked whole cauliflower recipe is part 2 of a series of Dallas inspired recipes for the month. It was inspired by the cauliflower at 18th and Vine BBQ in Dallas. 18th and Vine is one of my favorite spots to hit when I’m in town. They have a great beer selection and are creative in the different meats and vegetables they smoke including whole cauliflower. To be completely transparent, the chef/partner Scott Gottlich is a former schoolmate from high school, but regardless you should check-out the spot if you’re ever in Dallas.
Why a smoked vegetable instead of traditional meat on the grill?
As my family continues to move more and more to a plant-based diet (my goal is to get only 20% of my daily food calories from meat and the rest from plant foods), cauliflower provides many options. We pretty much use it as a substitute for any starchy dish (mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, etc.) as well as a substitute for meat such as vegetarian tacos. Being a self-proclaimed pitmaster, smoking cauliflower is a perfect fit for my diet progression.
Today’s song is by N’dambi another former schoolmate but in this case college at Southern Methodist University (SMU). Her music has inspired many of my dishes over the years. The music is modern, mixing different genres like rock, funk, and jazz, but definitely grounded in classic r&b.
Will this recipe work for traditional white cauliflower?
I recently found a few different colored varietals of cauliflower including yellow, which I used in this recipe. I could’ve easily used traditional cauliflower, as the texture is identical and taste differences are subtle. The differences between colored vs. white is the yellow color comes from the presence of more beta carotene. The color is actually what drew me to this varietal.
Is this Smoked Cauliflower Keto?
Smoked cauliflower definitely qualifies as a keto cauliflower recipe. Cauliflower is a great low carb substitute to any starch. With so few ingredients, this recipe easily meets the keto criteria.
How is this cauliflower flavored?
It’s a very simple recipe it’s essentially the whole cauliflower, olive oil infused with a jerk spice rub, and wood smoke. Now you can always roast the cauliflower whole, but you’ll miss the smokiness provided by the smoker. The jerk spice is optional, as any of your favorite spices will work. The recipe calls for olive oil, but coconut oil is a really good alternative for flavor. The coconut gives this recipe an even more distinct Caribbean flavor profile.
What temperature should I smoke cauliflower?
This is not a recipe to rush. Low and slow is the tempo! Definitely stay between 250 – 275 degrees.
Smoked Cauliflower Cooking Tips
- Definitely follow the pre-smoking steps to add extra flavor
- Feel free to use your favorite spice seasoning for the recipe, as cauliflower really does work with any flavor.
- Do not try and speed up cooking by increasing temperature. You’ll end up with a dark exterior and uneven flavor
- Baste with olive or coconut oil. Oil help with moisture and acts as an adhesive for the spice seasoning.
Making Smoked Cauliflower with Jerk Spice
Successful diet/lifestyle changes require confidence; you gotta know you got what it takes. Not so much from a can I mentally do it but do I have easy access, a plethora of options, and the skills to make the change seamless from a lifestyle perspective. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s just good regardless of your dietary preference. For a comprehensive post about cooking whole cauliflower see my post How To Cook Cauliflower.
If you make this flavorful keto cauliflower recipe please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.
For another whole cauliflower recipe try this Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower.
Smoked Cauliflower with Jerk Spices
Whole cauliflower basted with jerk spice infused olive oil and slow smoked on the grill.
- 1 head cauliflower green leaves trimmed off
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Jamaica jerk spice or other spice mix of choice
- 1 medium lemon juiced
Prepare a smoker/grill for indirect grilling according to product instructions.
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 1/2 cup salt then lower in the cauliflower.
Cook for 5 minutes EXACTLY starting from the time you drop the cauliflower into the pot. Flip the cauliflower with a large spoon after the first two minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower stem side down to a colander and drain for 10 minutes.
Mix 1/4 cup of olive oil with spice mix and then cover entire exterior of cauliflower with the mixture.
Place the cauliflower heads on the indirect side of the grill. Close the lid. Smoke the cauliflower for 45 minutes to an hour, maintaining the temperature inside the grill at around 250 degrees until they are fork-tender but not mushy.
- Transfer the cauliflower to a cutting board. Slice cauliflower in half lengthwise, then cut each of those pieces in half lengthwise, so that you have a few thick slices.
- Transfer the slices to the grill grate directly over the coals and grill for about 3 minutes per side, until they are lightly charred.
Transfer the cauliflower to a platter. Sprinkle with lemon juice and remaining oil, then with additional spice mix to taste.