This Smoked Cauliflower head is rubbed with a flavorful blend of seasonings and placed on the smoker or BBQ to get soft and tender while soaking up the smoky goodness.
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Smoked Cauliflower is one of our favorite side dishes to make when we’re smoking something on the grill. It’s packed with flavor from the rub and gets a nice smoky flavor.
If you’re busting out the smoker this weekend, why not throw on a head of cauliflower to have as a side dish for your brisket or tri tip? It actually works quite well and you’ll be surprised how much smoky flavor and aroma it picks up.
Ingredients You Need
- Medium head cauliflower – Pick on that is approximately 2 pounds. This will ensure that the cooking time is right on. If you choose one that’s smaller or larger, you may have to adjust the cooking time. They don’t all cook at the same rate.
- Olive Oil – It takes about 1/4 cup of olive oil mixed with the seasoning to make a marinade/rub for the cauliflower.
- Seasoning – For the seasoning, I use my favorite homemade rub, which is a blend of brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder, mixed with olive oil. These flavors go really well together and produce a wonderful flavor.
- Smoker – I use a Z Grills 700 series smoker for most of my smoking, though I also have a Traeger grill. You can use whatever smoker you have – they all work the same.
- Wood pellets – There are many types of pellets available. If you’ve already got pellets in your smoker, use whatever you have. I really like Hickory pellets for chicken.
How to Make Smoked Cauliflower
Preheat the smoker to 220°F (105°C). We recommend using apple, cherry or hickory hardwood pellets. This recipe is specifically designed for a smoker, like a Traeger, Z Grills, or big green egg (see below for options). If you don’t have a smoker, you can still make this cauliflower, but the technique will be different on a gas or charcoal grill.
It’s best to pre-cook the cauliflower. You can do this by cooking for 2 minutes in the microwave or 0 minutes in the Instant Pot, or boil in a pot of water for 5 minutes. You can skip this step if you’re planning to cook the cauliflower for 2+ hours on the smoker alongside other things. Otherwise, it takes at least 90 minutes to become tender in the smoker.
Mix together the seasonings with the olive oil. Brush or rub the seasoning mix evenly all over the cauliflower head.
Place the cauliflower directly on the grill or in a grilling basket, if you prefer. I don’t bother with tin foil or butcher paper. Wrapping the cauliflower will prevent it from soaking up the smoky flavor.
Smoke the cauliflower for 60-90 minutes, until it’s fork tender and has a nice smoky aroma. It’s best to keep the lid of the smoker closed as much as possible so the heat stays in. That will ensure fast and even cooking. I usually make this with smoked chicken or smoked tri tip that has a thermometer in it, so there’s no need to open the lid.
So let it go for at least 45 minutes before you open the lid to check on it. To test it, stick a fork or a chopstick into the middle to make sure it’s tender through to the center.
What Smoker to Use
The 7002C2E is a new model featuring a digital PID control board and advanced technology for even temperatures and consistent results. With the built-in dual temperature probes, a huge pellet hopper, pellet cleanout system, and pellet view window, your grilling experience will be enhanced like never before. See this grill and more on the Z Grills site.
Traeger created the original wood-pellet grill as the ultimate way to achieve wood-fired taste. The Pro Series 22 is the one most people choose because it’s compact, yet has plenty of space for cooking.
You can use any type of wood pellets you like. I prefer Hickory, which is great for naturally enhancing beef, chicken, pork, and veggies with full-bodied, bold flavor.
Notes for Success
There are a few things to keep in mind when cooking a whole head of cauliflower. If you follow these tips, you’ll be good to go:
- Always use a super fresh cauliflower. The longer it sits in the fridge, the more it breaks down, which can lead to a cauliflower that falls apart when cooked.
- Don’t remove the cauliflower too soon, or it might still be crunchy inside. You can jiggle the florets to see if they are loose to the core. To speed up the process, be sure to pre-cook the cauliflower (see notes above).
- To get a char on the outside of the cauliflower, you can put it under the broiler, if you want. I don’t bother with that, because it’s great as is.
About the Seasonings
While we really like the homemade rub that we’ve used in this recipe, you might want it done in a different way. Rest assured, you can cook this cauliflower with no sauce at all and it will turn out great. You can also substitute any of the spices or make your own sauce.
I’ve used teriyaki sauce, a seasoned butter sauce, and I’ve also poured melted cheese or butter over the top of an unseasoned cauliflower after it’s done cooking.
The only thing to remember is that cauliflower does need salt, so don’t skip the salt, even if you’re not adding any other spices.
Smoking Cauliflower on the BBQ
If you don’t have a smoker, you can make this cauliflower on a gas or charcoal grill instead. To do this, you’ll need to produce some smoke inside your grill and make an indirect heat so the meat isn’t cooking directly over the heat element. Follow these instructions if you want to give it a try.
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- 1 medium head of cauliflower appox 2 lbs
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Preheat the smoker to 220°F (105°C). We recommend using apple, cherry or hickory hardwood pellets.
- It’s best to pre-cook the cauliflower. You can do this by cooking for 2 minutes in the microwave or 0 minutes in the Instant Pot, or boil in a pot of water for 5 minutes. You can skip this step if you’re planning to cook the cauliflower for 2+ hours on the smoker alongside other things.
- Mix together the seasonings with the olive oil. Brush or rub the seasoning mix evenly all over the cauliflower head.
- Place the cauliflower directly on the grill.
- Smoke for 60-90 minutes, until fork tender.
- Smoker Grill
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.