Crisp-tender Air Fryer Cauliflower Steaks are served with fresh parsley-almond sauce for an easy and healthy vegan side or main dish. Best of all, the air fryer makes prep so easy! Vegan, low-carb, gluten-free, and ready in 20 minutes. Nut-free option.
Why You'll Love It
Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that's perfect for the air fryer. From cauliflower wings to simple roasted florets, the sturdy cruciferous veggie takes on great color and holds up beautifully.
This method is also great during warmer months when you don't want to turn the oven on for the length of time it would take to roast the cauliflower steaks!
What also makes this recipe great, is that by adding water to the bottom of the air fryer basket (like we did with this air fryer tempeh), the steam helps make the cauliflower tender.
About the Sauce
And this parsley-almonds sauce? Oh, friends. It's so good you'll want to eat it with a spoon! Don't be surprised if it becomes part of your regular weekly meal prep. At the very least you should make this sauce anytime you have leftover parsley on hand!
Almond-based Bitchin' Sauce was the inspiration. On that note, be sure to try my copycat Bitchin' Sauce recipe!
- cauliflower - one very large head, about 6-inches in diameter, should yield 2 steaks.
- oil - a small amount of high-heat cooking oil keeps the cauliflower steaks from drying out.
- lemon - you'll need about ¼ cup lemon juice, 3 tablespoons for the sauce and a few squeezes for the steaks.
- almonds - this is the fat and base for our sauce. I used blanched, slivered almonds because I had some that needed to be used. You can also use whole raw almonds, which will give you the extra fiber and nutrients from the skins. To help with blending you may want to soak whole almonds for an hour or two first.
- parsley - parsley adds vibrant and fresh flavor to the sauce, plus even more nutrition.
- garlic - you can't have a great sauce without garlic!
- tamari (GF) or soy sauce - adds saltiness and umami (I was inspired to add this after reading the ingredients in Bitchin' Sauce).
- nutritional yeast - adds a subtle cheesy flavor. I use this non-fortified one by Sari Foods.
Side note: ignore the jalapeno in the photo above. 🙂 Originally, I thought I might include it in the parsley sauce, but the sauce was so good without it I decided to skip it.
The first step is to cut the cauliflower. From one large head you should be able to get two steaks from the very center.
There is a bit of judgment involved here, though. If your head of cauliflower is small you may only get one steak. Or if it's extra-large you might be able to get three.
How to Cut Cauliflower Steaks
A large chef's knife works best. To cut the cauliflower steaks, first remove the thick green leaves from the bottom, and trim the base of the stem.
With the cauliflower stem-side down, eyeball the very center on top. Move your knife about ¾ to 1-inch to the right of center, and slice straight down to the cutting board. Some florets and outer parts on the right side of the head will fall away (upper right corner of photo above). Set those aside for later.
Then move the knife ¾ to 1-inch to the left from the cut edge, and slice straight down. That's the first steak.
Repeat to cut the 2nd steak.
The head of cauliflower pictured above was very large. And as you can see, the remaining florets (upper right and left) would not hold together to create a steak.
We air fried the leftover florets later and dipped them in more of the parsley-almond sauce!
How to Cook Cauliflower Steaks in the Air Fryer
To the bottom of your basket air fryer add about ¾ cup water (not enough to reach the grate/basket where the cauliflower will sit). This creates steam and helps the cauliflower cook.
Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F.
Now drizzle a little high heat cooking oil in your hand. I use avocado. Rub both sides of the cauliflower steaks with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Once the air fryer is fully preheated, place the steaks in the basket. Cook for about 6 minutes.
Use a spatula to flip the steaks, drizzle with a squeeze of lemon, and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes or until browned at the edges and barely tender at the stem.
Prepare the Sauce
- Process the almonds, lemon juice, water, tamari, nutritional yeast, garlic, cumin, and salt.
- Add the parsley, and pulse until incorporated and finely chopped. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as desired.
Since cauliflower is very low in calories, if you plan to serve the steaks as an entree you'll want something more filling on the side.
Rice - this vegan rice-a-roni is perfect with cauliflower - savory and buttery.
Potatoes - vegan mashed potatoes are classic and taste SO good alongside the fresh parsley sauce.
These savory mashed sweet potatoes with rosemary are another match made in heaven.
Bread & Pasta - garlic bread and the BEST vegan mac and cheese are always welcome.
Or if you're going the nut-free route, try this sunflower vegan mac.
Pita and hummus also pair nicely with cauliflower steaks.
And this cauliflower alfredo is not only filling and a great way to round out the meal, it's also a way to use up the florets leftover after cutting the steaks.
A large chef's knife comes in handy for cutting the cauliflower steaks. Actually, it's a must for preparing so many fruits and vegetables. If you don't have a good chef's knife yet, add that to the top of your kitchen wish list!
Obviously you'll also need an air fryer. I use this 6 quart Instant Pot Vortex. The basket is a manageable size and holds up to 3 cauliflower steaks.
For the sauce you'll need a food processor or blender.
Air fryer cauliflower is best enjoyed immediately. If you do have leftovers, both the sauce and the cauliflower will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
If the sauce separates, just give it a good stir.
The key is to make sure the slices are thick enough to not fall apart, but not so thick they don't cook through. Trim the stem end so that it's flat and can rest on the cutting board. Then cut the steaks from the center of the top of the head, straight down.
Enjoy it raw as a snack with hummus, or refrigerate the leftover raw cauliflower for later use in another recipe. It can be steamed or roasted and added to pasta or salads, or blended into soups and creamy sauces like vegan alfredo.
Yes, it's important to wash all fresh produce before preparing and serving. Wait to wash cauliflower until you're ready to cook it so there isn't excess moisture on it during storage. For this recipe, carefully rinse the individual steaks, then pat dry before adding the seasoning.
I hope you enjoy these quick and healthy cauliflower steaks. I LOVE hearing from you, so if you try the recipe be sure to comment below and let us know!
Air Fryer Cauliflower Steaks
- 1 large head cauliflower - about 6 inches in diameter
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup blanched slivered almonds - or use whole raw almonds (soak for 1 to 2 hours to help with blending); See Notes
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon tamari - or soy sauce if not gluten-free
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and freshly cracked pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- From one very large head of cauliflower you should be able to get two steaks, though there's a bit of judgment involved here. If it's smaller you may only get one steak. Or if it's extra-large you might be able to get three.
- Remove the thick green leaves from the base, and trim the bottom of the stem.
- Place the cauliflower stem-side down. On top locate the center and move your knife about ¾- to 1-inch to the right. Slice straight down through the entire head. Some florets on the right side may fall away. Set aside for later.
- Next move the knife ¾- to 1-inch to the left, and slice straight down. Now you have one steak. Move the knife to the left again to cut the 2nd steak. Refrigerate the unused cauliflower for later.
- Add about ¾ cup water to the bottom of the air fryer basket (it shouldn't touch the the cauliflower). Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F.
- Use your hands to rub oil on both sides of the cauliflower steaks. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. When the air fryer is fully preheated, place the steaks in the basket. Cook for 6 minutes (total cook time will be 10 to 12 min).
- Make the sauce while the cauliflower cooks. In a food processor combine the almonds, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, water, tamari, nutritional yeast, garlic, cumin, and ⅛ teaspoon sea salt. Process until creamy but still textured. Add the parsley, and pulse until finely chopped. Taste the sauce and adjust the flavors as desired.
- At the 6-minute mark, use a spatula to carefully flip the cauliflower. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on each steak and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp and browned at the edges and barely tender at the stem.
- Serve with parsley sauce and black pepper.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.