Cauliflower Parmesan

4.41 from 10 votes
1 hour
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Cauliflower Parmesan is a vegetarian twist on Chicken Parmesan, the classic Italian-American dish.  It’s light, healthy, easy and perfect for that first al fresco dinner on the patio!

Photo of Cauliflower Parmigiana on white plate with lettuce greens on the side.

It took me the better part of Saturday to clean the garage and lately, I’m into doing a little redecorating and “spiffing” in our home.  Freshening up feels so good!

So, how about we freshen up a classic dish, too?  Classic Chicken Parmesan is an Italian-American dish that’s breaded and fried.  However, whenever I make Chicken Parmigiana for clients, I always bake it to make it a little lighter.

Here’s my vegetarian version of a client favorite:  Cauliflower Parmesan!

Photo of Cauliflower Parmigiana on white plate with greens.

There’s no doubt cauliflower is having its day in the sun for its versatility.  It’s a great substitute for so many things such as potatoes, rice and the perfect vegetarian substitute for chicken in this dish.

Photo of whole head of white cauliflower.

How to make Cauliflower Parmesan:

  • Start with a super-fresh head of cauliflower.
  • Cut it into approximately 3/4-inch “steaks.”  Cutting cauliflower into steaks is not easy and it will fall apart.  If you want steaks that hold together for presenting to your guests, you’ll need to use two heads of cauliflower.  Use only the center and use the bits and pieces that remain another way such as in a salad.  However, because the marinara sauce will go over the top, you can use the whole head of cauliflower.  Simply piece those end slices together the way I did here.  The marinara sauce and cheese is the perfect disguise!
  • After slicing the head of cauliflower, brush the cauliflower steaks with olive oil and coat with the breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese combination.
Photo of breaded cauliflower steaks on baking sheet before being baked.
  • Spritz with cooking spray or olive oil in a mister and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees.  You want a lower temperature because the cauliflower takes a while to get tender and you don’t want the breading to get too browned.  All ovens vary, so check the cauliflower after 20 to 25 minutes to make sure they’re not getting too browned.
Photo of cauliflower steaks on baking sheet after being baked.
  • After baking the cauliflower steaks, I carefully take them off the parchment, then remove the parchment and place on the clean baking sheet.  All those browned bits are going to get even browner which you don’t want.
  • Top with your favorite marinara sauce…
Photo of breaded and baked cauliflower steaks covered with marinara sauce.
  • Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese….
Photo of breaded and baked cauliflower steaks with sauce and sprinkled with cheese.
  • Place back in the oven for a little bit….
Photo of breaded, baked and sauce with cheese melted ready to be served.
  • Cauliflower Parmesan!  A light, lovely and delicious meatless entree!
Photo of Cauliflower Parmigiana in white dish on beige napkin on gray background.
Close-up photo of Cauliflower Parmigiana in white dish with fresh baby greens.

For more great cauliflower recipes, be sure to try my:

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Cauliflower Parmesan - Overhead hero shot on white plate with lettuce greens on the side

Cauliflower Parmesan

4.41 from 10 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Cauliflower Parmesan is a vegetarian twist on Chicken Parmesan, the classic Italian – American dish.  It's light, healthy, easy and perfect for that first al fresco dinner on the patio!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Vegetarian / Vegan Entrees
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 -6
Calories 363 kcal


  • 1 medium head cauliflower - cut into approximately 6 “steaks,” each 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/4 cup seasoned Italian dry breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil - or as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 jar (24-ounce) marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Mozzarella cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  • Carefully cut the cauliflower into approximately 6 steaks. (If the steaks fall apart, simply piece them back together after breading.)
  • Combine panko, Italian breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
  • Season olive oil generously with salt and black pepper.
  • Brush the cauliflower steaks with olive oil then dredge in the breadcrumb/cheese combination.
  • Spray with cooking spray or an olive oil-mister to moisten the breadcrumbs.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes until golden. (Check after 20-25 minutes.)
  • Transfer to a clean baking sheet or a clean piece of parchment paper on the baking sheet you were using.
  • Top with marinara sauce as desired.
  • Top with Mozzarella cheese.
  • Increase temperature to 400 degrees. Bake 10 minutes or until sauce is heated through and cheese melts. Serve immediately.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 463mg | Potassium: 65mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 404IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 265mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I made this last night and it was delish <3
    Often when I have parmesan something, it doesn't taste parmesan cheese at all. but, with your recipe, it did in every bite 🙂
    I was also worried that the panko and crumbs were not sticking much, but, it turned all good. a little bit of crunchiness and soft cauliflower was amazing.

    In my convection toaster oven,
    30 min baking time, and 3 min broiling time 🙂 hehe

  2. 5 stars
    I love this idea and can’t wait to try it!! For a meatless version of this classic dish, I’ve tried tofu in place of chicken but cauliflower tastes so much better! Thanks for sharing this recipe!