This Crispy Cauliflower recipe can be made in an air fryer or roasted in the oven. Serve over creamy tahini yogurt sauce with pickled red onions and herbs, as a tasty side dish or vegetarian main. Vegan-adaptable and GF.

air fryer crispy cauliflower with pickled onions and piquant peppers served over tahini yogurt sauce on plate.

Success is as dangerous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear. Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky. When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.

Tao Te Ching, translation by Stephen Mitchell

What first started out as a tasty side dish has become a hearty vegetarian main for my husband and me. We just split it and mop up the flavorful sauce with soft, toasty pita bread, and call it dinner. Crispy cauliflower is seasoned with savory spices and bakes up quickly in an air fryer (or use an oven on the convection setting). Paired with pickled onions and creamy Tahini Yogurt sauce, the textures and flavors truly satisfy!

Why You’ll Love This

  1. Quick & easy! Perfect for using the air fryer, or use a convection oven.
  2. Versatile! Use as a tasty side dish or healthy vegetarian main.
  3. Vegan-adaptable and gluten-free. Use vegan yogurt for a dairy-free recipe!
  4. So much texture and flavor. Crispy, tender, tangy, creamy, and perfectly spiced.


ingredients for crispy cauliflower laid out on wood surface - cauliflower head, yogurt, tahini, pickled onions, garlic cloves, parsley, lemon, almonds, spices, oil.
  • Cauliflower: Use a medium-large cauliflower head, cut into florets. Fresh, organic, local is best here!
  • Tahini paste: Stir well for a velvety smooth sauce that pairs perfectly with the crispy cauliflower. We love this Tahini paste brand- so fresh and creamy.
  • Yogurt: Use plain Greek-style yogurt, goat kefir, or sub a vegan yogurt to make it plant-based.
  • Spices: Smoked paprika, cumin seeds (or ground cumin), sesame seeds (optional), granulated garlic powder, salt, cayenne (optional), and cracked black pepper.
  • Garlic cloves: Adds pungent, aromatic flavor to the creamy tahini yogurt sauce.
  • Lemon juice: Brings a bright and tangy taste to the sauce.
  • Pickled onions: You’ll need about a 1/4 cup. A pretty pink garnish, but also adds a sweet, tangy bright pop of flavor!
  • Optional garnishes: Pick a couple! Parsley, cilantro, or arugula, sliced cherry tomatoes, pickled piquant peppers, lemon zest, chili flakes (Aleppo or Urfa Biber) or sumac, and toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds.

How to Make Crispy Cauliflower

Preheat oven to 425F (convection if possible) or use an Air Fryer at 390F.

Step 1: Make the pickled onions. Keep them in the fridge.

Step 2: Prep the cauliflower. Chop cauliflower into small florets and toss in a large mixing bowl with the oil. Add smoked paprika, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, granulated garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper to the bowl and toss to coat well, using enough oil so that the spices stick.

Step 3: Air-fry or bake. If using an air fryer, toss the cauliflower every 5 minutes until tender and crispy, about 12-15 minutes. If using an oven, spread cauliflower onto a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer and bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Stir halfway. If you don’t have parchment paper, use a well-oiled baking sheet.

Step 4: Make the Yogurt Tahini Sauce. Whisk the yogurt tahini sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl until creating a smooth mixture. Save the zest for garnish. Taste and adjust for salt and lemon.

Step 5: Assemble. Spread the sauce on a large plate or platter. Pile the crispy cauliflower on top, then garnish with pickled onions and other desired garnishes.

crispy cauliflower garnished with fresh parsley and lemon zest, pickled onions, piquant peppers, and slivered almonds, served over tahini yogurt.

Serving Suggestions

How to Achieve Crispy Cauliflower

  • Make sure it’s dry. After rinsing the cauliflower, be sure to dry it completely.
  • Oven: Spread out the cauliflower (ensure there is space between the cauliflower florets) and use the convection setting.
  • Cut into even pieces. The florets should be cut into roughly the same size for even baking.
  • Stir frequently. This helps all sides of the cauliflower crisp up!


How do I pick out cauliflower?

The best cauliflower is white without any brown spots and has bright green, firm leaves attached.

Why is my cauliflower not crispy?

Cauliflower has a high water content, so be sure to keep the florets spread out when using the oven, or mixing often with the air fryer.

Can I meal prep this recipe?

Yes! You can make the Yogurt Tahini Sauce and Pickled Onions in advance. Then all you have to make is the cauliflower, requiring 12-25 minutes depending on whether you use the air fryer or oven.

Can I serve this with cheese?

Sure! Crumbled cheese like goat, feta, or blue cheese would pair great with the texture of these crispy cauliflower bites, but a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese would also be nice. The cheese is certainly not needed though!

Can I turn this into a meal?

We love this recipe as is for dinner, simply served with pita bread to dip into the sauce! But you could also serve it with basmati rice, chickpeas or lentils to make it a bit heartier.

Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Cauliflower is not only delicious and versatile but also packed with numerous health benefits!

  1. Rich in nutrients. Cauliflower is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, and potassium.
  2. High in fiber. Cauliflower has a high fiber content, supporting digestive health.
  3. Antioxidant properties. Full of phytonutrients like glucosinolates and isothiocyanates to help protect the body against harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation.
  4. Supports heart health. The fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds in cauliflower contribute to heart health by improving blood circulation and reducing the risk of heart disease.
  5. Boosts brain health. Cauliflower contains choline, a nutrient that is essential for brain development and function. Adequate choline intake can improve memory and cognitive function.
  6. Enhances bone health. The vitamin K in cauliflower plays a critical role in bone health by aiding in bone mineralization and reducing the risk of fractures.
  7. Supports detoxification. Cauliflower can aid in the body’s natural detoxification processes, thanks to its high content of sulfur compounds, which help support liver function and detoxification pathways.
  8. Promotes skin health. The antioxidants and nutrients in cauliflower can help protect the skin from damage caused by harmful UV rays and environmental pollutants, promoting healthier, glowing skin.
crispy cauliflower garnished with pickled red onions, peppers, parsley, slivered almonds, and lemon zest, served over tahini yogurt.

Love this recipe? Please let us know in the comments and leave a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below the recipe card.

More Cauliflower Dishes You’ll Love

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Crispy Cauliflower with Tahini yogurt

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4 from 1 review
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: side dish, vegetarian main dish
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern
  • Diet: Vegetarian


The Crispy Cauliflower recipe can be roasted in the oven or air fryer. Served over garlicky tahini yogurt sauce with savory spices, pickled red onions and herbs, its a delicious side dish or hearty vegetarian main. 


Units Scale

Tahini Yogurt Sauce

  • 3/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt (or vegan yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste (stirred)
  • 12 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3/41 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Pickled Onions  (you’ll need about ¼ cup) 


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F (convection if possible) or use an Air fryer at 390F 
  2. Make the quick pickled onions and place them in the fridge.
  3. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, place in a large bowl and toss with the oil. Add the smoked paprika, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, granulated garlic powder, cayenne salt and pepper and toss to coat well. Add enough oil so that the spices stick. 
  4. Bake. Air fryer: toss the cauliflower every 5 minutes, until tender and crispy, roughly 12-15 minutes. (Oven: Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes; string halfway through until tender and crisp.)
  5. Yogurt Tahini Sauce. While this is baking, whisk together the yogurt tahini sauce ingredeints together in a medium bowl until smooth. Save the zest of the lemon for garnish. Adjust salt and lemon to taste.
  6. Assemble: Spread the yogurt tahini sauce on a large plate or platter. Pile the crispy cauliflower over the sauce. Garnish with pickled onions, parsley, lemon zest, chili flakes, or sumac. Sprinkle with pinenuts,  almonds, sliced piquant peppers, arugula, or sliced cherry tomatoes if you like.  


The pickled onions and Tahini  Yogurt Sauce can both be made ahead. Leftovers will keep up to 4 days in the fridge. 


  • Serving Size: ¼ of a cauliflower with ¼ of the sauce
  • Calories: 258
  • Sugar: 5.7 g
  • Sodium: 1233.3 mg
  • Fat: 18.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 15.9 g
  • Fiber: 4.4 g
  • Protein: 10.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 6.9 mg

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  1. Hi Sylvia, if I wanted to roast up some chickpeas with the cauliflower, would I just double up on the seasoning?

    1. Hi Daniella, it depends on how much you add? If you add one can ( 1 ½ cups) chickpeas, maybe 1 ½ x the spice and salt would be enough- but up to you, add more to taste!

  2. This was delicious. Full stars by all four of us in our family, as far as flavor and texture. Just want to warn everyone, though, that this will not make enough to serve as an entree as written. I bulked this up with crispy fried tofu and sautéed pine nuts/slivered almonds in order for it to have enough protein. Otherwise, I would find it to be fantastic as a side dish with the serving sizes suggested.

    1. Hi Diana- yes, it only serves two as an “entree”- I will make that more clear. 🙂

  3. My husband and I love your recipes and this is no exception. Honestly, I refer to you as “my genius lady” when my husband asks where I got a new recipe. He agrees. You’re not afraid of spices and bold flavors, which we love. As you described, we used this as a dinner entree for the two of us along with a small side salad. Cilantro, your pickled onions, tomatoes and a sprinkling of sumac finished it off beautifully. Another home run!

  4. Absolutely delicious. I didn’t change much. I topped the dish with parsley, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and pickled onions. Thank you for amazing dishes. I really didn’t miss meat with this dish.

    1. Hi Leticia- if you want to keep the cauliflower crispy, best to consume right after air frying. That being said, leftovers still taste really good just not as crispy.

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