There's nothing like some crispy deep fried cauliflower, or zahra, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a drizzle of tahini on top. And the best thing about this recipe is that you only really need two simple ingredients: cauliflower and frying oil. I love cauliflower a lot, and this is definitely one of my childhood favorites. It's such an easy, simple dish but is deliciously addicting. My sister and I would always make sandwiches with fried cauliflower florets, homemade french fries, tomatoes, and tahini, and it's still one of our favorite comfort foods. This recipe comes together in about 20 minutes and is best eaten freshly-fried.
In this recipe, I'll just give you a couple of tips and tricks for how to make the best crispy, deep-fried cauliflower florets. You're going to love how quick and easy it is! My favorite way to have them is with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of tarator, or tahini sauce. You'll really feel how the simplest flavors are always the best.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Cauliflower: Always use fresh cauliflower for this recipe, never frozen in order to make sure they come out crispy. And try to buy a whole head of cauliflower instead of the precut and prepackaged florets. The fresher, the better.
- Oil for Frying: Use any oil meant for frying, which means it should have a higher smoke point. I go into more detail about frying oils below.
- Salt: I like using flaky sea salt just to sprinkle on top of the cauliflower after frying, but you can use any kind of salt you prefer. It just brings out the cauliflower flavor more.
Tips and Tricks
- Cut cauliflower into medium-sized florets. Cauliflower shrinks slightly when fried. So you don't want to cut it too small, or you'll end up with teeny tiny pieces. Go for florets that are slightly bigger than how you want them to be.
- Prepare a plate or colander with paper towels on top. After frying, place the cauliflower onto the paper towels, which will allow for some of the excess oil to be absorbed, leaving you with super light and crispy cauliflower bites.
- Don't overcrowd your pot. To ensure each individual floret fries evenly, drop only a couple of pieces into the pot the same time. This will also make it easier for you to move them around and take them out of the pot without ruining their shape.
- Let cauliflower cool slightly. To get the perfect crisp, let the fried cauliflower rest for 7-10 minutes before serving. The little florets will crisp up during this time and you'll avoid having soggy cauliflower.
- Salt cauliflower immediately after they're done frying. Especially if you're using flaky sea salt.
- Don't overheat the oil. If your oil starts smoking, it's way too hot. It's at the right temperature when you drop something in and it starts bubbling and making that familiar sizzling sound. If it gets too hot, lower the heat or take it off the stove to let it cool down a little bit.
- Don't use too much oil. You only need enough oil for the cauliflower florets to be fully submerged. Too much oil in the pot could be dangerous, as it could boil over.
What Kind of Oil to Use For Frying
When deep frying cauliflower, or any food in general, you want to use an oil with a higher smoke point. which means it can withstand higher temperatures without starting to burn and create smoke, which can be dangerous. Some examples of oils with a higher smoke point:
- avocado oil
- canola oil
- vegetable oil
- peanut oil
- sunflower oil
- safflower oil
Personally, for fried cauliflower, I like to use vegetable oil, which is a mix of neutral vegetable-derived oils. The neutral flavor of the oil doesn't overpower the cauliflower, meaning it'll come out perfect every time.
How to Serve
You can serve fried cauliflower as a side or appetizer, on rice, on salads, the options are endless! It's vegan and gluten-free, which means almost everyone can enjoy it. It's also a perfect finger food for dipping sauces. Some things to serve with or alongside fried cauliflower:
- Tahini Dressing (Easy Tarator Sauce)
- Lebanese Fattoush Salad with Pita Chips
- Easy Homemade French Fries
- Authentic Egyptian Fried Falafel
- Egyptian Fried Eggplant With Tomato Sauce
- Lebanese Vermicelli Rice
Crispy Deep Fried Cauliflower Florets
- 1 head cauliflower
- oil for frying enough to submerge the cauliflower in
- Cut the cauliflower into medium-sized florets, wash, and dry completely.
- Fill about ¼ of your pot with oil, just enough to submerge the cauliflower in.
- Heat up the oil. You'll know it's ready if you drop a piece of cauliflower in and it starts bubbling.
- Drop a couple of florets at a time into the hot oil, stirring frequently until they turn golden-brown around (about 2-5 minutes)
- Once golden, immediately take them out of the oil and place them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- Don't overfill your pot with oil.
- Don't overcrowd your pot.