Cauliflower leaves – what do you do with them?

May 3, 2021 | 7 comments


My husband’s favourite vegetable is cauliflower and he often brings one home from a shopping expedition. It’s not unusual to have 2 a week. I have many ways of using cauliflower, but invariably have the cauliflower leaves left as husband won’t eat them. Not even if I’ve thoroughly disguised them in a curry or something. So it’s always me that has to use them up.

a head of cauliflower

Is cauliflower good for you?

All vegetables are powerhouses of nutrition and it’s all but impossible to eat too many of them. Most people would benefit hugely from upping their vegetable intake. Cauliflower are full of vitamins and minerals, lots of fibre and even provide protein.

Where do cauliflower leaves come from

When you buy a cauliflower, it usually comes as the white curd, surrounded by green leaves with thick white stems.

a cauliflower

The white florets are the part that we all know and love. Many people just eat that part, and throw away everything else. But the leaves and stems are very nutritious and taste delicious.

If you are lucky enough to have a market nearby, with a green grocery stall, they often chop off a lot of the leaves and stems and may even give them to you for nothing. Or green grocer shops might do the same. It’s just waste to them. It’s always worth asking, they can only say no.

Cauliflower straight from the ground have a great many more leaves, which have been chopped off long before they reach the shops. If you know anyone who grows cauliflowers, they may let you have the leaves – although they are more likely than most to use them themselves.

What can I do with cauliflower leaves

a glass bowl containing the shredded stems of 2 cauliflowers

Now I do like the leaves, I would even say I prefer them to the florets. Same as broccoli really. We’re a bit Jack Sprat and his wife like that. I eat the stems, himself eats the florets.

But you actually get more cauliflower leaves than you do florets, so I’m always looking for ways to use them.

  • Sometimes, I strip off the green leaves from the stem and use them as I would use cabbage leaves.
  • Then use the stem, sliced up in a stir fry, a curry, a casserole or soup, or just as a vegetable side.
  • I often chop them and use in soup as I can use up a lot that way. I especially like cauliflower leaves soup with turmeric, ginger, garlic and coconut. Yum!
  • They are lovely cooked and eaten as a vegetable, either with cauliflower florets, or separately.
  • Use cauliflower leaves or broccoli stalks in a cheese sauce instead of florets.
  • Drizzle with oil, season, and sprinkle with curry spices, then roast in a hot oven. My favourite way is with tandoori spice.
  • One day, I decided to shred the latest lot to use in a soup, and once I had done it, I realised what a useful item had been created.
    • I had some that day, just as they were, in a salad. They taste vaguely green and a little like salad leaves.
    • Use in the soup, as was intended
    • Steam and use as a vegetable
    • Cover with a cheese sauce
    • Cover with a tomato sauce, top with cheese

NB – Cons of cauliflower leaves!

I must warn you though. I made the shreds and put them in a glass bowl, covered them with a plate, and a tea-towel, and left them on the worktop overnight – it was a cool day – intending to use the shreds the following day.

Well, my goodness! When I came downstairs the next day, the cabbagey smell was pretty strong! So treat with caution and make sure you use them, or bag and freeze, the same day if you can, or be prepared for the consequences!

Other ways to use cauliflower

I love this tomato stewed cauliflower. Simple and very delicious

Kounoupithi Yiahni or Tomato Stewed Cauliflower. A traditional Greek food


The batter on these cauliflower florets is simply amazing – what a wonderful dish to serve

Kounoupidi tiganitó or Greek Fried Cauliflower


Cauliflower leaves can be used to make a pesto which tastes amazing!

Cauliflower Leaves Pesto


This is another way of using cauliflower leaves in soup. This version is from a weekly meal plan

Cauliflower and chick pea soup with little dumplings



a cauliflower

Cauliflower Leaves

5 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Side Dish
Gluten Free
Low Calorie
Low Fat
freeze by Hare Krishna from the Noun Project
Freezes Well
vegan by Guilherme Furtado from the Noun Project
Vegetarian by Philipp Petzka from the Noun Project
Servings: 6 from 1 medium cauliflower
Cost per portion 6p
Calories: 144kcal
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  • 1 medium all the leaves and stems of a cauliflower


Prepare the vegetables

  • This procedure can be used for the leaves and stems of a cauliflower; broccolli stalks; the hard part at the bottom of a cabbage or anything else you don't want to use as it is
  • Set up your food processor with a small shredding blade
  • Turn the food processor on, and using the part provided to push ingredients on to the shredding blade, push each stem etc through the shredder
  • You will get a bowl of shredded vegetable that can be used as it is in slaw, with French dressing or mayonnaise, steamed as a hot vegetable, used in soups, casseroles etc
  • Do make sure to bag or box securely as the shredded veg are rather pungent!



I priced this as half the cost of a whole cauliflower, although if you have been throwing the leaves away, it could be argued that it's free!


Nutrition Facts
Cauliflower Leaves
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @ThriftyLesley or tag #ThriftyLesley !



  1. Thrifty Lesley

    Karen – That sounds delicious! I’ve just made a big pot yesterday too with all the leaves. My husband refuses to eat the leaves, but is quite happy to eat the soup – haha. I chop them up in the food processor, easier to do, and he doesn’t see what it is.

  2. Karen hHuston

    Karen H. I made vegetable soup with my leaves. 1 leek 2 onions 3 cloves of garlic, sauted with vegan butter for about 10 minutes added 3 vegtable stock cubes 2 medium potatos 1 carrot caulifower stalkes and leaves 1 can of chick peas salt and pepper to taste. this has cost around $3.00. I still have the whole cauiflower in tact which costed .99 cents and is big. The soupis hearty and tasty will feed me 3 meals

  3. Thrifty Lesley

    Dave – I know what you mean about organic. We are thinking more and more about buying organic produce

  4. Dave

    These slightly tough leaves with crunchy stalks are lovely just chopped and gently fried in butter or coconut oil with salt and pepper. Serve warm and crunchy. They go with anything that cabbage would, or even on their own as a nutritious snack. Note: remember these leaves encase and protect the cauliflower so will catch most of the farming chemicals and pesticides; I would only eat if organically grown.

  5. Lisa-Marie Robinson

    5 stars
    Thanks ThriftyLesley for these wonderful ideas … I had tried roasting the larger, more fibrous leaves and they were still fibrous so I have continued to compost them. Now I have these tips, I will endeavour to use more of the “waste”.

  6. Thrifty Lesley

    I like them as a vegetable too, although husband won’t eat them. Don’t know why, they just taste like cauliflower which is his favourite!

  7. HelenS

    5 stars
    I steam the leaves sometimes a bit longer than the cauliflower and use as cauliflower often in a cauliflower cheese. Yum.

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