The Thanksgiving Brown Butter Cauliflower I Would Have Made

Brown Butter Cauliflower with Pumpkin Seeds

Deeply roasted, drizzled with butter, and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. This is the Brown Butter Cauliflower recipe from Bon Appétit food editor Chris Morocco I would have made if cauliflower would have made the list. Yep, it’s that time of year when we cooks start making lists. These lists will get argued and altered before they’re cinched. At least at my house. Because everyone’s got an opinion when it comes to Thanksgiving lists. Your list may look daunting at this point but never fear. This is part of the process. Before you know it these lists will be menus. Our Thanksgiving menus.

Some folks make the exact same thing every year. Which is great, but I’m not like that. I almost never make the same thing two Thanksgivings in a row. But I do have “must haves” for my holiday celebration. They’re usually the things my mother made. But my “must haves” are usually just a broad category. Like turkey. Turkey is a “must have”. I almost never do it the same way twice. Roasted. Fried. Dry-brined. Spatchcocked. I’ll usually try something new each year even when it comes to the turkey. I’m considering serving only the turkey drumsticks this year. I don’t know, we’ll see. But drumsticks are on the list.

Besides turkey, in my house stuffing is a “must have”.  Some sort of greens always makes an appearance on my Thanksgiving table too. There’s a Southern boy lurking inside me. We Southern boys always eat greens on Thanksgiving. Fortunately, greens have made a resurgence. The healthy qualities of leafy greens have made them almost trendy. Which means finding new and exciting ways to prepare all kinds of greens is easier than it has ever been before. So yeah, greens are on the list.

Brown Butter Cauliflower was on the list… for a while.  Cauliflower is on plenty of people’s Thanksgiving lists. Its got lots of Holiday cred in my opinion. My mom may have even made Thanksgiving cauliflower a time or two. This Brown Butter version could provide some lime and chile zing to the menu I’m considering. I think every holiday plate should have some zing.

There’s only one problem. Lists have to have endings. They can’t go on forever and there’s one item at the top of my list I forgot to mention. It’s not turkey, cranberries or even sweet potatoes. It’s carrots. My mother always made carrots on Thanksgiving.

So I’m sorry to say that there’s no room on my list for Brown Butter Cauliflower this year. So, if you are sitting in front of your computer with your hands balled up into little fists, holding your breath because Thanksgiving is just not Thanksgiving without cauliflower you can just exhale. I knew you’d be like that, and I came prepared. Here’s the recipe for the Brown Butter Cauliflower with Pumpkin Seeds I would have made if cauliflower would have made the list. GREG

Cauliflower on sheet panBrown Butter Cauliflower with Pumpkin Seeds Brown Butter Cauliflower with Pumpkin Seeds

Brown Butter Cauliflower with Chile-Lime Pumpkin Seeds 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6–8Source Adapted from Chris MoroccoPublished
brown butter cauliflower


  • 4 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
  • 2 whole cauliflowers
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • ¼ cup ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (plus whole leaves with tender stems for serving)
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice


Place oven racks in top and center positions. Preheat oven to 450° F. 

Coat 2 large parchment-lined baking sheets with 1 tablespoon oil each. Trim cauliflower stalks and place one head stalk side down on a cutting board. Slice cauliflower lengthwise into ½” slices. Repeat with second cauliflower. Arrange slices and any stray pieces in a single layer on equally divided between prepared baking sheets. Drizzle each sheet with another with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until underside is deeply browned, about 20 minutes. Turn cauliflower over, season with salt and pepper, rotate pans between racks and continue to roast until other side is dark brown and crisp, 10 or 15 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds, bring to a simmer, and cook, swirling pan often, until pumpkin seeds are toasted and butter is browned and smells nutty, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add red chile flakes; let cool 10 minutes. Add chopped cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Arrange warm cauliflower on a serving platter and drizzle with dressing. Serve topped with whole cilantro leaves.