Cauliflower crust pizza recipe (grain-free) - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Cauliflower crust pizza recipe (grain-free)

Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust PIzza | Pamela Salzman
Photo by Erica Hampton

I always spend Christmas week in New York with my family and it’s a great time catching up, celebrating and eating.  Eating a lot.  It’s a bit hard for me to follow my normal food routine when I am there.  I don’t have my juicer, or access to the juice bars which are all over the place where I live.  We visit with a lot of family and go out to eat more often than I do at home.  But one of the main obstacles to my eating beet greens and quinoa as often as I like is that my husband’s favorite food group is pizza.  Make that New York pizza.  His second favorite food group is pasta, the kind with gluten.  And then it’s anything “alla Parmigiana.”

prepping the cauliflower

So when we go to New York, he’s like a kid in a candy store, except all the candy has dairy, white flour and tomato sauce!  Of course, I have a slight weakness for good NY pizza myself and I partake in the food fest, too (although maybe not quite as much.)  Ironically, after we indulge in pizza for most of the week on Long Island and Brooklyn, we get together at the home of one of my cousins in Westchester and have, if you can believe it, a “pizza tasting party” with a few of my cousins and their kids.  I swear.

squeeze the heck out of the cooked cauliflower

Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust PIzza | Pamela Salzman

We each bring a few pies from our favorite pizzerias and taste them all.  There’s clam pie from Pepe’s and Sicilian from Sal’s; a cheeseless pizza from Polpetina and a classic from Johnny’s.  There are others that I can’t even remember.  The first few years that we did this, we actually voted to determine which was the best pie.  Now we don’t even pretend we care.  We just eat it all and wash it down with Chianti.  And this year, a heating pad came out at bedtime.

crust mixture

I don’t normally like to mess with a good thing, but sometimes curiosity gets the best of me.  A few years ago, I noticed a lot of recipes flying around the internet for pizza crust made out of cauliflower.  Life has taught me, among other things, that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  And cauliflower crust pizza recipes proved that point.  I tried a bunch and didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  The cauliflower crust was usually mushy and fell apart, and the pizza would have to be eaten with a fork and knife.  That didn’t fly in my house.

make little minis

But I have always been intrigued with the idea of making a treat like pizza something I could eat a little more frequently and then I saw the recipe that I knew would work.  And I saw the step that was missing from all my previous attempts and I kicked myself.  How could I not have thought of squeezing the cauliflower dry?!  After another attempt, I was actually able to make a pizza that tasted enough like pizza that I could pick up and eat it out of my hand.

prebake the crusts and then top with sauce and cheese

baked and ready to eat!

I didn’t think my husband would actually like this at all, so I was pretty close to not even letting him sample it.  But he came home one day and the house smelled like pizza and there was no stopping him.  He LOVED this!  And so did my girls!  Mr. Picky still has issues with cheese and isn’t a pizza fan anyway, so he was predictably lukewarm about it.

cauliflower crust pizza in the making

bake again

My only caveat here is that it’s not an “instant” recipe.  You have to cook and squeeze the cauliflower dry, then make and prebake the crust.  All steps I think are worth it for a pretty nutritious pizza.  As you can see in the above pictures, I  made a large pizza and then many mini pizzettes, which I think would be amazing for a party.  So much of this recipe at be done ahead of time, including make the crust batter or even pre-baking the crusts!

Hoping you all may enjoy good health and much happiness in 2014!!


Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust PIzza | Pamela Salzman


Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust PIzza | Pamela Salzman


5.0 from 5 reviews
Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Serves: makes one 10-12-inch pizza or twelve 3-inch pizzettes
  • olive oil for brushing on pizza stone or baking sheet
  • 1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 ¼ pounds), cut into large florets
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan or pecorino-romano cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon almond meal/flour (optional, but I think it makes the crust a little “breadier”)
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten with a fork (1 whole egg works, too. I think 2 egg whites makes the crust just a little crispier.)
  • Desired accompaniments: marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place a baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven as it is heating up.
  2. Brush a large piece of parchment paper with olive oil (big enough to fit your pizza stone or baking sheet.)
  3. Place the cauliflower in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse for about 30 seconds until you get very small pieces (resembling snow or rice.) You should end up with about 3 cups of cauliflower.
  4. Place the cauliflower and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to steam for about 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Drain in a fine mesh sieve and allow to cool. (If you use a colander to drain, you will lose a lot of cauliflower.)
  5. When the cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it all up in a clean, thin dish towel and squeeze out as much excess water as possible. The less moist the cauliflower, the crispier the crust will be.
  6. Transfer the squeezed cauliflower to a bowl and stir in the parmesan or pecorino, mozzarella, salt, dried oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and almond meal/flour. Add egg whites and mix with your hands until combined.
  7. Using your hands, form the mixture into tightly packed 3” rounds or a 10-12” round and place them on the oiled parchment paper.
  8. Slide the parchment paper onto the HOT baking sheet or pizza stone. An inverted baking sheet or a pizza peel can help with this.
  9. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until the crust starts to turn golden brown.
  10. Remove crusts from oven and top with desired toppings, then place back in the oven and cook for another 7 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. You just don’t want to overdo it with any toppings that are very wet.
  11. Allow to cool slightly and serve.
You can bake the crusts earlier in the day and refrigerate them until ready to top and bake.  Or you can make the batter the night before.


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  1. Can I use frozen cauliflower rice?

    • Absolutely! Simply defrost and skip to step 5 of the recipe.

  2. SO delicious. I cooked it for 15 minutes and then flipped it for another five on broil and it was crisp and perfect before even adding any toppings. DEFINITELY need to wring out as much water as possible from the cauliflower before mixing it with the dry ingredients, which a few others commented works best with a nut bag. If not, a clean dish cloth works too. My kids loved it!

    • Yes, getting out as much moisture is KEY! Glad it was a hit!

  3. Hi Pamela, I’m excited to try this tomorrow. If I don’t have almond flour or meal, can I make my own using almonds?

    • For this recipe, yes. Or you can sub whatever flour you have on hand.

  4. My Passover saviour!!! will attempt this asap. is there a marinara sauce you like that you buy or do you make your own? Your Passover Seder looked absolutely incredible by the way, I have never seen such an appetizing Seder it was pure genius.

    • Ha! I have a marinara sauce on my site. Otherwise I like Lucini organic marinara or Rao’s (not organic).

      • oh yes of course, forgot about that great post. excited for the cookbook!!! happy passover and easter.

  5. I made this tonight and it was delicious!! It even passed with my NY born, Sals loving pizza family!! Delicious. Can’t wait to make it again… have to find out how your LA born & raised husband discovered Sal’s in Mamaroneck?? I grew up on that pizza… none better!!

    • Ah, because he’s not LA-born and raised! He grew up in Pittsburgh and Rye, NY. He goes to Sal’s every year before Christmas Eve dinner (which is held in Bronxville.)

  6. OMG This is so so good! We use a nut bag to drain and briefly put the broiler on the crisp the pizza. We also brush the crust with garlic infused olive oil. Even my white flour consuming hubby is obsessed with it. He still doesn’t believe it is made of cauliflower! Thank you!!!

    • Genius to brush with garlic oil!! I must try that next time!

  7. I just tried this recipe and followed it almost exactly, and it was insanely good!!! Even my husband enjoyed it 😛
    I will be making again for sure, and trying the tip of turning it over, blotting and re-baking for a few minutes to go from a firm crust to an extra “crispy” one!
    I can’t wait to try again with different toppings… tempted to use a ranch like sauce as it will compliment the cauliflower I hope! ^_^

    • Well worth the effort is how I describe this pizza! So excited to hear what you come up with for your next try!

  8. If you bake it for the initial 15 minutes then put it in the fridge for later do you cover it? I am concerned that it will pick up moisture from the fridge.

    • I have put the mini crusts in a container and they were completely fine. I would cool it completely and then wrap it in foil and refrigerate it. I am sure it will be great.

      • Can I use the cauliflower rice from TJ’s? Not sure about the water squeezing step….?

        • Hmmmmm…..not sure about the frozen since I have a feeling that is already blanched. Maybe defrost and squeeze the water out. The fresh can definitely be used. Just cook as directed in the recipe and proceed from there with squeezing water out, etc.

          • We use the frozen riced cauliflower from TJ And Whole Foods. We simply defrost, strain, pat dry and wring out the water. I then put the brolier on BRIEFLY at the end to further crisp the crusts

            • Yes, my assistant Lauren showed me how to use frozen cauli-rice in this recipe and it’s amazing! I find that I have to use a smidge less salt because the one from TJ’s has salt added.

  9. Can the left over crusts be frozen? And would you thaw them later or cook frozen.

    • I have a feeling yes, but I can’t say for sure since I haven’t tried freezing them. Let me know if you do!

  10. I’m just making my first crust. I have to cook it first than put it in fridge to finish up after work. My question is, do I need to take the crust off the parchment paper before I put it in the fridge or leave it on and transfer back to my pizza stone to finish it up.

    • The crusts cooks on parchment on your baking sheet. So if you’re putting the pre-baked crust in the fridge, it doesn’t have to be on parchment, but you need to get it back on the parchment to cook it. It might be easier just to leave it on the parchment.

  11. Do you recommend ceramic or cast iron pizza stone… or does it make no difference whatsoever?

    • I’ve never tried a ceramic stone. I have use cast iron with success though.

  12. OMG, I know I’m a little late to the party, but just made the cauliflower pizza for the first time and it was delicious! I let the kids eat it before I told them what was in it, and they loved it. Big hit! This is going to be a staple around here. Thanks Pamela!

    • That is so great to hear! Better late than never! xo

  13. This sounds so great, is there a Vegan version? Maybe substituting the eggs with flax? “Daiya” has excellent vegan shredded cheese 🙂

    • I think you can definitely give the flax egg a try and for sure Daiya would work well!

  14. This recipie is the greatest! I made it and everyone loved it including my kids. Thank you so much!

    • How cool! SO exciting!

  15. i have been waiting for this recipe! could you use quinoa flower instead of the almond meal and egg yolks as well?
    Thank you!

    • I haven’t tried it with quinoa flour, but I befit would work. It definitely works with whole eggs, I just thought the egg whites made it slightly crispier. Not a big deal, though!

  16. Being gluten free is a pain in the butt for an Italian that has old growth pizza in his bones but I have to say that your recipe is my New Years Eve task of the day. It may offer me my much needed fix of Roma. The ingredients seem so unconventional that I have to give this a go. Your story of NYC pizza was a solid visual to aid my late night pizza dreams.

    • I use a similar recipe that works really well– as you suggest the moisture is the issue in having a “crusty” crust. We blot it before baking, bake the crust to golden, and blot it again. THEN we actually flip the crust, blot that and bake that, and then add the toppings. It’s an extra step, but we think the crispy base that you get by baking and flipping is worth it.

      • I am so intrigued by your method! I wonder if this is easier than precooking and squeezing dry the cauliflower. If you check back, please let me know if you steam the cauli-rice before making the batter or if you use it raw. Thanks!

        • No such luck, I’m afraid. We still rice and cook the cauliflower, and then squeeze it and press it while it cools.
          The blotting and baking both sides just serves to get even more moisture out of the crust (especially useful if the mozzarella you’re using has a higher moisture content), which lets the crust get crispier.

          • Ah, got it. Still worth trying. Thanks for checking back!

            • I am just catching up on your recent posts and wanted to add that I have made this using a slightly different recipe and found that adding a bit of coconut flour to the mixture also helps with removing the moisture from the cauliflower….so much so, that I don’t even need to use the cloth anymore.
              Yummy! I want to go make it right now!

              • Ahhhhhhhh! Makes total sense. Must try that next time. Thank you!!

    • I derived great pleasure from reading your comment! Thank you for sharing, Marco. Happy new year!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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