A Healthy Pizza Alternative - Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Our latest family recipe from Dawn Quest at Meals Our Kids Love is a gluten-free twist on a traditional favourite - pizza
Making a cauliflower pizza crust can be tricky and you’re not always guaranteed to end up with a wonderful, crisp crust that you can actually pick up with your hands.
We tried and tested six different ways of making cauliflower crust pizza before finally settling on this recipe which, of course, we had to call the Best Cauliflower Pizza Crust. Light, crispy and packed full of fibre, it’s the perfect gluten-free base for a whole range of different toppings.
I've been meaning to make Cauliflower Pizza Crust for a while now. The motivation for me is about trying to find new ways of sneaking vegetables into my kids' meals (yes, my kids refusing to eat vegetables is getting very old. Why can't they just eat them?). But when I started looking at recipes I was a bit overwhelmed and confused by how many different ways there are of making it.
If you're not familiar, making a pizza crust out of cauliflower involves whizzing cauliflower florets in a food processor until they turn into a couscous or rice-like texture and then forming that into a "dough".
All the recipes I looked at agreed that in order to avoid a soggy crust, it's important to make sure your cauliflower is as dry as possible (when you chop it up it releases a lot of moisture). What the recipes didn't agree on was how to do precisely that. Some suggested microwaving the cauliflower and then squeezing the water out through a tea towel, others recommended dry frying it, others insisted on baking it.
Most of the recipes also didn't agree on what ingredients you should add to the cauliflower rice, how hot the oven should be or even how long to cook it for.
My website, Meals Our Kids Love, is all about doing the legwork for busy parents; and that involves trying and testing recipes in order to find the easiest and quickest and those that involve the least amount of faff. To that end, this past week I've made Cauliflower Pizza Crust six times - yes, six - in six different ways. My family has been very patient.
The result - the recipe below - is a crust I think works really well and scored the highest with both the kids and my husband alike. It involves the least amount of mess and, according to the family, tasted the best.
Why Use Cauliflower as a Pizza Base?
You may be wondering why go to all the effort? Personally I think regular old pizza is a perfectly good and healthy meal for children depending on the toppings you use. Granted, if you're going to load yours with cheese, fatty meats and other processed foods then well, perhaps not.
But a basic margherita is essentially bread, tomatoes and cheese and I can't see a lot wrong with that. However, that said, there are instances when traditional dough just doesn't cut it, for example:
- When you or one of your family is gluten intolerant or cutting out wheat products - I've yet to find a good gluten-free pizza dough.
- If, like me, you're trying to increase the amount of vegetables you or your family eat - particularly good if your kids just refuse to eat veg.
- The third, though not really relevant to our family, is if you're trying to cut down on calories.
After six attempts, here's what I learned:
Baking the cauliflower rice was the best method of removing the moisture, not because it produced a better crust, but because it was easier, less faff and less mess. I tried microwaving cauliflower and wringing the moisture out through a tea towel - the result of that was burned hands (didn't let it cool down enough) and a kitchen covered in cauliflower rice.
Unless you are lactose-intolerant of course, the best ingredient to add to Cauliflower Pizza Crust is cheese. It's just delicious, and of the six pizzas I made, the cheese crusts came out tops with the family. It's just fine without, but cheese does make it kind of special.
While cheese is generally considered to be fine for gluten-free diets, there are some cheeses (Parmesan for example) which do cause some issues, so make sure the cheese you buy is labelled gluten-free if you are on a restricted diet.
Don't make the crust too thin - about 1/4 inch thick is about right.
Press the cauliflower rice firmly onto the baking tray to form your base. The more packed-in the cauliflower is, the firmer your base will be.
You want to be able to pick it up, unlike my first attempt which we all needed spoons for.
Expect to cook the crust for around 20 - 30 minutes before you put the toppings on (depending on your oven). Some recipes I tried suggested 15 minutes - which was just not enough time to make a crust that held together.
Don't expect this to be like real pizza dough. You can taste the cauliflower. Knowing my kids I didn't tell them what the crust was made of and they liked it enough to give it a 7 out of 10. I know if I had told them, they wouldn't have even tried it.
(This recipe makes one 28cm pizza)
For the crust
1 medium-sized, trimmed cauliflower head (approx 650g)
100g grated cheddar (make sure it is labeled gluten-free if you are avoiding gluten)
1 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional, and again, check for the gluten-free label)
1 egg, beaten
pinch of salt
Tomato pizza sauce or passata
Handful of grated cheddar
1) Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7
2) Chop the cauliflower into florets and discard the stalk and core.
3) Place the cauliflower into a food processor and whizz on high for 30 seconds until the cauliflower resembles couscous. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a grater.
4) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper lightly coated with oil or use a silicon/non-stick baking sheet
5) Spread the cauliflower in a thin layer on the baking sheet (use two baking sheets if the cauliflower is too heaped) and cook in the oven for approximately 15 minutes until the edges look toasted.
6) Take out of the oven and allow to cool for approximately 5 minutes.
7) Transfer to a bowl, add the egg, cheese and a pinch of salt and mix together until well-combined. The mixture will be quite wet.
8) Remove the old used parchment from the baking sheet and reline the sheet with fresh parchment.
9) Transfer the cauliflower mix to the baking sheet and using a spoon and your hands shape into an approx 28cm diameter pizza shape. Press down firmly with your hands to bind together. If you like you can build up the edges to make a crust.
10) Pop in the oven for between 15 - 30 minutes. How long the crust takes will depend on how wet your mixture is and how hot your oven is. You want the crust to look toasty brown and golden all over. Check after 15 minutes to see how it is getting on and keep in the oven until done.
11) Once it is golden brown, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
12) Spoon your tomato sauce in the middle and spread out, then add the cheese and all your other toppings.
13) Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes until the cheese topping is melted.
14) Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Find out more
- You'll find more fantastic recipes like this at Meals Our Kids Love