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How many calories are in a cauliflower?

31st July 19 - 5 minute read

Headshot of James Hudson

Performance Nutritionist at Nutrition in Sport

Our expert:

James Hudson, Performance Nutritionist at Nutrition in Sport. James played Premiership Rugby for Gloucester, as well as lining up for London Irish, Newcastle Falcons and England Saxons. He has a degree and masters in biochemistry from the University of Bath and has completed the International Olympic Committee’s Diploma in Sports Nutrition.

What’s in this article…

  • How many calories in a cauliflower?
  • Preparing cauliflower
  • Can you eat too much cauliflower?

Cauliflower is no longer the reserve of Sunday roasts. This brilliant brassica is now being used as steaks, rice and mash.

This is because the once humble cauliflower is finally being recognised as an affordable way to improve your diet. One 100g uncooked serving contains almost zero fat or salt, yet provides all your daily recommended vitamin C¹,² . No wonder more and more people are getting creative with low-cal cauliflower recipes.

At a glance:

  • A large head of raw cauliflower contains 209 calories
  • In raw form can be a tasty addition to salads
  • Cauliflower has a range of benefits

How many calories are in a cauliflower?

A large head of cauliflower contains, on average, just over 200 calories, while 100g of cooked cauliflower has 30 calories³ and 85g of tasty cauliflower rice contains 20 calories.

Given that the recommended daily intake is 2,000/2,500 calories for women and men respectively to maintain weight, a good cauliflower dish is a popular addition to a weight loss meal plan.

Calories in cauliflower by weight

  • Whole cauliflower (800g) – 240
  • Per 100g raw – 30
  • Per 100g cooked – 30

Preparing cauliflower

Traditionally, people have tended to boil – and often over boil – cauliflower. But it’s such a versatile vegetable that it’s now appearing as purees, in soups, and even as a steak.

“You can roast cauliflower, which is really good and super easy,” according to James Hudson.

“You could also take the florets off and shove them in a food processor, blending until they have that rice-like texture. You can then add all sorts of herbs and spices to give it more flavour.”


Raw vs cooked cauliflower

Cauliflower – like most vegetables – can be eaten raw. Many people choose to slice it finely and add to salads to give a tasty crunch.

In its raw form, a 100g serving has 56mg of vitamin C – more than the 40mg recommended daily. Boiling it can cut this level to 30mg per 100g.


Cauliflower rice vs white rice

By blending cauliflower you can create a substitute to rice that needs a simple fry to soften up. This helps retain the vitamin content, unlike boiling which reduces it.

Calories per 100g

  • Cauliflower = 30
  • White rice = 136¹⁰

Calorie difference: 106

Exercise needed to burn this: 20 push ups

Cauliflower steak vs steak

A recent trend is to slice the cauliflower down the middle to create an inch thick steak that can be fried just like a sirloin.

Calories per 100g:

  • Cauliflower steak = 30
  • Steak =135¹¹

Calorie difference: 105

Exercise needed to burn this: 15minutes uphill walk

Cauliflower mash vs potato mash

Switch it up by using cauliflower instead of potatoes in your mash.

Calories per 100g:

  • Cauliflower (boiled) = 20¹²
  • Potatoes (boiled) = 74¹³

Calorie difference: 54

Exercise needed to burn this: Swim for 7 minutes

Cauliflower vs broccoli

Cauliflower is part of the brassica family, which also includes broccoli, sprouts and cabbage. Broccoli shares many of cauliflower’s tasty traits and is only slightly higher in calories.

  • 100g of boiled broccoli has 34 calories¹⁴ compared to cauliflowers’ 30
  • Brussels sprouts contain¹⁵ 33 calories per 100g boiled
  • Boiled white cabbage also has 17 calories per 100g boiled or 24 calories raw

Most other similar vegetables hover around the 20-25 calorie mark per 100g cooked. That means you can serve up a substantial part of your weekly meal plan using these versatile vegs.

Need to know: Cauliflower can provide a low calorie alternative to everything from meat to rice.


Can you eat too much cauliflower?

Yes – but only in the way that too much of anything isn’t especially helpful in a balanced diet. Cauliflower is a FODMAP food – this means Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols¹⁶.

These are groups of complex carbs that can trigger digestive issues as they’re difficult to break down. Too much cauliflower could cause bloating, stomach pain and flatulence. This can be a big problem for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sufferers or those with similar conditions.¹⁷

Although very alike in many ways, broccoli is classified as a low-FODMAP food. If you’re worried about the effects of consuming cauliflower, try replacing it with broccoli in some meals instead.

Need to know: Too much cauliflower can be bad for your gut – particularly if you’re living with IBS or other digestive conditions.

In summary

Cauliflower is much more versatile than many people give it credit for, with options to create mash, rice and steaks from the low-cal vegetable.

With few calories, good levels of vitamin C, low salt and zero fat, it’s a great addition to any diet – whether you’re working out, looking to lose weight or just stay fit and healthy.


[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide

[2] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[3] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[4] https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/food-and-diet/what-should-my-daily-intake-of-calories-be/

[5] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[6] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[7] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[8] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide

[9] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[10] https://www.nutracheck.co.uk/calories/calories_in_pasta_noodles__rice/calories_in_rice

[11] https://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/calories-in-food/beef/sirloin-steak.htm

[12] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[13] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[14] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[15] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf

[16] http://fodmapfriendly.com/

[17] http://fodmapfriendly.com/

Headshot of James Hudson

Performance Nutritionist at Nutrition in Sport

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