Cauliflower Carbs Taste Test: The Best Pizzas, Snacks And More

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that cauliflower carbs are showing up everywhere, from pizza crusts to cheesy puffs.

This is a trend that seemingly has no end in sight, according to Bob Nolan, senior vice president of demand science for Conagra Brands, which makes cauli fries, cauli tots, riced cauli and mashed cauli.

Nolan told HuffPost that in the past year, the veggie carb category has grown to a whopping $703 million business nationwide, with a crazy 83% rate of growth. “I’ve never seen anything growing at this rate, at this size,” Nolan said. “We think this is going to be around for a long time. We don’t think this is a fad.”

Johanna Israel-Duprey, director of marketing for Hippie Snacks, told HuffPost she realized cauliflower was more than a fad when she saw that California Pizza Kitchen added a cauli crust to its menu. “I think cauliflower works as a carb substitute for so many people because it doesn’t actually have to taste like cauliflower,” she said. “When you eat the product, you don’t feel like you’re eating a carb substitute.”

“What people love is that it applies to such a broad demographic,” said Cybele Pascal, founder of Cybele’s Pasta, which makes a cauliflower, parsnip and lentil pasta that now comes in three shapes. “Athletes love good carbs and high protein, clean eaters and millennials love it, and then you also get moms sneaking vegetables into their kids’ diets.”

It also appeals to those on keto diets, paleo diets, gluten-free diets (though not all cauli carbs are free from wheat or other carbs) and simply those who are on a quest to get more vegetables into their own diets, Nolan points out.

Jeanne David, founder and CEO of Outer Aisle Gourmet, which makes a line of cauli crusts and bread thins that are versatile enough to use for sandwiches, lasagna and pies, told HuffPost that another big group of people who love cauli carbs are people who have diabetes or are prediabetic. “We’re as a company committed to low-glycemic [products],” she said. “We get letters from diabetics all the time who say that they love our products.”

With so many people trying the various cauli carbs out there, we decided to do a taste test of some of the many cauli carbs on the market. Here’s the breakdown.

Cauliflower Fries, Birds Eye

The testers: me, my son Q.J., my friend Susan who is a nurse practitioner, and my son’s two gymnastics teammates, Brett and Gavin

Brett: No, they look pretty good for fries. I like that they’re not too salty, a little like a sweet potato fry. Out of five stars, I’d give it four and a half.

Gavin: I like how it’s roasty on the bottom, and it tastes more like a potato.

Q.J.: They taste almost like regular fries. I can’t taste the cauliflower at all.

Gavin: Yeah, I can’t taste the cauliflower either.

Susan: They’re good. Maybe a little sweeter than regular fries, but good.

Me: Uh, where’s a fry I can taste?

Notes: Q.J. and Brett fought over the last fry.

Cauliflower Tots, Birds Eye

The Testers: me, Q.J., Susan, and Brett and Gavin.

Me: Ooh, these are good. These taste like tots.

Brett: I’m not really a big fan of tater tots, but these taste better than the ones I’ve had before.

Gavin: These taste more of cauliflower. I love them.

Q.J.: The fries are better.

Me: These don’t quite have the same texture as regular tots.

Susan: They’re more like fried mashed potato balls.

Gavin: I want my mom to buy them.

Notes: My husband didn’t get to taste either of the products, as they were all gobbled up before he got in the door.

Cauliflower Crackers, Nacho Flavor, From The Ground Up

The testers: me, Q.J., my friend Melissa, her son Jeremiah, and Brett and Gavin

Brett: These taste pretty good. They taste like cauliflower but toasty. I’d give it a five out of five stars.

Melissa: I think adults would like this, but I’m not sure if kids would like this. Let’s have Jeremiah taste this.

Notes: The crackers also come in cheddar and pizza, and they also come in different shapes.

Cauliflower Pretzels, Original Flavor, From The Ground Up

The Testers: me, Q.J., my husband Kyle, and Melissa and Jeremiah

Me: They taste like pretzels.

Melissa: They taste more breadlike than most pretzels.

Jeremiah: They taste like regular pretzels.

Q.J.: They would taste better with honey mustard sauce.

Kyle: These are good. They’re certainly crunchy, almost crunchier than regular pretzels.

Notes: They’d be easily swapped in for regular pretzels, and most people wouldn’t realize they’re eating veggies.

Cauliflower Tortilla Chips, Lime Flavor, From The Ground Up

The Testers: me, Q.J., Kyle, Melissa and Jeremiah

Melissa: It really smells like lime, but it’s really a light lime flavor. They’d be good in salsa.

Q.J.: I love lime. It tastes good.

Jeremiah: You can actually taste the cauliflower, and it kind of ruins the flavor.

Kyle: These have a good crunch, and I like the initial flavor, but then they become a bit tasteless.

Notes: These chips come in other flavors, and the overall agreement is that they’d taste better with guac or salsa.

Cauliflower Stalks, Cheddar Flavor, From The Ground Up

The Testers: me, Kyle, Melissa and Jeremiah

Melissa: Oh! These are good.

Jeremiah: It doesn’t have any cheese, but I don’t like the cheese flavor anyway.

Kyle: These taste just like Bugles! I love Bugles! These are my favorites.

Me: You could take these on a road trip.

Notes: By far, this was the winning snack product overall.

Southwest Chicken Meal With Cauliflower In The Sauce, O That’s Good

The Testers: me, Q.J., Kyle and Melissa

Kyle: I like the spicy noodles. I can’t taste the cauliflower.

Q.J.: It tastes better than it looks. It looks terrible, but it’s actually kind of good.

Melissa: I like the flavor. It was a little bit sweet, but it’s a fresh taste.

Notes: It’s easily warmed up on the stove or in the microwave.

Garlic Chicken & Potatoes With Cauliflower In The Sauce, O That’s Good

The Testers: me, Q.J., Kyle, Melissa and Jeremiah

Kyle: Yeah, this is good, too.

Q.J.: The potatoes are good.

Melissa: It’s a light garlic flavor, it’s not overly garlicky. It’s a good comfort food.

Jeremiah: It’s OK. It tastes like a plain potato, which is good because it doesn’t make your breath smell too garlicky.

Melissa: I can’t taste the cauliflower.

Notes: There also is an alfredo pasta meal with cauliflower in the sauce.

Sorghum Cauliflower Puffs, Vegan Rob’s

The Testers: me, Q.J., Kyle, Melissa and Jeremiah

Melissa: I taste a lot of sugar here.

Q.J.: These taste good. I taste a lot of herbs.

Jeremiah: They’re super soft.

Kyle: These taste good initially, but then they taste dusty. It loses its flavor after you chew it.

Notes: As the name suggests, it’s completely vegan. The kids liked this better than the adults did.

Plantpower Sandwich Thins, Outer Aisle

The Testers: me, Kyle, Melissa and Jeremiah

Melissa: I like it. I think this would be a good bread substitute.

Jeremiah: It’s pretty good. I love cauliflower, and I can’t taste cauliflower.

Notes: They come in original, jalapeño and Italian seasoning varieties. They are like mini pizza crusts, and the company recommends toasting them in the oven before using as sandwich thins.

Macaroni & Cheese Dinner With Cauliflower Added To The Pasta, Kraft

The Testers: me, Q.J. and Kyle

Me: Tastes like regular boxed mac ’n’ cheese.

Q.J.: It tastes amazing!!!!! It doesn’t taste like cauliflower at all. Um, num, num.

Notes: This mac and cheese is sometimes hidden within all the Kraft varieties in the grocery aisle, so you need to look for the little cauliflower on the package ― and it is not gluten-free.

Free To Eat Superbfood Pasta (Made With Cauliflower, Lentils & Parsnips), Cybele’s

The Testers: me, Q.J. and Kyle

Me: This tastes like regular pasta.

Q.J.: I like it. My coach would like it because it’s got a lot of protein in it.

Kyle (snarfing up the last of it): Yum.

Notes: Be careful cooking this pasta if you have a high-powered burner on your stove ― it turns al dente pretty fast. Later this fall, Cybele’s will be introducing shells and macaroni noodles to its line of veggie pastas. The rotini is perfect for Italian dishes, while the shells and macaroni noodles would be great for mac and cheese and pasta salads.

Plantpower Pizza Crust, Outer Aisle

The Testers: me, Q.J. and Kyle (note that one was prepared crispy, and one was prepared softer)

Me: I like the crispy crust.

Q.J.: I prefer the softer one.

Notes: These cauliflower crusts are quite a bit smaller than other brands, but they come two to a package. The company recommends cooking them on a pizza stone so that they are crisp. Besides original, they come in flavors of jalapeño and Italian seasoning. In addition to pizza, the company says, they can be used as a crust in quiches and as pasta noodles in lasagna.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust, Caulipower

The Testers: me, Q.J. and Kyle

Q.J.: I like this one. It’s soft.

Notes: You can buy the crust plain, or you can get it already dressed in turkey pepperoni and other flavors. If you buy just the crust, two come to a package.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust, Trader Joe’s

Me: I like this better than the Caulipower one, but my favorite is the Plantpower one.

Notes: You can buy the crust plain, or you can get it dressed up with plain cheese and sauce. If you prefer pepperoni, you can buy pepperoni separately to toss on top of it.

Cauliflower Crisps Original, Hippie Snacks

The Testers: me, Q.J. and Kyle

Kyle: They taste like something you get at Outpost [our local natural food co-op]. They’re more crunchy-granola-like. I like ’em. They’re just different.

Me: I like them too. I taste a hint of cauliflower.

Q.J.: So do I. Can I have some mac ’n’ cheese?

Notes: Hippie Snacks also make a guacamole avocado snack that is similar to this, but made with avocado.

Cauliflower Crisps Ranch, Hippie Snacks

The Testers: me, Q.J. and Kyle

Q.J.: I like this one better than the plain.

Me: I like these even better than the original. I don’t taste any cauliflower ― I taste more dill.

Kyle: Yeah, they remind me of those homemade crackers you made once in the dehydrator.

Me: Yeah, they do have a similar texture ― they both have seeds.

Notes: Even though they’re ranch-flavored, they don’t have any actual dairy product in them ― they’ve got coconut milk.