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How Long Does Cauliflower Last

You’ve bought one cauliflower head too many. Once you realized that, you immediately started thinking: how long does cauliflower last?

Or perhaps you have a head or two stored away, and you’re trying to plan a few meals so that those heads don’t spoil.

Either way, you want to know how long cauliflower heads keep for, and what you can do to preserve them for longer. Plus, you likely want to learn how to tell if your cauliflower is okay to eat or not.

If that sounds like you, you’re in the right place. Continue reading.

Two cauliflower heads
Two cauliflower heads, notice some dark spots on both

How Long Does Cauliflower Last?

Cauliflower lasts a couple of days at room temperature and up to three weeks in the fridge packed in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.

Once you cook it, you can keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

To get those full three weeks ([UMN]), you need to:

  • buy a fresh and firm head with bright green leaves
  • make sure your storage practices are on point

If you’re like most people (me included), your supermarket-bought cauliflower head will be okay quality-wise. And you probably won’t want to mess with damp paper towels.

If that’s the case, the cauliflower head should last about two weeks.

Coarse leaf in cauliflower head
Coarse leaf in cauliflower, this head has been stored for a few days already

You can also cut cauliflower into florets and keep them in a container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

When it comes to cooked cauliflower, it lasts about as long as other cooked veggies, like broccoli or leeks. That means about five days, and sometimes a day or two more if you’re lucky.

As I already mentioned, the storage time depends on your storage practices. Let’s talk about those.

Creamy cauliflower soup garnished with soup pearls
Creamy cauliflower soup garnished with soup pearls

How To Store Cauliflower

The optimal way to store fresh cauliflower is in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel. You can skip the towel if you’re okay with shortening the storage time by a few days.

Cooked cauliflower should sit in the fridge in a resealable container.

Cauliflower is one of the veggies that like cold and moist conditions ([UMN]). That’s why storing heads in a resealable bag is the best option.

Roasted cauliflower florets
Roasted cauliflower florets

Like with radishes, wrapping the cauliflower head with a damp paper towel ([PU]) helps extend its storage time.

The paper towel should be moist, not wet. We want the cauliflower to pull moisture as needed, not have water drops on the florets and leaves.

If you want to prep the cauliflower head early and cook it later, that’s also an option.

Cut the curd (head) into florets and put them in an airtight container in the fridge, where they can sit for about 3 to 4 days. Postpone washing the florets until you’re ready to cook them.

Prepping cauliflower for soup
Prepping cauliflower for soup

How To Tell If Cauliflower Is Bad?

Discard cauliflower that:

  • Has turned soft or slimy. At that point, the veggie is useless.
  • Smells off. If the head smells stale or off in any way, it’s no good.
  • Has grey or yellow florets. You can trim the ends if the discolored areas are small and the florets spotty, but if the whole thing has turned yellow or grey, it’s done for.
  • Is rotten or has large clouds of mold. Like with discolored florets, you can remove some small spoiled parts. But if the damaged area is large enough, the head isn’t good enough to eat anymore.
Cauliflower closeup
Cauliflower closeup, note some discolorations here and there

Please note that the points above aren’t exactly cut and dried. Rather, they’re based on common sense and gut feeling. And that’s okay.

If you think the quality of your cauliflower is no longer good enough for eating, you’re probably right. Toss out that cauliflower head.


  • Fresh cauliflower can last for up to three weeks in optimal conditions and about 3 to 5 days after being cooked and refrigerated.
  • Store cauliflower in a plastic bag in the fridge. For bonus points, wrap the head with a moist paper towel or two.
  • Keep leftover cooked cauliflower in a plastic container in the fridge.
  • Toss out cauliflower if it’s rotten, moldy, soft, or turned yellow or grey. If the damaged parts are small and recent, you can trim them and use the rest.
Cauliflower florets tossed with olive oil
Cauliflower florets tossed with olive oil