Cauliflower cheese is a Sunday lunch classic side dish but can also easily be a fantastic vegetarian centerpiece for weeknight dinners or family feasts.
This recipe is made in much the same way my gran used to make hers. The cauliflower is cut into florets and then mixed with a very-cheesy cheese sauce flavoured with nutmeg, a pinch of cayenne pepper and lots of white pepper before being baked under a blanket of grated cheese.
It also makes a great low carb cauliflower mac and cheese substitute and honestly, is often even better than actual mac and cheese. Absolutely mouth-watering!
Full cauliflower cheese recipe with instructions can be found in the recipe card.
- Butter. Unsalted butter.
- Flour. All purpose flour.
- Cayenne pepper.
- White pepper.
- Cheddar cheese. I like using a mature or sharp cheddar cheese
- Cauliflower florets.
How to make cauliflower cheese?
- Roast the cauliflower: Place cauliflower florets in a baking dish or casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste. Place in the oven and allow to roast for 30 minutes until just tender. Alternatively you can steam or boil the cauliflower until cooked.
- Make the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan set over medium heat, a simple roux from butter and flour then whisk in milk over low heat until the sauce is smooth. Allow to simmer until thick then stir in grated cheese and spices. The video below shows how to make cheese sauce step-by-step.
- Assemble: Pour the cheese sauce over the roasted cauliflower. Sprinkle over the remaining cheddar cheese then place in the oven. Allow to bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes then serve.
What cheese is best to use?
You want a strong, flavorful cheese. Mature cheddar, Gruyère and Parmesan/Pecorino all add fantastic flavor to the cheese sauce. To top the cauliflower, mozzarella, cheddar and Parmesan are all good options.
for the cheese sauce
- 125 g/1 stick butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 4 cups milk heated with 1 bay leaf and 2 peppercorns
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 cup grated mature cheddar
- salt to taste
for the cauliflower cheese
- 2 large heads cauliflower cut into florets
- 1 cup grated mature cheddar
- Pre-heat the oven to 160°c.
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan then whisk in the flour until you have a thick paste/roux.
- Slowly whisk in the warmed milk until you are left with a smooth, silky sauce.
- Lower the heat and allow to simmer whilst stirring until the sauce is thick and the flour is cooked.
- Add the nutmeg, cayenne, pepper and salt then remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.
- Place the cauliflower in an oven-proof casserole dish then pour over the cheese sauce.
- Cover with a sheet of greased foil then place in the oven and allow to bake for 30-45 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked to your preference.
- Remove the foil then top with the remaining cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.