This cauliflower mac and cheese recipe is a delicious alternative to traditional mac and cheese. It’s equally delicious as a main dish for dinner as it is served as a side dish with chicken or pork.
If you are wondering how substituting cauliflower for macaroni/pasta could possibly be as delicious and satisfying, let me assure you this recipe is every bit as tasty without being as heavy. Because cauliflower is relatively neutral, it makes a great vehicle for a punchy cheese sauce. I like making a béchamel or white sauce and flavoring it with sharp cheddar, mustard and spices like cayenne pepper or smoked paprika.
Table of Contents
- Cauliflower. I recommend using fresh cauliflower as frozen cauliflower can be a little watery.
- Olive oil.
- Salt and black pepper.
- Béchamel sauce. Bechamel consists of flour and butter cooked into a paste (called a roux) in a saucepan. Milk is then slowly whisked in before allowing the sauce to cook then seasoning and adding cheese.
- Cheese. I used sharp cheddar cheese/mature cheddar but any good melting cheese will work. I love gruyere, Parmesan cheese, gouda, Monterey Jack, Colby, Swiss, Havarti or Fontina.
Cook’s notes: For a low carb/keto/paleo alternative, use my Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce instead of white sauce/béchamel. Cooking the cauliflower in a silky smooth sauce made with steamed cauliflower, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese gives you a double cauliflower boost (even more veggies in one dish) and is perfectly creamy and delicious.
How to make cauliflower mac and cheese
Start by cooking the cauliflower. I prefer roasting as the cauliflower develops delicious nutty flavor but steaming also works well. Toss the cauliflower florets with a few tablespoons of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and roast until the cauliflower is tender and starts to brown around the edges.
Make the béchamel sauce according to recipe instructions then pour over the cauliflower. Add a generous handful of shredded cheese then place back in the oven to bake until golden brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes then serve.
Can I make this ahead?
Yes, this recipe is great to make ahead. Roast the cauliflower then cover with the sauce and cover well then refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you’d prefer to freeze the casserole, assemble the cooked cauliflower and sauce in a freezer-safe container then cover well with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen until hot and bubbling.
Cauliflower is a great, neutral vegetable and works with a variety of flavors. Most cheeses and spices like paprika, garlic powder, curry powder, cayenne pepper and turmeric are all delicious with cauliflower. Herbs like oregano, sage, thyme and parsley also work well.
No, cauliflower is a very low carb vegetable making it particularly suitable for keto, paleo, low carb and gluten-free diets.
Yes, as with all fresh produce you should wash and dry cauliflower before using it in dishes.
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- 2 lb / 1kg cauliflower florets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 6 cups bechamel sauce
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F.
- Toss the cauliflower florets with a few tablespoons of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a baking dish and roast until the cauliflower is tender and starts to brown around the edges.
- Make the béchamel sauce according to recipe instructions then pour over the cauliflower.
- Add a generous handful of shredded cheese then place back in the oven to bake until golden brown and bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes then serve.