Creamy Cauliflower Cheese Bake
This oven-baked cauliflower cheese recipe is healthier than it tastes like. You won’t have to feel guilty coming back for seconds! It’s perfect as a main course or a side. See recipe notes for keto and gluten-free variations.
ACTIVE TIME: 20 min
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour
CALORIES: 220 calories per serving
COST: CAD $0.80 per serving
FRIDGE: Refrigerate for up to 5 days (but it’s best straight out of the oven when the top layer is super crispy)
FREEZER: Freeze for several months
- 1 medium head or 550 g of cauliflower
- 25 g butter (about 2 tbsp)
- 10 g flour (about 2 tbsp)
- 150 mL milk
- 1 cup or 113 g of roughly chopped cheese (I used marbled cheddar, but any is fine)
- Steam cauliflower until almost fall-apart tender. I used my Instant Pot’s STEAM function (5 min @ high).
- While you let the cauliflower cool, add butter and flour to a medium saucepan on medium heat and whisk together.
- When thoroughly mixed, add milk and turn heat down to low. Whisk frequently until sauce thickens.
- Stir in two-thirds of the cheese and turn off heat.
- When cauliflower is cool enough to handle, break into small florets and add to saucepan. Stir, coating all the florets.
- Pour into a small glass casserole dish (or foil-lined baking pan) and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
- Bake at 375 °F on the second-to-top rack for 25–30 minutes, or until golden on top.
Make sure you really reduce the sauce before pouring it onto the cauliflower—the cauliflower already contains lots of moisture, so it may become soggy if the sauce is too wet.
Mix in some sliced cremini mushrooms to bulk it up and add more veggies. If you aren’t vegetarian, you can add bacon bits for an even richer, more savoury flavour.
Switch it up!
After posting this on Reddit, so many commenters had suggestions on how to go even further with the base cauliflower cheese recipe.
Some of my faves:
- “a dash of dried mustard and smoked paprika” – /u/drainage_holes
- “garlic, a little Dijon, thyme, and a pinch of cayenne” – /u/kabneenan
- “get a smoked cheese. I made something similar with a smoked cheddar, it was AMAZING!” – /u/cakeilikecake
- “When you melt the butter, just saute some onion in there before you add the flour to really make the flavor out of this world. I do this with my Potatoes Au Gratin which is basically the same sauce.” /u/thx1337
To make keto:
- “We just leave it out. Use cream instead of milk. And stir through an egg. Yum” – /u/Shadopamine
- “I use a mixture of melted cream cheese, sour cream, and a dash of mustard powder. Then I sprinkle a little grating of strong cheese on top for browning. It’s a little more calorie dense, but very nice.” – /u/AceBinliner
To make gluten-free:
- “I use rice flour- brown or white, fine ground.” – /u/swampjuicesheila
- “If you are gluten free, you can use tapioca flour instead, and it works great. I use it all the time, in sauces, gravy, etc. You will need to experiment with the amount you use, but you will get the hang of it quickly.” – /u/omg_pwnies
One thing I’ve learned about cheese is that for 90% of casserole recipes out there, it doesn’t really matter what kind you use. In this cauliflower cheese recipe, I have had success straight up subbing mozzarella for cheddar cheese. Chances are, it’s that rich, dairy taste you crave in a dish rather than the nuances of a particular cheese itself (and this is coming from a cheese superfan). For this recipe, any kind of firm cheese will do. Mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey jack, Oka, friulano, doesn’t matter they all work.
Therefore, the advice for my ordinary cooks out there is to just buy whatever firm cheese is on sale and use it as an all-purpose cheese for every recipe. Unless you’re preparing a fancy once-in-a-while dinner, there’s no need to go out to a grocery store and buy a specific cheese for one recipe.