Cauliflower mac and cheese is creamy, cheesy, and comforting substitution for a childhood favorite pasta dish. It’s made with cauliflower, creamy cheese sauce, and baked with more cheese on top. This recipe is rich and creamy and you can easily make it gluten free or lactose free.
Fan of cauliflower recipes? I have quite a few recipes where you can substitute cauliflower in your favorite dishes. Some of our favorite recipes are Mashed Cauliflower, Cauliflower Pizza Crust, and Cauliflower Soup.
CAULIFLOWER MAC AND CHEESE
Mac and cheese is one of the dishes that I miss so much. I’ve been gluten intolerant for about 4 years now and I may have gotten used to it, but I admit that I miss the comforting taste of pasta, pizza, and breads. There are many tasty substitutions and gluten free options available but I’ve also fallen in love with cauliflower.
Cauliflower has been so good in substituting for pizza crust, rice, potatoes and many other dishes. It’s lower in carbs and has more nutritional value. Did I mention that it’s also tasty? If you like cauliflower already, you will love mac and cheese made with cauliflower. If you are not too crazy about cauliflower, I can guarantee you will like it smothered in a smooth cheese sauce. (Cheese makes everything better!)
Let’s talk about what cauliflower mac and cheese taste like. This dish is amazing. I saute cauliflower first to partially cook it and then mix it with smooth, homemade cheese sauce. You can technically eat it at this point but I recommend taking an extra step and baking it with some extra cheese on top.
I like to saute cauliflower rather than boil or steam it because it retains more nutrients and it tastes much better with browned edges. You just have to make sure to cook it until it starts to softer and not all the way soft. Cauliflower is so good smothered in cheese sauce, it will be your favorite meal and side dish.
How To Make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Gluten Free:
Did I mention that you can easily make this recipe gluten free? Well you can!
Simply use gluten free all purpose flour in the cheese sauce. It thickens just as nicely and the sauce will be just as smooth and creamy. All other ingredients should be gluten free but double-check the packaging just in case.
How To Make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Lactose Free:
There are two more easy substitutions to make this recipe lactose free. Milk and butter are the two items that have lactose so use lactose free whole or 2% milk. For butter, use lactose free butter investiture like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Earth Balance, Avocado Oil Plant Based Butter, or other butter substitutes.
When it comes to lactose, most cheeses that are aged over 6 months are naturally lactose free. So hard cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan, block Monterrey Jack cheese, and even some Mozzarella will have 0% lactose.
Many brands will put lactose content right on the label, under the nutritional information. Look for words like “contains 0% of lactose per serving.” If the wording is not there, you can look at sugar content. If sugar is 0g, that will indicate there is very low chance for lactose.
Can I Make It Dairy Free?
Unfortunately, it would be very difficult do go completely dairy free. Even though you can substitute milk for almond milk and substitute butter for vegan butter, cheese would be quite impossible to substitute successfully. Vegan cheese is not easy to work with and I personally have not found one that works well in mac and cheese and cheese sauces.
HOW TO MAKE CAULIFLOWER MAC AND CHEESE
Chop: wash the head of cauliflower and cut off the florets. Chop florets into bite-size pieces and try to make them close to the same size.
Saute: saute cauliflower pieces with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder over medium heat. Saute until it’s partially softened but still have a little crunch in the middle. (This could take 10-15 minutes, depending on how large you cut the pieces.)
Cheese Sauce: take cauliflower out of the pan and set it aside. Melt butter in the same pan and whisk in flour. Keep whisking and slowly start pouring in milk. Keep gently whisking until all incorporated. When the milk is warmed, start adding cheese one handful at a time. Continue to whisk and add the cheese in handfuls until all is smooth and melted. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake: when the cheese sauce is smooth, mix it with cauliflower and transfer into a greased baking dish. Spread cauliflower evenly in the baking dish and top it off with some Mozzarella cheese. Bake it at 375° for about 15 minutes. You can turn on the broiler until the top is golden.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH IT
Treat cauliflower mac and cheese just like it’s pasta cousin. You can serve it as a main dish or as a side dish. This cheese cauliflower dish will go with most meats and sides so serve whatever you want with it.
MORE CAULIFLOWER RECIPES TO TRY
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Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- 2 1/2-3 lb head of cauliflower
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- salt to taste
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour can use all purpose GF flour
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk or 2% milk
- 4 oz sharp white cheddar cheese block
- 8 oz Monterrey Jack cheese block
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375° and lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish. (You can also use a different sized baking dish that's about 2 quarts in size.)
- Wash the head of cauliflower and cut off the florets. Chop florets into bite-size pieces and try to make them close to the same size.
- Saute cauliflower pieces with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder over medium heat. Cook until it’s partially softened but still have a little crunch in the middle. (This could take 10-15 minutes, depending on how large you cut the pieces.)
- Take cauliflower out of the pan and set it aside.
- Melt butter in the same pan and whisk in flour. Keep whisking and slowly start pouring in milk. Keep gently whisking until all incorporated.
- When the milk mixture is warmed, start adding cheese one handful at a time. Continue to whisk and add the cheese in handfuls until all is smooth and melted. Season with salt, garlic powder, and pepper.
- When the cheese sauce is smooth, mix it with cauliflower and transfer into a greased baking dish.
- Spread cauliflower evenly in the baking dish and top it off with shredded Mozzarella cheese.
- Bake it for about 15 minutes. You can turn on the broiler until the top is golden but keep an eye on it.
Elaine Williams says
Thank you, Elaine!