Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (2024)

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (1) Jessica

5 from 4 votes

Leave a comment!

Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 45 minutes mins

Total Time 1 hour hr

Post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Jump to Recipe

This 3-cheese cauliflower mac and cheese is so rich and creamy you won’t miss the macaroni one bit. The buttery panko topping and bites of roasted mushrooms take this classic comfort food over the top!

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (2)

Table of Contents

  • Why You’ll Love This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe
  • What You’ll Need
  • How to Make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
  • Tips for Success
  • What to Serve with Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
  • More Cheesy Side Dishes To Try
  • Get the Recipe

    Why You’ll Love This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe

    If you don’t get special requests for it from now on, you’ll definitely need to make 2 batches so that everyone can load up.

    • Great for picky eaters. If you normally struggle with children picking out the veggies from their meals, this is a great way to sneak them into their food.
    • Comfort food. This cheesy, creamy side dish always hits the spot no matter what!
    • Classic. It’s an all-time classic you can serve at family dinners, cookouts, special gatherings, etc.
    • Prep-friendly. Assembling the casserole and keeping it in the fridge until right before dinner will give you a head-start throughout the week.

    If you love comfort food dinners with added veggies, check out my mac and cheese with broccoli, this easy chicken broccoli alfredo bake or my colorful pasta primavera!

    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (3)

    What You’ll Need

    Between the cheese, milk, and sour cream, this cauliflower mac and cheese recipe is as good as your favorite pasta-version of it. Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.

    • Cauliflower: Use fresh cauliflower florets or cut a head of cauliflower into florets, but do not use frozen cauliflower. Frozen retain too much water and can make your casserole watery.
    • Cremini Mushrooms: Baby bellas or portobello mushrooms are great too.
    • Oil: Olive oil or avocado oil are best.
    • Garlic Cloves: Garlic powder works too.
    • Leek: You can swap it for shallots.
    • Shredded Cheese: Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, white cheddar and parmesan cheese. Freshly shredded is best as pre-shredded is coated with anti-caking agents and can over thicken your cheese sauce.
    • Whole Milk: You can use your favorite kind of dairy milk. No plant-based milk because they’re water-based and will split the sauce.
    • Sour Cream: Heavy cream or Mexican crema will save you in a pinch.
    • Seasonings: Ground mustard, freshly cracked black pepper and salt.
    • Butter: Skip the salt in the rest of the recipe if you use salted butter.
    • Panko Breadcrumbs: Regular breadcrumbs are a good swap.
    • Parsley: Don’t use dried parsley as the flavor is too intense.
    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (4)

    How to Make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

    It’s just like making homemade mac and cheese, except instead of boiling pasta you roast some cauliflower. Scroll down to the recipe card for full detailed instructions.

    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (5)
    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (6)
    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (7)
    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (8)
    • Roast: Toss the cauliflower and mushrooms with olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
    • Sauce: Sauté garlic and leeks in a pot until softened. Add the cheeses and milk. Stir until completely melted and smooth.
    • Season: Stir in the sour cream, mustard, pepper, and salt. Set it aside.
    • Combine: Toss the roasted veggies and sauce in a large bowl. Transfer to a greased casserole dish.
    • Topping: Mix the melted butter, breadcrumbs, and parsley in a separate bowl and spread on top of the casserole dish.
    • Bake: Bake until the breadcrumbs are golden. Remove it from the oven, serve, and enjoy!
    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (9)

    Tips for Success

    These tips and tricks will help ensure your cauliflower mac and cheese comes out perfectly:

    • Use leftovers. Leftover roasted cauliflower is a great way to reduce food waste and still throw this recipe together. It’ll also save you time!
    • Do it over low heat. Don’t increase the heat as you make the sauce thinking it will melt the cheese faster. Low heat is the only way to ensure a smooth sauce with no lumps.
    • Use a cheese mix. Don’t worry if you don’t have different kinds of cheddar at home. Any melty cheese mix or bits of leftover cheese will do the trick.
    • Add more toppings. Crumbled bacon, chopped chives, and even grilled sausages will add more flavor to each bite.
    • Add more veggies. Roasted bell peppers, grilled corn, peas, or broccoli florets can add more nutrients and flavor to the dish.
    • Cover it. If the top is browning too quickly, cover the baking dish with foil for the remainder of the baking time.
    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (10)

    What to Serve with Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

    This cauliflower mac and cheese goes great with just about anything! Here are a few favorites to try:

    • Chicken: Chicken fried chicken would be a great comfort food pairing, or try this easy crockpot whole chicken!
    • Beef: For a fancy dinner, try this red wine braised short ribs or for a little cuban personality, try this churrasco steak with mojo marinade.
    • Seafood: This air fryer salmon is ready in 10 minutes and will pair perfectly with cheesy cauliflower.
    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (11)

    How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

    Once fully cooled, refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Here’s how to reheat cauliflower mac and cheese:

    • Microwave: Sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon milk and microwave it for up to a minute.
    • Stove: Stir it in a pot over medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes.
    • Oven: Pop it into the oven at 325°F for 15 minutes, until heated through.

    More Cheesy Side Dishes To Try

    Baked Mac and Cheese

    Creamed Spinach

    Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

    Creamy Baked Brussel Sprouts

    • Chili Cheese Fries
    • Goat Cheese Garlic Bread
    • Creamed Corn
    • Creamy Poblano Corn Soup

    Yield: 8 Servings

    Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

    This cauliflower mac and cheese recipe with a crispy panko topping is a step up from the regular version of this classic side dish.

    Prep Time15 minutes minutes

    Cook Time45 minutes minutes

    Total Time1 hour hour

    Ingredients

    • 8 cups cauliflower florets, chopped into 1-inch pieces, about 2 heads cauliflower
    • 1 cup cremini or portobello mushrooms, diced
    • 4 tablespoons oilve oil, divided
    • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 large leek, white & light green part only, finely sliced
    • 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar
    • 8 oz shredded white cheddar, or a cheddar blend
    • 5 oz shredded parmesan
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • cup sour cream
    • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
    • 1 tablespoon minced parsley

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

    • Toss cauliflower, cremini mushrooms, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil together. Spread in an even layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring half way through.

    • In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add garlic and let cook for 30 seconds. Add leeks, cooking until softened, about 10 minutes.

    • Add all the shredded cheeses and milk to the sauce pan and stir, until cheese melts. Then add in the sour cream, ground mustard, pepper and salt. Set aside.

    • Once cauliflower and mushrooms are roasted, remove from the oven and add to a large bowl. Add the cheese sauce mixture and fold to combine. Transfer mixture to a greased casserole dish. (11×7 or 9×13 will both work.)

    • In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, bread crumbs and parsley. Sprinkle over the top of the mac and cheese.

    • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, just until the bread crumbs on top are lightly browned. Serve immediately!

    Video

    Notes

    Storage: Once fully cooled, refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

    Reheat: Sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon milk and microwave it for up to a minute. Or, pop it into the oven at 325°F for 15 minutes, until heated through.

    Do it over low heat. Don’t increase the heat as you make the sauce thinking it will melt the cheese faster. Low heat is the only way to ensure a smooth sauce with no lumps.

    Use a cheese mix. Don’t worry if you don’t have different kinds of cheddar at home. Any melty cheese mix or bits of leftover cheese will do the trick.

    Add more toppings. Crumbled bacon, chopped chives, and even grilled sausages will add more flavor to each bite.

    Add more veggies. Roasted bell peppers, grilled corn, peas, or broccoli florets can add more nutrients and flavor to the dish.

    Cover it. If the top is browning too quickly, cover the baking dish with foil for the remainder of the baking time.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 470kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 37g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 86mg, Sodium: 972mg, Potassium: 239mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1089IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 686mg, Iron: 1mg

    © Jessica – The Novice Chef

    Cuisine: American

    Category: Side Dishes

    Categories:

    • Casseroles
    • Dinner Ideas
    • Recipes
    • Side Dishes
    • Vegetable Sides
    • Vegetarian
    • Videos

    Post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

    Related Posts

    • Homemade Mac and Cheese

    • Turkey Cheese Ball Recipe

    • Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Soup

    • Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Creamy & Easy Vegetable Side Dish Recipe! (2024)

    FAQs

    Can you use frozen cauliflower to make cauliflower mac and cheese? ›

    Cauliflower – Fresh cauliflower works best for this recipe, but you can also use frozen and increase the cooking time when you roast it. Be sure the florets are very small — getting more pieces in every bite helps make this keto mac and cheese more reminiscent of the real thing.

    Can you eat cauliflower cheese as a main meal? ›

    Rustle up one of the greatest comfort foods: cauliflower cheese. It makes a perfect side dish or vegetarian main meal.

    Which cheese is best for mac and cheese? ›

    Sharp cheddar is the overwhelming popular choice, but for extra-creamy results, we think medium cheddar is even better. Other delicious options include Gruyère, smoked Gouda, and Monterey Jack.

    How do you keep frozen cauliflower from getting mushy? ›

    Cooking with too much water leads to mushy vegetables. That's why we recommend sautéing, roasting, or steaming frozen vegetables instead of boiling them. Here's how: Sauté – Heat a wide pan over medium high heat, add frozen vegetables and a little oil or butter, stir and cook (uncovered) for five to seven minutes.

    Do you have to defrost cauliflower before cooking? ›

    There's no need to defrost frozen cauliflower before cooking. In fact, it's best to cooking it from frozen. They can be added straight into dishes being cooked, like stews, casseroles and oven bakes, or throw in for the last few minutes with pasta being cooked in boiling water.

    What part of cauliflower is not edible? ›

    Every part of a cauliflower is edible, even the tough outer skin. However, we do recommend peeling this part before cooking as it's a bit tough to chew.

    How many times a week should you eat cauliflower? ›

    Even better from a health standpoint, enjoy cauliflower and other vegetables from the cruciferous vegetable group 4-5 times per week, and increase your serving size to 2 cups.

    Can you eat as much cauliflower as you want? ›

    While everyone's tolerance is different, too much cauliflower can create G.I. distress, like excess gas and bloating. “Make sure to drink enough water to move it through your system,” suggests Lincoln. Cooking it can also dial back digestion woes.

    What meat pairs well with mac and cheese? ›

    Ingredients
    • BBQ Ribs.
    • BBQ Bacon Wrapped Onion Bombs.
    • Cracker Barrel Meatloaf.
    • Grilled Chicken Tenders.
    • Honey Garlic Pork Tenderloin.
    • Brisket.
    • Gourmet Hot Dogs.
    • Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork.
    Aug 25, 2023

    What to eat with mac and cheese vegetarian? ›

    Serve the vegan mac and cheese with a simple veggie side dish like roasted broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, lemony green beans, or roasted cauliflower. Enjoy!

    Is mac and cheese a side dish black people? ›

    Macaroni and Cheese For All

    This is believed to be its introduction to the Black community, which at the time was largely impoverished. In these communities, this dish became a comfort food and the meal of choice for families trying to stretch their ingredients as far as they could go.

    How do you make mac and cheese creamy again? ›

    The #1 secret to creamy reheated mac and cheese

    "Stir in about 2 Tbs. of milk per 1 cup of mac and cheese and reheat," he says. The milk loosens up the pasta and helps create the creamy sauce as it's reheating. Heavy cream works well in this case too and adds an extra touch of richness to the mac and cheese.

    What kind of milk is best for mac and cheese? ›

    Milk: Keeps our cheese sauce super creamy. I use whole milk or reduced-fat milk. Mustard and spices: A combination of Dijon mustard, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt makes this macaroni and cheese extra delicious. Cheese: I use white cheddar and parmesan or pecorino cheese.

    Is Velveeta real cheese? ›

    Though Velveeta is no longer an FDA-defined genuine cheese, it does have some similarities, namely pasteurized milk and cheese culture.

    Why is my cauliflower mac and cheese watery? ›

    If you overcook the cauliflower before it's cooked in the cheese sauce, your dish will have a disappointing soft texture with watered-down sauce. Although there are some tricks to apply if you overcook vegetables, your best bet is to aim for undercooking the vegetable a little.

    How to cook frozen cauliflower pasta? ›

    Stovetop
    1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
    2. Add frozen cauliflower pasta to boiling water. Stir to loosen.
    3. Cook for 3 minutes, drain water, and enjoy with your favorite sauce1!

    Is frozen cauliflower already blanched? ›

    Frozen cauliflower florets can be simply boiled for 3-5 minutes, until tender, the normal cooking time will be reduced as they have been previously blanched.

    Can you thaw frozen cauliflower? ›

    Should I thaw frozen cauliflower before cooking? No, it's best to roast frozen cauliflower straight from frozen. You don't have to defrost it, and doing so may lead to mushy cauliflower.

    References

    Top Articles
    Latest Posts
    Article information

    Author: Saturnina Altenwerth DVM

    Last Updated:

    Views: 6031

    Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

    Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Saturnina Altenwerth DVM

    Birthday: 1992-08-21

    Address: Apt. 237 662 Haag Mills, East Verenaport, MO 57071-5493

    Phone: +331850833384

    Job: District Real-Estate Architect

    Hobby: Skateboarding, Taxidermy, Air sports, Painting, Knife making, Letterboxing, Inline skating

    Introduction: My name is Saturnina Altenwerth DVM, I am a witty, perfect, combative, beautiful, determined, fancy, determined person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.