Baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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Swap noodles for cooked cauliflower with this baked cauliflower mac and cheese! It’s low-carb and gluten-free while still being cheesy and delicious.

Cauliflower has done it again! This amazingly versatile veggie is a healthy eater’s best friend, especially when you’re looking for a better way to indulge in “carby” things like bread, rice, pizza, potatoes and pasta. It surprises me sometimes with how well it can transform from a simple veggie into something like cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower rice or a cauliflower alfredo sauce. And now, into this creamy, indulgent baked cauliflower mac and cheese!

This cauliflower mac and cheese recipe is perfect for anyone who is looking for a low-carb, healthier alternative to traditional macaroni and cheese or for parents who are trying to get their kiddos to eat more veggies. No matter the reason, this recipe is sure to become a new family favorite!

A serving dish containing baked cauliflower mac and cheese.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s a healthier, low-carb version of a comfort food classic!
  • This dish comes together quickly with just 7 ingredients.
  • It’s so cheesy and delicious, you won’t ever miss the noodles!
  • It’s sure to be a hit with kiddos and adults alike.
Ingredients measured out to make Baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese: cauliflower, onion, sharp cheddar cheese, almond milk, arrowroot powder, salt, pepper and oil.

Ingredients Needed

  • cauliflower – the star of the show! You’ll need one large or two smaller heads of cauliflower, chopped into florets.
  • olive or avocado oil – for sautéing the onion. You can also use melted butter instead of oil if you prefer.
  • yellow onion – adds a more delicious savory flavor to the dish.
  • arrowroot powder – this will help make a thick and creamy cheese sauce.
  • salt and pepper – to bring all the flavors together. 
  • unsweetened non-dairy milk – I used almond milk, but any dairy-free or dairy milk works. I would just avoid any milk that’s sweetened and coconut milk as that’ll change the flavor of this dish.
  • sharp cheddar cheese – adds the tasty, cheesy goodness you’d expect from mac and cheese! I used a block of organic sharp cheddar cheese and shredded it myself, which I highly recommend! I prefer shredding my own cheese to buying it already shredded.
Collage of six photos showing the steps to make Baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese: cooking the cauliflower, making the cheese sauce, and then baking in a casserole dish.

How to Make

Cook cauliflower: Place cauliflower florets in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10-12 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Make sauce: In a large saucepan, sauté chopped onions until tender. Add arrowroot powder and salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Slowly whisk in almond milk and bring mixture to a boil. Whisk constantly until thick and creamy. Remove from heat and add cheese a little at a time, whisking in between, until it melts.

Mix together: Add cooked cauliflower to cheese sauce and coat completely.

Bake: Place mixture in a 9×13 baking dish and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and top starts to brown. Broil for 3-4 minutes to crisp up and brown the top more!

Serve: Remove from oven and let cool slightly before digging in (even though it may be tempting … you don’t want to burn your mouth!). Enjoy!

A spoon lifting up a serving of baked cauliflower mac and cheese out of a baking dish.

Pro Tips

  • Skip the store-bought pre-shredded cheese and use hand-shredded cheese! I definitely recommend buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself. Fresh is always better and shredding the cheese takes no time at all. The pre-shredded store-bought cheeses typically contain preservatives like potato starch, natamycin and/or cellulose to prevent the shreds from clumping together in the bag. This will prevent your cheese from melting properly in the roux mixture and will likely lead to more of a grainy taste texture.
  • To prevent watery cauliflower mac and cheese, you can pat the cauliflower dry with a paper towel or dishcloth after draining it before adding it to the sauce.
  • Make sure you have removed your roux from the heat before adding in your shredded cheese! You don’t want to add your cheese to the sauce mixture if it’s still bubbling otherwise it could burn the cheese or result in a grainy texture.
Close up of baked cauliflower mac and cheese in a baking dish.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Don’t have arrowroot powder? Use cornstarch! Both are gluten-free and will give the same results to this dish. You could also use 1:1 all-purpose gluten-free flour or all-purpose flour if you don’t need this recipe to be gluten-free.
  • Spice it up – If you want to spice this dish up a bit (literally!) you can sprinkle some cayenne or crushed red pepper before diving in.
  • Amp up the veggie count – Looking to add more veggies to this dish? Add some broccoli to the mixture before baking!
  • Crisp it up – Want more of a crispy crunchy topping? Sprinkle on panko breadcrumbs or almond meal before baking.
  • Swap the cheese – sharp cheddar cheese is my favorite for this recipe, but here are some other options that would work well in this dish as a substitute or in addition to the cheddar: white cheddar, gouda, monterey jack, pepper jack and gruyere. I also like mixing in parmesan cheese with the cheddar for some variety and added flavor!
  • Amp up the flavor – add some additional spices to the mixture before baking. Some ideas: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder and dried herbs like thyme and/or oregano.
  • Looking for a vegan and/or dairy-free option? Try my vegan mac and cheese instead! I bet this sauce would be delicious poured over the cauliflower if you’re looking for a low-carb option.
Overhead view of baked cauliflower mac and cheese in a baking dish. Some servings have been removed.

What to Serve With Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

This cauliflower mac and cheese makes a great light “meatless Monday” dinner or lunch option, but I also think it would be amazing served alongside some protein for a more filling meal. Here are some ideas:

Overhead view of baked cauliflower mac and cheese being served with a spoon.

How to Store Leftovers

This baked cauliflower mac and cheese will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, add cauliflower mac and cheese to a saucepan and heat over medium-low, until warmed, stirring often to prevent burning. If needed, add a little bit of milk or water to thin out the sauce. Alternatively, you can reheat this in the microwave if you’re short on time.

More Cauliflower Recipes to Try

Be sure to check out all of the cauliflower recipes on EBF!

Baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

5 from 5 votes
Swap noodles for cooked cauliflower with this baked cauliflower mac and cheese! It’s low-carb and gluten-free while still being cheesy and delicious.
A serving dish containing baked cauliflower mac and cheese.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 large head or 2 medium heads cauliflower, chopped into florets (about 8 cups)
  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 Tablespoons arrowroot powder, or cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Chop cauliflower into florets and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the cauliflower and heat until water is boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside.
    Cauliflower florets in a pot with water.
  • While cauliflower is cooking, add oil to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until tender and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add arrowroot powder, salt and pepper. Stir to combine for 3-4 minutes. Slowly add almond milk and bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly until mixture is smooth and thick.
    Sauce cooking in pot.
  • Remove from heat and add shredded cheese a little at a time, whisking in between, until fully melted.
    Cheese added to sauce cooking in pot.
  • Once all the cheese is melted add chopped cauliflower to sauce and stir to coat the cauliflower.
    Cauliflower and cheese sauce mixed together in pot.
  • Once cauliflower is fully coated, transfer mixture to 9×13 baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and top begins to brown. Broil for 3-4 min to brown the top more.
    Cauliflower and cheese sauce spread in baking dish.
  • Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 recipe Calories: 201kcal Carbohydrates: 9g Protein: 13g Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 7g Monounsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 40mg Sodium: 529mg Potassium: 77mg Fiber: 3g Sugar: 3g
Course: Lunch/Dinner, Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked cauliflower mac and cheese

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Recipe Rating




    5 comments
    1. Abby
      September 15, 2022 AT 6:51 am

      5 stars
      This was a delicious alternative to regular Mac n cheese ! I was worried that it wouldn’t even be comparable to homemade Mac n cheese with pasta but the sauce is so creamy and rich you don’t even realize you’re missing the pasta! My family loved it too, which is saying something because they are Italian. I added some grilled chicken for extra protein and it was a complete meal, so delicious! Thankyou for this recipe, it’s going to be a staple in our family recipe collection!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 15, 2022 AT 2:28 pm

        So glad this recipe was a hit!! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

    2. Carissa Torres
      September 13, 2022 AT 7:06 pm

      5 stars
      This was DELICIOUS! I used fat free milk and added some grated Romano cheese w/ the cheddar to the sauce. Also added crunched up croutons for the last 5 mins as a topping for texture. This is DEFINITELY a keeper!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 14, 2022 AT 2:02 pm

        Yay!! So glad you loved this recipe, Carissa. Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

    3. Gabrielle
      August 15, 2022 AT 11:04 pm

      5 stars
      I made this tonight and had to taste it. It’s very good. I used physillium powder to thicken the sauce [1 tsp] because that’s what I had. I am serving it tomorrow night with veggie burgers! I did buy a block of cheese and put it in the quasinart.

      Thank you for such an innovative recipe.

Parchment paper lined with protein balls.

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