Cauliflower Gratin

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This cauliflower gratin features cauliflower florets baked to perfection in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. It’s vegetarian, low-carb and the perfect addition to your holiday menu.

I’m back with another holiday side dish with cauliflower as the star of the show! A few years ago I shared my mashed cauliflower recipe as a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes and today I’m sharing this cauliflower gratin recipe, which is a great low-carb alternative for au gratin potatoes.

This cauliflower gratin is a healthier way to enjoy a classic comfort food dish. And trust me, you won’t even miss the potatoes! It’s warm, cheesy and satisfying, but still light enough to leave room for all your other holiday dishes. It’s definitely one you’re going to want to add to your Thanksgiving menu this year!

Cauliflower gratin in a baking dish with a serving spoon.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s a healthier, low-carb version of a comfort food classic.
  • It’s so cheesy and delicious, you won’t ever miss the potatoes!
  • The perfect side dish for the holidays.
  • Comes together quickly!
Cauliflower gratin in a baking dish.

A Healthier Holiday Classic

Au gratin potatoes is a classic holiday dish, but it’s definitely not the healthiest side dish by any means so in true EBF fashion I decided to swap the potatoes for cauliflower to make this dish low-carb and add more nutrients. Cauliflower is lower in carbs and calories and packs in a lot more nutrition than potatoes such as fiber, potassium and vitamin C and K.

Ingredients measured out to make Cauliflower Gratin: cauliflower, onion, butter, pepper, garlic, parmesan, gruyere, almond milk, panko or almond meal, nutmeg, salt, flour and parsley.

Ingredients Needed

  • cauliflower – the star of the show! I recommend using a full head of cauliflower but you can use cauliflower florets as well if that’s all you can find. When looking for cauliflower look for a head that is white and compact with no brown spots. The leaves should be green and crisp, and the stem should be firm. Avoid heads of cauliflower that are soft, have brown spots or are beginning to sprout.
  • butter – for sautéing the onion and garlic and to add flavor. You can also use olive or avocado oil instead of butter if you prefer.
  • yellow onion and garlic – adds delicious savory flavor to the dish.
  • all-purpose flour – to help thicken the sauce. Gluten-free all-purpose flour, cornstarch or arrowroot flour will all work as substitutes.
  • salt and pepper – essential seasonings to help bring all the flavors together.
  • nutmeg – just a pinch to add a warm, nutty flavor. Feel free to skip this if you aren’t a nutmeg fan.
  • unsweetened almond milk – for the sauce. I used almond milk, but any dairy-free or dairy milk works. I would avoid any milk that’s sweetened and coconut milk as that’ll change the flavor of this dish.
  • gruyere cheese and parmesan cheese – I went with a combo of gruyere and parmesan cheese for this dish, but feel free to use gouda cheese, sharp cheddar cheese or jack cheese, which are all great options. I just recommend buying blocks of cheese and shredding shredded it yourself as that will result in the best flavor!
  • panko breadcrumbs or almond meal – this adds a nice crispy, crunchy topping! I prefer using almond meal for some added nutrients, but panko breadcrumbs are also a great option.
  • fresh parsley – totally optional, but I love adding fresh parsley to this dish when serving. It adds a nice freshness and definitely elevates the presentation.
Collage of six photos showing how to make cauliflower gratin.

How to Make

Boil cauliflower: Chop the cauliflower into florets and place in a large pot with enough water to cover the cauliflower. Heat until the water is boiling, then reduce to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, but still firm (about 4-5 minutes). Drain and set aside for later use.

Make sauce: While the cauliflower is cooking add butter to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic to sauté until tender and fragrant. Stir in flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slowly add the almond milk and bring the mixture to a boil, constantly whisking, until mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and add ¾ cup gruyere cheese and ¼ cup parmesan while mixing until fully melted and smooth. 

Bake: Add the cauliflower florets to the prepared 8×11 casserole dish (9×13 works too) and pour the sauce evenly over the cauliflower. Top with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375°F until bubbly and the top begins to brown. Broil for the final 2-3 mins for a crispy brown top.

Cauliflower gratin in a baking dish.

Pro Tips

  • Don’t overcook cauliflower. If you end up overcooking the cauliflower before baking the texture may not be as crispy as you’d like it. To avoid this issue just keep an eye on the cauliflower as they are cooking. You should be able to poke a fork in one and easily lift it out without it falling back in. Avoid cooking them for any more than 5 minutes.
  • Use freshly shredded cheese. There are a few reasons to use blocked cheese instead of pre-shredded cheese. First, pre-shredded cheese generally has added ingredients to keep it from clumping, which can change the flavor. Second, pre-shredded cheese is often drier than block cheese, so it doesn’t melt as well. Finally, you can control the size of the shreds when you shred your own cheese, which can be important for some recipes.
  • Drain cauliflower well. Cauliflower is already high in water content, so drain the cauliflower well after cooking and pat the florets dry so you don’t end up with a watery sauce.
  • Remove pan from heat before adding cheese. If you add your cheese to a pan that is still on the heat, the cheese will melt too quickly and can become clumpy, or possibly burn. By removing the pan from the heat before adding the cheese, you give the cheese time to melt slowly and evenly, resulting in a smooth, creamy texture.
A serving of cauliflower gratin on a plate with a fork.

What to Serve With Cauliflower Gratin

I know that I’ll be making a batch of this cauliflower gratin for Thanksgiving this year. Here are some ideas on what to serve it with:

Low carb cauliflower gratin in a baking dish.

Can I Make This Dish Ahead of Time?

This cauliflower gratin is the perfect dish to make ahead of time! All you need to do is prepare the dish as instructed below, just don’t bake it. Once your dish is assembled cover and set in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Once ready, cover it with the bread crumbs or almond meal and bake for 25-30 minutes.

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can reheat the cauliflower gratin on the stovetop, in the oven or microwave.

More Cauliflower Recipes to Try

More Holiday Side Dishes to Try

Be sure to check out all of the cauliflower recipes as well as the full collection of side dishes on EBF!

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5 from 14 votes

Cauliflower Gratin

This cauliflower gratin features cauliflower florets baked to perfection in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. It's vegetarian, low-carb and the perfect addition to your holiday menu.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients  

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into medium florets (about 8 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, or olive oil
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoon all-purpose flour, or gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoons ground pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg, optional
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese, divided
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs or almond meal
  • Fresh parsley, for serving

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a 8×11 or 9×13 casserole dish.
  • 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, but still firm (about 4-5 minutes). Drain, pat dry and set aside.
    Cauliflower florets in a steamer basket.
  • While cauliflower is cooking, add butter to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté until tender and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
    Onions and garlic cooking in butter in a pot.
  • Add flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Slowly add almond milk and bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly until mixture is smooth and thick,
    Flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg added to pot.
  • Remove from heat and add ¾ cup gruyere cheese and ¼ cup parmesan, mixing until fully melted and smooth.
    Milk and cheese added to pot.
  • Add cauliflower to prepared baking dish then pour sauce evenly over cauliflower.
    Cheese mixture poured over top of cauliflower florets in a baking dish.
  • Top with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs or almond meal.
    Extra shredded cheese and breadcrumbs sprinkled over top of cheese and cauliflower.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and top begins to brown. Broil for 2-3 min to brown the top more.
    Baked cauliflower gratin in a baking dish.
  • Let cool for a few minutes then serve warm topped with fresh parsley.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 recipe | Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 550mg | Potassium: 489mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cauliflower gratin
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

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Recipe Rating




11 Comments

  1. Cant wait to make this soon for me can i use vegan cheeses i never had cauliflower gratin before perfect for my after office meals love your recipes as always brightens up my day everyday after work

    1. Hi Ramya – I have not tested this but you could definitely try this recipe with vegan cheese. I’m not sure if it would melt the same. I think it would depend on the brand. If you end up giving this a try with vegan cheese, I’d love to know how it works out for you!

  2. 5 stars
    This is not a comfort food in Spain and I have no clue how the original recipe is like but I think this one is brilliant! Such a great way to make cauliflower more interesting 🙂

    1. Awesome! Thank you so much, Isa. It definitely takes cauliflower to the next level of deliciousness. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    we had this last night with chicken tenders and we loved it also.my husband wants me to make more sauce next time.

    1. Yay! I am excited to hear that this recipe is a hit, Terrie. The sauce is the best, so cheese and creamy. Thank you for sharing your review + star rating, I really appreciate it.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this cauliflower au gratin tonight, and just changed a few things to make it a one pot meal. I added a little bit of smoked turkey, kielbasa, Mediterranean herb, olive oil, and substituted Gruyere cheese with jack cheese. It was delicious! I tried to post a picture, but could not upload one. Thank you

    1. Absolutely amazing, Linda. I am so glad you gave this recipe a try and it turned out delicious for you. Thank you for sharing your review & star rating, I truly appreciate it.

  5. You said, it can be made ahead of time, I am just wondering if you can do it a day ahead and leave in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it.

    1. YUM! I am excited to hear you are loving this recipe and it was a hit for you, Robin. Thanks for your review + star rating, I really appreciate it!