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Best Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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3.81 from 196 votes

This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe will satisfy all of your mac and cheese cravings! Roasted cauliflower is coated in a cheesy sauce and is simply the best. Serve this Creamy Cauliflower Mac as a meal or side dish!

Other cauliflower recipes to try is my Cauliflower Pizza Crust, Cheesy Cauliflower Soup, and Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

PIN The Best Cauliflower Mac and Cheese to try later!

cauliflower Mac and cheese in a white dishPin

cauliflower mac and cheese

This is the Best Cauliflower Mac and Cheese you can make. I have tested several different recipes and this is still by far my favorite. Totally satisfyingketo-friendlylow carb, and easy to make. It will even satisfy your picky eaters as it tastes just like your favorite ultimate comfort food.

This low carb side dish is on repeat at our house- we just can’t get enough. I love how cauliflower is a versatile vegetable and can be used in numerous recipes. Tender cauliflower florets are covered in a creamy sauce made with cheese and the best part is it’s veggie-packed.

If you love this recipe try my traditional mac and cheese recipes Skinny Chicken Mac and CheeseStovetop Mac and Cheese, and Baked Mac and Cheese!

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese in a white bowl with shredded cheese in the backgroundPin

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Quick: You could make this mac and cheese in less than 30 minutes from start to finish and it’s made with simple ingredients.

Healthier recipe: This mac and cheese is low carb and keto-friendly since we sub cooked pasta for cauliflower pieces. 

Perfect for kids: Every kid loves mac and cheese, am I right? This is a great recipe to kids to eat their veggies since they won’t even know the difference because the creamy cheese sauce is so good!

Comfort food cravings: Even though this is made with veggies, this dish is so comforting and satisfying you’ll be craving it after the first time you make it.

To serve: You can serve this as a meal or side dish.

white bowl of cheesy cauliflowerPin

HOW TO MAKE CAULIFLOWER MAC AND CHEESE

  • Cauliflower – This recipe calls for one large head of cauliflower or two small heads. Fresh cauliflower is much better than frozen cauliflower rice for this keto cauliflower mac.
  • Olive oil – You could really use any neutral oil that you have on hand.
  • Salt + black pepper – One of the best parts of this recipe is the simplicity! It only requires minimal kitchen staple seasonings.
  • Garlic powder – If you’re a huge fan of garlic, replace this with fresh minced garlic for a stronger flavor.
  • Onion powder – Onion powder can also be increased or decreased based on personal preference.
  • Heavy whipping cream – Helps add to the creaminess of your low carb cauliflower mac. You could also use whole milk if you prefer, it may change the consistency a bit. Sometimes I’ll use both and divide them in the recipe. I don’t recommend using a dairy free milk such as almond milk as the consistency will be different. 
  • Cream cheese – If you’re trying to keep this cheesy cauliflower recipe on the healthier side, use a low fat cream cheese.
  • Cheese – I like to use a combination of Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Gruyere cheese, but feel free to choose whichever cheeses you prefer. It is also a great way to clean out the odds and ends in the fridge. I always recommend shredding your own cheese to help the cheese be extra melty. 
cauliflower on roasting panPin

MAC AND CHEESE SAUCE

This cheese sauce is my favorite and can eat it with just about any vegetable! It’s rich, thick, and has the comforting flavors of mac and cheese. This sauce is made with heavy cream, cream cheese, a combination of my favorite cheeses, and a few spices.

You can make this dish in about 30 minutes with only a few easy and simple steps. I like to wait until the cauliflower florets are done roasting before I make the cheese sauce so the cheese sauce doesn’t harden and only takes a couple of minutes.

roasted cauliflower and cheese saucePin

ROASTING THE CAULIFLOWER

  1. Cutting the cauliflower into smaller uniform pieces will ensure they all cook at the same rate. I also love a few crispy pieces so I cut some into even smaller pieces. You can cut your cauliflower into bigger pieces if you prefer but you will have to roast them for a little longer or settle for a snap in the middle.
  2. Simply place the cauliflower pieces in an even layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast cauliflower for 15-20 minutes until tender but not too soft- it should be al dente and have some crunch.

Optional:If you are a lover of that char, like me, you can opt to switch it over to broil for a quick blitz of heat. Make sure to keep a watchful eye to prevent burning- especially if you used parchment paper. 

MAKING THE CHEESE SAUCE

After you’ve achieved tender cauliflower, it’s time to make the gooey sauce. This is my favorite part! Use your favorite cheese combinations as long as it equals 2 1/2 cups total. This cheese sauce is straightforward to make.

  1. Whisk together the cream and cream cheese (make sure to cut into pieces so it melts faster) in a saucepan on medium heat until combined.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and vigorously whisk until combined and cheese is smooth. Once the sauce is melted, remove from heat immediately. It is important to keep an eye because you don’t want to over cook it otherwise it will turn into a solid. All stovetops vary so this cheese sauce may cook a little quicker or slower depending on your stove.
  3. The last step is to combine it all together! Combine the cream sauce with the cauliflower pieces, give it a good stir until they are well coated.
fork with cheesy cauliflower Mac and cheesePin

VARIATIONS

Cheese Variations– As stated in the recipe card, I prefer to use Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Gruyere cheese for this recipe. However, feel free to mix up the cheese to your liking. You could use parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, white cheddar cheese, really anything that melts well. The more of a blend of cheeses, the more flavor sophistication. Add extra cheese if you wish.

Add Your Favorite Protein– Turn this delicious cauliflower mac into a main dish by adding some chicken or ground beef to it. You could even take it one step further by adding BBQ or buffalo sauce into the mix. Top with green onion and now you have a delicious buffalo cauliflower mac n cheese! Save time by buying a precooked rotisserie chicken at the store or using leftover chicken from another meal.

Add spice- If you want to add some heat, add chopped jalapeños, fresh or pickled, or diced green chiles to cheese sauce before tossing. Alternately, add 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Cayenne pepper, your favorite hot sauce, crushed red pepper flakes or paprika will also give heat and color.

Crunchies- Top your cauliflower mac with bread crumbs, nutritional yeast or crumbled cracker bits.

More Veggies– I try to sneak in more veggies wherever possible. This dish is great with green peas, sun dried tomatoes and even lightly sautéed mushrooms.

Tangy- Add a dollop of dijon mustard, sour cream, or prepared horseradish.

spoonful of cauliflower Mac and cheesePin

Storage & Leftovers

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

To reheat, simply reheat in the microwave or even warm it up in the oven. If it seems a little dry, you could always add a splash of milk. You can also do this in a small saucepan over low heat on the stovetop.

make ahead

Make this into Baked Cauliflower Mac and add to a baking dish. Cover with foil and place in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days until ready to bake. 

cheesy cauliflowerPin

OTHER SIDE DISH FAVORITE RECIPES

OTHER LOW-CARB RECIPES

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The Best Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese will satisfy all of your mac and cheese cravings! Roasted cauliflower is coated in a cheesy sauce and is simply the best!
3.81 from 196 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cauliflower, cauliflower mac and cheese, cheesey, keto, low carb, mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 408kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small bite size pieces (think the size of gnocchi). 1 large head OR 2 small heads
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream you could also use milk instead or use both, just divide them to equal 1 1/2 cups total.
  • 4 ounces cream cheese; cut into small cubes or pieces
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet coated with foil or parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper on the cauliflower pieces and coat well. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower pieces or softened. Some pieces will be darker in color.
  • Once the cauliflower is cooked, in a large pot on low heat add the heavy cream and the cream cheese. Whisk until the cream cheese is melted. Add the remaining cheeses and continue to stir until all cheeses are melted. Add the spices to the sauce and incorporate- this process is quick and will take a few minutes. Once the cheesy mixture is smooth and comes to a simmer, REMOVE FROM HEAT and vigorously whisk.
  • Add the roasted cauliflower pieces and stir until all of the cauliflower pieces are coated. Serve immediately and enjoy! Sprinkle paprika on top if you want some extra spice!
Find Kathryn’s Kitchen Blog on Instagram!Mention @Kathryns.Kitchen.Blog or tag #kathrynskitchen!

Notes

  1. You can use any cheese combination that you prefer. Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Gruyere are my favorites for this recipe. Make sure to use a total of 2 1/2 cups total.
  2. It is important to keep an eye on the cheese sauce because you don’t want to over cook it otherwise it will turn into a solid.

Nutrition

Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.6g | Protein: 15.4g | Fat: 37.3g | Saturated Fat: 20.9g | Cholesterol: 4.6mg | Sodium: 503mg | Potassium: 229mg | Sugar: 1.5g | Calcium: 434mg | Iron: 1mg

This recipe was originally published on April 20, 2020. It was republished on January 6, 2022, to include additional information and photos.

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Recipe Rating




67 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Yummy! This recipe was a big hit here at the house! It was so delicious and tasty! Can’t wait to make this again!

    1. No matter which way I prepare it, my cauliflower Mac and Cheese always ends up soupy, with too much fluid after baking.

      1. Hi Rebecca, thank you for your comment. It is very important to make sure you pat dry the cauliflower after you wash it- before you roast it. Also, if you use a smaller cauliflower, the sauce will seem like a lot. I hope this helps and thanks for trying my recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    We love roasted cauliflower in our home and I am sure we will love your version of mac-and-cheese with cauliflower. It looks so creamy and delicious.

    1. This was amazing but instead of roasting the cauliflower in the oven I rubbed it with an olive oil and Cajun seasoning mixture and smoked it at 275 for 50 minutes the flavor was outstanding I couldn’t stop eating the cauliflower after it came off the smoker I will definitely be making this again

  3. 5 stars
    Wow this is truly the BEST recipe for mac and cheese. I’m loving that it’s low-carb, and your tip about waiting to prepare the cheese sauce until the cauliflower is done roasting is great! Thanks for such and amazing recipe!p

  4. 5 stars
    Have been looking for a cauliflower mac and cheese recipe for a while now, and this one is so simple and delicious!

      1. I need the serving size shown in cups rather than just 6 servings – 408 kcal per recipe. Than you so much!

  5. 5 stars
    This is wonderful… made it for a snack and love that no carbs involved… i think i needed a slightly bigger head of cauliflower, or maybe it’s cuz i munched on a couple pre cheese dunking….

    1. Hi Marta! Yes you can make this ahead and freeze the Mac and cheese for up to 3 months in an airtight container or heavy duty ziplock bag. If the Mac and cheese seems to be watery when reheating, add more cheese. I hope you love this recipe! 🙂

  6. Hi, I’m trying this recipe for my son on Thanksgiving
    I am wondering if it freezes well? It will only be him and me eating it, so I know we will have some leftovers.
    Thank you for your help!!

    1. Hi Lyn, that is great! You can freeze this Mac and Cheese for up to 3 months in an airtight container or heavy duty ziplock bag. They Mac and cheese may seem watery when reheating, if it does add more cheese. You can also keep this refrigerated for up to 3 days. I hope you love this recipe and Happy Thanksgiving!

      1. Ok! Thank you for your speedy response (especially right around the holidays!)… I’m very excited to try this – my 4yo son has never had Mac & Cheese

        1. 5 stars
          I just wanted to come back and say this recipe is SO yummy! I had never cooked cauliflower (maybe never had it), but I prefer this now over traditional Mac & Cheese.
          Thanks for the recipe and help!

  7. 5 stars
    I made with mango habanero bacon and also added diced jalapeños. I wasn’t concerned about gluten free/keto, so I also added penne pasta and topped with panko bread crumbs, more crumbled bacon, and then added smoked paprika to the top. So yummy!

  8. Hi Kathryn, This looks delicious! Do you know if we made a little extra sauce, if we would be able to bake it like a regular baked mac and cheese?

    1. Hi Chelsea! Thank you so much. Yes you totally can, I’ve never tried it but it sounds delicious and want to try that now too! Let me know if you get a chance to make it. The cheese sauce is my favorite part of this recipe 🙂 Enjoy!

  9. Your recipe sounds delicious! I have recipe for smoked “regular” Mac and cheese. Going to try it with your recipe. Should be yummy!

  10. 3 stars
    ,
    Make sure to use a really big head of cauliflower as the ratio In the above was wayyyy too cheesy. And that is coming from someone who loves cheese

  11. 5 stars
    Roasted cauliflower is such a wonderful addition to this mac and cheese recipe. I also love the combination of cheeses you picked for this sauce – so delicious.

  12. Question: Would it work if follow all of the directions and then bake it in the oven? I’d like to also add crushed pork rinds with butter and Parmesan on top for a little extra crunch. Making this for Easter dinner!

    1. Hi Marla! Yes, you could definitely do that 🙂 I bake this mac and cheese almost every time and it comes out delicious. I usually bake it at 350 degrees F. The pork rinds and parmesan sound like a delicious idea! I hope you enjoy this recipe and Happy Easter!

  13. 5 stars
    This recipe was so easy and it tasted amazing. I substituted regular Swiss cheese for the Gruyère cheese to keep the cost down. It tasted amazing. I give this recipe and highly recommend it.

  14. This is a great cauliflower “mac” and cheese recipe! I made it with a few modifications to make it low carb and keto friendly. I used a keto-friendly cheese sauce and substituted cauliflower for the macaron

    1. 5 stars
      Hi Raquel, you can substitute frozen cauliflower, just make sure to thaw the cauliflower completely and remove as much excess water as possible. I hope you love this recipe!

    2. I used frozen. Thawed it in microwave first then roasted it as the recipe suggested. I found you will need three or four bags to have enough for all the cheese!! It is yummy

  15. 4 stars
    Pretty darn tasty. I added more salt to mine, but I like how crunchy- and not mushy- the cauliflower was for this recipe.

  16. So yummy! My kids loved it too. I didn’t have Gruyère cheese on hand so I used mozzarella instead and it came out wonderfully.