This easy Cauliflower Cheese recipe is a creamy and cheesy comfort food dish that’s a British favorite. The delicious cauliflower gratin bake can be served as an everyday side dish or bring to a holiday feast for Christmas or as a compliment to a Sunday roast.
When I think of British comfort food classics, cauliflower cheese always comes to mind.
It's creamy, cheesy and full of cauliflower goodness. A delicious side dish.
For this cauliflower gratin dish, you’ll need fresh cauliflower that gets cooked until tender. A simple cheese sauce is then made using cheese and milk which is poured over the cooked cauliflower. Then bake it until bubbling! Easy peasy.
Traditionally, this dish is served during the Christmas holiday, or for a Sunday roast, but you can make it any time.
Cauliflower in cheese sauce makes a wonderful side dish when paired with any protein or can be eaten on its own.
Customize it by adding different seasonings, cheeses, or your favorite veggies for a dish that will stay on your recipe rotation.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
The cauliflower keeps it light even though it’s very satisfying.
The creamy cheese sauce is a delight for kids and adults.
A tasty alternative to mac and cheese.
Cauliflower is a healthy cruciferous vegetable.
It’s the perfect side dish to bring to a holiday or Sunday meal.
You can customize the seasonings and vegetables to make it your own.
It's a quick and easy side dish.
A family-friendly recipe.
This is a budget-friendly side dish.
- Fresh Cauliflower - You’ll need a head of cauliflower for this recipe that’s cut into bite-sized florets.
- Milk - Gives the cheese its creamy sauce texture.
- All-Purpose Flour (plain flour) - Helps to thicken the sauce.
- Butter - Adds a rich buttery flavor and texture to the sauce.
- Cheese - You can use cheddar or a mix of red Leicester, gruyere, parmesan, or whatever you enjoy!
Step By Step Tutorial
Follow this step-by-step photo tutorial, then scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and method.
Step 1. Cook the cauliflower.
Cut the cauli into florets. Cut any really large ones into smaller pieces so they're roughly the same size.
Add them to a pot of boiling water and par-boil (partially cook) them for about 5 mins or until just cooked, but not too soft. This is because they'll cook further in the oven. Drain well.
Step 2. Make the cheese sauce.
Melt the butter in a medium pot, then whisk in the flour.
Keep the pan on the heat and add the milk, a little at a time, whisking until thick and creamy. Stir in the cheese until it melts.
Step 3. Bake the cauliflower cheese. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower in a casserole dish, then sprinkle the top of it with the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
Tip: you can try sprinkling a little smoked paprika over the top, or adding breadcrumbs before baking for a crispy texture.
You can use frozen cauliflower to make this casserole, just make sure it is thawed and completely drained of any excess liquid or water before adding to the casserole dish.
When preparing the cauliflower, make sure you cut the florets into bite-sized pieces that are all roughly the same size.
For an alternative cauliflower gratin, try roasting the cauliflower in the oven instead of boiling it.
Typically, cauliflower cheese is served as a side dish to a British Sunday roast dinner.
Pairs well with a Vegan Stuffed Pepper.
Makes a great side dish for Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving.
Serve it as a vegetarian main dish.
Serve alongside Air Fried Pierogies.
Add 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs to the top of the cauliflower cheese casserole before baking for a crunchy crust. You could also add a little garlic powder or Italian herbs to the breadcrumbs for extra flavor.
For a light smoky flavor, add a sprinkling of 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to the top.
Add half broccoli or romanesco to change up the flavor.
To make a mornay sauce, add 1 teaspoon of mustard powder to the cheese sauce.
Give it a hint of warming flavor by adding ¼ teaspoon nutmeg to the cheese sauce.
Change up the cheese by adding your favorite mix of varieties.
To Make Gluten-Free: To make this recipe gluten-free, you’ll need to use gluten-free flour or thickener to create the cheese sauce.
To Make It Vegan: To make this recipe vegan, you’ll need to use dairy-free butter, milk, and cheese. You can even skip the cheese and add 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast for a natural cheesy flavor.
Storing: Store any leftover cheesy cauliflower bake in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven before serving.
Freezing: If freezing, place in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. If you’d like to freeze in a casserole dish or pan, wrap the outside tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil before freezing. It will stay fresh for 3-4 months. For best results, bake from frozen uncovered at 350F for 30-45 minutes or until warmed through.
Prep ahead: You can assemble your cauliflower casserole ahead of time (unbaked) and keep it in the fridge, covered for up to 3 days. Then bake and serve. You can also bake it, then cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days, then reheat in the oven (you may need to cover it in foil so it doesn't over-brown.)
If you don't par-boil the cauliflower, then it will cook in the oven and release a lot of moisture. Ensure it's lightly cooked before putting it into the casserole dish. Also, ensure your cheese sauce is thick before pouring over the cauliflower. If necessary, use less milk or add a little more flour.
This dish is a great side for proteins such as chicken, steak, or vegetarian meals. It also compliments other side dishes well!
There will be a small number of carbs in the milk, cauliflower, and cheese, but overall, this is a low-carb side dish and a great low-carb alternative to mac n cheese.
Be sure to try these other vegetable side dish recipes too!
More Cauliflower Recipes
I hope you love this easy cauliflower cheese recipe as much as we do! Be sure to try these other tasty recipes to use up cauliflower.
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- 1 large cauliflower about 600g (leaves cut off), cut into florets
- 2¼ cups (500ml) milk
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1½ cups (200g) shredded cheddar cheese divided (or try a mix of red leicester, gruyere, parmesan etc)
- Preheat the oven to 430°F / 220°C.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then add the cauliflower florets and cook for 5 mins or until just cooked. Drain then pour it into an oven safe baking dish.
- Melt the butter in a medium pot, then whisk in the flour. Keep the pan on the heat and add the milk, a little at a time, whisking until thick and creamy. Stir in the cheese until it melts.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower, then sprinkle the top of it with the remaining cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
- You can use frozen cauliflower to make this dish, just make sure it is completely drained of any excess liquid or water before adding to the casserole dish.
- When preparing the cauliflower, make sure you cut the florets into bite-sized pieces that are all roughly the same size.
- To keep as much moisture out as possible, try roasting the cauliflower in the oven instead of boiling it.
- Add 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs to the top before baking for a crunchy crust.
- For a light smoky flavor, add a sprinkling of 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to the top.
- Add 1 teaspoon of mustard powder to the cheese sauce.
- Give it a hint of warming flavor by adding ¼ teaspoon nutmeg to the cheese sauce.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.