This baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe is the perfect low-carb side dish on days when you don’t want the heaviness of pasta. Cheesy, gooey, and oh-so-good, this will be your new go-to recipe for getting everyone to eat their veggies. We promise you won’t even miss the ‘mac’!
Why You’ll Love This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe
Cauliflower mac and cheese is one of those perfect comfort food side dishes that you can enjoy all year round. Here’s why you’ll love it:
- Cheesy and Creamy: This dish is loaded with three kinds of cheese: smoked gouda, cheddar, and mozzarella. They melt together to create a rich and smooth sauce that coats every bite of cauliflower.
- Veggie-Packed: If you’re looking to enjoy mac and cheese without the heaviness of pasta, cauliflower is a wonderful substitute! It does a great job of holding on to all that tasty cheese sauce.
- Super Easy: While homemade mac and cheese recipes are often complicated and time consuming, this one isn’t. From start to finish, you’re only looking at 40 minutes!
- Perfect for Any Occasion: Perfect for a satisfying weeknight side or a festive holiday dish, this cauliflower mac is a crowd-pleaser everyone will enjoy!
What You’ll Need
The star of this dish is the incredibly creamy cheese sauce and you only need a few ingredients to whip it together. Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.
- Cauliflower: Florets from a head of cauliflower, or two 12 oz bags worth.
- Whole Milk: Evaporated milk is a good substitute.
- Cheeses: We used cream cheese, smoked gouda, mozzarella, and sharp cheddar cheese.
- Seasonings: Garlic, parsley, mustard powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Bacon: You can omit this if you want a vegetarian dish, but it’s SO good!
How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese With Cauliflower
There are really only a few simple steps needed to put this dish together and at least half of the time is hands free. Scroll to the recipe card at bottom of the post for full detailed instructions.
- Prep: Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9×9-inch baking dish. Set aside.
- Cauliflower: Boil a large pot of water and cook the cauliflower florets for 4 minutes. Drain them and pat dry with a paper towel. This will help the cauliflower cheese sauce stick!
- Cheese Sauce: Heat the milk, cream cheese, and seasonings in a pan until the mixture is nice and smooth. Stir in the shredded cheeses until they’ve melted.
- Combine: Stir in half of the chopped bacon and cauliflower into the cheese sauce. Pour the cheesy cauliflower into the casserole dish, top with more cheese and bacon.
- Bake: Bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly. Serve and enjoy!
Tips for Best Results
To make this cauliflower mac and cheese come out perfectly every time, we wanted to share a few tips and tricks from our own kitchen.
- Pre-Cook Cauliflower: You can use roasted cauliflower instead of boiling it. Cauliflower has a high water content, and we want to get some of that out before we bake it. Be sure to pre-cook the cauliflower, drain it, and pat dry with paper towels. If you skip this step, the cheese sauce will get too watery and won’t have the correct consistency.
- Cheese: Make sure to shred your own cheese! Even though it seems like an extra step, it’s really important. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated in anti-caking agents and they can get grainy when melted and overly thicken your sauce.
- Brown It: If you want to crisp up some of that cheese, place the entire casserole dish under the broiler for a few minutes after it’s finished baking. You won’t need more than 2 to 3 minutes, but it’s a really nice touch!
- Smoked: If you aren’t a fan of the smoked flavor that smoked gouda will add, try regular gouda or gruyere cheese instead.
What to Serve With Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
Cauliflower mac and cheese is a hearty and filling dish all on its own. But it can also act as a great veggie-forward side dish. Here are a few ideas on what to serve with it:
- Meat: In our opinion, mac and cheese is a great side to almost any kind of protein. If you’re looking for some main dish ideas, try our skirt steak, meatloaf, Ritz cracker ranch chicken, or pan-fried pork chops.
- Veggies: With all that cheesy goodness, you may be inspired to add more veggies to your meal. Give our green beans almondine, parmesan roasted broccoli, or crispy air fryer zucchini a try!
- Holiday Side Dishes: Cauliflower mac and cheese makes a really festive and impressive side dish for any holiday table. Pair it with other great holiday sides like sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, bacon brussels sprouts or twice baked potato casserole!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
This delicious cauliflower mac recipe stores and reheats well! Here’s how to handle your leftovers.
- Refrigerate: Transfer to an airtight container, or wrap the casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Reheat: The easiest way to reheat this dish is in the microwave. Add a splash of milk and cover the container with a microwave-safe lid. Heat for 1 minute, then stir and check the temperature. Heat for another 30 seconds, if needed. You can also reheat it in the oven at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, covered with foil.
- Freeze: Let it cool completely before putting in a freezer-safe dish and freeze for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating.
More Cheesy Recipes
- Broccoli Mac and Cheese
- Chili Mac
- American Goulash
- Crockpot French Onion Chicken
- Homemade Cheese Sauce
- Air Fryer Grilled Cheese
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets, or 2 (12 oz) bags of cauliflower florets
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 3 oz softened cream cheese, cubed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup freshly shredded smoked gouda, or gruyere cheese
- 1 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping
- 1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×9-inch casserole dish with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Fill a pan with an inch of water and turn on medium-high heat. When the water begins to boil, add the cauliflower florets and place the lid on the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and steam for 4 minutes. Drain well and place on a paper towel. Pat dry.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the milk and cream cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in the garlic powder, parsley, mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
- Add the cheeses and stir until melted and smooth. Add half the chopped bacon and stir in the cauliflower.
- Pour the cheesy cauliflower into the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining bacon and a little extra cheddar cheese (or all three cheeses!).
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly and cheese on top is melted.