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Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Swap out the carbs in this healthier version of Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. So creamy and cheesy, this dish is just as tasty without the pasta.

cauliflower mac and cheese in white ramikin

Whether you are looking at healthy alternatives or just want a fresh way to make an old classic, Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is for you. It has all the creamy, cheesy flavor of traditional mac and cheese without the calories or carbs of pasta. It’s a win-win!

This year was supposed to be my break-out year to eat healthier, but life got in the way. Illnesses, changes in the family, stress….all can derail even the best laid plans. Does this happen to you, too? So here I am, getting back on the bicycle so to speak and giving it another try.

Cauliflower is the new poster child for healthy eating. It can be substituted into almost any dish. This food turns pasta gluten-free, pizza into low-carb pies and cereal Paleo. And if you haven’t tried it yet, this recipe is a great way to start.  I mean…there is a lot of cheese involved, so how bad can it be?  For this recipe, I used my basic cheese sauce recipe and subbed in cauliflower for elbow noodles.

Reasons to love this recipe:

  • The dish is packed with delicious flavors and essential Vitamin C and Vitamin K
  • It is perfect for busy weeknights and also for entertaining guests
  • You will have delicious leftovers that can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container for 3-4 days
  • Family-friendly comfort food – kid tested!
  • Versatile – easily add in chicken or pork and make it a hearty main dish!
cauliflower florets in glass bowl

Start with two medium heads of cauliflower. Wash, core and cut into florets. You can put the cauliflower in one bowl to steam, but I used two bowls to steam in the microwave so the florets were not crowded.

cauliflower steamed in glass vowl

While microwaving,  the plastic wrap will form a dome over the bowl as the steam builds up. When the cooking stops, the dome will shrink down over the bowl. To avoid steam burns, don’t remove the plastic right away. Let it sit like this for a few minutes before uncovering and draining the cauliflower.

cauliflower in dutch oven covered with melted cheese

The cauliflower will be tender so gently fold it into the cheese sauce. Go ahead, taste it, and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Dump the cheesy cauliflower into your prepared baking dish. Make the bread crumb mixture and sprinkle it all over the cauliflower. Place in the preheated oven on the center rack.

This deliciousness is done when the crumbs are starting to turn golden and the cheese mixture is bubbling at the edges.

Serve right from the dish or spoon into individual ramekins to get fancy!

Swap out the carbs in this healthier version of Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. So creamy and cheesy, this dish is just as tasty without the pasta.

Hungry for more? You might also enjoy these recipes:

Cauliflower mac and cheese in ramekin

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

5 from 1 vote
Swap out the carbs in this healthier version of Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. So creamy and cheesy, this dish is just as tasty without the pasta.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 294

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  • 2 medium heads cauliflower, cut in florets ( 8 – 10 cups)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Position rack in middle of oven. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish. Set aside.
  • Place cauliflower in microwave safe bowl(s), add 1/4 cup water, cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 7 minutes, until cauliflower is just starting to soften. Remove from microwave, allow to cool slightly and drain. Set aside.
  • In a large dutch oven, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and thyme, cook for 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add the flour and cook until lightly browned, about 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in milk, salt, mustard, hot sauce, black pepper, and nutmeg. Stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses until melted.
  • Fold the cauliflower into the cheese mixture until coated.
  • Transfer cauliflower to prepared baking dish.
  • In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and melted butter until bread crumbs are moistened. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over cauliflower. Place baking dish on a sheet pan and place on middle rack of oven.
  • Bake until edges are bubbling, 20 – 25 minutes. Serve hot!


I used 2% milk, but whole milk can be used
Tobasco is the hot sauce used for this recipe
Gruyere may be subtituted for the grated Swiss Cheese


Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 564mg | Potassium: 482mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 629IU | Vitamin C: 56mg | Calcium: 292mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American

© Copyright Christine Mello for Must Love Home. We would love for you to share a link to this recipe but please do not copy/paste the recipe instructions to websites or social media. We are happy for you to share a photo with a link back to this website instead.

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Swap out the carbs in this healthier version of Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. So creamy and cheesy, this dish is just as tasty without the pasta.

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