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Cheese, bacon, and cauliflower come together in this irresistible Cheesy Cauliflower Bake. An easy and quick weeknight side dish, this gluten free recipe has everything you love about mac and cheese but without the heavy pasta!
Baked cauliflower with cheese sauce and bacon has to be the best side dish ever. It has all of the cheesy goodness of a classic mac and cheese but without the heavy pasta. Plus, bacon just makes everything better!
After a quick 20 minute trip in the oven, this Cheesy Cauliflower Bake is ready to be enjoyed for family dinners or nights with friends. Serve it alongside more low carb meals, like pistachio-crusted salmon and baked harissa chicken for the best dinner ever.
- A healthier, fiber-rich take on mac and cheese (kind of like my broccoli cheddar quinoa mac and cheese).
- A quick, easy side dish that can be made gluten free, vegetarian, and keto.
- Made without cream, cream cheese or breadcrumbs, making it a tad lighter than other recipes.
- A loaded cauliflower casserole is officially the best low carb comfort food!
- Cauliflower - Either chop a head of cauliflower into florets yourself or buy pre-chopped cauliflower to save some time.
- Bacon - Because bacon, cheese, and cauliflower are even better together! You can omit it to make the recipe vegetarian or swap the bacon for shredded chicken, ham, cooked ground beef, or sausage.
- Almond milk - Or use another kind of unsweetened dairy free milk or regular milk.
- All purpose flour - This is mixed with the milk to create a thickening roux. If you’re gluten free, replace the flour with your favorite 1:1 gluten free flour, or tapioca flour. For a keto-friendly replacement, swap the flour for xanthan gum or cassava flour.
- Cheese - I like to use shredded cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese, but you can use mozzarella instead or another shreddable melting cheese instead.
Step 1: Cook the bacon. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve the bacon grease in the pan.
Step 2: Blanch the cauliflower. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and cook until it’s slightly tender.
Step 3: Make the cheese sauce. Sauté the onion and garlic in the skillet with the bacon grease. Whisk the milk and flour together in a small bowl, then pour it into the skillet and bring it up to a low boil. Whisk in the shredded cheese. Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the cooked cauliflower.
Step 4: Bake the casserole. Transfer the cheesy cauliflower mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle the bacon on top. Bake in the oven until it’s bubbly, add chives as a garnish, and enjoy!
Expert tips and FAQs
- If you make this recipe without bacon, replace the bacon grease with olive oil.
- Add even more vegetables if you like! Use a 1:1 ratio of cauliflower and broccoli, stir in frozen peas or corn, or add any other cooked veggies you like.
- Simply omit the bacon for a vegetarian cheesy cauliflower bake, or include my tempeh bacon recipe instead.
- Stir red chili flakes into the cheesy cauliflower for added spice.
Can it be made ahead of time?
You can assemble the casserole in the baking dish up to 1 day ahead of time. Keep it covered in the fridge, then bake the next day.
Can I use frozen cauliflower?
Yes, you can use frozen cauliflower in this recipe. Simply follow the instructions for steaming the cauliflower on the back of the bag, then incorporate it into this recipe.
How should this be served?
Refrigerator: Any leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Reheat them for about 1 minute in the microwave when you’re ready to eat.
More cheesy recipes
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Cheesy Cauliflower Bake
- 1 head cauliflower chopped into florets (about 5 cups)
- 2 slices bacon chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup almond milk or milk of choice
- 2 tablespoon all purpose flour or tapioca flour for gluten free
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon chives chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Once it's cooked, remove it with a slotted spoon, reserving the bacon grease; set aside.
- Bring a separate large saucepan of water to a boil, then add the cauliflower and cook it for 5 minutes; drain and set aside.
- To the skillet with the bacon grease, add the olive oil, onion and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the onion is soft. Meanwhile, whisk the milk and flour together in a bowl.
- Pour the milk into the skillet and bring it to a low boil -- until just the edges start to bubble -- then add the cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese and salt and whisk until the cheese sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the cauliflower until it's coated in the cheese.
- Pour the cheesy cauliflower into an 8x8 baking dish, then sprinkle it with the bacon. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with the chives. Enjoy!