This easy One Pan Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe is a healthy, low-carb comfort food alternative that a great way to enjoy the flavor of classic mac and cheese without all of the carbs.
This one-pot mac and cheese cauliflower recipe is a delicious alternative to traditional mac and cheese. Since it is made with cauliflower, it will not taste just like mac and cheese, but the small cauliflower florets have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and, when cooked, and have a texture similar to al dente pasta.
Toss cooked cauliflower in a creamy sauce, and you’ll have a dish that almost tastes like the real thing, and it’s perfect if you are watching your carbs; plus, you can always add pasta to this dish!
🤍Why you will love this recipe
- It’s easy! Made in one pot; perfect for easy clean up.
- Cauliflower is a low-carb alternative for pasta making it a healthy option.
- It’s made with a few simple ingredients.
- It’s versatile, add a little bit of pasta or change up the cheese, see suggestions below.
Here is what you will need
This is an overview of the ingredients and steps to make this delicious recipe; scroll down for a printable recipe card with exact measurements and detailed instructions.
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How to make creamy cauliflower mac and cheese
Prepare the cauliflower: use a sharp knife to cut the cauliflower head into small cauliflower florets and rinse them.
STEP 1: Place the cauliflower into a large pot and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the cauliflower can be pierced with a fork, drain and rinse under cold water to stop it from cooking.
STEP 2: Wipe out the pan and make the sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan. Once melted whisk in the flour to form a paste.
STEP 3: Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the milk while constantly stirring until the sauce thickens. Add the shredded cheese.
STEP 4: Once the cheese has melted, add the cooked cauliflower back to the saucepan and serve.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Cauliflower – Look for a cauliflower head that is creamy white and free of dark spots. The head should feel heavy and be tightly packed.
Cheddar Cheese – This adds a rich, sharp flavor to this recipe. If you prefer a different type of cheese, try experimenting with swiss cheese, monterey jack cheese, gouda, provolone cheese or a combination of a few types of cheese.
Butter – If the butter isn’t unavailable, you can substitute it with olive, avocado, or plant-based butter.
Flour – To thicken the cheese sauce without flour, you can us arrowroot powder, tapioca flour or cornstarch. Mix them with a small amount of water and stir them into the milk to thicken instead of making a roux.
Milk – I prefer using whole milk to make this recipe, it can be swapped with an equal amount of non-dairy milk such as coconut milk, almond milk or oat milk.
Try replacing a quarter to half cup of milk with heavy cream for a more creamy texture or add 1 tablespoon or two of cream cheese or Greek yogurt.
How to store leftovers
Leftover cauliflower mac and cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days in an airtight container.
Reheat cauliflower mac and cheese on top of the stove over medium-low heat, in the oven or in the microwave.
Creamy cauliflower mac and cheese recipe variations
Put a unique spin on cauliflower mac and cheese with these suggestions or come up with your own creation.
Herb infused – Enhance the flavors by adding a dash of garlic powder or onion powder and fresh or dry herbs such as thyme, rosemary or parsley to the sauce.
Bacon – Bacon makes everything taste better, even cauliflower. Sprinkle bacon crumbles over the mac and cheese just before serving it.
Spicy – Add a kick of heat with the addition of diced jalapeno peppers, red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the cheese sauce.
Buffalo – Use half blue cheese, half cheddar and a dash or two of your favorite buffalo sauce such as Frank’s.
Pasta – Add a half to three-quarters cooked whole wheat pasta or any type of pastato the sauce to make for a heartier cauli mac and cheese.
Baked cauliflower mac and cheese – Place cauliflower mac and cheese in a casserole dish, top with bread crumbs a dash of cheese and bake until bubbly and topping is crisp.
Serve cauliflower macaroni and cheese as a tasty side dish with a dash of black pepper, with roasted ham, pork tenderloin, or chicken. It can also be served as a main dish with a side of a hearty kale caesar salad.
- Properly cook the cauliflower; it should be fork-tender and not mushy.
- Drain the cauliflower well and pat it dry before adding it to the cheese sauce.
- If the sauce is too thin, add more add a little bit of flour, cornstarch, or tapioca flour. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of milk or water to thin it out.
- Save time and use pre-cut cauliflower instead of a head of cauliflower from your supermarket.
Cauliflower mac and cheese is a low-carb diet. However, 1 tablespoon of flour is used to thicken the sauce. If you are on a strict keto diet, you may have to use a keto-friendly thickener such as xanthan gum.
It is possible to freeze cauliflower mac and cheese, but the texture may not be the same as the fresh version. To freeze it, first let it cool down and then put it in a container or freezer bag that is safe for freezing. You can store the mac and cheese for up to 3 months in the freezer. When you want to eat it, defrost it in the refrigerator.
Yes, you can easily make this recipe dairy-free by using plant-based butter or olive oil, dairy-free milk, vegan cheese or nutritional yeast.
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Click on serving size to scale this recipe
- 1 head Cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon Butter unsalted
- 1 tablespoon Flour
- 1 cup Milk
- 4 ounces Cheddar Cheese shredded
- Rinse and 1 head Cauliflower into small bite-sized florets.
- Place the cauliflower florets into a saucepan with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the cauliflower is fork tender. Drain and rinse the cauliflower to stop it from cooking.
- Wipe the pot out and add 1 tablespoon Butter and melt it over medium heat. Once melted, add 1 tablespoon Flour and whisk it into the butter until it forms a paste.
- Reduce the heat to low, and gradually whisk in 1 cup Milk stirring frequently until the sauce thickens. Add 4 ounces Cheddar Cheese.
- Add the cooked cauliflower back to the pan and toss in the sauce.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used
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