Cauliflower? A comfort food!? Stay with me…
Cauliflower mac and cheese is here to redeem every piece of cauliflower that’s ever been left alone on a veggie tray. The humble cauliflower is a great low carb pasta substitute, and is loaded with vitamins and fiber — but personally, I’ve never craved cauliflower. Until now.
This dish is creamy, melty, cheesy, with crunchy bits on top, and salty pancetta mixed in. You’ll totally forget you’re eating vegetables. It’s insane!
This is greater than your average smother-it-with-cheese situation for two reasons:
- The cauliflower adds a savory flavor that complements the cheese, without getting lost in it.
- The cheese sauce is luxuriously velvety, creamy, and cheesy.
This is a fall twist on a comfort classic that just happens to be one of our family favorite low carb side dishes. Get ready to crave cauliflower. Satisfying and versatile, I love this on its own (or with a salad) for dinner.
Mix it up with different cheeses. Make it extra decadent with crispy breadcrumbs! Be bold with some chili, paprika, or extra garlic.
Forget the veggie tray or mashed cauliflower, this is how I’ll be bringing cauliflower to the table this season!
This cauliflower mac and cheese is the PERFECT low carb pasta version of traditional mac and cheese, with a fraction of the carbs and an added dose of veggies.
My #1 reason for loving this recipe? There are 43 g carbs in mac and cheese per serving. And in this recipe? There are 6g. Even if you aren’t a low carb eater, you know that’s pretty cool…
Here’s what else to expect:
- Easy to make
- Cheesy PLUS covered in cheese sauce
- Sneaky way to eat veggies
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Tutorial Video
This isn’t your average cauliflower and cheese recipe my friends, we’ve got a few surpises in there to keep you coming back for seconds! Here’s everything you need to know for how to make mac and cheese, the cauliflower way:
- Prebake the cauliflower, this will get it soft enough to work well as a pasta dupe, and will mellow out its flavor so our baked cauliflower with cheese doesn’t taste too much like, well, vegetables.
- Turn this into one pot mac and cheese by cooking the pancetta in an oven safe pan, removing the grease, then making your cheese sauce in the same pan. Toss your baked cauliflower in the cheesesauce, then bake it in the oven. One pan wonder!
- Add a crunch to the top! As you know, most mac and cheese recipes are topped with breadcrumbs. In an effort to keep this recipe gluten free and low carb, I use crushed pork rinds, which add a delicious crunch (and a bit of bacon-y flavor!). If pork rinds aren’t your thing, just be sure to add a crunch in some form or fashion.
Can You Freeze This?
As with most cheese or cream sauces, this cauliflower mac and cheese is best fresh, but you can freeze it if you must. I like to portion it into resealable baggies. Reheat leftovers in the oven or toaster oven to recrisp the top!
What goes good with mac and cheese?? All.The.Things.
But the beauty of this dish is you really don’t have to serve it with anything, as it’s great on its own. I like to serve it as a side to meat dishes. It’s also one of our family’s Thanksgiving staples.
As long as you get the basics for this cheesy cauliflower recipe down, you can switch and swap ingredients as you see fit. Here are some ideas that come to mind:
- Add more protein. Swap pancetta for bacon, cubed ham, heck even shredded chicken would be a delicious addition to this cauliflower mac and cheese. Be sure to cook any meat before adding it to the dish.
- Add more vegetables. Broccoli is a natural complement to this creamy mac and cheese, but everything tastes delicious in cheese sauce! Try adding some sauteed kale, red onions, or mushrooms — it’s a sneaky way to squeeze them into a meal.
- Skip the meat for more of a cauliflower salad topped in cheese sauce!
- Use a different kind of cheese in this cheesy cauliflower bake. This keto cheese sauce is also delicious with pepper jack or mozzarella.
- Try a different type of pasta. If after trying this dish, you’ve decided cauliflower isn’t your thing, you still have options. Check out my almond flour pasta and low carb gnocchi — both are delicious in this cheese sauce!
Because it’s a superfood and so versatile, there is a never-ending world of cauliflower recipes available! Here are some of my recent faves:
- Cauliflower Stuffing
- Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie
- Cauliflower Potato Salad
- Cauliflower Fried Rice
- Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Cauliflower Mac And CheesePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 Head Cauliflower cut into 1" florets
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 4 Ounces Pancetta optional
- 1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese shredded
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 Cup Pork Rinds crushed. Optional. Can sub for breadcrumbs.
- Prep. Preheat oven to 450 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roast cauliflower. Toss 1 head cauliflower in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the florets begin to brown.
- Make the sauce. If you’re using the 4 ounces of pancetta, cook in an oven-safe pan over medium heat. Once cooked, drain on a paper towel-lined plate and remove as much grease from the pan as possible. Melt the 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 cup heavy cream together in the pan. Stir in 1 cup cheddar a little at a time as it melts. Cook on low until everything has melted together.
- Assemble + bake. Remove from heat and stir in pancetta. Add cooked cauliflower to the pan and stir to coat. Sprinkle the top of the dish with 1/4 cup parmesan and 1/4 cup crushed pork rinds/breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the top begins to brown. BOOM! You're going to love it!
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- Nutritional information is based on 1 serving if you divide this recipe into 6 servings, and was calculated with pork rinds and pancetta: