Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Mac and cheese is classic comfort food that's loved by kids and adults alike. But if you're looking to cut back on your carbs or follow a gluten-free or keto diet, then it's not usually an option. Thanks to a simple ingredient swap using versatile cauliflower, this drool-worthy cauliflower mac and cheese is diet-friendly while still satisfying the same cheesy, melty craving.

Tender-crisp roasted cauliflower is coated in a simple cheese sauce of cheddar, cream cheese, milk, and spices. Dijon mustard adds a nice kick of flavor without overwhelming the dish. Topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan and baked, it comes out bubbling and lightly browned on top. Broil it for a minute or two if you like the top extra toasty.

If you're not eating gluten-free or keto, you can add a topping of melted butter and breadcrumbs for an extra crunch.


  • 1 (2-pound) head cauliflower (cut into medium florets and stem trimmed and roughly chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature, cubed)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • Garnish: freshly chopped chive, if desired

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Gather the ingredients
    ​The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph 
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish.

  3. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F.

    Roast the cauliflower
    ​The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph
  4. Add the milk, cream cheese, mustard, turmeric, and garlic powder to a medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk until the cheese sauce is warmed through and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese.

    Make the cheese sauce
    ​The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph
  5. In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower and cheese sauce and mix. Taste for seasoning. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese.

    Mix and pour into the prepared dish
    ​The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until bubbly, warmed all the way through and browning on top. If you'd like your mac and cheese browner on top, place under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes. Top with chopped chive, if desired.

    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
    Laurel Randolph. ​The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.

Recipe Variations

  • If you're not eating keto or gluten-free, add a breadcrumb topping for extra crunch. Mix 1/3 cup breadcrumbs with 3 tablespoons melted butter and top the casserole before baking along with the Parmesan cheese.
  • Change up the flavor by using different cheeses. Try Gruyere cheese or swap half of the cheddar cheese for pepper Jack for a kick.
  • Mix in a few tablespoons of cooked chopped bacon.
  • Add some color and extra veggie power by mixing in up to 1 cup of frozen peas.
  • Add a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper and diced jalapeno for spicy mac and cheese.