Easy Cauliflower With Cheese Sauce

Easy cauliflower with cheese sauce

The Spruce

Prep: 8 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 16 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
92 Calories
5g Fat
9g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 92
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 12mg 4%
Sodium 190mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 63mg 314%
Calcium 110mg 8%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 276mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A rich and creamy cheddar cheese sauce transforms plain steamed cauliflower into an irresistible side dish. This is really a very quick recipe to prepare, and will become a family favorite—it may even convert cauliflower-haters. If you have all of the ingredients measured and ready, the dish should come together in less than 10 minutes.

The cheese sauce is similar to the ingredients and method when making macaroni and cheese. Feel free to double the sauce ingredients and use it on other vegetables such as broccoli or as a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets.


  • 1 large head cauliflower

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 level tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

  • Pinch of nutmeg

  • 3/4 to 1 cup milk, or half-and-half

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, or a cheddar Jack blend

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Paprika, for garnish

  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for cauliflower with cheese sauce
    The Spruce
  2. Separate the cauliflower into small florets.

    Cauliflower florets
    The Spruce
  3. Put the florets in a steaming basket over about 1/2 inch of simmering water.

    Hand placing cauliflower florets into steaming basket
    The Spruce
  4. Cover and let the cauliflower steam for about 5 to 8 minutes, until crisp-tender or tender, depending on how you like it. 

    Cauliflower florets in steaming basket
    The Spruce
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

    Butter melting in a saucepan
    The Spruce
  6. Add the flour, ground mustard, and nutmeg and cook, whisking or stirring constantly, for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

    Butter, flour, ground mustard, and nutmeg cooking in saucepan
    The Spruce
  7. Gradually whisk in 3/4 cup of the milk or half-and-half and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until thickened. 

    Whisking and adding milk to sauce in saucepan
    The Spruce
  8. Stir in the shredded cheese and continue cooking, stirring, until the cheese has melted.

    Adding shredded cheese to sauce in saucepan
    The Spruce
  9. Thin the sauce with a tablespoon or two of milk, if desired, and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

    Cheese sauce in saucepan
    The Spruce
  10. Transfer the cauliflower to a serving dish and spoon the sauce over, or serve the cauliflower and pass the sauce separately.

    Cauliflower florets and cheese sauce in a serving dish
    The Spruce
  11. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and chopped parsley, if desired. Serve and enjoy.


  • Be careful when melting the butter and cooking the flour (making a roux) to make sure neither overcooks. The sauce will take on a bitter taste if either burns.
  • If it seems the cheese is separating from the rest of the ingredients while mixing, remove the pan from the heat and whisk vigorously to blend.
  • Make sure not to overcook the cauliflower as it can release water and make the dish liquidy.

Recipe Variations

  • Add some spinach to the dish for additional color and nutrition. You can wilt the greens slightly or let the warm cauliflower and cheese sauce naturally cook them a bit.
  • Use a combination of cauliflower and broccoli.
  • Instead of steaming the cauliflower, roast it in a hot oven until caramelized. Drizzle the florets with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and cook on a baking sheet, well-spaced out, until tender and starting to brown. Drizzle with the cheese sauce.