Bubbly, Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole (Cauliflower Cheese)
Easy, cheesy, bubbly, and delicious cauliflower casserole will give you all the warm and cozy vibes! It tastes like low carb cauliflower “Mac.” Cauliflower bake is keto-friendly and perfect for your holiday table!
Call it a cauliflower casserole, cauliflower in cheese sauce, cauliflower bake, or cauliflower cheese. Maybe you’d like to think of it as a low carb cauliflower “Mac.” Okay, I digress, call it whatever your heart desires, you just need to give this a try!
Loaded with tender roasted cauliflower, tossed in a bubbly cheese sauce, scented with warming spices like nutmeg and a hint of mustard, and loads of fresh thyme, and garlic, to really boost the natural flavor of cauliflower.
The best part is that cauliflower casserole is completely keto-friendly and gluten-free. If you’ve got dinner guests coming for the holidays that have said dietary restrictions, this is a side dish everyone can enjoy for Thanksgiving!
What do you need to make cheesy cauliflower casserole?
- Cauliflower: I like to use a large head of cauliflower. You want to start with roughly 2 ¼ pounds before breaking it down into florets. You can also purchase the florets already cleaned and separated for you if you’d like to skip the prep work. You’ll need 2 pounds of cauliflower florets.
- Heavy cream: just a drizzle helps make this cauliflower bake extra bubbly. The heavy cream mixes with the cheese and creates a cheese sauce that tastes like Mac and cheese!
- Seasonings: I’m using a dash of mustard powder and nutmeg to flavor this casserole. It will give it a warm and cozy Thanksgiving vibe!
- Fresh thyme: If you don’t have fresh thyme on hand, you can use dried thyme for this recipe. Use just under ½ teaspoon if you are going with dried herbs.
- Garlic: How much garlic you use is entirely up to you! I suggest using a garlic press to help breakdown the garlic so that it just melds right into the cheese sauce.
- Butter: the butter mixes with the cream and cheese and becomes part of the sauce.
- Cheese: I like to use freshly shredded white cheddar cheese for this recipe. I do suggest shredding the cheese on a grater from a block for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheese from the grocery store often comes coated with rice or potato starch, which won’t melt into the sauce completely.
How to make the best cheesy cauliflower casserole recipe:
- Prep it. Preheat your oven and bring a large pot of water to boil. When boiling, generously season the water with kosher salt and let it come back to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets to the water and allow them to boil until firm but tender (just al-dente, they’ll finish cooking in the sauce.)
- Assemble the casserole. Add the heavy cream to a measuring cup, along with garlic, salt, white pepper, thyme, mustard powder, and ground nutmeg. Spray a 12×8 baking dish with cooking spray. Place half of the florets in the baking dish. Dot the casserole with half of the butter cubes. Sprinkle with half of the cheese on top. Then, add the remaining cauliflower, butter, and cheese in the same order. Pour the prepared heavy cream mixture on top.
- Bake until bubbly. Then, pop the cauliflower casserole in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly and golden. I like to turn the broiler on sometimes for just the last 30 seconds or so. This gives the top a bubbly golden color.
FAQ’s about homemade cauliflower cheese:
- Can I boil the cauliflower in advance? Yes, you can boil the cauliflower, drain, allow it to cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate. I do suggest assembling the casserole the day you plan on serving. It does taste best when fresh.
- Can I steam the cauliflower instead of boiling it? Yes, steaming the cauliflower works too. It may just require a few additional minutes.
- Can I make a double or triple batch? Yes, you can double or triple the batch, be sure to make in several serving dishes, or use an extra-large serving dish!
- Can I use half and half or milk instead of the heavy cream? Unfortunately, no. I tested the recipe with half and half, and the cheese sauce never thickened. It was super watery. You would have to use butter and flour to make a roux and add in the milk or heavy cream to make a thicker sauce first if you wanted to use half and half or milk. For the best results, I do suggest using heavy cream.
- How do I reheat this? You can reheat the casserole in the baking dish in an oven preheated to 325ºF. Cover the casserole with a piece of foil and place in the oven until bubbly and warm, about 20-30 minutes.
If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like:
- Autumn Crisp Apple Sweet Potato Salad
- Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots
- 20-minute Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes
- Savory Caramelized Onion Croissant Stuffing
- Garlic Cheddar Chive Spoonbread
- Best Ever Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
- Irresistibly Creamy Green Bean Casserole
- 1 head (~2 - 2 ¼ pounds) cauliflower, broken into florets
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2-4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- Kosher salt + white pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 ½ cups grated white cheddar cheese
- PREP: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a palmful of salt when boiling. Drop the florets and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until firm but tender. Drain and set aside.
- MIX: Place the heavy cream in a 1 cup measuring cup and stir in pressed garlic, a big pinch of salt, a few shakes of white pepper, thyme leaves, mustard powder, and ground nutmeg. Spray a medium (such as 12x8) baking dish with cooking spray. Add half of the cauliflower to the dish. Dot with half of the butter and sprinkle half the cheese on top. Add the remaining cauliflower on top and dot with remaining butter and cheddar cheese. Pour the heavy cream mixture on top.
- BAKE: the mixture uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden. If at any point the casserole starts browning too much, cover loosely with a piece of foil. You can pop it under the broiler if you want it more golden on top for the last 30 seconds or so! Serve warm!