This Cauliflower au Gratin is a favorite to have for the holidays, or any day! Cauliflower and cheese is a cheesy, creamy vegetarian dish!
When I met my husband, he would not even touch cauliflower (along with lots of other things 🙄 )…. that is, until I served him this Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce! It is simple, and delicious and can be made ahead, if you are serving it to guests, for the holidays!
What is cauliflower au gratin?
A gratin is a traditional culinary technique referring to any ingredient topped with bread crumbs and toasted. (Which I normally do with this but forgot today!) The other term used for this dish is cauliflower cheese. This dish is traditionally British and consists of cauliflower that is topped with a cheesy béchamel sauce. (In this particular case, it is more like smothered in the sauce! 🙂 )
Can cauliflower cheese be prepared ahead?
Yes, absolutely! Cauliflower Cheese can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to cook. Before cooking, remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes (better 1 hour) prior to baking or it will take too long to heat the center and the cheese sauce might “break”.
How to make it
- Cut stem end off of cauliflower.
- Cut cauliflower in bite sized pieces.
- Steam cauliflower about 10 minutes, until softened, but not mushy.
- Melt butter in large pan.
- Heat milk in another pan or in the microwave, until warmed, but not boiling.
- Add flour to melted butter and whisk or stir until smooth and silky.
- Cook and stir until bubbly.
- Add warmed milk and combine, stirring until no lumps remain.
- Add white pepper and fresh grated nutmeg.
- Once sauce thickens, add cheese and melt.
- Sauce should be think enough to coat the back of the spoon.
Place cauliflower into casserole. Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower. Bake in 325°F oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Check often to make sure that sauce is not getting too hot and breaking.
Don’t toss those cauliflower scraps, make this Easy Vegetable Stock!
Can cauliflower au gratin be frozen?
Cauliflower and cheese freezes well. You must take it out of the freezer at least 4 days in advance of cooking it, so that it thaws all of the way through! Then, as stated above, let the casserole stay out of the refrigerator an hour prior to cooking.
Important tips for successful cauliflower cheese
- DO NOT overheat the dish! If you start to see the sauce breaking up along the outside edges, it is getting too hot!
- Bake at a low temperature to ensure the sauce doesn’t “break” (the butter will separate out of the sauce)
- Cut caulifower into bite sized pieces.
- If your béchamel becomes too thick, just add a bit more milk to thin it out.
- The béchamel should coat the back of the spoon.
What cheeses are best for cauliflower au gratin?
- Cheddar, I use half mild and half sharp. Mild for melting sharp for flavor.
Other delicious vegetable dishes
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Tools I use to make this recipe
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That’s how easy it is to make Cauliflower au Gratin. Thanks for stopping by today!
Enjoy! And have fun cooking!
Cauliflower au Gratin
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1.5 cups Milk whole milk works best
- 1 cauliflower small, about 4 cups chopped
- 1.5 cup cheese cheddar, mild
- Heat milk in pot.
- Melt butter in large saucepan.
- Add flour and stir into a paste. Cook for 3-4 minutes to cook flour. Stirring constantly.
- Stir until partially thickened.
- Add cheese. Stir until melted.
- Add white pepper. Taste to adjust salt. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, steam cauliflower until slightly softened. Don't cook until totally done, or cauliflower will end up soggy after baking.
- Add cauliflower to casserole dish. Cover with cheese sauce. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top.
- Bake at 325°F for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and slightly browned.
- Do not add salt until after cheese has melted. Different cheeses have different salt content.
- Do not overcook cauliflower.
- Always pre-warm milk.
- Mix different cheeses for other flavor profiles.
- Use the majority of mild cheese (2/3) and then add lesser quantity (1/3) of sharp cheeses for flavor
- Leftovers keep, refrigerated for 4 days.
- Reheat in microwave.
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