Farm To Table | Sides & Casseroles

Cauliflower au Gratin

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This Cauliflower au Gratin is a favorite to have for the holidays, or any day! Cauliflower and cheese is a cheesy, creamy vegetarian dish!

Casserole with cooked Cauliflower au gratinPin

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!

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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! 🙂 )

Casserole of cheesy cauliflower.Pin

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

  1. Cut stem end off of cauliflower.
  2. Cut cauliflower in bite sized pieces.
  3. Steam cauliflower about 10 minutes, until softened, but not mushy.
  4. Melt butter in large pan.
  5. Heat milk in another pan or in the microwave, until warmed, but not boiling.
  6. Add flour to melted butter and whisk or stir until smooth and silky.Step by photos for how to make this recipe. See details in recipe below.Pin
  7. Cook and stir until bubbly.
  8. Add warmed milk and combine, stirring until no lumps remain.
  9. Add white pepper and fresh grated nutmeg.
  10. Once sauce thickens, add cheese and melt.
  11. Sauce should be think enough to coat the back of the spoon.
Milk warming in another pot. Flour added to melted butter. Flour and butter bubbling. Milk added to roux. Pepper and nutmeg added to sauce. Cheese added to sauce.Pin

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?

Casserole with cauliflower cheese.Pin

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.

Plate with dinner.Pin

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.
  • Gruyere
  • Gouda
  • Leyden
  • Parmesan
Cauliflower and cheese sauce with salmon.Pin

Other delicious vegetable dishes

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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!


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Cauliflower au gratin on gray plate with salmon filet.Pin

Cauliflower au Gratin

This Cauliflower au Gratin is a favorite to have for the holidays, or any day! Cauliflower and cheese is a cheesy, creamy vegetarian dish!

See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 195kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $5


  • 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.
  • Add the heated milk all at once. Stir briskly to remove any clumps. If required, break up any clumps by pushing it between the side of the pot with your spoon. Stir until partially thickened.
  • Add cheese. Stir until melted.
  • Add white pepper. Taste to adjust salt. Don't salt it until the cheese is added. Different cheeses have dfferent levels of 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.
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  • 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.


Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 223mg | Potassium: 296mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 461IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 222mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. 5 stars
    This is such a great substitution for potatoes. I have some family members that don’t eat potatoes and I think this would be a wonderful alternative for them. I think I’ll add it to my Thanksgiving menu!

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