Mac-and-Cheese-Style Cauliflower Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Mac-and-Cheese-Style Cauliflower

Get all the creamy, cheesy goodness of mac and cheese—without the high starch content of macaroni. To make your own breadcrumbs, tear firm, fresh bread into pieces and whirl in a food processor or blender until crumbs form.



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1 large head cauliflower (1 ½ lb.), cut into medium florets (8 cups)
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2 Tbs. butter or margarine
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3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
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2 cups low-fat milk
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1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
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2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
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½ cup nutritional yeast
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1 pinch cayenne pepper
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2 egg yolks
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1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets, and boil 5 to 7 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid, and set aside.

2. Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk, garlic, and reserved cooking liquid, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, and egg yolks until cheese is melted. Fold in cauliflower.

3. Coat 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread cauliflower mixture in baking dish, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Spray breadcrumbs with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes, or until casserole is hot and bubbly and breadcrumbs are crisp and brown.

Nutrition Information: 

16 g
Total Fat: 
16 g
Saturated Fat: 
9 g
18 g
94 mg
314 mg
4 g
6 g
Serves 8

Comments on this Recipe

Loved this one! Sauce tasted great, even picky husband ate it. One small problem, though: water leached out of the boiled cauliflower when I baked it (even though I drained it well) and the sauce got a little watery. Next time I'll try steaming the cauliflower instead of boiling it.

This was a hit at a recent potluck. You may need to add salt depending on your preference. I took a shortcut and used Panko instead of fresh bread crumbs.

Delicious. Made this with a 4 year Grafton cheddar, and steamed the cauliflower instead of boiling it. I also omitted the cup of cooking liquid from the sauce, and chopped some whole wheat toast in a food processor for bread crumbs.

Watery and flavorless. Better off just roasting cauliflower and putting shredded cheese on top. Waste of ingredients. Yuck!

Loved this! I am not a mac and cheese fan, but my family loves it. Tried this - Wow! Everyone loved it - even my veggie hating children! Easy and delicious! I used the nutritional yeast and exchanged the cheddar for a mexi mixed cheese to melt better - PERFECT!

Steamed vegetables. Added broccoli, parsnips, and fresh dill (dill mixed into cheese sauce with garlic). Swapped bread crumbs for 1/3c Italian Panko. Omitted yeast. Added 1 packet soy sauce to cheese sauce. Smells great! Tastes fantastic! Next time will only use 1/2-3/4 c water.

agree with comments that sauce was a bit runny and bland, but a little salt and pepper fixes that. Overall, my husband and i loved it.

Bland after I made it, but not bad. Was better the next day after adding black pepper. I used panko instead of breadcrumbs, I think next time I will toast the panko seperately with olive oil, red pepper flakes and pine nuts to sprinkle on top for extra flavor and add more Cayenne to the recipe.

Loved this recipe. I agree it was a bit runny. I also omitted the yeast and subbed in 1/2 c of Parmesan cheese. I also used daiya to cut the fat of real cheese and rosemary olive oil for the oiling the pan. Turned out GREAT! This will be a repeat for sure.

I just tried this last night and this is super runny! It's great, but I think I'll either cut the milk in half and just use like 1 1/4 cups and 1/2 cup of the reserved water. It's amazing you don't need to add extra salt, but I would def use a larger head of cauliflower next time. I did put a TON of black pepper on it before baking, I think that alleviated the blandness. It's yummy for sure!!!!

I just tried this last night and this is super runny! It's great, but I think I'll either cut the milk in half and just use like 1 1/4 cups and 1/2 cup of the reserved water. It's amazing you don't need to add extra salt, but I would def use a larger head of cauliflower next time. I did put a TON of black pepper on it before baking, I think that alleviated the blandness. It's yummy for sure!!!!

Loved it but the sauce rendered was way too much.

Made this tonite - used panko as well . tasted fabulous- I used more than a "pinch" of cayenne - more like 1/4 tsp...didnt measure just kinda sprinkled went very well with my veggie soup- great meal for a cold night!

I made this dish last week and it was soooo good! My husband and daughter loved it! No leftovers on that one.

I really didn't care for this recipe. The cheese sauce turned out very runny and the flavor was a bit off. I'm from Wisconsin so I know my cheese and this cheese sauce just didn't cut it!

Such a good recipe! No complaints. Sauce thickened a bit after cooking. Definitely have to let it sit and let the cheese sauce firm up a bit. Couldn't stop eating it!

My husband and I really liked this. It satisfies the mac and cheese craving. The size of the cauliflower in the recipe is way off. Bought a 2 lb. cauliflower and barely got 3 cups of florets, so I halved the sauce recipe and it came out fine. My sauce was creamy and smooth, not runny at all. I think I'll skip the nutritional yeast next time, as I don't really care for its flavor competing with the Cheddar. ***

I used Velveeta instead of the shredded cheese for the sauce, and it turned out GREAT!!

Made this last night with a few variations. Subbed broccoli for cauliflower, and even with two bundles used about three quarters of the cheese sauce, from which I omitted cooking liquid and nutritional yeast. Added paprika, black pepper, and a little extra cayenne, and some grated parmesan to the breadcrumb topping. Delicious!

I've made this 3 times already and love it! I used Italian Panko Breadcrumbs for the top. The sauce recipe is definitely something to keep handy for other food. It's perfect. Never used the nutritional yeast. Don't think it's necessary.

Tasty, though the sauce could have been thicker. Instead of nutritional yeast, I ground a handful of roasted, salted pepitas. Next time I will omit the cooking water, add roasted red pepper strips to the cauliflower, and drizzle with a tomatillo sauce.

I really liked this. For those who thought it runny, perhaps you didn't cook the milk/flour/butter/liquid mixture long enough? I didn't have this problem at all. Also, I think you must make with really sharp cheese, or else it might be on the bland side. Going for seconds!

Delicious! My non-veg boyfriend loved it. Mine was not runny at all... The key is to really whisk generously for 10 minutes. Used Panko and it was perfect!

Made this last night! Realized that the cauliflower I purchased was only about 3 cups worth (instead of the 8 cups it called for), so I cut everything in half and used a 9x9 cooking pan. Turned out great. Perfect for two people. And yes, add pepper for a better taste!

Mine was a little bland and watery too, but I used skim milk, which may have added to the thinness. Thickend up a bit once cooled. I kept in the yeast--adds a nice nutty flavor--and added some kosher salt and pepper. Will try steaming next time too.

very good - used 75% fat free cheese and didn't miss the extra fat at all. No one noticed it was low-cal. will make it again - and yes, agree, one head of cauliflower was not enough - but it did give me enough sauce for dipping some bread - yum

This was awesome!! I did make some adjustments based on the reviews/comments here and my own recipe for regular homemade mac-n-cheese. I added some frozen broccoli. I did NOT add the cooking water (just 2 cups of 2% milk). I added crushed fried onions to the top with the breadcrumbs, which added a lot of flavor I think. I used a 9x9 dish. I also used 5 TBS of flour. It came out just like mac-n-cheese, and I didn't miss the noodles!

Sauce was way to runny and had a nasty, bitter flavor. I used good ingredients, so I don't know what was wrong, but this was one of the worst vegtimes recipies I've made!

This was awesome! I love cauliflower and this lighten version. I did not have a watery sauce. I did omit the yeast and I added some sea salt and lots of black pepper. I agree with someone else, maybe those that had a watery sauce didn't cook the sauce long enough for it to thicken completely. The key to a sauce is to have it come to a full boil - slowly in order to reach its full thickening potential. Yum!

My kids, husband and I all liked this recipe! I followed the directions exactly. I did go out of my way to get the nutritional yeast after reading about the health benefits of it as well as the fact it tastes cheesy. The sauce did not end up being runny although before I put it in the oven I had my doubts. I doubled the recipe and froze the other casserole. I did like the way the breads crumb tasted (very fresh), but next time I think I'll buy bread crumbs.

This was really yummy. Husband and kids liked it also. I followed the directions as written except I halved the recipe and used panko instead of homemade breadcrumbs and it came out great. The sauce thickened well and it was cheesy and warm. Will definitely make this again.

Tried the recipe last night and it tasted yummy. I did not need the salt the boiling water for the cauliflower. The sauce was runny after baking, but since I didn't have the yeast I thought that might have something to do with it. Next time I will also steam the cauliflower and add more flour to the roux before adding the liquids. Hopefully that will help. I also added some parmesan cheese. Will definitely try again.

Made pretty much as directed but followed other reviewers' suggestion to steam the cauliflower. Since I was pre-making this for the next day, I also let the cauliflower cool on racks to avoid steam/extra water. I agree it is too runny and I will leave out the cooking water next time and only adding if milk-only is too thick. Reheated well and I will be making this again!

Make this last night with a few adjustments. Roast the cauliflower first, this make it so delicious. Also included some almost caramelized onions and some jarred san marzano tomatoes. Topped it off with some cheddar cheese and this is a new favourite. Going to be hard not to eat this all the time!

This recipe was overall pretty good, however after making it with these ingredients, I saw no need to add nutritional yeast nor the eggs. I added sliced onion and extra garlic, which really enhanced the flavor. Yes, it was very watery, but still good. I also used this recipe with broccoli, and used mozzarella cheese (omitting the eggs and nutritional yeast, adding the garlic). Now THAT was a dynamite combination.

I've never commented on a recipe before, but this was so darn good I had to! I do admit I didn't add the yeast and I steamed the cauliflower. Other than that I followed the recipe (even added some of the water that was below the steamer) and it turned out AMAZING. It says serves 8 but it was so darn good we couldn't stop eating it. Served it with a big green salad and I'd say it serves 4 as a main course. This recipe is a definite keeper. Will make again and will also try varying ingredients just to play around with it. But the basic sauce recipe is spot on!!! I'm not sure why anyones turned out runny though, maybe try a little more flour and I used 2% milk, I'm thinking non-fat might make it runny????

The runny quality some experienced could be from a number of causes, because I know someone who left out the nutritional yeast and the egg yolks and used dried breadcrumbs/pankow. The nutritional yeast, which adds additional protein and B vitamins to the dish so that the entirety of the nutritional content gets bumped up, also aids in creating a slightly thicker sauce. Also, when you use the "fresh" bread crumbs they absorb some of the moisture from the sauce. I would suggest if you want to use pankow/dried breadcrumbs for some added crunch, then add a small amount in addition to the fresh. If you have the grater out for the cheese, you might as well grate two slices of bread as well. I boiled the cauliflower (1 - 2" flowers from about 1 and 1/2 heads of the veg) for only 5 minutes and pulled them out. Please don't forget to "SALT" your water so that the dish is not bland, a big complaint I saw throughout. I used about 1/4 tsp per cup of water. You need enough salt in the water so it seasons the cauliflower and it seasons the sauce when you add the cup of cooking water. I made the recipe exactly, except I used a teaspoon of jarred crushed garlic, and substituted a good heaping teaspoon of Tabasco for the cayenne; which I always add when I make Mac-N-Cheese--James Beard always swore that it brings out the cheesy flavor and who am I to argue. I made sure my oven was at least 350 or a little hotter, and the top came out beautifully browned. As for the sauce, which initially was fairly loose/runny, had been absorbed by the cauliflower and the breadcrumbs. Loved it!!

I ditched most of the water- used soymilk- and added slices baby portabellas. It was divine! I didnt get it to brown like the lovely photo but it tasted good enough that I didn't care. It did thicken alot upon standing so i think the leftovers will be yummier than the original dinner. Either way, I am definitely going to be using this recipe in the future!!

Sauce was delish! (If it seems too runny, cook it longer. It will thicken!) Had enough sauce for twice the cauliflower. Would make again!

This is one of the best recipes from VegTimes I've made so far! If your sauce is runny just cook it will definitely thicken (anyone who has made a bechamel sauce should know that). I boiled/drained the cauliflower and then let it sit for the night in the fridge because I didn't have all of my ingredients. My batch was not runny at all...maybe the fridge time helped? Bottom line, if you make this...they will come (and eat it all).

Awesome sinful dish:)Perhaps I was lucky but my sauce was yummy! I did make a few changes though-2% cheese, light butter, garlic & panko. Great recipe!!

Loved this dish! This is the first time I've tried nutritional yeast and I was pleasantly surprised with the flavour. I'm a veggie loner in my house so I had to cut this recipe down for 2 people (but I ate both portions, haha). I used broccoli instead of cauliflower because of the ridiculous price of cauliflower this time of year. I omitted the cooking liquid, using more milk instead. I also used italian bread crumbs, I'm not sure if that is panko? It was fabulous! Next time, I will add onion powder, and maybe a cooked, cubed potato!

I made this last night and it turned out great! After reading through the comments, I decided to steam the cauliflower. I only had 4 cups chopped, so I halved the recipe. I omitted the egg since it didn't seem necessary, but kept the nutritional yeast. I also subbed in pepper jack since I only had medium cheddar and I didn't think that would have enough "kick". I would recommend tasting the sauce and adding salt and pepper if necessary before mixing in the cauliflower. Next time I'll try it with sharp cheddar and add some powdered mustard for extra flavor. To get the sauce to thicken, just keep simmering and whisking!

Love the concept... had to fine tune. 2 cups of milk is way too much! Steam the cauli, don't boil... and cut the liquid way down. Skip the cooking water, used less than a cup of milk (maybe 3/4 c)... much more creamy. Add more spice.. more garlic, salt, pepper....

We loved it but I have an aversion to garlic with cruciferous veggies unless there are a lot of east indian spices involved too. I replaced the garlic with a sliced medium yellow onion. I sauteed it until slightly carmelized then added it to the creamed sauce. It was yummy, great texture and flavour, reminded me of my Mum's Mac n' Cheese from high school days before we discovered we were all sensitive to wheat!!!! My husband requested it be added to our fav food list.

I added red bell pepper for color but otherwise made as written. Very delicious! I've never cooked with nutritional yeast. Served it with meatloaf which complimented it well.

I made this once and it was delicious. Does anyone know how well this keeps if made a day ahead and then reheated?

Very good! Added some noodles too and everyone liked it.

Really tasty!!!!

Nutritional yeast is hard to come by in this area, so I used my substitution bible and it suggested using Parmesan. It tasted great. We didn't have fresh bread in the house so I used Panko breadcrumbs for the top and soymilk in place of cow's milk. Made a great side dish with green beans and a veggie burger!