cauliflower gratin

You know, I’ve got to be the only person who misses a day of posting in November because they were too busy actually cooking to sit down and tell you about it. There were cupcakes (coming soon) and a birthday cake that makes the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake look like it is trying hard enough to be gluttonous and there was this technicolor dreamcoat of cauliflower gratin.

like i could resist

Surely I’m not the only one who cannot resist those freakishly-hued cauliflowers, right? But although these were labeled “organic” and “all natural” I had my doubts when I par-boiled the purple and it turned the water a deep blue and I boiled the orange and it managed to get even brighter. Like Cheez-Whiz from a can. Not that we here at the Smitten Kitchen would ever know about such unnatural things.

sourdough breadcrumbsyeah sogloppy cheesy saucein the oven

Anyway, there is something rather brilliant about vegetable gratins. You start out with all of the fixings of a good mac-and-cheese — a roux, a bechamel, a pile of glorious shredded cheese and a little breadcrumbs to help form a top crust — and then you swap out the pasta for a vegetable. Because if there is a vegetable in it, it must be health food, right?

Hoo hoo hee. That said, I think that gratins are any dinner party host’s best friend. They reheat fantastically, or they can be par-cooked and finished as guests arrive. They can easily be made a day in advance and just baked as needed. And, they’re forvgiving if you need to leave them in the oven a bit longer as your always-tardy friends filter in.

They’re also, with an earnest pile of green salad, a great cold-weather weekend lunch. Like, it is so on.

straight from the pan

One year ago: Tiramisu Cake
Two years ago: Apple Pie and the Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake I make every single year.

Cauliflower Gratin
Adapted, barely, from Ina Garten

1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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146 comments on cauliflower gratin

  1. I love nature! This looks so delicious. Not that you can taste the color, but cauliflower becomes so much more interesting and that much more delicious when it is not white. My steamed broccoli suddenly seems much less tasty….

  2. Carrie

    So, I read up, and orange cauliflower has 25x the vitamin A as white cauliflower, while the purple color comes from the same type of antioxidants as are found in red cabbage. (Thankyouverymuch wikipedia…) Very interesting! Now I am that much hungrier for this lovely casserole!

  3. Ohiogirl

    I need to eat this, just this, for dinner. With a glass of really good wine.

    It looks heavenly!

    (Okay, you are making an Ina believer out of me…)

  4. I’ve never seen such crazy-colored cauliflower around here! It’s beautiful, though. (I saw your Flickr pic and thought it was a blueberry dessert. Imagine my surprise!)

  5. You are a genius and the savior of my “what to cook for Thanksgiving” dilemma. The teenage boys scowled heartily when my carbophobic sisters in law (all four of them) nixed my famous mac & cheese side dish (figuring we already had at least 6 other carb dishes for the day). I’ve been casting about for a veggie dish and this will be perfect.
    And no, you aren’t the only one who can’t resist the bright cauliflowers. I wish I could find the blue but I’ve been loving the orange this fall from our CSA!
    Thanks again & happy cooking.

  6. kastinkerbell

    I’ve been a fan of the multi-colored cauliflower for a while (I like the green, too), but seeing the orange and purple in the pan together like that just makes me think of the local NFL team! Ha!

  7. I thought I was a rebellious teen when I deliberately wore purple and orange together. That was about as anarchistic as I got in the 70s, which saw avocado and orange and marigold. Bleck. This is like some kind of prank! In fact, when I saw the above picture of the gratin, it looked like a blueberry crumble and not a cheese festival of unnatural colors. The only time I have made a baked cheese dish that unnatural was when I added blue food dye to my mac n cheese bake….just to tease my sister. She ate it anyway, even though it was Army Green.

  8. Man, even when I’m so proud of myself for finding my own great recipe rather than defaulting to something you recommend, it turns out that you’ve already made it! The pumpkin cheesecake from 2 years ago – it is, I agree, amazing. Oddly, I also made it in a 4-inch springform pan and in a muffin pan. But my cheesecakes came out of the muffin pan without a problem. Maybe because I stuck them in the freezer for a few minutes first?

    Anyway, gratin. I love cauliflower, and cheese, and bechemel, so this looks great.

  9. Low carb food, ahhh! Deb, it makes me so happy when you make these kinds of dishes. That cauli is gorgeous! Will replace the bread crumbs with almond meal bread crumbs. :)

  10. If it weren’t for your amazing, sarcastic writing style…I wouldn’t ever come to this blog (oh well, the recipes and pictures help a bit too) ;)

    Can’t wait to try this dish! Not sure I have ever seen this purple hued cauliflower in my neck of the woods…


  11. well, since cauliflower are a member of the cabbage family, and red cabbage, when boiled turnes BRIGHT BLUE! I wouldn’t worry about it. Looks delish. I made a cauliflower, brussels sprouts and fennel gratin last week.

  12. Aphie

    Northeast farmer’s markets often have wonderful cauliflower in different hues — the purple is fun, but the yellow tastes a bit sweeter than the usual white. Both are a great hit with kids.

    I have to say that the colorful cauliflower is best raw or steamed lightly – almost a waste in a gratin where it’s cooked, then baked and covered in sauce…

  13. HealthChick


    Just thought you might like to know…the pigments that cause the bright orange and purples occur naturally – orange is a carotenoid and purple is anthocyanin (yay finally putting those food science classes to use), but other than spewing food geek-dom I also wanted to let you know that these are water-soluble pigments…which is why the color leeches into the water. Unfortunately, that means a lot of vitamins are lost in the water too…a better way to preserve color and nutrition is by steaming, baking, or roasting the vegetables.

    Your dish looks great btw! I thought it was a blueberry cobbler when I first saw the picture. :)

  14. Maril

    Oooh, why so many former Ina disbelievers on here? Ina rocks! Thank God you’re making converts out of all these people, Deb!

    This really looks cool; purple’s my favorite color, so I think I have no other choice but to try this. I know it’ll taste good but it will be fun to serve too!

  15. Love this recipe! I never really liked cauliflower until a couple of years ago and now I cant get enough of it (I’m making up for lost time) :) Thanks for sharing this!

  16. karen

    omgggggggggggg!!!!!! this is so amazing! PADRES COLORS!!! i have to say thought i’ve never seen anything but white cauliflower. and i live in SOCAL! you’d think we’d have some crazy varieties. mmm this is a perfect future side dish. i’d make it for thanksgiving but i’m already doing Giada’s butternut squash lasgna which is basically also bechamel and cheese. man oh man i cant wait to try this!

  17. it’s so funny to discover your receipes on the other side of the Ocean ! I went on “FOOD BOX” blog and discover your link.
    your cauli is really…purple ! and remeber me the Romanesco cauli (green and strange structure) and the Vitelote potatoe (purple potatoe).
    see you next by the net !
    (sorry for my english, I hope it’s not so bad…)

  18. That looks absolutely delicious!
    I’m going to have to make this for an upcoming Christmas party. I think you just made my husband really happy. He seems to be having cauliflower cravings of late. I bet he’ll love this!

  19. Deb,
    I just want to understand your life. How on earth do you have enough time and energy to make all of this gorgeous food? I suppose you have no kids so that makes for more time but then who eats it all? I can’t live without your blog for constant inspiration. Thank you SO much! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I wish I was joining you. Ours aren’t that great anymore because my brother can’t eat gluten, his girlfriend can’t eat fat and then she and my daughter are vegetarians….though I am most of the time, not on Thanksgiving.

  20. E.J.

    I’m not sure bleeding color is an indication of artificial coloring. Ever get blueberry or even plum stains on your clothes? Look at the color water turns when you boil little red-skinned new potatoes. You’re probably right, someone probably DID artificially color those psychedelic cauliflower, but it doesn’t necessarily follow. And I’m sure the gratin is great with plain old dingy white cauliflower.

  21. I *love* orange cauliflower (and it looks so beautiful in broccoli and cauliflower soup). I munch on it raw at work – it seems to a slightly nutty flavor to it compared to the white. (Or maybe I’m just nutty. Yes, that’s a distinct possibility). My go-to grocery store carries orange, purple and green (romanesco) varieties – they will all be beautiful this yummy dish. Thanks for sharing.

  22. chavi

    how on earth did you know that I have 2 huge heads of cauliflower in my refridgerator??? (I guess that takes the guesswork out of what to make for dinner tomorrow night!)
    PS – I love Ina!!!

  23. Wow! That purple cauliflower looks like it was grown at 3 mile Island. Talk about an electric colour!

    That said, I do love cauliflower concoctions and I’m glad to see more people giving this worthy veggie the air time it deserves.

  24. Oh no, you’re not alone! I also slack on my postings because I just keep cooking instead of writing. I made your pb brownies about a week ago and still haven’t had a chance to write about them… because I made boeuf bourguignon, fougasse, and molten chocolate cake this weekend. Who knows how long it will take me to get to writing about those?!

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! It looks wonderful. I can’t wait to try it!

  25. Wow, I have never heard of purple cauliflower- so cool! It is a pretty freaky color. I wonder if they have it in my local grocery store. I would love to see the look on my husband’s face when I come home with a purple cauliflower!

  26. courtney

    oh for the love of foods that taste so good and render me gassy as all heck! tmi? umm, i’m gonna need to see that cake you spoke of. stat.

  27. Oh pray tell… where did you find purple cauliflower? I’ve had readers asking me on my blog where they can get technicolor cauliflower like Smitten Kitchen posted.

  28. I assure you that you can buy purple and orange organic cauliflower – I grew them in my garden this year and was amazed at the hues. Beautiful.

    I’ve found them at natural food stores – wholefoods..

  29. Kiyomi

    How strange, I made this exact same thing with yellow and purple cauliflower too last week! I found my rainbow hued cauliflower at a local Asian market.

  30. That looks so tasty. I love cauliflower, the boyfriend does not (sigh). I’m already trying to come up with a way of forcing it into his mouth – cheese might help. The purple one looks amazing. I’ve never seen purple cauliflower before.

  31. That is INSANE!! Talk about crazy cauliflower… my family would probably refuse to eat it as no-one here has ever seen anything by WHITE cauliflower. Wonder if we can grow it here (Australia)?? I WANT SOME!!!


  32. Tina

    I’ve never had cauliflower before actually (I know, the shame) but the idea of it being in a mac ‘n’ cheese setting makes it sound more appetizing. And I do like freakishly colored natural foods….hmm.

  33. Nicole M

    Oh how fun! I’ve always wondered how I could use those crazy colored cauliflowers in the store without making a pile of brightly colored steamed mush. I bet you could even get kids to eat this!

  34. Those cauliflower are beautiful!! I’m going to have to look for them next time I’m out and about shopping. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find them in rural Ohio, but it’s worth a shot!

  35. Heidi

    Don’t know what I’d do without my daily “Smitten” fix. You never disappoint. The cauliflower looks spectacular.
    I’m truly thankful for you and your wonderful creations. Happy Thanksgiving!

  36. Wow, colored cauliflower. I’m not sure if I should head for the hills running and screaming. Or throw a party to see it people will actually eat it. I really like Ina’s cauliflower gratin recipe, so I have no doubt yours were delish.

  37. Ok, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the first thing that came to my mind was LSU cauliflower! ;) But seriously, I was trying to figure out one more veggie dish that I could make for Thanksgiving that I can lighten up a little bit. This looks AMAZING. I must head to whole paycheck to get some colored cauliflower to try this!

    Plus, anything with cheese on it, is good in my eyes.

  38. Boy, oh boy, am I thankful for you and this site this Thanksgiving! My gratin is in the oven and I know already this will be the start of a new tradition at our family table. The sauce alone was amazing. Totally worth the search for the blue cauliflower! Many thanks to you for this and all your other awesome recipes!

  39. Amy

    I made this wonderful dish for Thanksgiving. It was the only dish we ran out of! Everyone loved it. Since there were no leftovers, I’ll have to make it again soon. This year, Smitten Kitchen is one of the things I’m thankful for.

  40. Heather

    I made some steamed green cauliflower (apparently a cross between broccoli and cauliflower) with a white cheddar chesse sauce a couple of weeks ago. I loved it! It had such a nice mild flavor. This gratin would be great with the green stuff.

  41. pandanpuddin

    I was at the 99 cent store in Hollywood today and they had both the purple and orange cauliflowers. I could do a big tray of this for just a few bucks.

  42. Mitch

    I just popped a pan of this in the oven–can’t wait to try it in about 20 minutes. Will have for dinner tonight with broiled or baked tilapia, and maybe a salad. Will post a review after I taste it–looking forward to it!

  43. I made something similar to this earlier in the week with white and green cauliflower. My boyfirend E said “if its green cauliflower isn’t it broccoli?”. I then showed him your pretty pictures.

  44. Beques

    WOW! I also live near a 99 cent store in Pasadena, and these brilliant cauliflowers are just 99 cents a HUGE FRESH HEAD. So I made this tonight. I only had heavy cream to work with and Trader Joe’s swiss cheese, but it turned out great. Use panko bread crumbs if you can. This recipe is SUPER FABULOUS, thank you SK again!

  45. Micki

    Yay! Cauliflower is back in season, and this is just what I needed! (BTW, we grow our own purple cauliflower, and have done so with orange in past seasons. And yes, it turns those funky colors all by its own natural self.)

    My mother-in-law has not gotten the hang of “succession planting” so we’ve got three heads of purple cauli sitting on the counter right now. If you should feel inspired to make more purple-cauli recipes and blog about them, I’ll be ready to read them (-:!

  46. LCS

    Thank you for the recipe.

    I’ve made this twice already, which a few variations. Each time on an impulse buy from the supermarket to the colorful cauliflower. I added some rice on the bottom one time and finely chopped onions another time. Either way, it tasted great.

    Thank you again.

  47. Mary Ann Pagano

    Just stumbled onto your site; good god! Everything looks so beautiful and sounds so tasty, it really makes you want to try them, not just read about or look at them. You remind me of my daughter, also a foodie who lives in the East Village, who cooks and bakes in an impossibly small kitchen. That you take the time to share your recipes and insight with the public, that’s our windfall. I will no longer go to the Food Network site for recipes. Yours seem vastly more interesting and sophisticated (without being impractical for a home cook). Thank you!

  48. Janet

    Made this tonight to go with the Romanesco cauli I bought at the farmers’ market on Saturday. And OMG yum! This may be the first time I’ve made bechemel sauce, but it sure as shootin’ won’t be the last.

  49. I also made this for the first time yesterday for my first london thanksgiving with my new blondeboy…and I can see this becoming a holt-piany tradition!! It was so yummy even though I had to substitute for Gruyere with the med. cheddar in the fridge. Thanks for sharing – am sending my cooking dad this link for his collection. xxx

  50. Jessica

    I have had a cauliflower in the fridge for at least a week and decided that it must be eaten before we head out for a long weekend. My husband picked up some steaks that we grilled to have with the cauliflower. I made a couple of substitutions: I didn’t have milk, so I substituted dry milk; and I also used a Pecorino cheese that I had left over from Italy -it was a little sharp, but I totally appreciate that flavor. I think that hearty meal deserves a long walk!

  51. Chloe

    I made this lastnight with a gorgeous purple cauliflower from the farmers’ market, and used shredded 7-year-old cheddar in both the sauce and the topping, since I didn’t have Gruyere or Parmesan. I made it two nights ago and then reheated it; it was phenomenal, and my Mom is taking the rest of it on a picnic tomorrow!

  52. Jean Marie

    Oh, bless your little heart! I have a big cauliflower and a bag of shredded gruyere from something else that I made recently and needed direction. And a recipe. I can always find something here on your site that inspires.

  53. Terteach

    I will most certainly try this gratin, as it is a tad healthier (read: less decadent–wish I knew how to write an original word then strike it out as you do with a more appropriate and ironic one) than my favorite cauliflower gratin, which is in The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, by Julee Russo and the late Sheila Lukins. I make this every year for a multi-family Thanksgiving celebration, where it is so coveted that family members and other attendees have made me copy out the recipe for them in case I meet an early demise because the thought of a cauliflower gratin-less Thanksgiving is too sad to bear. The recipe calls for butter, cream (I try to be good and swap out half and half), cheese and, the kicker, prosciutto. I encourage you to try it once (although my brother swears that he will forever hate me for making him aware of this recipe). Needless to say, I only make it once a year.

  54. Michelle

    Your recipes have not failed me yet, each one I make is received with rave reviews. I’d like to make this gratin for Christmas, but I’m headed to my Mom’s for the day. I see you mentioned par-cooking it. Can you give me an idea for how long? I’d like to make it Christmas Eve, then finish cooking it off fresh for Christmas dinner, but I’m so afraid of it separating. Any advice would be welcome. Thanks and happy holidays!

  55. shari

    I’ll be making this for valentines day :) do I need to pre-boil the cauliflower? I feel like 30 min in the oven will make it mushy?

  56. Hi Deb!
    I know this is an old post, so I’m not sure if you’ll respond to my question. I’m having a dinner party and I’d like to make this lovely little treat in advance. Should I make it and then just reheat it in the oven? Or should I do everything except bake it and then bake it right before dinner? What would you suggest?

    Thanks for your help!

  57. Yum! Made it with white cauliflower– apparently my grocery store is boring. I think next time I’ll roast rather than boil the cauliflower (less water retention). I skipped the breadcrumbs, so just used all the butter in the bechamel. :)

  58. Andrea

    this is one of my favorite vegie casseroles and I’m making it for thanksgiving again, no purple available but I have a nice red dish that makes it look pretty!

  59. Mollie

    Deb, I know it’s the night before Thanksgiving, and you’re probably cooking away… but I was hoping you would be able to maybe give some tips on reheating. This is in the oven right now! I’m wondering what oven temp, and for how long, and also I’m thinking I should cover it in foil? What do you think? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

  60. Rosemary

    I am in Maine this year and wanted to find a way to work lobster into a dish. I cooked a two lobsters and picked the meat, roughly chopped it. I worked it into the gratin sauce and threw in the cauliflower. It totally infused the dish with an amazing lobster flavor and complimented the dish wonderfully. I highly recommend this to anyone who has the opportunity to try it!

  61. Siofra

    Hello somebody! This is in the oven now and I am very excited to FINALLY know what to do with my CSA cauliflower. The bourbon balls that came with my CSA (here in Louisville KY) last week – those I know what to do with. Next looking for delicious uses for butternut squash and turnips!

  62. jqp

    “Adapted from” Ina Garten? Bit of a stretch no? It’s the exact same recipe word for word, with the exception of one character. It read 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, rather than 1/4 cup. Tsk tsk.

  63. Bob Dobolina

    I made the sauce with freshly-grated nutmeg and some parrano I had in the fridge instead of the gruyere and (I’m not kidding), I nearly cried when I tasted it. It made me swoon. I’m not a baker. I’m a griller and a sautéer, but this dish is making me rethink my priorities. This is a beautiful, subtle, perfect dish. I would just recommend that you purchase a fresh nutmeg and grate it into the sauce at the last minute. The depth of flavor from fresh nutmeg is absolutely worth it.

    Thank you so much for this one. It’s perfect.

    PS: Had it with fresh bread and a very nice merlot. An excellent combo.

  64. Bob Dobolina

    PS: Might I suggest you stop criticizing this blog for adapting a great recipe? The use of colored cauliflower is a brilliant improvement. Amateurs borrow–professionals push the cuisine forward.

  65. Laura

    I’m really excited to try this recipe! Do you have any recipes for a ‘mashed’ cauliflower. I tried one for Thanksgiving and it was an epic fail. My husband is willing to try new things…once…you’re recipes are great and i’d like to try to revisit the mashing of cauliflower, but tasty!

  66. Herman Phynes

    Just discovered you after your NPR interview (I think with Brian or Leonard). Still looking for a podcast. I was planning a potato gratin which is a standby for me but would so much rather do the cauliflower thing. Mashed cauliflower and leeks was also an option but I love the make ahead quality of a gratin. I’m hoping with enough cheese and butter in this dish my dinner party guests won’t complain about the difference. Thank you, thank you. I am now one of your followers!

  67. Karen

    I love the colored cauliflowers, however, I think there is a bit of Photo Shop playing here. The colors are not that brilliant. When cooked, they loose much of the color, although, not all. Makes for a great looking photo.
    Our supermarket carries these all the time and I have been buying and playing around with them for a couple of years now

    My favorite thing to do with cauliflower is to mash it, like mashed potatoes. You need to add a good sized potato into the mix for better texture. The colored ones make a pretty presentation. I add lots of garlic chives from my garden too.

    1. deb

      Karen — My old kitchen was very bright, and the saturation may be too strong in the process pictures because I’m very bad at editing photos, but the color of that top photo wasn’t touched. I’m not interested in selling anyone a lie of a recipe or result; it would defeat the purpose of having a site that I hope gets people inspired to cook at home.

  68. Laura

    Hi Deb! I have to tell you that when my boyfriend decided he wanted to start cooking for himself, he told me that, based on what he’s learned from my cooking, the two things he needs to do to cook well are to shop at Trader Joes and read Smitten Kitchen. Last night, for our first meal after moving in together, he picked out the menu: this cauliflower, your book’s short ribs, and your kale & radish salad. It was a beautiful meal that we would have been excited to get at our favorite restaurants. Thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes!

  69. Vicky

    I just tried this tonight and didn’t have bread on hand so I substituted with ground flax for health and it still came out delicious. Thank you/Ina for the recipe!

  70. Jess

    this was so delicious, thank you!!! i’m new to your site and to cooking in general. i used whole wheat flour and panko crumbs instead (because that’s what I had), and I didn’t find as colorful cauliflowers as you, but it still came out (surprisingly) super delicious! thank you for inspiring me to cook more, especially of your recipes :)

  71. Jen W

    Can you recommend a good brand of Gruyere, or give some tips on how to choose? I’ve heard that there are both hard (and smelly like Parmesan) and a softer, milder version, but haven’t seen the latter anywhere. I used the smelly stuff in a recipe by accident once and my family has never forgiven me.

  72. Alison Weiss

    I would like to make this for Thanksgiving. Looks delicious! The pictures look like you used two different colors of cauliflower, but the recipe calls for one head. Did you use 1/2 of each color?

    Also, how many people does this recipe serve as a side dish. I am trying to decide if I should double it since we are having 20 people (children and adults). It looks like it can serve either 8 or 12 people.

    Thanks for the great recipes. Have a great Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.

    1. deb

      Alison — I used half of each. (Honestly, the purple looked terrible in the end. I would totally just use white next time.) It serves 4 to 6 generously. I suspect it would serve 8 to 10 if there are a lot of others sides around. And same to you! Thank you.

  73. Andrea

    I just wanted to say thanks for this recipe, I have been making it for holiday meals probably since you first published it in 2008! It has become my family’s favorite and disappears faster than any other side dish! I made it with smoked gruyere this Thanksgiving and it was amazing! BTW, I only use the white cauliflower….

  74. lpier

    Hi Deb – Made this for Thanksgiving last week and followed the recipe exactly. Flavor was delicious, but no matter how long I baked (or even reheated!) it, there was a persistent watery mess in the bottom of the baking dish. How did you avoid that? Or rather, what did I do wrong?? Since 2008, have you tried roasting the cauliflower, rather than boiling?
    P.S. Can’t tell you how much you’ve inspired my cooking over the years – thank you!

    1. deb

      lpier — I haven’t tried roasting, but I can imagine it would be less watery, if that was an issue. It didn’t come up for me but it’s been a few years since I made it and have no idea how long I drained the cauliflower for or if I spread it out on towels, too, for a while. (Though, I’d normally mention something like that?)

  75. Andrea

    I never boil vegetables, always steam and I wonder why no recipes ever mention steaming, they get less watery and you don’t lose as much of the favor or vitamins…. by the way I really do want to know…..

  76. So I tried this with a layer of rice at the bottom. Topped with the bechamel sauce, cauliflower and the sauce again. Minus cheese, just breadcrumbs – grilled well. The husband liked it too, I’m a happy wife today so many thanks :)

  77. Jeanette

    I made this last night with plain ole white cauliflower—and Asiago instead of Gruyere because that is what I had. To add some color I added a sweet potato cut in thin rounds and also blanched before assembling. I thought it was fantastic and the hubby really liked it, but he is from the Midwest and said it needed more cheese (I hear this a lot…kind of like Deb’s husband always wanting to add chocolate to things, but I am with Alex there, except not for this recipe). Anyway, Easy fix, the next night I just added more Parmesan to the top before reheating. As usual, Deb does it again with a splendid veggie dish!

  78. Nicole

    This is a regular recipe for me, and indeed the credit goes to the amazing Ina Garten. What I want to add is that the recipe is infinitely adaptable and can be even more simplified. Here are my notes:
    -can substitute cheeses based on what I have on hand (yesterday was mozzarella and parm maintaining the same ratios as the recipe states)
    -no need to par-boil the cauliflower. Just throw the raw florets in a baking pan and pour cheese sauce over it so all of the cauliflower is covered. Sometimes I will throw a splash of water in there for good measure

  79. This was a huge hit when I brought it to a Thanksgiving celebration. Made it early in the day and reheated it with no problems. I made two slight modifications: (1) Used Romano instead of Parmesan, mainly because my family likes the more assertive taste; (2) Rather than drizzle melted butter over the top, I melted the final 2 tablespoons of butter and mixed it with the breadcrumbs for a buttered crumb topping. Even without the pretty purple cauliflower, this was delicious.

  80. Sharon

    This is the recipe that made me love cauliflower. I’ve added a little bacon or pancetta as well. When I do that, I brown the bread crumbs in the pork fat. My kids inhale this.

  81. bigmouthmama

    turned out great. roasted the cauliflower instead of boiled, but kept everything else the same. the nutmeg is the KEY to this recipe. loved it.

  82. Joanne DT

    Made this last night for dinner. Amazing and very easy. Only had about 3/4 head of cauli so added a couple of cups cubed squash. Oven roasted the veggies. Would recommend.

  83. Lorie Annarella

    This recipe is delicious. I have used both cheeses and well as using gruyere only. Both were good. I also like using panko instead of soft breadcrumbs. Panko give the gratin a nice crunchy texture on top.

  84. jjjeanie

    I roasted a 2.5-pound cauliflower (and 2 carrots) in my baking pan (9×12), and then just poured the sauce over. Subbed wheat germ for breadcrumbs. Still yummy. Hard to mess this one up!

  85. Lucy D.

    Another winner! So yummy! I always appreciate reading comments for ideas! I used only white cauliflower which was a little under weight so added a couple of carrots cut up. I heated the milk with a large bay leaf, several sprigs of thyme and a couple of partially crushed garlic cloves for a subtle herbal flavor in the background. I took another commenter’s idea and melted the last 2T of butter, mixed with panko and the rest of the cheese for the topping… delicious!! Thanks for this simple and delicious comfort-food dish! I brought it to my daughter’s house for dinner with some braised green beans and a green salad and she said ‘wow, this is the dinner I didn’t know I needed but I definitely needed this!’…! Thanks Deb, and thanks all, for the comments and encouragement always. Such a lovely community here.

    1. Cindy Romero

      I thank JJJeanie for the carrot filler idea, and also the commenter who mentioned roasting the veggies. I did not steam the cauliflower and carrots but roasted them in the baking dish before stirring in the sauce and topping with the cheesy buttered panko. I’ll be making this recipe again and again!

  86. Tarrah

    Really, really good! Even my son who would never knowingly eat cauliflower ate it right up! I just used white cauliflower. We will be making this again for sure!

  87. Danita

    I followed the recommendations on roasting the cauliflower vs blanching. I put the cut up cauliflower and a handful of baby carrots I needed to use in the gratin dish, sprayed lightly with avocado oil, salt and pepper. Roasted 15 min at 375 while I prepared cheese sauce. In an effort to use what I had on hand I subbed provolone and pecorino for the cheese. I poured the cheese sauce over roasted veggies and added topping. As others suggested I melted the 2 T of butter to mix with bread crumb/cheese topping. This recipe is very adaptable to what you have on hand. I made the dish a few hours ahead and did final bake that evening with some stuffed chicken breasts. Served with a big salad. Turned out wonderful.