cauliflower cheese Recipes

cauliflower cheese

What, you’ve never had cauliflower cheese before? Why, it’s right up there on the American Heart Association’s recommended diet, above the kale and below the oat bran. Okay, well, maybe just the cauliflower is. I realize this dish may sound strange if you’ve never heard of it. The first time I saw it on a menu in the UK last fall, I thought a word was missing, perhaps “with” or “and.” I mean, you cannot make cheese out of cauliflower or vice-versa, or at least I hope not.* And then I tried it, bubbling and brown in a small ramekin aside my roast** at a tiny Inn in the middle of nowhere that looks like something you’d see in a Bridget Jones Diary (basically where I learned everything I knew about the UK before I got there, well, that and Morrissey songs) and I stopped talking. I stopped thinking. My heart may or may not have stopped beating for a moment, though I’m sure it was love, not fibrillations. How could it be anything but, when cauliflower florets are draped with a sharp cheddar cheese sauce spiked with mustard and a bit of cayenne and then baked in the oven until bronzed and, wait, what were we talking about again?

cauliflower, spice, s/p, butter, milk, cheese
chopped florets

This is a British dish, if the sharp cheddar, mustard powder, cayenne and charmed name didn’t give it away. I realize that British food has long been a punching bag for other supposedly superior world cuisines, but I found this to be anything but the case. Even if I had, the awesome names of national dishes — toad in the holes, bubble and squeaks, spotted dicks, singing hinnies, jam roly-polys and doorstop sandwiches — would have more than compensated for any failures in the flavor department.

cook until firm-tender

sharp cheddar
rouxs are ugly
cheddar bechamel
spoon the cheese sauce over

I understand you’re very likely thinking, “But I like cauliflower. I can eat it roasted with just salt and pepper! Why would I bury it in a thick layer of cheese sauce?” But I think you’re going about this wrong. Do you know what cauliflower cheese really is? It’s basically low-carb mac-and-cheese. I mean, look what a valiant effort you’ve made in reducing the pasta count in your life! That means you can definitely have it more often. And let’s say you’re shivering in the midst of the 11th cold rainy day of the 23 so far in October, well, I think you owe it to yourself to start right now, for dinner tonight.

cauliflower cheese

* I honestly haven’t recovered from the time someone sent me a recipe for cauliflower pizza crust, which seems a very effective way to get people to dislike both pizza and cauliflower, though I’m apparently in a minority on this delicacy and am likely alienating every last one of you.

** with creamy horseradish sauce and perfectly roasted potatoes and straight-from-the-oven Yorkshire pudding and then a rhubarb custard dessert and is it any wonder I kicked and screamed the whole way back to the U.S.?

One year ago: Spinach and Egg Pizzettes
Two years ago: Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones
Three years ago: Pear, Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble
Four years ago: Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese
Five years ago: Silky Decadent Old-School Chocolate Mousse
Six years ago: Pumpkin Swirl Brownies and A Deep Dark Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Seven years ago: Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
Eight years ago: Spinach Quiche

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Lamb Meatballs with Feta and Lemon
1.5 Years Ago: Spring Vegetable Potstickers
2.5 Years Ago: Bacon, Egg and Leek Risotto
3.5 Years Ago: Sour Cream Cornbread with Aleppo

Cauliflower Cheese

I think a dish like this could have endless variations. You could infuse the milk, warming it, with a bay leaf or minced clove of garlic. You could stir chopped parsley into the sauce for color. If you don’t have dry mustard, you can add two teaspoons smooth Dijon or an English mustard to the sauce along with the cheese. You could sprinkle some plain breadcrumbs on top for extra crunch. Finally, I saw a version online in which the chefs had grilled pork sausages and sliced them up into the dish, baking them with the cheese sauce as well for more of a meal-in-one dish.

Serves 4 as a side

1 medium head (about 2 to 2 1/4 pounds) cauliflower
4 tablespoons (55 grams or 2 ounces) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (30 grams or 1 ounce) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons mustard powder
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper or ground cayenne
2 cups (475 ml) milk, whole is best but low-fat will probably work just fine
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (about 155 grams or 5 1/2 ounces total) grated cheddar, the strongest you can get, preferably English or Irish
Chopped chives or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim cauliflower and remove tough core. Cut into 1 to 2-inch florets. Steam (for about 10 minutes) or par-boil (6 to 7 minutes) florets until firm but tender. Drain, if needed, and spread florets on a towel so that it can wick out as much moisture as possible

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk to combine; cook for 1 minute to ensure you get rid of the floury taste. Add mustard powder and a pinch of cayenne or few grinds of black pepper, and stir to combine. Drizzle in milk in a thin, steady stream, whisking the whole time so that no lumps form. Season with salt and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring with a spoon; mixture should thicken. Stir in 1 1/4 cups cheddar, a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding the next. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.

Spread cauliflower florets in a 2-quart baking ovenproof baking dish. Spoon sauce over florets and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake until until bronzed and bubbly, about 30 minutes. For reference, f I wasn’t in such a rush to get dinner out on the table, I’d have baked mine a minute or two longer, up to 35 minutes.

Sprinkle with herbs, if desired. Eat with abandon.

P.S. A hat tip to Kate, who reminded me earlier this week that this site is way overdue for cauliflower cheese, and immediately solving my what-to-make-for-dinner crisis du jour.

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364 comments on cauliflower cheese

  1. Anna

    My mother has a recipe for something we call cauliflower cheese pie, which I think is very similar to this, only you bake it in a crust made of grated potato. It’s delicious, but more time-consuming this way. It may have originally been a Moosewood recipe, but I’m not sure. Very good though!

  2. Scully

    I have yet to find cheddar I like. Even the double extra sharp from Trader Joe’s is just barely flavorful to me. Can anyone recommend a SUPER DUPER strong cheddah?

  3. You’re definitely not alienating me with your dislike of cauliflower crust pizza! Speaking of the American Heart Association, I’m always thrilled to remember that cauliflower isn’t considered a starchy vegetable, because it certainly tastes like one, and can take the place of one (for me).

  4. Alice

    Good cauliflower cheese is excellent, but a lot of Brits (myself included) are slightly ambivalent about it because it’s a staple of school dinners… served barely warm, congealed and with very little flavor… I’m glad to see it’s getting a rehabiliation!

    Oh, and just a small correction: Jam Roly-Poly!

  5. Emily Xmas

    LOVE it! I’ve never thought to make it at home, so thanks for the recipe, I will be making this soon; my husband loves it. I have to say that, having been in the UK for a few years now, the bad reputation british cuisine has is so undeserved! Have you considered trying you hand at more british food?

  6. Teri

    I’m not sure what I’m more excited about. Another recipe that I can do with my new vegetable love, cauliflower or after perusing the pantry and fridge today I was wondering if sausage and sweet potatoes would go together and per your past recipe guide, it does!!! Thank you twice!

  7. Demelza

    I’m so glad you posted this! Cauliflower cheese is by far the most-requested dish at my foodie family’s Thanksgiving extravaganza, made by my very English husband. He uses (non-GMO) cornstarch instead of the flour to accommodate the gluten-free crowd, but it is sensational, nonetheless, and there are never any leftovers.

  8. I’ve heard of this flavor combination before, thanks to the cauliflower grilled cheese sandwich (with an aioli sauce), but this sounds like a lower-carb version, which I appreciate. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Ilana Erez

    I know that my kids would think that this dish is unnecessary complicated and probably would not touch it, totally disregarding the fact that I myself was sold just at the sight of the first picture. What did yours say?

    1. deb

      Ilana — I told Jacob “tonight is the night you’re finally going to come around to cauliflower” forgetting that he only occasionally likes cheese. I was too ambitious. Verdict: more for us!

  10. Heidi C

    Wow, I was thinking exactly what you said I was. I love roasted cauliflower, why would I add calories with a cheese sauce? But the next line…. you are right! It IS low carb mac and cheese. Pure brilliance, Deb. Love you! Can’t wait to try this.

  11. Isn’t it funny the local foods we take for granted. Cauliflower cheese is my ultimate comfort food, it tastes amazing with some browned off smoky bacon lardons & chopped green spring onions scattered on top!

  12. Susan Salzman

    @Scully, Rachel Ray loves a super duper XXX sharp cheddar that she warns can almost walk around by itself. I don’t remember the name, but I think it’s from New York state and has a “XXX” on it. Check her sites for the name. I’ll do the same.

  13. Cindy Zack

    This is a response to Scully. See if you can find the 7 year Quebec Cheddar. I have a son who is a cheddar “snob” and he loves this one!

  14. Sara

    Oh man, we had great luck with growing cauliflower this year and I was SO TIRED of looking up new recipes and only finding the vegetable as a substitute for some verboten ingredient. WHY CAN’T WE JUST LOVE CAULIFLOWER? So I made a similar dish as this, and your tart (with the mascarpone…mmmm) was a big winner too. Thanks!

  15. My mum and I always used to have cauliflower cheese with a side of grilled bacon for dinner when my dad was away (he’s not a fan). Comfort and nostalgia all in one, it’s still my favourite.

    Scully, try looking for an unpasteurised cheddar if you want a real flavour punch, although frankly I always throw in whatever hard, mature cheese I have to hand so whatever is your favourite would be great I’m sure.

  16. Mel

    @ Scully: Have you tried Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar? I’m from Vermont, and their Extra Sharp is enough for me, but this stuff will put hair on your chest. It takes some doing to get it to melt, though.

  17. Just to clarify, it’s Toad in The Hole. You might not necessarily hear the ‘the’ when we say it, as English is a pretty lazy language! (I’m British, if you can’t tell!) I’ve never even heard of singing hinnies though- maybe it’s a regional thing? Cauliflower cheese is definitely one of my favourites- goes well with a roast, is good for vegetarians and goes well with green vegetables.

  18. Susan B.

    When I was a kid, my family lived in London and I remember my mom clipped a recipe by Delia Smith for cauliflower macaroni and cheese from the newspaper. If I remember correctly, you boil the cauliflower with the macaroni. As a kid (and at the time not a lover of cauliflower), I thought it was okay but mostly that it gave the macaroni a funny taste. but now that I adore cauliflower, I think this recipe sounds amazing!

  19. I make this every year for Thanksgiving, but I make a checkerboard with cauliflower and broccoli. Awesome.

    (The cauliflower pizza crust thing is disgusting, ditto cauliflower risotto, etc. Let’s just eat cauliflower for goodness sake!)

  20. Heather

    Last year I made ina gartens cauliflower gratin for the holidays and it was delish. Your sauce sounds even better. I’m test driving it this weekend but I might add some whole grain mustard or a few dashes of tabasco to the cheese sauce. Ive had very good results from your recipes so I’m sure this will be awesome!btw the pickled celery is my all time fav and it’s addition to egg salad is pure genius! Those raised waffles? They are like eating breakfast clouds. Thank you!

  21. Eliza

    Could we just roast the cauliflower a bit first, instead of infusing it with all that water? How might this change the texture of this dish?

    1. deb

      Eliza — In the final baking dish, even. You could probably roast it for 15 to 20 minutes in the heated oven while making the sauce. I was going to approach it this way, then rationalized that either way, I’d need two dishes (a pot and a baking dish) so I might as well go with the faster method. Still roasted would be lovely.

  22. I can’t tell you how nice it is for me to hear you speak so highly of British cooking. Over the years I used to get pretty tired of being told how terrible our food was, by people who had never even set foot in the UK. My reply was always that they had never grown up with my Mother’s cooking, or many more like her. This hasn’t happened in a long time thankfully, so maybe our reputation is finally getting the recognition it deserves, thanks to people like you. I also grew up on Cauliflower Cheese and this recipe sounds delicious and very near to how Mum made hers. Funnily enough I had a craving for this dish last week and yesterday actually bought a cauliflower. And then I read your recipe. Thanks so much for sharing it. I have all the ingredients and will try it tonight.

  23. Susan

    It must be my age. I used to always use the sharpest cheddar I could get my hands on to punch up whatever cheese sauce recipe I was using. I thought it was the only way to get the cheese flavor into a creamy sauce. Recently I only had a medium cheddar on hand and went ahead and used it for mac and cheese that the family was begging me to make. I loved the result! I couldn’t believe how cheesy it tasted. It had all the flavor I was looking for but without that tangy, sharp bite that I always thought one had to tolerate in order to get the cheese flavor into a creamy base. I can see this recipe using a medium cheddar, easily! The dry mustard was what really deepened the flavor. Go Coleman’s!

  24. I’m glad I know before I tried to make that cauli pizza crust. Someone once convinced me to make mashed cauliflower and it tasted like a bowl of farts. Yes, even with cheese and salt and such.

  25. Jeff

    Oy the timing! Last night I made a cauliflower pizza crust, and Deb, I agree with you 100%. It was the saddest thing I’ve made in years and I love both cauliflower and pizza. Thank you for being you. YOUR recipe, on the other hand, celebrates cauliflower for what it is and does not try to force it to be something it’s not. Now out to the store to get some cauliflower redemption…

  26. theresa

    for the cheddah: Oscar’s Adirondack Smokehouse (oscarsadksmokehouse.com/cheese/sharp-cheese)
    The 3 year old counter cheddar or the 5 year old XXX aged cheddar.
    Have not tried (but will soon) the 7 year old aged cheddar.
    both are delish.

  27. This is amazing and I know it’s utterly delicious. And, I’m with you on the cauliflower pizza crust; which, in the end, is neither cauliflower or pizza crust in any identifiable form.

  28. I found a casseroles cookbook from the 1970s this past summer and bookmarked a cauliflower dish. Ended up making it this past weekend. Boiled whole. Roux. And then you take chopped egg, capers, gherkins and some of the cauliflower innards and mix it into the roux. Then you pour all that on top of the still whole vegetable, more cheese and into the oven for a half hour. Rich said you could practically taste the macrame in the dish it was so 1970s. The recipe was written up in metrics — it was printed in Hong Kong, which I guess was under British rule at the time.

    I still haven’t gotten around to posting the recipe and was considering taking out all the weird add ons, although I really don’t want to. How funny you posted this today. Very random.

  29. Deb! What on earth is a singing hinnie? Please enlighten us ignorant brits who’ve never heard of one (seriously hoping I’m not the only person in the whole country who has never heard of one; this has happened before)

  30. I am right there with you on cauliflower pizza crust, what perverse soul thought that up then touted it across Pinterest and the internet at large?! I made it for dinner early last spring and to this day if I announce its pizza night I get groans resounding through the house… not that fake pizza right?
    But this! I could certainly support the idea of cauliflower mac and cheese, and never call it that, because really who needs an excuse to smother anything in cheese sauce, this is going into dinner rotation very soon in hopes to redeem my cauli-street cred.

  31. Lorrie

    I have a giant head of cauliflower sitting on my counter to make soup tonight in rainy NYC. Would switch to this recipe if I had the correct cheese, only have the extra sharp cracker barrel, but putting on my to-make list asap.

  32. Marty

    Scully, you might try the Welsh Cheddar from Costco. It’s pretty good. Usually, however, I use Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar from our local Fred Meyer, but I see it’s available on Amazon too.

  33. Johanna

    There is a similar recipe on Americas test kitchen. They suggest cooking the raw cauliflower in the sauce, then putting in the cheese and baking it. It is outrageously delicious. I also use cornstarch instead of flour for my gluten free family and it works just perfectly.

  34. I am so excited you’ve recently discovered cauliflower cheese and mesmerised that you don’t have it America. It’s such a staple of winter food in England and has kept me fed throughout years of student poverty and first jobs. I like to add bacon or sweated leeks or sausage meat or different mustards or different cheese or crushed crisps or breadcrumbs on the very top. Some people make it with broccoli in but I think broccoli is too absorbent for the cheese sauce. Goes kinda squidgy!
    The person who said that they weren’t sure about boiling the cauli, it’s only really a blanche so it should keep a bit of crunch.
    I HATE macaroni and cheese so I don’t know what I’d do without cauliflower!
    Now craving this! xx

  35. Sarah

    Also good with a couple of halved hard boiled eggs added (which is what I insisted on when I was a teenager and couldn’t be doing with cauliflower). Though strictly speaking that makes it eggs mornay…

  36. Liz

    Another Brit here.

    Lately I’ve been roughly dicing two thick slices of stale crusty bread, putting in a bowl with a sprinkling of salt, a minced garlic clove and a good drizzle of olive oil. Give it a shake about and then sprinkle over the top of the cauliflower cheese about 10 minutes before the end of cooking. It’s like having garlic bread with your cauliflower cheese! (You could just whizz the bread, garlic and oil in your mixer with the chopping attachment on, it would be like breadcrumbs then)

    Also, I steam the broccoli to prevent disintegration.

  37. Gina

    Eve Maria – singing hinnies are from Northumberland, they’re griddle cake type things with currants in, like a cross between drop scones and rock cakes :) they’re delicious! Hinny is a word for a young girl in Geordie-speak.

    I really want cauliflower cheese for tea now.

  38. Kelly

    RHUBARB CUSTARD! Can we talk about THAT next? (Also, I’m rushing to the store on my lunch to grab all of these ingredients. Thanks for dinner!)

  39. jwg

    Since nobody in my house will touch cauliflower and I love it do you think it will be a problem if I eat the whole batch? Are we going to see your new kitchen one of these days?

  40. Lynn

    We call it a “cauliflower bake” and I make it every thanksgiving with sage and thyme, and top it with herbed breadcrumbs for a “stuffing” sort of vibe. Sooooo tasty!
    Sometimes I even get crazy and throw some broccoli in there too. Wild, I know.

  41. Anne

    Oh boy. I have everything I need for this in the fridge and it is only 11:30 (in San Francisco). I am dying! BTW, what is that pan, cast iron? Thanks.

  42. Which brings me to a question I have wondered about. In your broccoli, cheddar and wild rice, the sauce (which is half the quantity of the one here) has an “extra” 2/3 cup broth. Does that recipe work because the grain absorbs the liquid even though it is already cooked? I tried that recipe as written, and it was great, and then I tried it without grain and with extra broccoli and it was watery, hence the question.

    And, while I am at it, let me add this too: I tried your mushroom lasagna as is and it was great, but I tried it once with twice the quantity of mushrooms (and a slightly increased quantity of sauce) and it too became watery, and I didn’t understand why. It has basically the same sauce as the recipe here, just doubled. Is the pasta also absorbing liquid in that case even though it is already cooked, and the increased mushrooms released too much more liquid than the pasta could handle?

    I see that you are specific about drying the cauliflower in this recipe, this could be another factor to consider. Sorry about the long comment — I just feel like I need to crack this “white sauce puzzle.” (Yes, I am an engineer, how did you guess? :)

    In any case, thanks for all your consistently excellent work!

  43. Jessica

    This looks awesome. I make a version of this from an adaptation of a M.F.K. Fisher recipe that involves mascarpone, gruyere, cayenne & white pepper… just in case you want to riff on this a bit more. With some crusty bread, green salad and wine, it’s one of my favorite winter meals ever.

  44. I tried cauliflower tacos once (process cauliflower into small, Rice Crispy sized pieces, then brown and season like ground meat). It turns out that browned cauliflower really doesn’t have textural resemblance to meat and I felt very weird eating it rolled up in a soft tortilla.

  45. Mary

    Personally I want to perfect the cauliflower pizza crust because it’s gluten free and I have a trio of celiac relatives. But that would be the only reason to get a good recipe for it into the repertoire. And cauliflower is generally a cheaper ingredient than a gluten free flower blend.

  46. Awfulknitter

    Have you come across that cauliflower-alfredo sauce that’s been all over some parts of the internet? If you put lots of cheese in, you end up with a cauli-cheese sauce that you can put over things – I like it over spatzle with chunks of ham, all baked in the oven.

  47. Becca

    Ah how I love cauliflower cheese! Also, I love you for the defense of British cooking.

    I like some nutmeg in the cheese sauce. I also really like mixing Jarlsberg, cheddar and parmesan for additional cheesiness.

  48. flowerscat

    @Katherine – you are not alone :) – I have not heard of singing hinnies either. To imagine that I would have gone through life not knowing about singing hinnies if I had not read this post! :) thanks Deb!

  49. Another vote for Cabot! Their cheddar is a favorite of Bostonians looking for a wicked shahp cheese. :)

    Deb, you are not alienating all of us. I consider myself pretty open to trying new foods, and I thought cauliflower pizza crust was horrid. Difficult to get thin, not actually crusty, many problems. I do, however, love a good shredded cauliflower salad with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, but I’ll shoot you daggers if you even think about calling it “rice.” It’s not rice. At all. It’s cauliflower.

    Other things that you can add for even more cheesy flavor are miso and nutritional yeast…one of my favorite comfort meals is steamed broccoli with a macaroni sauce (you gently heat yogurt, miso, nutritional yeast, and grated parm in a small saucepan while broccoli is steaming, and season to taste).

    The other revolutionary way that I’ve used cauliflower is for the creamy part of a creamy chicken pot pie type soup instead of heavy cream. I’m a heavy cream fiend, but in this case, cauliflower is a substitution that gets you 99% there. Plus, it leaves you the calories to add a glass of wine and chive biscuits on the side, which is wonderful.

  50. Oh yum! As kids my sister and I would not eat broccoli or cauliflower without cheese sauce on it, which I’m sure was either Kraft slices or velveeta melted in the microwave with a bit of milk. And now I have a 3-yo who appears to be both picky and have gourmet tastes. She wouldn’t touch broccoli or cauliflower and even cheese wouldn’t change that. I bought a head of purple cauliflower and roasted it with olive oil, salt and sprinkled garlic powder after it was done. She loves it, and purple has to be healthier than white, right?

  51. Jenn

    Mmmmmmmm cauliflower is my bae (that’s for the teens in my life who would be horrified to see me write this if they were on this site) hahaha.

  52. Louize

    Another Brit here who grew up on this and can’t believe the rest of the world doesn’t know it too!! We too invariably had bacon and/or tomato slices on top that would cook under the grill. Yum, I need to make this again soon :)

  53. Catherine

    This post had me laughing out loud. I’m with you on the cauliflower pizza thing…Why would anyone do so much more work for so much less taste?

  54. Yvonne

    Any Barbara Pym fans here? I recently reread her first published novel, Some Tame Gazelle (1950), in which Cauliflower Cheese has a sort of starring role in one funny and quintessentially Pym-esque chapter. Both times I’ve read the book, I’ve CRAVED it wildly…but for some reason never got around to searching for a proper recipe. So happy to see this! Thanks!

  55. Shev

    I grew up on all this good stuff in the UK and your comments cracked me up! Thanks for giving traditional British food a good name! (And did you know there was even a zany cartoon on TV in the 70’s called Rhubarb and Custard?!)

  56. Amy

    This is a staple in our home since we went GF/low carb. My kids LOVE it. I was famous for my mac and cheese and faces fell when I said I was making this instead, but now THIS is a hit! I am with you on cauliflower pizza. We use cauliflower for rice, soup, “mac and cheese”, but the pizza crust was not my favorite. We prefer the Fat Head Pizza crust.GF as well.

  57. We love our cauliflower cheese in Australia too and it never occurred to me that this was a foreign food to Americans. I’ve often found it hard to understand the American passion for macaroni cheese but cauliflower cheese is awesome.

  58. juliet

    I can’t believe this hasn’t made it to the US before now! Cauliflower cheese was a staple in our house growing up (in New Zealand), and great for those weekend lunches where you feel like something more substantial than a sandwich. I usually just microwave the cauli (1 or 2 mins) to take the crunch off, and add (uncooked) broccoli and frozen peas. I also add some parmesan to the cheese sauce, mainly because we tend to have mild cheddar in the fridge. Smoked paprika on top instead of the cayenne is also good. Endless variation, depending on what you have (ham, bacon, sausage, different cheeses even (blue vein makes a nice change)) Enjoy!

  59. Liz

    For the cheese suggestions, I second Dubliner, i used to get it at Costco, Tillamook white aged and Cabot are all good. Since these come in large pieces, the extra is good for the cheese straws Deb has posted elsewhere here. With the kids gone cheese does bto disappear the way it used to. Deb’s cheese straws will make you swoon.

  60. serenpoly

    Years ago, my mom found a recipe for ‘cauliflower cheese with horseradish crumbs’ in some magazine or another, recognized it as a near relative of mac-and-cheese, and tried it. The ‘crumbs’ were actually shards of whole-wheat crackers (I like the Pepperidge Farm ones for this) tossed in butter-and-horseradish before being baked on top of the cauliflower.

    We eventually moved the horseradish into the cheese sauce, but it has remained in my rotation ever since.

  61. MJ

    For most of my childhood I thought that cauliflower cheese was the only legitimate way to eat cauliflower…it was a mighty popular dish here in New Zealand. My aunty used to make it with the toasty buttery cheesy breadcrumbs on top and a touch of nutmeg in the sauce. Yum. A British friend once made me a cabbage version which from memory the cabbage with caraway seeds was baked on the bottom and the sauce over top (with a gratin). I hate caraway seeds and prefer my cabbage raw but it was hands down one of the best vege dishes I ever ate.

  62. Karen UK

    Such a major comfort food in the UK at this time of year. Try a teaspoon of Wholegrain mustard for a delish change in the cheese sauce – Yum!

  63. Pam

    I made a similar dish for my boyfriend’s family for Thanksgiving one year and everyone made fun of me. The only difference was I used Gruyere cheese. I thought it was delicious. Hmmm… maybe if I used cheddar instead.

  64. JP

    I am with you, Deb, in loving food from the UK. I had delicious scones, cottage loaf, Cadberry’s Chocolate (types they do not have/are difficult to find like in the USA like Flake), digestive biscuits, Irish Stew and some of the best fish in the world in the form of fish and chips with malt vinegar. How can anyone complain about the cooking? I would go back just to eat!

  65. CarolJ

    I learned to like cauliflower about 50 years ago from my future mother-in-law (yikes, am I that old?!) who had spent some time in England and served it drenched in a luscious cheddar cheese sauce. So, variations of cauliflower cheese have hit the supper table here often over the years. I was happy to see your defense of British food. How I’d love to be transported back to my favorite tea room for a proper scone or rhubarb crumble with custard.

  66. This sounds so flipping amazing! I mean, my grandma would always drizzle a bit of cheese sauce (ok, melted velveeta) over boiled cauliflower, so cheese and cauliflower isn’t a new combination in my world … but this, this is no comparison! Holy smokes…can’t wait to make it!

  67. Leslie Freeman

    If you really want a treat, sprinkle sauted onions and a couple slices of bacon cut up and fried on top of the cauliflower cheese then brown in the oven. This is one of the best things I learned from living in the UK for 20 years!

  68. Tom

    I was also a victim of the cauliflower pizza hoax. I may never get that taste from my mouth again! We love this and cauliflower rice and mashed cauliflower and anything else wee can do with this blank canvas.

  69. Lauren

    Kelly (#71)- I feel your pain…I have been gently reminding Deb about the “Rhubarb Pie that fell on her kitchen floor” for a long time now. She DID also promise us this wayyyy back, we have it in writing. Can we pleeeease get some Rhubarb treats in the pipeline for April/May Deb? See? I am NOT the only rhubarb fan because others have mentioned it here too..:) It would make this upcoming East Coast winter much easier for us to take if we had that to look forward to in a mere 6 months. Meanwhile, I guess I could just force myself to eat this Cauliflower Cheese. :)

  70. Melinda

    Deb, are you reading these comments about the cauliflower pizza crust? Know what they’re begging you to do? Perfect it!!! Come on, lady-I’m pretty sure you could concoct a version that would make a believer out of us all. And, to be fair, I was told that in order to like it, you have to throw out the pizza comparison altogether. Much like lasagna spaghetti squash, you can’t just sub in a veggie for bread and call it same. When I was told to think of it more as cheesy cauliflower strips (I had it cut) dressed up with toppings, it was much easier to comprehend. But oh please do a version of it-I know you could come up with something that would, in fact, crisp.

  71. Csilla

    Perfect timing! We had a head of cauliflower in our fridge from our farm share and no idea what to do with it…. And then, like MAGIC… this post showed up in my inbox! Thank you! We made it tonight and it is delicious! Mac and Cheese, but with cauliflower! Amazing! My husband says it’s the best cauliflower he’d ever had (but what wouldn’t be delicious covered in cheese sauce?)

  72. Thanks so much for the links to spring recipes for us in the other hemisphere!!! I love your blog and find that as an Australian reading American food blogs I am always out of sync, drooling over recipes featuring avocado and lime and crunchy salady things when it’s actually cold outside and I just want to eat potatoes, or when salad season finally arrives all the blogs are full of pie and stew and well…. cauliflower cheese. This recipe looks damn delicious, and I’ll make it in six months time :) Or on a cold snap!

  73. Also, for any vegans reading this, make a bechamel sauce with chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, and soy milk and it works just as well as cheese in this kind of recipe!

  74. Oh, Deb. Seriously? “Going about this all wrong… Low-carb Mac and Cheese.”

    I loved you already, forever and always, but you’ve truly outdone yourself, here.

    Amen, sister. To all of it. Justification for more roux + cheese. Praise for all that is good and wonderful in British food. (True, it can be terrible. But also, glorious. Hello to a perfect icon of that.) And to fighting rain with sharp cheddar, bronzed and bubbly.

    Bring it.

    Will get this on the hob, soon!

  75. Aarthi

    How did you read my mind? I was craving cauliflower and considering a gratin, but this is so similar and the cheddar sold me. What would you suggest serving this with to make it a vegetarian dinner? Maybe a hearty salad (your kale salad from the book comes to mind)?

  76. Catherine

    God this dish is the best. There’s this Italian-ish restaurant near me that does something called cauliflower gratinata, but boo on that. It’s cauliflower cheese, I don’t care what they say. Cauliflower cheese, and they put bread crumbs on top of it and serve it with bread. As an appetizer. (To me, it’s dinner). I’m drooling now… also, thank you about five million times for sharing this most glorious of English dishes with us. As a certain Ms. Lawson would say, it is utterly more-ish. Enough said.

  77. Crablogger

    Oh my gosh it never occurred to me that cauliflower cheese would not be a widely-known dish in the US. It’s an autumn-winter standard here in Australia too. Kristy, you don’t say where you’re from but I’m guessing north or west, because here in the south-eastern states we’ve been having so many unseasonably cool days that I think cauli cheese might still be perfectly appropriate for dinner!

  78. I had to giggle when I read the ingredients – one that would punch it up – glove of garlic. I know you meant clove, but a glove makes perfect sense – pungent flavor enclosed in a paper mitten. Will definitely try this with Western cheddars Tillamook Black label aged cheddar or Cougar Gold.

  79. Barbara

    I’ve been making this for more than 50 years. Thought I’d invented it (although I put a bit of freshly ground nutmeg in my cheese sauce). My eventual husband always said he decided to propose after I made him meatloaf, cheesy cauliflower and banana cream pie for the first dinner I cooked for him about two months after we met. (You do whatever you have to do).

  80. Annie Miller

    One of my family’s all time favorites – nothing better than a lovely cauliflower with sharp, cheddar-y cream sauce … except making it into a lovely soup with extra milk, sliced mushrooms, chicken (if you’d like) and served with a rustic loaf of toasted garlic bread.

  81. Shayne

    My mother made the same recipe, but she occasionally added egg whites and yolks and souffléd it. With mashed potato, it made for a pleasant meat free dinner.

  82. Sandra

    As Elizabeth said, an Aussie favourite. Great in winter with a lamb roast, some baked potatoes, and minted peas as a gesture to health. DO TRY to make too much cauliflower cheese. Next day, gently fry an onion, pour in some chicken stock and the add the leftover cauliflower cheese. Ten minutes on simmer, a quick flourish of the stick blender, and voila, a great soup for a winter lunch. Hint – when making bechamel, or the sauce as in the recipe, take the saucepan off the heat while you add the first of the liquid to the butter/flour roux, will reduce the risk of lumpiness.

  83. Helen H

    Another Brit here. This is one of my childhood favourites – delicious! Great on its own, or as a side with a roast dinner, especially roast beef. It’s also yummy with a crispy breadcrumb topping as Liz mentioned. I regularly make macaroni and cauliflower cheese, just reduce the amount of macaroni I use and add a head of cauliflower broken into florets.

  84. Petra

    Cauliflower cheese is absolutely brilliant! And the cheese sauce also works perfectly with Brussels Sprouts… I am glad you enjoyed the food when you were in the UK as we do have some extraordinary food. I am, however, slightly surprised you haven’t tried the deep fried Mars bar (an absolute delicacy in Scotland).

  85. MIsmail

    A Colonial legacy has ensured that Cauliflower Gratin is a comfort food classic and a standard supper at our home. One alteration that I like to make and this is for those who like their cauliflower florets a little crunchy is that I don’t steam or boil the cauliflower and just toss the chopped florets post a good wash and dry into a Le Creuset baking dish with the sauce poured over and bake it for an extra 15 so a total of 45 minutes! Also a good French cheese option is a nice Comte instead of Cheddar. Have been a long time reader and a big fan. Thoroughly enjoyed your beautiful cookbook as well – the pictures are a treat!

  86. Another slight correction- we eat doorstop sandwiches in the UK but I would call this a description rather than a name IYKWIM? I haven’t encountered sandwiches sold as ‘doorstops’. They are basically made with thick sliced bread (Tin loaf, sandwich loaf or Bloomer most common) and often quite simple in their fillings. Cheese and Branston Pickle is the classic.

    I have always adored Cauli Cheese. My husband makes a sublime one that several chefs have ‘stolen’ :). The secret as always is to ensure you cook all the flour ‘out’- make sure there is not taste of it, just a slight nuttiness to the roux.

    We also add a grind of nutmeg- this is VERY important. Sometimes we grate some Parmesan over it when it comes out of the oven but this is gilding the lily.

    Eat with roast rare beef, horseradish sauce and those Yorkshire puddings which are a bit like Popovers- an egg, four and milk batter poured into a hot baking tin or shallow muffin cups. Pour some hot beef fat from the roasting tin containing the beef (vital) into the tins and place in the oven then take out when this fat is sizzling and pour in the batter.

  87. Gosh, our humble cauliflower cheese causing such ecstasy! For a supper dish I add carrots and a few small potatoes. Apparently cauliflower cheese is a real delicacy in Greece saved for special occasions and celebrations. Enjoy everyone.

  88. ATG

    Not my thing. I know, I know. But wondering whether you considered sauteeing or roasting the cauliflower first, instead of boiling.

  89. Catherine

    I am American but live in the UK and miss British cheese with a passion when I go back. I used to buy Canadian Black Diamond Cheddar over there, haven’t tried the Cabot cheese.

    Deb, have you heard of rumbledethumps? It sometimes has different things in it, but I put leeks, cabbage and boiled potatoes, pre-cooked, and then mixed together and seasoned, with nutmeg, and with grated cheese on top, then baked. Very comforting in the winter.

  90. Elise

    Ah as a Brit it is lovely to see this dish shared. I read the recipe and immediately started day dreaming about a steaming dish of cauliflower cheese as a side to a roast, or mushed up with potatoes and other veg the next day for a extra special bubble and squeak, or my mums version with half cauliflower half pasta that was a complete meal. I was so engrossed I missed my stop on the tube!

    Thanks!

  91. As an Aussie who moved to Britain this was a staple back home and now still in my new home – love it. For those who are asking Singing Hinnies are a Geordie (Newcastle) griddle cake. They’re a bit like scones that you cook on a griddle not bake. They sort of whistle when you put them on the griddle and people say it’s like singing – the Hinny bit I have no idea :)

  92. 99bonk

    to avoid lumps when making bechamel sauce, warm the milk first. I don’t know why recipes never mention this – it makes a world of difference.

  93. Bill

    Great Cheddars abound in upper NY State–it is the limestone in the ground that flavors the grass that the cows eat and then flavors their milk. Try McCadam or Hellovagood Cheddars (Spelling?) that are one year old. Their flavor is superb and the only problem is that you may eat all the cheese before you start cooking with it. Both (I suspect they really are the same company, but can’t prove it) those companies make the finest cheddars in the world. Remember, it is the ground that flavors the grass that flavors the milk that flavors the cheese. One secret–if you want even sharper cheddar, leave the cheese out of the refrigerator for 24 hours at room temperature. Instant ageing.

  94. PippaS

    And another Brit saying, Hooray for cauliflower cheese! My whole family (including my Brazilian husband, for whom both cauliflower and cheese sauce were totally alien) absolutely love this with crispy-skinned baked potatoes. In fact, all summer they kept saying, why do we never have cauliflower cheese, to which I’d answer – wait till autumn!
    Another tip is to boil the cauliflower with a bay leaf in the water, then use some of the water to replace some of the milk in your sauce. And definitely, definitely heat the milk to almost boiling before adding to the roux – it mixes in easy-peasy. I also like nutmeg in my sauce, rather than cayenne …
    When are we getting a marmalade steamed pudding, Deb?

  95. Sarah

    Like many other British commenters, this is a staple in our house. My 14 month old inhales it by the plate-load and we regularly make a meal of it by adding macaroni and crispy bacon to the mix. EVERYTHING is better with bacon.

  96. H

    A great addition to this is fresh lovage; either a sprig (if you are lucky enough to have it in your garden) parked under the florets in your baking dish, or a small amount finely shredded sprinkled over the finished item. Yum. Happy to see all the international love for this Brit classic.

  97. Sue Winterbottom

    Being British, Cauliflower cheese is my all time favourite as a main meal- but not my husband’s. So I encourage him to go to concerts so that I can prepare this for my supper!It’s made even better by the addition of caramelised onions and sometimes mushrooms if any in the fridge.

  98. Dahlink

    Thanks to Yvonne (#98) and Nicola (#141) for pinpointing the reference to Cauliflower Cheese in Barbara Pym’s Some Tame Gazelle. I went on a Pym binge years ago and clearly remembered the scene with the Cauliflower Cheese, but couldn’t have told you which novel it was. Hold the caterpillar, please!

    My mother used to make something similar years ago–I will have to ask where she found her recipe, because we are not Brits.

  99. Jeri

    How funny. Anytime (which is as often as possible) I prepare vegetables like this, I call it au gratin, and to me that says French, not British. And my Grammy from NJ just called it cauliflower with cheese sauce. Everybody loves cheese, no matter where they’re from. Equally delicious with broccoli, brussels sprouts, turnips, zucchini or whatever else you have lurking in the garden.

  100. Lorelle

    I grew up on this stuff and at 54 years old I still love it! My mum and I always put a sprinkle of nutmeg on top before serving. thanks for reminding me to make some!!

  101. Kristin

    I LOVE cauliflower gratin, and don’t make it as often as I’d like because of the calorie count, but you have saved it with your low-carb mac & cheese comment! Thank you!

  102. Bonnie

    I was glad to see the Barbara Pym reference in the comments. She wrote wonderful novels about life in England, with lots of domestic detail.

    Sadly, the cauliflower cheese in the novel was served (inadvertently) with a dead caterpillar in it, so the seamstress didn’t “fancy” it. (Makes me laugh, that does!)

    I’ve been waiting for a recipe in American measurements, so I’ll be making this soon!

  103. Annie

    Grew up with my mum making this – especially to have with gammon or ham – creamy sauce goes well with the salty pig! These days, I’ve started making the cheese sauce with brown butter and it is EXTRA delicious!

  104. This reminds me of a recipe my Mom and Grandma made for us growing up, except this looks like the grown-up version! They would make a cheesy sauce to top the cauliflower using velveeta. I’ll have to make this for my Mom the next time she’s in town!

  105. This is on my list to try! I have a crush on Cauliflower, because it’s so versatile. I will say though, if it’s not been said already above, I make a mean “Cauliflower Cheese” which is not this recipe, but a vegan cheese sauce made from cauliflower. I’m not vegan, but it’s damn delicious! Thanks for the great recipe, I’m so excited to try it!

  106. Andrea

    I thought by the name of the dish at first that you were actually making vegan cheese! Which actually is a thing made out of cauliflower…but this looks better :)

  107. Sarah

    Cauliflower pizza crust – been there, hated that!!! Now Cauliflower cheese used to be a staple when I lived at home in the UK. My Mum would make it but she would also crumble up Cheese and Onion flavour crisps (chips here) on the top for some crunch. Granted not a healthy addition but did add flavour :) So ymmy, I may have to make this very soon!!

  108. I landed back in California last nights after 3 lovely weeks home in England. So lovely to come back to our food being championed stateside. My version of cauli cheese someone’s includes coarse brown bread crumbs on top along with grated cheese before it goes in the oven. Sometimes I roast the cauli rather than boiling it first too. Oh and don’t get me started on leftover cauli cheese (rare), mushed up, spread on toast and broiled for lunch with a couple of slices of crispy bacon and a splodge of English mustard.

  109. In the entirety of our marriage, I think Cauliflower Cheese is one of only two things my British husband has ever cooked (the other being Yorkshire Puddings). It always seemed so indulgent to me, but I like your line of thinking. Now that I know it’s actually just low-carb mac and cheese I can’t wait to have it again.

  110. deb

    Jab — I think it could get watery if it sits on the cauliflower too long.

    99bonk — I stopped suggesting that people pre-warm the milk a few years ago, when I realized it wasn’t necessary to make a smooth sauce. You just need to add the milk very slowly. It saves a step and dish.

    Catherine — Whoa, that sounds awesome and pretty much wins this post on name alone. Consider it on the to-do list.

    ATG — You absolutely can. You can roast it in the baking dish (lightly oiling it first) for about 20 minutes (until firm/tender; it will finish cooking under the sauce) and then pour the sauce right over. I debated doing this and ended up going with the speed/tradition of boiling it instead, but since you’re then fighting the moisture content, I can definitely see the value of roasting.

    Petra — What?! Okay, I’m coming right back now.

    Robin — Ha! That’s one of my most frequent typos on this site.

  111. Jane M

    I baked this dish LAST NIGHT and yep – winner winner chicken dinner! Living with a TYPE 1 – well it was ALMOST like eating Mac n’ Cheese! Thanks – the hubs loved it! Me too – but I’m a WW – the scale was NOT NICE to me this morning.

  112. Susan S

    We make this dish a lot at our house. If you want to make an impressive presentation of it for guests, boil the entire head of cauliflower whole (remove the leaves, and put the entire head in a large pot of boiling water, upside down). When it’s done, drain and remove and put (right-side up) in an oven-prove dish. Spread rue and cheese on top and bake. It comes out looking like a golden crown!

  113. Helen

    I am aussie and we are very influenced by UK food. I love cheesy cauliflower – we always have it with roast.

    Another awesome thing? Bubble and squeak – all your leftover veges in the fridge (need to be a day old or so), mashed together (you kinda need some potatoes) with an egg, and fried in a pan till crispy. I eat it with a sunny side up egg and it is the most delicious thing ever. Name derives from the bubble of a fish and the squeak of a mouse – i.e. all the leftover parts.

  114. Judy

    Singing Hinnies are sweet griddle cakes from the the north east of England. They ‘sing’ (sizzle) as they hit the hot pan to be cooked.

  115. Allison

    “1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons extra grated cheddar, the strongest you can get, preferably English or Irish” Maybe forgetting a “sharp” in there somewhere?

  116. Tapati

    Cheese and cauliflower also work well in a soup. Even better than potato cheddar soup, I think. I also much prefer cauliflower-pea samoas to potato-pea. While I love potatoes, cauliflower has more flavor. But they do work well together.

  117. Andysnat

    Cauliflower cheese has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, (nearly 60 years). Cauli enhances even the most mundane of cheeses, and any hard cheese will do the trick, but the stronger the better.

    You do realise that you are embarking on an adventure that will ultimately lead to “Broccoli and Stilton soup”

  118. Carolyn

    Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables, but I agree with you completely on the cauliflower pizza crust – I tried it once, and the shredding of it made my house smell like an enormous fart for DAYS. I’ll stick to my steamed-and-buttered (or cheesed), thanks.

  119. Ala

    Love this! I’ve never heard of cauliflower cheese but I’m so down to try a version of this with nutritional yeast instead. It does look gorgeous!

  120. Sue

    I always infuse the milk with onion in the microwave first. Just cut an onion into quarters, and then put the jug of milk with the onion into the microwave to heat through before using the milk for the sauce. It thickens up a bit faster too if you happen to be in a hurry which I often am. Since having read this tip I always make cheese sauce this way. And by the way, the Brits call it Macaroni Cheese (no “and” or “with” ;) ) @Adam just leave out the mustard, not too important. We usually eat it without baking it but it sounds good that way.

  121. Penny

    I’m a bit surprised by all the cauliflower-crust pizza hatred I see here. I’m a low-carber who has found it to be a godsend. I do make what I call fakearoni-and-cheese, but this dish has too much flour (any) and milk to really be low-carb. Sounds yummy though!

  122. becky

    i’m a british transplant living out here in the big ol’ US of A, and now all i want to do is go home for a sunday roast dinner with all the trimmings (yorkshires, cauli cheese, carrots & turnips, lots of gravy) ideally followed by hot pudding and custard! or sticky toffee pudding!
    ps. i’m with you on the pizza front. if i’m going to eat pizza i want it to be cheesy and doughy and meaty. and i’ll worry about the calories tomorrow.

  123. Katy

    Another Brit with a cauliflower cheese addiction, usually with pancetta grilled and crumbled on top. Also good with sun dried tomatoes through the sauce.

    I steam rather than boil my cauliflower, so it’s not wet, and for anyone that can’t take milk, try vegetable stock instead of the milk, just watch it doesn’t get too salty

  124. JP

    All this talk about singing hinnies, but I can’t quite grasp if that is HInnies with a long i sound or Hinnies with a short i sound. The first way is much more amusing ;)

  125. Deb

    Yum, To make this a meal, I made it over a layer of leftover pasta (nothing wrong with mac and cheese!). I’m so happy there is a little leftover.

  126. Jenny

    As a Brit (Scot) I grew up on cauliflower cheese but have gone off it a bit as I got older, I’m more interested in your more novel ways (for me) to eat cauliflower – I loved the slaw recently. Very happy to see a British category though: I’d recommend steak pie with roast potatoes and mushy peas followed by sticky toffee pudding as ways to get through the winter! From my native Scottish food, I think you’d like Aberdeen butteries, potato scones, Empire biscuits made with shortbread, cock-a-leekie soup and cranachan. And I know you’re not keen on fish but cullen skink is delicious, quite like an American chowder.

  127. SallyO

    Wow, I am a total foodie and an even bigger anglophile, but I never heard of this before.I made this today and it was beyond delicious. I am a macaroni and cheese freak, but diabetes in the family makes it a no-no. This was a revelation. I steamed the cauliflower and warmed the milk with a couple of bay leaves and a couple of sprigs of thyme Super easy to do with a large glass pyrex meas cup in the microwave. My béchamel looked a little thick but once it was baked it was perfect. It was the perfect side dish for a ham steak I had in the fridge, light glazed, and a cooling green salad with a lemon/olive oil dressing. Total comfort food without so much of the guilt. Best part is there were leftovers, now trying to decide whether it’s lunch for tomorrow or whether to have more for dinner tomorrow. Thanks Deb, this recipe rules. Next time I might throw some sliced carrots in there.

  128. suzanne

    I’m considering making this as a side dish with your Slow and Low Dry Rub Chicken for guests. Can this dish be made in advance and reheated and still be yummy? Thanks!

    1. deb

      suzanne — It can, but it’s at it’s best the first time the sauce is baked on. I’d just get everything ready and assemble/bake it when needed, rather than using the time to re-heat it.

  129. Zainab Juma

    I’m so glad you had a good culinary experience in the UK. So bored of having to defend it against lazy stereotypes. Cauliflower cheese is one of my favourite things, and it holds up to the same sort of primping that you might add to mac and cheese.

    Finally picked up your book. The UK cover is so pretty! Come back soon!

  130. Sybil

    Scully…I like Kerrigold’s Aged Cheddar. Most other’s are too bland for my tastes. A friend in the UK saw that I shared this recipe and commented that he also likes it made with a gruyere/aged cheddar mixture 50/50…which I will also be trying!

  131. Deb– I’m sold!! Will be making it this weekend for the two of us but hoping to add the sausage in, as indicated in your notes. Am I right that I would grill off the sausages completely first, then fold them in with the cauliflower (vs slicing them raw and hoping they cook along with the cauliflower)? Thanks!!

  132. Christian

    I don’t really love cauliflower if I’m honest, but I’m telling you, cauliflower cheese is the way to go. We usually have it as a main, with the addition of crispy bacon bits on it and some green veg on the side (runner beans are my favourites). OH and it benefits from a crunchy breadcrumb topping. Yes.
    Also someone above says ‘everyone loves cheese, no matter where they’re from’ … Now I love cheese, but there are a whole lot of people from Asia and Africa (and some other places) who can’t tolerate cheese, and who find it totally unbearable and/or undigestible – the Chinese author Xinran has an interesting bit about it in her Good Women of China.

  133. marbarre`

    Oh boy, made this last night as a side for an early Thanksgiving feast for guests who need to be out of the country on Thanksgiving. The dish was scraped clean and just about everyone wanted the recipe…..one couple had seen the post and were so excited to try it. A winner!

  134. Looks so good. I remember having my mind blown a little when I had a cauliflower mac and cheese. I thought it would be watery and unpleasant, instead it made the mac and cheese feel lighter and more balanced.

  135. Cari

    Thanks for the defence of British food (plus if you’re looking for recipes with great names, may I recommend Sussex Pond Pudding, Cullen Skink and Mulligatawney soup?).

    I seem to eat cauliflower cheese at least once a month – though a slightly different method: I usually roast the cauliflower rather than boiling – more interesting flavour plus if you don’t drain the boiled cauli properly you can end up with watery sauce. Infuse the milk with bay, onion and peppercorns, and sprinkle more cheese and some paprika on top. And now I have made myself hungry!

  136. Bella

    Deb, this looks a-maz-ing! One of my part-time jobs is cooking for a family, and I always look at your blog first for inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing so many incredible dishes. They are always enjoyed with lots of “yummy” sounds and head-nodding approvals

  137. Tanya B

    Cauliflower Cheese is how I found out that I actually liked cauliflower. I was at dinner with my friend in Germany at her friend’s house whose mother was from the UK (can we say convoluted?), and this is what was served for dinner. We ate outside in the garden under an awning just like something out of a movie. The sun was setting, I was in ecstasy to speak English with a native speaker, and I inhaled the cauliflower cheese. I can’t wait to make this and go back to that wonderful dinner. Thank you so much for sharing this and reminding me of that fantastic night.

  138. JC555

    I made the Harissa paste from the previous post and this cauliflower cheese today. Both are delicious! Deb, you said use the Harissa on “anything” so I took you at your word and dabbed some on the cauliflower cheese servings. Mmmmm mmmmm. Excellent! Maybe I’ll try stirring some into the cheese sauce next time.

  139. NancyB

    Last Thanksgiving with lots of the family avoiding carbs, I did a cauliflower cheese with a pureed cauliflower sauce. Started with 2 heads of cauliflower, cooked both, pureed one with a little bit of stock (the immersion blender in a deep container did the trick), then added the cheese and poured it over the other set of cauliflower florets. Real no-carb cauliflower cheese…though it got a little bit watery, and I think stirring in just a bit of instant-blending flour would help with that.

    After reading your version and comments, I’m adding mustard and maybe a bit of Tabasco to my sauce next time, and roasting the cauliflower instead of boiling.

  140. This looks delicious! I love cauliflower. And a big YES to the comment above about eating this with some Harissa paste… great idea!

    By the way, cauliflower pizza crust is actually pretty good!! I’m not gonna pretend it’s pizza (just like “cauliflower mashed potatoes” are NOT mashed potatoes), but it actually tastes really delicious – cauliflower and cheese as a crispy crust, then whatever toppings you like. I suggest you give it a chance! Just don’t think of it as pizza, but as a cauliflower crust topped with yummy things.

  141. The Kitchen Maiden

    I was watching a vlog of my favorite Youtube couple, April & Justin. They had it one time. I thought it was a pretty simple recipe but I didn’t doubt that it may taste good.

  142. Kate

    I laughed when I read this and asked an American colleague at work if Cauli-cheese was really an unknown in the US. She’s now planning to make it as part of a vegetarian thanks giving celebration.

    One tip – You actually don’t need to pre-cook the cauliflower – it will steam under the sauce in the time it takes to get all nice and brown and bubbly. Saves a step and a pot and also minimises the moisture content.

  143. Kate

    I hit post too soon – especially will steam well if you bake it in a slightly smaller but deeper pot – like a ramekin so the sauce envelopes the cauliflower.

  144. This looks amazing, my 4 year old loves cauliflower – he eats the stuff by the handful with no dressing or sauce! I like the richness provided by the cheese but then that’s balanced by the water content in the cauliflower. Definitely on our Christmas table this year!

  145. nobleknits2

    There’s actually a recipe in Mollie Katzen’s newest, The Heart of the Plate, in which she combines mac/cheese and cauliflower cheese – it’s way over the top, but it’s so, so good!

    We were in England 2 summers ago, and still haven’t recovered from how great the food was. We’ve almost stopped going out to eat in our own community, because we got so spoiled by brilliant, fresh, creative food – whether at an inn or pub (hello, White Horse in Chilham and Free Press in Cambridge), or in a cathedral cafe or crypt. Those who think the Brits are still overcooking their veg need to go! My children discovered that they loved roasted beet salad – won’t describe how ugly it was when we visited a high-end spot at home, and the beet salad was made with pickled beets (not pretty at all).

  146. Becky

    This took me home!!! I grew up in the south. This brought me back. I’ve been in Asia with my asian husband and my three asian-born, rice eating children. Tonight I made this with my lamb shoulder and baked sweet potatoes – no rice. My kids thought it was so strange to have thick sauce on veg. Where’s the garlic and soy sauce??? I am so glad you put this up this week. I’m making this again – for myself – for Christmas!

  147. I haven’t had a chance to read all of the comments, but I made this last night and while it was delicious, it was super greasy on top when we took it from the oven. Like a 1/4 inch layer of grease just sitting on top. I soaked it up with a paper towel and it turned out fine, but did anyone else have this problem? I would probably also bump up the amount of cauliflower if I made this again.

  148. J.

    Deb, you never fail to delight. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe!

    Also: I have made SO MANY of your recipes since moving back to the U.S. Midwest after seven years in the Middle East. LOVED the food there, but I’m also happy to return to old favorites and familiar cooking ingredients. I have been making your strata and burst tomato galette over and over, with all the fresh sweet corn we’ve had, and no one ever says no to seconds. Can’t believe how satisfying that galette is for breakfast, with eggs and fresh parsley on the side. Or for lunch, with Turkish cacik (yogurt soup). Also, the broccoli-rice casserole… you’ve been my go-to blog all summer long!

    Nthing the British cooking celebration — I lived in Brighton for six months, long ago, and found the cuisine excellent wherever I traveled through the U.K. and Ireland. I think it’s gotten even better over the years, if possible. I’m so looking forward to exploring recipes for all the foods people have mentioned here. I would add banoffee pie to the list — a favorite of mine!

    Thanks for everything, Deb!

  149. F in NYC

    I’ve had this a fair bit – just called it cauliflower gratin, and sometimes with a mix of crackers/butter/horseradish on top for crunchiness. Always good.

  150. huw rowlands

    You were in Abergavenny last year so you must have had these – best eaten hot straight off the bakestone/griddle when they just melt in your mouth

    Welsh cakes. 225gm flour 1/2tsp spice 1/2tsp baking powder 50-60gm sugar 50gm butter 50gm lard (50gm currants optional) 1 egg milk
    2. Mix together the sugar and flour and spice 3. Rub in fat to the flour/sugar mix. (add fruit optional) 4 . Gradually add the egg/milk, mixing by hand until you have a dough that is firm enough to roll out but soft (you may not need it all) 5. Flour surface & roll out to just under 1/2 inch thick before cutting out 6. Cook on a warm bakestone (low gas) until golden brown on the outside and cooked through in the middle

  151. Natalie

    Deb, thank you for this! My husband and I ate it for dinner last night and the night before, and it was creamy, comforting, cheesy perfection. My husband said the only better cauliflower he’s eaten was deep fried, so that counts for something, right? Anyway, I will definitely be making it again. I’d echo another commenter and say mine needed more cauliflower, maybe up to half a head more (though really, who would say no to a few cauliflower spears floating in so much of this cheese sauce?).

  152. Susan

    posting from the UK…I can’t believe I never realised this dish is British, I guess when you’re so used to something it’s easy to not realise how different or unique it is! nice to get a new perspective on it :)
    As others have already said it’s great with breadcrumbs on top, and bacon bits. Now trying to think of any other uniquely ‘British’ meals that I take for granted…!??

  153. Jill

    AMAZING. We inhaled it over here. Shouldn’t have shared it, is all I’m saying. Should have doubled the recipe! If I were to make it in a bigger dish so the cauliflower and cheese would be about the same amount “deep” if I double the ingredients, think I would need to cook it any longer, or should I be able to keep it around the same cooking time? I’m hoping to have more left over next time around!

  154. jen

    I made this just tonight and added a chopped up onion to the butter because, well, why not? And I can also attest that roasting the cauliflower first results in roasted cheesy goodness.

  155. I do believe I was the one who sent you the cauliflower crust recipe, or rather tweeted in despair that I would never make the mistake of putting my pizza toppings on that travesty again when I could put them on your wonderful crust. I’m sorry to have traumatized you so.

  156. Sofia

    This was amazing! Just made… and ate, this recipe tonight. Sooooooo good! We’ll be using that cheese sauce recipe for other things as well… I can just imagine it with some pretzel bites! Thanks!

  157. Bonnie

    @Kate–thanks for the heads up on not having to pre-cook the cauliflower. I made it tonight, and while quite tasty, the cauliflower was VERY soft even after only boiling for 5 minutes. I think next time I’ll just try drenching it in the tasty cheese sauce and seeing how that comes out.

  158. Irene

    I’m from Sheffield UK and have made this dish regularly for the past 40 odd years. It’s a great favourite in our family, although I have to confess we call it Cauliflower Gratin. Sounds a bit posher but it’s still cauliflower cheese! It’s a very forgiving dish and I make various additions/tweaks all the time. It’s really nice with some sautéed leeks or onions added to the sauce just before it goes in the dish. This is my first post on here after discovering this lovely website.

  159. deb

    Courtney — It sounds like the cheese split. You stirred it in off the heat? (Continuing to cook it can increase the chances that the cheese will split.) Was there anything special about the cheese you used? Sometimes harder/more aged cheeses don’t melt as smoothly, but you would have likely seen that before it went into the oven too.

    handfulofshadows — The cheese should weigh about 5 ounces. Will add remaining weights shortly.

    Laura — I’d grill them in full first.

  160. Lynda

    My mom made something closely related in the 70s: a short-cut gratin using a mayo and dried mustard sauce topped with cheddar and baked. She wasn’t British–grew up in MI; no idea where she got the recipe.

  161. Thanks for the response Deb! I’m sure that was my problem (I stirred in the cheese while the sauce was still on the flame). Should we remove the pot totally from the burner before adding in the cheese? I used an Irish cheddar, so I don’t think it was the cheese…

  162. Nikki

    So glad you like cauliflower cheese, I can’t imagine a roast dinner without it! Recently I’ve been making it with steamed broccoli blended into the sauce, comfort food at it’s best! Hope you come back to the UK soon x

  163. It had never occurred to me before that cauliflower cheese was a British dish. Thank you for the appreciation of our cuisine. When you’re more used to hearing jokes/criticism about British things (including from Brits themselves), it’s rather heart-warming to hear such compliments.

  164. Cauliflower, strangely, is one of the only vegetables my diabetic roommate will eat (the other is broccoli cheese fritters, your recipe), so I’m always super excited to see you post another one!

  165. Sandy

    I am always looking for healthier options to breads, potato’s and other starches. I have used cauliflower in soups, as pizza crust and as a substitute for mashed potato’s, but in place of pasta? Genius! This dish looks absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to serve it to my family. Thank you for sharing!

  166. Ilene

    Mollie Katzen has a cauliflower mac and cheese recipe in her new book, The Heart of the Plate. The base is essentially this dish and then she does add a very small amount of pasta. It’s RIDICULOUS. And by that, I mean, so incredibly delicious. But definitely not healthy. At all.

  167. Nolan

    I made this last night – roasted the cauliflower instead of boiled, added a minced shallot with the butter for the roux, and tore up some buttered toast on top with the cheese (lazy man’s bread crumbs) – it turned out amazing. I will definitely make it again.

  168. barbara

    Made this the other day, with 1/2 block of cream cheese and fresh grated swiss, also added dried onion flakes, rest the same, delicious hot or cold, hot with egg fried or poached on top for breakfast even, oh my, thanks for sharing the recipe, it has so many possibilities….

  169. SandyH

    I make dinner every Tuesday night for my daughter and her husband and their two babies (ages 3 and 9 mo) and just finished making them this lovely cauliflower dish for tonight. I prepped it all the way to putting it in the baking dish, and then my daughter will bake it herself at dinnertime tonight. Simple roasted chicken to go with it! Thanks for the recipe, I grew up eating this, prepared somewhat differently ( my mother left the cauliflower whole and steamed it, then poured the cheese sauce over it and baked.)

  170. Sue T.

    I love reading your posts and your recipes, but I think this one wins for Best Reader Comments. So many variations to try, sources of cheddar cheese, reviews of British food, etc. The comments were (almost) better than the post itself!

  171. Justine

    I made this tonight (without the mustard, as I am anti-mustard) and the resident 3 yo (to her credit, already a cauliflower lover) gobbled it down without stopping to breathe. We used pumpernickel toast to mop up the extra sauce and called it a meal. Next time I’m going to try Kate’s (#220) suggestion of skipping the par-cooking step… you’d think that 30-35 min in the oven would be enough to cook the cauliflower, right?

  172. Totally agree here about cauliflower crust pizza! No need to work so hard when there’s absolutely delicious gluten free crusts out there! This dish looks amazing! AND once done cleaning will be on the list of must makes! Thanks for always inspiring us!

  173. Nicola

    Cauliflower cheese magic aside – thank you so much adding in what you were cooking in the opposite season for all your southern hemisphere fans!

  174. Midge

    I made this last night and it was amazing! I could eat it every day. Even better than mac and cheese. Thank you for a new favorite.

  175. Emma

    I am from the UK and grew up on all the dishes you mentioned in your post. Next week is bonfire night and we will be having toad in the hole, cheesy mash, and cauliflower cheese (I’m giving your recipe a try). Pure heaven! Thanks for bringing one of my favorite dishes to light for others to enjoy :)

  176. Kathryn

    As a Brit abroad, I haven’t thought about cauliflower cheese for ages (not easy to get anything approaching decent cheddar until a couple of months ago). Will definitely have to introduce my hubbie to this. Jamie Oliver has a cauliflower cheese soup in his “Best of British ” cookbook – basically a variant on broccoli & Stilton (sigh, another cheese I can’t get here) – which is also worth a try.

  177. Chelsea

    If only I’d had this in England during my study abroad semester! I totally agree with one commenter: England doesn’t deserve the bad rap it gets for food. I had wonderful dishes while there–Sunday roast dinners being one of the best followed closely by jacket potatoes with delicious toppings, and we mustn’t forget sticky toffee pudding.

  178. Laura

    Deb – Bonfire night is the 5th November every year when we celebrate the foiling of the Gun Powder plot to blow up the House of Lords. Guy Fawlkes and his gang smuggled gun powder into the basement of the Houses of Lords in 1605. They were stopped and the celebration of the king not having been killed was marked by bonfires (large fires of piles of wood) being lit in London.

    It’s traditionally marked in modern times by large firework displays in public parks, where a large bonfire will be lit with an imitation of Guy Fawkes on top (made out of old clothes like a scarecrow).

    Foodwise it’s associated with bonfire toffee (a hard candy made with a molasses type treacle), toffee apples (apples dipped in hard sugar coating and served on a stick), jacket potatoes, baked beans….warm winter food as you’ll have been stood outside for hours for the celebrations.

    All kids in the UK know the rhyme: ‘Remember, remember the 5th of November: gunpowder, treason and plot’.

    More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_Night

  179. ESullins

    Made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious! Unfortunately despite cooking the cauliflower in the microwave without water and then draining it on a towel as directed AND increasing the baking time to 45 minutes, it was a bit watery. Next time I think I’ll try roasting the cauliflower, pressing it a bit, or using a wider, shallower 2 qt baking dish.

  180. Oh such a good old home favorite Mum used to accompany the lamb roast on a Sunday! Thaks for the trip down memory lane, it’s on my list for this Sunday’s dinner YUM!

  181. Michelle

    Made this last night for my husband!!!!!! Didn’t have the cayenne pepper (bummer) but the black pepper worked just fine…husband fell in love with this! Now I can make this and not the processed cheese variety that he normally wants…hee hee. Thanks again for all of these yummy dishes:)

  182. Christine b.

    I made a version of this for my my work immediately after seeing your post(co-op w/ a hot bar) using smoked pimento cheese and sliced andouille(what we had around) topped with breadcrumbs. turned out great! would love to try it by the recipe next time.

  183. Lynette

    I made this tonight and the flavor and everything was sooo awesome!!! I would love to make this for Thanksgiving. My daughter and her family are Glutten Free and I have never made a rue with cornstarch so I am lost. When/how do I add the cornstarch slush to this to thicken it?? Would you just add to the melted butter?? Help would be appreciated. Thank you!!

  184. Sue

    My Mum never made a sauce from a roux but did an all-in one. Heat milk with the butter and S&P to boiling then pour onto the Cornflour which you have mixed to a paste with a little of the cold milk before the boiling starts.Return to heat and cook slowly till thickened. Works every time. Great for gluten intolerant.

  185. I tried this yesterday and to be honest turned out to be superb, my daughter liked it very much she generally don’t eat cauliflower but as it was cheesy she ate it. Thanks for recipe.

  186. Helen

    I sooo want to make this, especially after reading all the comments. We are avoiding dairy at home, right now, so I may have to make it to take to Thanksgiving Dinner with the Michigan relatives, since there were so many comments about it being a holiday staple.
    Deb, if you ever do Scottish recipes, and want a Cock-a-leekie soup recipe, have a look at Martha Stewart Living’s version. It is a delicious chicken-leek-barley soup. Among other things, you could improve it by saying how many CUPS of sliced leeks to have on hand, instead of how many leeks. I make it without the slivered prunes, and everyone loves it, including our granddaughter (who was 6 months old when she had it first). I mush up the good bits from the soup with a baby food grinder (small hand food mill), and it’s one of her favorites.

  187. Helen

    Forgot to add, when the grandbaby can have dairy, we will be eating your Cauliflower Cheese on a regular basis. Right now, even second-hand dairy (she’s breastfeeding) makes her very cranky.

  188. sharon from Scotland

    It’s been so nice reading all the good comments about cauliflower cheese, I only make it for friends, (I live by myself and can’t be trusted around a full dish of this stuff). I always make it with cornstarch, for gluten free friends, and it turns out a treat………….don’t forget a good scraping of nutmeg

  189. Oh duddddde(ette), that golden top just swept me off my feet! I love to eat pasta quality dishes that actually have no pasta and just veggies. I think cauliflower is one of those extremely versatile veggies that can pass as meat, noodles, rice, and the list is endless. :D Sounds so yummy btw…

  190. Stephen

    I love cauliflower cheese. Another delicious addition is to cook some smoked haddock and put over the top of the cauliflower covering with some sauce and then baking in the oven as normal.

  191. Caitlin

    I loved this! I subbed out some of the cheddar for some gruyere, because that’s what I had in my fridge. Plus, everything is better with gruyere and added some nutmeg because I seem to be incapable of eating gruyere without it. Topped it with some old white bread that I made into bread crumbs and it was so good. I thought it tasted like my childhood, so I called my mom, and she did used to make this for us. Now I know where my lifetime love of cauliflower came from – early exposure to cauliflower drenched in cheese.

  192. Nicole

    Hey, in the absence of mustard I added dill and a tiny pinch of cloves, which sounds ‘interesting’ but was lovely. Then it felt like it was missing something so I added a bit of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce, and was truly yum! I am also currently living in Switzerland so my cheeses where Gruyere and Emmental cheese. Gruyere has the sharp potency, like the British Cheddar (although a totally different flavour of course).

  193. Valerie

    Under some challenging conditions: home renovation, and chilling NYC temperatures, I gave this recipe a shot last night using our crockpot and charcoal barbecue.

    Following your recommendation, in place of mustard powder I used Inglehoffer stone ground mustard. Combined with Kingdom Sharp Cheddar and pork chops on the side… this ended up being a miraculously delicious meal. Thanks again Deb!

  194. Christine

    @ESullins, if you read this – I made it and ended up with a watery cauliflower too and I cooked for about 35 minutes because I wanted it browned. So I went to Google and Chow and it seems roasting it for too long with the sauce is the culprit because the cauli continues to cook and release water. Apparently, cook the cauliflower to the texture you prefer, top with cheese and then put it under a hot fire for a short period of time is the way to go.

  195. Leah

    Said with SO much love, this was, legit, the first thing I’ve made from Smitten Kitchen that has ever failed me. It was gross and greasy and un-delicious. I saved it only by making a batch of mac & cheese (light on the sauce) and just incorporating this in; sort of a “hiding the veggie” situation. I don’t know what went wrong, but the sauce separated, the texture of the combination of cauliflower and sauce was grainy and strange, and the whole thing was super oily and unbalanced. Probably all my fault, but if you’ve had a similar result we can commiserate together!

  196. Melissa

    Made this tonight with some yummy Kerrygold grassfed Dubliner cheese. I parboiled my cauli, and drained it for a long time (until dry). Unfortunately, it released a lot of water during the baking, and made my sauce very watery and sort of grainy. Not sure how to fix that, since the cauli was dry going in. Might decide to roast it next time, although honestly, as much as I love a good cheese-sauced anything, for me this was just okay.

  197. Melissa

    Ah, just saw Christine’s comment above about a much shorter baking time — makes total sense to me. Since I have a hard time getting cauli into my kid (and he liked this, grainy watery cheese and all!) I’ll try again with the shorter time (maybe just broil the cheese on the top?) (I also think the butter/flour ratio isn’t the typical for roux — it’s usually 1 part butter for 1 parts flour, no? That might account for it’s seeming to oily for some)

  198. I finally was able to make this tonight, and I was so impressed! Cheese sauce would make almost anything taste good, but this cheese sauce is great! I come from the south, where homemade macaroni and cheese is king, but I honestly like this cheese sauce better than the grainy, bland sauce I ate at special events growing up. (I just won’t tell my aunts!)

  199. Lara

    Looks great! Note that this concept isn’t anything new (just google for cauliflower gratin recipes – I like the Barefoot Contessa one) but I love the idea of cheddar instead of gruyere.

  200. rachel

    I made this last night, and while it was delicious, the ratio of cheese sauce to cauliflower was somewhat overwhelming. I might reduce the milk in future. Also I parboiled the cauliflower and it was quite soft. I might reduce parboiling time to just a few minutes.

  201. Dawn

    I made this last night and it was very very good. The sauce was delicious although I only used a cup of cheese and 1% milk. I sprinkled cheese across the top before putting in the oven so maybe that was about another 2 tablespoons. Love that it is fairly quick to make.

  202. Ellen

    I made this two nights ago, and both my husband I thought it had way too much cheese sauce. My cauliflower head was a normal size, so I think I’ll cut back on the recipe a by half next time. I ran short on 2% milk so topped it off with heavy cream. Used sharp cheddar. Anyway, I will make it again, but with less sauce.

  203. Katie

    I just have to say THANK YOU from a child of the Adirondacks, where the best super sharp cheddar in the world is sourced, to all of the commenters who gave us a shout out. Deb your readers are so with it.

  204. Alex Martin

    Made this tonight with a salad dressed in a bright vinaigrette. Fantastic meal. I don’t think it was too much cheese sauce, I think it was perfect! We sprinkled red pepper flakes on top due to our fetish for spicy food. This dish is definitely a keeper. Thanks!

  205. Pauline

    Hahaha I thought you were being sarcastic when you asked if the readers had never heard of cauliflower cheese before (or cauliflower cheese bake, as we call it) – it’s such a staple here in Australia. In fact, it’s pretty much the only way we eat cauliflower (although I did have it as a soup once, and that was quite delicious). Isn’t it funny how we forget that those ‘every day dishes’ that we regularly cook on a whim can actually be completely foreign and new to other people.

    We make a really similar dish where we swap the cauliflower for sliced potato (potato bake or scalloped potatoes as we’d call it) which is also delicious. And throwing in a bit of ham just makes it all the more delicious.

  206. Beth Eisenberg

    Made this with 20 minute roasted cauliflower, and a bit more of it than you called for as we like it less saucy. It was perfect. I do like warming the milk a bit as the sauce goes faster and it is no extra dishes as it warms in the microwave in its measuring cup.

  207. Alanna S

    I’m finally making this for dinner tonight! It’s bubbling away in the oven and I think everyone is going to love it. Thanks for the great recipe!

  208. Jessica Campbell

    I have been salivating and dreaming about this recipe since you posted it. I plan on making it this weekend and cannot wait!!

  209. Lara

    had something similar seasoned with more exotic curry spices in Nepal, which was a fantastic combination! thanks for the recipe, will try it soon.

  210. Rebecca

    I want to make a cauliflower gratin for Thanksgiving, and given that you have never lead me astray before and that this dish sounds absolutely amazing, I would like to make this one. Any suggestions for making it ahead of time to be a little more Thanksgiving Day prep friendly?

  211. Rasa Dawson

    Hi! I made this last night and my husband, who hates cauliflower, absolutely loved it! It was delish! Quick question – I parboiled the cauliflower for 6 minutes before baking and it was a bit too mushy. Is the recipe supposed to be mushy? Or do you rinse the cauliflower with cold water before baking?

    1. deb

      Rasa — No, I didn’t but I’m starting to wonder if the head I got was extra-firm. I do find that they can range from the farmer’s market. :( I was surprised it needed so long too. A few commenters have since said that the parboiling can be skipped as the 30 minutes in the oven is sufficient but I’m nervous to recommend this until I’ve retested it in my kitchen. Which, given that it involves dinner-approved cheese sauce, will happen very soon.

  212. Nancy in CA

    This will be out of the oven in about five minutes. It, with a glass of wine, will be dinner for two. Our head of cauliflower was a tad on the small side, so this is rather saucy. My mother would steam a whole head of cauliflower on state occasions, and pour cheese sauce over the top. I loved it as a child, I don’t know why I haven’t done this before! Thanks, Deb, for the perfect cozy Friday night dinner.

  213. Jessica Campbell

    I made this tonight and it turned out pretty well! My only issue was that the sauce had too much of a flour-y taste. I didn’t add any extra and whisked it like crazy, but it never quite went away. What would you recommend?

  214. Grace

    Thanks for a simple gluten free recipe featuring cauliflower. I used gluten free flour and I reduced the flour to 3 Tbps. I agree with Nancy that the recipe is rather saucy unless you have a big head of cauliflower. I would make this again with half the sauce so everything is crispier.

  215. Grace

    I forgot to say that I had a similar experience as Rasa. I parboiled for six minutes, baked for over 30 minutes, and my cauliflower was mushy. Next time I would try baking the cauliflower straight or only parboiling for one minute. I know Deb hasn’t tested these other options. Sorry for the second post!

  216. i have made this for years but a slightly different recipe, going to see if this improves the dish. I don’t mind if my cauliflower is mushy, happens sometimes, think it depends on the season

  217. Helen

    The cheese sauce is delicious. Just waiting to see how it tastes after being baked on the cauliflower. I waited and waited until the butter and flour began to bubble, then stirred for one minutes. No floury taste! I don’t think anyone will complain about too much cheese sauce, as I’m serving this with left over meatloaf. Yum, cheese sauce and meatloaf!

  218. Emily

    Hi, I’m sorry if this was already asked, but can this be made ahead of time up to the point of baking? If so, how far ahead of time?
    Thanks!

  219. Maggie

    Hey Deb! I have a Thanksgiving guest with Celiac’s. Should I replace the flour with half the amount of cornstarch, and make a slurry with the milk? And I second questions about making it ahead of time. I’m 35 weeks pregnant and hosting Thanksgiving (what am I, NUTS??), therefore desperate for anything that can be made ahead.

  220. deb

    Gluten-free — Comments #19, 66, 133, 275, 280 and 315 have all made it gluten-free and offer suggestions. Most vote for cornstarch as a replacement.

    Making this ahead — Yikes, I haven’t tried it. I feel like if you want to assemble it a few hours before baking it, that would be okay, but longer, I’d be concerned about the cheese sauce congealing/the cauliflower weeping too much and compromising the texture.

  221. Pam Batts

    Having a lot of cauliflower, decided to do both cheese cauli and panch puran (w/ masoor dal) as dinner tonight. As I ran out of time, chose only this (cheese) recipe, panch puran for later. Didn’t have English/Irish Cheddar on hand, only had Vermont Cheddar and, luckily, Swiss Gruyere. Worked out great! Would do it many times!

  222. Esther

    We always eat this over whole wheat spaghetti. It’s a surprisingly good combo. And probably raises it up a little on the American Heart Association’s list!

  223. Christina

    So I had season 4 of Downton Abbey playing on TV in the background all day yesterday, in anticipation of season 5 starting last night (because I’m super-awesome, you know) and I kid you not, at some point, the servants are eating dinner and someone (maybe Daisy?) plunks down a dish on the table and someone else (maybe Mr. Molesley?) says “Ooh, is that more cauliflower cheese?” and I thought of you! So I guess it’s time I spring this one on my unsuspecting husband.

  224. Kimberly

    I’m on a Smitten Kitchen bender and just made this last night for dinner. Instead of steaming the cauliflower and draining in a towel, I just roasted the cauliflower for about 10 minutes while I made the cheese sauce on the stovetop. Then I added the cheese sauce to the baking dish and popped it back in the oven. I found it needed only 25 minutes in the oven this way, maybe because the cauliflower was already hot? The end results were delicious and the leftovers reheated for lunch wonderfully. Thanks so much again!

  225. Helen herd

    Hi,My mother made this for years-learnt to make it in the UK
    I always wondered why hers was so tasty
    Her tip?
    Add a knob of blue vein(Stilton cheese)to the warm white cheesy sauce right at the end of preparation while it’s still hot and you’re about to pour it over the cauliflower
    Absolutely delicious
    Enjoy:)

  226. Susanne

    I just made this for the first time tonight and I was BLOWN AWAY! I sent a video of the bubbling cheese to a group of my friends (we all trade food pictures since, apparently, nobody else wants to see that because it’s a “silly trend”…their loss!) and they are all drooling over it! I made it in my cast iron and the color came out just perfect! I discovered your website about two weeks ago, much to my sister’s horror since she couldn’t fathom why she hadn’t sent it my way yet, and ever since my entire household has been in an uproar about my delicious cooking.

    Thanks for making me so popular!

  227. steph

    I want to start off by saying that I found this recipe while having an extremely boring day at work. Needless to say that I was dreaming about it until I finally got home. So I took your advice and added sausage to make it a meal. After all I can’t just eat cheese and cauliflower.. Right?! Holy goodness this is amazing!! I made a rookie mistake and didn’t drain my cauliflower completely so it got a little runny. BUT it still was sooooooooooo good :-) I just wanted to keep eating until there was no more. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe!

  228. frog

    I finally got around to making this one last week, because a) I am a shameless Anglophile and actually enjoy British food, and b) I had some chicken sausages in the freezer that needed using up, and I was intrigued by that version you mentioned in your notes.
    After I put the dish in the oven, I called my mama for a check-in chat, and we got to talking about what we were making for dinner, as you do. She’s not so much of an Anglophile, so was unfamiliar w/ cauliflower cheese, and I described it to her, with the added sausages. At the end of the conversation, she said, “What was that called again?”

    “Um, cauliflower cheese… with sausages, I guess,” I replied.

    “Oh!” she said, surprised, “I thought it would be called Bunkies and Wunkies, or something British like that.”

    “Well, it is now!”

    It was also delicious, so I’m sure I’ll be making Bunkies and Wunkies for years to come!

  229. M Stowe

    So much cheese! So delicious! I think next time I’ll double the cauliflower…or see if I can reduce the amount of cheese sauce. I felt guilty eating it and I don’t think that’s a feeling you should have when eating cauliflower. But, have no doubt we enjoyed it and ate every bit, even our super-picky-I-don’t-like-melted-cheese 11 year old (who also conveniently forgets that there’s melted cheese pizza when he’s busy scarfing it down).

  230. YES! When I first visited Germany, I was a vegetarian and they almost always served me cauli and cheese! I never thought to make it again until now. I run a healthy cheese lifestyle blog (www.CheeseSexDeath.com) and I’m totally featuring this. THANK YOU AS ALWAYS!

  231. Elaine

    I will be trying this (finally!) to bring to a potluck this weekend. Deb, since I know you are a fan of the late and lamented Gourmet magazine, just thought I’d mention that their version (as a gratin) called for a topping of panko or saltine crumbs mixed with prepared horseradish. So there it is for the horseradish fans. Gourmet also provided this hint for coring cauliflower: discard the outer leaves, turn the cauliflower stem side up, and cut around the core to remove it. It’s then easier to cut into florets.

  232. sabina

    In my humble opinion, the best way to prepare the cauli is to steam it. Takes no time. I have just rediscovered cauli cheese after many years and I’d forgotten how good it is. Mind you, everything is better smothered in cheese sauce. We use parmesan although I grew up with the cheddar version.

  233. Debra

    Even though making the roux bright back icky memories of Home Arts (where it was called white sauce), I’ll be making this again many times. Cooked the cauliflower in the sauce (had to cover it). Added a slurp of sherry, don’t think that hurt a thing. Came out great, very comforting.

  234. carrie

    Made this tonight for dinner and LOVED it. My only changes were that I used unsweet unflavored almond milk and baked for 40 minutes. Perfect!

  235. Stefanie

    This sounds delicious and similar to something my Mom cooks which is called “Schöne Melusine” (translates to beautiful Melusine” which is a name, apparently). You put a whole cauliflower head in a baking dish, surround it with ground beef prepared as for meat loaf, and pour Cheeseburger sauce on top. Tastes amazing and is technically still low carb :)

  236. Alice Dub

    I’m bookmarking this for possible addition to my Thanksgiving menu. Always looking for good veggies dishes to add. I’m thinking (guessing) that this could be made ahead of time and then popped in the oven to bake before dinner? I always look for Thanksgiving recipes I can make ahead and then just have to do the warming/baking/roasting on the big day.

  237. Gabs

    I made this last night. So heavenly. I served with with pork chops and roasted Brussels sprouts. I will be using this cheese sauce of everything from now on. Grazie mille!

  238. Adrienne

    I just made this wonderful dish and served it to three teenagers- all of whom loved it! I made one change: after gently steaming the cauliflower, rather than draining it on a towel, I tossed it into a hot skillet with about a tablespoon of oil to remove excess moisture and caramelize the florets. Just dump them in, spread them out and don’t touch them until they get brown on one side. I checked them with a little shake of the pan after a few minutes, that’s all. Then, I carried on with the rest of the recipe as usual. I think it just adds so much to the texture and flavor of the cauliflower. Thank you, this was scrummy!

  239. MK

    I made this last night and loved it. I’m enjoying seconds right now for lunch. My 12-yr-old daughter ate it but declined seconds. We receive a strong-tasting cauliflower variety from our CSA and I think this recipe is a keeper. I think it would be a win for adults and kids both in our house if I mixed some elbow noodles in with the cauliflower. I’d be giving in to the love for mac & cheese, but they’d end up eating more total cauliflower than mac. Thanks for keeping us all constantly inspired!

  240. Jenny

    Like Leah, my sauce also separated. What came out of the oven was cauliflower swimming in cheese water with curdled bits on top– not the best. I bit of online research via Chowhound said recipes using exclusively cheddar will nearly always separate to some degree, and that cheddar should be supplemented with gruyere, fontina, and other nice, melty cheeses. And yet this recipe only calls for cheddar?

    It doesn’t seem like too many others here have had this problem, and yet in other places on the Intertubes the problem seems pervasive. What am I doing wrong?

    1. deb

      Jenny — It sounds to me like it might have had more to do with lingering water in the cooked cauliflower, if it had absorbed a lot. Texturally, gruyere, fontina and cheddar all melt about the same, but this shouldn’t be an issue here because we’re not melting them straight; the bechamel provides the thickness/body. (Straight melted cheese always separates.)

  241. Tricia

    Despite being British, I never make a roux-based sauce for cauliflower cheese. I learnt a short-cut a few years ago and have made it that way ever since. I steam the cauliflower until just short of done, which generally keeps it drier (although I think some caulis are just more watery than others), and then spread over it a mixture of mascarpone cheese, grated cheddar, grainy mustard and pepper. Add more grated cheddar on top and place under a hot grill for 10 mins until browned. Easy and delicious.

  242. Carolyn

    Irish/English, I was brought up on this and I was amazed that this was little known in the US. Many cooks are now recommending roasting the veg rather than boiling or steaming before baking with the cheese sauce. It gets rid of the potential water retention problem and gives it a slightly nutty taste (found that out after making it for about 40 years!). Love your site, I know I’m not supposed to go off-topic – just read guidelines before registering) but I do love the way you write. Thanks.

  243.  Papersitter

    I made this tonight, after a long sad day reading about David Bowie and it was that little bit of comfort that made me feel better in multiple ways. Thanks, Deb.

  244. Erika

    I made this on this chilly night when we needed something warm, cheesy, and comforting, but not a *total* belly bomb. Like others have said, I could have easily used double the cauliflower for the same amount of sauce, but nobody complained about just eating the delicious cheese sauce straight out of the servIng dish. I roasted the cauliflower first (which I think contributed to its shrinking) and we loved the increased flavor.

    Also, I reduced both the butter and flour to 3 tablespoons each, used the killer Cabot three-year cheddar sold in two-pound bricks at Costco, and used 2% milk since it was what we had. Thanks for another great recipe.

  245. prinsas

    I love cauliflower and mac & cheese. However, I’ve recently had remove 90% of the “white” (flour, sugar, rice, etc) from my diet for health reasons. Anyway, cauliflower made this way is delish. To make it still delish, but a little more nutritious, I substitute half the white sauce with cooked and pureed butternut squash, about 10-12 oz (adding some nutmeg to the white sauce). And I use 1 C of 2% sharp cheddar + scant 1/4 C grated Parmesan (to sharpen the cheese sauce a bit more). I mix together some panko, butter and a little more Parmesan as a topper. This and some fresh steamed green beans is a comfortable dinner :D

  246. Kathy K

    I watched a Jacques Pepin rerun on PBS recently. He used a combination of Gruyere and Parmesan for his Cauliflower Cheese, both in the dish and to top it off. He said that Emmentaler would also work. I have some of that left over from the holidays, so will be trying that. I may make a separate portion for my granddaughter, adding in some pasta shells and cheddar/jack instead of Emmentaler. She loves mac & cheese!

  247. stephanie

    thumbs up! i roasted the cauliflower for ten minutes on a cookie sheet with seasoned salt & olive oil, and then i dumped it onto some paper towels while i made the sauce. at ten minutes it was just shy of being table ready, which poses a dilemma, as you could bake this without pre-cooking the cauliflower, but then, the cauliflower would release all that liquid into your baked dish.

    in theory, i would just leave the cauliflower in larger pieces. the 2-3″ hunks were cooked perfectly (and are the ones that get nicely browned on top, which is what made me leave it in the oven the full 30ish minutes), but the smaller bits made more of a cauliflower cheese dip consistency. (but of course, cauliflower kind of has a mind of it’s own when you cut it up.) i managed fine eating this with a fork, but although it wasn’t runny at all, i did wish it would set up a little more. i didn’t have the oil slick on top issue some had, but some did seep out from underneath on the plate making a serving spread a bit. if i was serving this to company i’d invest in some mini baking dishes/ramekins/etc to avoid this presentation issue.

    i used half whipping cream and half 2% milk, making sure it thickened up well before adding a combo of kerrygold irish cheddar and a chunk of fontina i had in the fridge from the squash & onion galette awhile back. (which was awesome, btw.) i baked it in this dish my mother gave me, which i only right this minute realized is a pie dish, lol! (she gave it to me full of 7 layer dip, and i have used it for wings, french toast, potatoes, now cauliflower cheese and…basically everything but making a pie.)
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sur-La-Table-Stoneware-MCG1419YELLOW/dp/B00FPWEFXQ

  248. stephanie

    also, i wonder if next time i could do half broccoli? would it hold up the same? (not mixed together, but one side broccoli one side cauliflower.) i hate broccoli but boyperson likes it, and sadly he does not like cauliflower. (though he was a good sport and tried the cauliflower cheese, and even took third and fourth bites, so take that as a compliment :))

  249. It snowed in Toronto (April!!) so I made this last night, and OH MAN it is so good! I was running out of cheese so I used less (prob 3/4 cup) but it was still great- like a cheesy bechamel sauce rather than straight cheese sauce. And I used one head of cauliflower- next time I’ll use two (not that I minded the absolute smother of sauce, but that way it will stretch farther!) Hell, I’ll probably make it again tonight. So good- thank you!!

  250. Charmin

    I finally tried cauliflower pizza crust today. Your thoughts on it from all these months ago were playing through my mind through the process. I wish I’d taken your word for it. Criminal waste of cauliflower and cheese and time. Cauliflower Cheese, however, has been one of my favourites since you posted it. Gorgeous. I’d rather have it than macaroni & cheese any day of the week.

  251. Balbina

    Simply delicious! I noticed that your cheese sauce recipe is very similar to the one I use to make besciamella. The one difference being that I heat the milk up a little which prevents lumps in the sauce all together ;)
    Anyways me and my family are huge fans of your recipes, keep up the good work!