Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Creamy keto cauliflower mac and cheese is an easy weeknight side dish that your whole family will enjoy.  In this recipe for cauliflower mac and cheese, bite-size pieces of cauliflower are covered with creamy cheese sauce for a keto-friendly, gluten-free spin on this comfort food classic. If you’ve been missing pasta on the keto diet, give this delicious low-carb mac and cheese a try!

keto cauliflower mac and cheese

Easy Keto Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese

Here’s an easy recipe that puts a twist on the classic comfort-food dish of mac and cheese.  To keep it low carb, we substitute cauliflower for regular noodles, and made a creamy homemade cheese sauce — with no roux.

Like many low-carb pasta alternatives, low-carb mac and cheese recipes substitute veggies for macaroni noodles.  If you’ve ever tried zoodles, spaghetti squash, or shirataki noodles — you already know about this trick.

Let’s be real, I know that cauliflower isn’t pasta or potatoes — but it can be a really good substitute for those things when you have a great recipe!

With this quick recipe, you’ll be able to satisfy your comfort food craving, stay in ketosis, and serve your family a healthy meal made from wholesome ingredients. 

This cauliflower mac is ready in a total time of just 40 minutes — and most of that time is hands-off in the oven.  Enjoy it as a side dish, or mix in a little grilled chicken for a complete meal.

cauliflower in a casserole dish

Ingredients in Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

This keto recipe combines cauliflower with a homemade cheese sauce to create a delicious version of keto mac and cheese.

Cauliflower is the main ingredient in this keto mac and cheese recipe. As you may know, cauliflower is a common ingredient in keto recipes.  It’s so versatile! You can make it into mashed potatoes, pizza crusts, and cauli-rice.

But for me, the best part of this delicious mac and cheese recipe is the cheesy sauce. For the sauce, you’ll combine a blend of cheese and heavy cream to make a thick and rich sauce to compliment the cauliflower.

To make the cheese sauce, you’ll need

  • heavy cream
  • cheddar cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • garlic powder
  • mustard powder, or a couple of teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

Depending on how salty the cheeses you use are, you may not need to add much extra salt!  That’s why I always recommend tasting the dish for seasoning before adding extra salt.

Variations on Keto Mac and Cheese

You can follow this recipe as I’ve written it, or use your own favorite ingredients to make a unique variation on keto mac and cheese.

  • Use different cheeses: You can use any blend of melting cheeses that you like.  Gruyere is a classic choice. You can also use fontina, mozzarella, or even pepper jack for a spicier flavor.
  • Use other veggies: Don’t limit yourself to just cauliflower. You could make a broccoli and cheese casserole by substituting steamed broccoli florets.  Or make a mixed veggie casserole with cauliflower, mushrooms, and bell peppers.  Your choice!
  • Use roasted cauliflower. If you want, you can roast the cauliflower instead of boiling it.  This is also a good way to use up any leftover cauliflower you may have.
  • Add different herbs and spices: Some thyme would be nice in this dish.  You could add smoked paprika for a smokey flavor.  Or add in some chili and cayenne pepper for a spicer mac and cheese.
  • Add a crispy topping: Instead of breadcrumbs, you can sprinkle some crushed Parmesan crisps (like Whisps) or pork rinds on top of the casserole before baking.  They even make a product called Pork Panko that is a swap for panko breadcrumbs.  You could also add crushed bacon bits on top for even more savory flavor.

cheese sauce poured on cauliflower for keto mac and cheese

How to Make Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

To start, you’ll want to wash your cauliflower, and prep it by cutting it into bite-size pieces.  It’s a bit more work to make pieces that small — but it will go a long way in creating the illusion of pasta noodles.  Then, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the cauliflower florets for about 5 minutes, until they are just tender. 

While the cauliflower is cooking, you can begin the sauce.  In a smaller saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a bare simmer.  It isn’t necessary to boil it — you just need it hot enough to melt the cheese.  Once it’s hot, add the cheeses and the seasonings and whisk well to combine them.  Keep stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened.

When the sauce is smooth and the cauliflower florets are cooked, combine the two.  Pour them into a  greased baking dish, and top with extra cheese.  If you are including a crunchy topping (See the list above), this is the time to add it.  Pop the casserole dish into an oven that’s been pre-heated to 375ºF.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes more, until the sauce is thick and bubbly, and the top of the mac and cheese is starting to brown.

cauliflower topped with cheese sauce and extra cheddar cheese

How to Store and Reheat Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

If you have leftovers, you can store them well-covered in the fridge for about 3 days.  Portions can be reheated in the microwave.

You can also cook this dish ahead of time, and reheat it to serve it later.  Let it cool, and then store well-covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.  In this case, you might want to reheat it in the oven.

You can also assemble the mac and cheese, freeze it, and bake it later.  If freezing to bake later, cover the assembled dish with an airtight lid or double layer of plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months.

baked keto mac and cheese made with cauliflower

Other Keto Side Dishes

If you are looking for other keto side dishes to round out your dinner meal, check out these options:

Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Creamy keto cauliflower mac and cheese is an easy keto side dish that your whole family will enjoy.  Cauliflower is a low carb pasta swap that makes a keto-friendly, gluten-free spin on this comfort food classic.

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp shredded Cheddar
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF and coat a casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and cook cauliflower pieces for 5 minutes, until just tender. Remove from heat and drain well. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat heavy cream to a bare simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and add 1 cup cheddar, parmesan, mustard, garlic, and pepper. Stir well, until smooth. Taste for seasoning, and add salt to taste.
  4. Add cooked cauliflower to cheese mixture and stir to coat. Pour into the baking dish and top with reserved cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 11g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 52mg Sodium: 340mg Carbohydrates: 8g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 4g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 6g
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. Carb count will vary with different ingredients and brands. It should not be considered as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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low-carb and gluten-free cauliflower mac and cheese

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