Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is creamy, satisfying, and so crave-worthy! This low carb mac and cheese is a delicious substitute for pasta.
My husband and I have been eating a mostly low carb diet for the past 7 weeks. Buh-bye pasta, bread, rice, and potatoes.
Cutting carbs can seem daunting at first. But, including some low carb comfort foods on our menu every now and then has been the key to sticking with it.
This Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a surprisingly delicious substitute for the super carb-laden pasta dish. And, we love it just as much!
Table of contents
- Cauliflower florets – You’ll need 7 to 8 cups of florets from 1 very large or 2 small heads of cauliflower cut down into ½-inch pieces.
- Olive oil and butter – The oil is used to roast the cauliflower and the butter is used to create a roux for the cheese sauce.
- Seasoning – Fine ground sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder, and dry mustard.
- Minced garlic
- All-purpose flour – For the roux. For a gluten-free roux, use an all-purpose gluten-free flour.
- Milk – I use 2% milk but you can use whole milk if you’d like.
- Cheese – Shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
How to Make Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
This is a quick overview of how to make this recipe. Please refer to the recipe card at the end of this post for detailed instructions and amounts.
Roast the Cauliflower
- Season – Place the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast – Roast the cauliflower in a preheated 425 degree F oven for about 20 minutes, or until just beginning to brown and barely fork tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
The baking sheet will be very full but after roasting, the cauliflower shrinks quite a bit as the moisture cooks out.
Make the Cheese Sauce
- Sauté the Garlic – Melt the butter with the remaining oil in a large oven-proof sauté pan. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Flour – Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat under the skillet and cook, whisking, until lightly golden.
- Milk and Seasonings – Add the milk and continue whisking, increase the heat as needed to bring it to a low boil stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with onion powder, dry mustard, and the remaining salt and pepper.
- Finish the Cheese Sauce – Add the cheese and remove the pan from the heat, stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Assemble and Bake the “Mac” and Cheese
- Assemble – Stir in the roasted cauliflower.
- Bake – Transfer the pan to the oven and bake at 400 degrees F until bubbly and golden, about 15 minutes. For a browned top, set the oven to broil at the end of the cooking time for a couple of minutes.
Tips for the Best Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Warm Milk – Warm your milk in the microwave for about a minute before whisking it into the flour. This is key to creating a smooth roux which is the basis for the cheese sauce.
- Chop the Florets – Be sure to chop your cauliflower florets down into very small, 1/2-inch pieces. It should be similar to the size of elbow macaroni or small pasta shells for a more pasta-like experience.
- Roast the Cauliflower – Roasting the cauliflower in advance adds such great flavor and creates the perfect texture for this recipe! It also helps pull out some of the moisture so it won’t water down the cheese sauce and cuts down on the cooking time.
- Fresh Cheese – Use freshly shredded cheese. Bagged, pre-shredded cheese doesn’t not melt as well and can create a grainy texture in the cheese sauce.
- Flavor Variations – Try a combination of cheeses for a different flavor profile. Add a little smoked gouda, pepper Jack, or Gruyere in place of some of the cheddar cheese.
- Gluten Free – Substitute a gluten free all-purpose flour that contains some starch or binders that will thicken the white sauce.
Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- 7 to 8 cups chopped cauliflower florets, ½-inch pieces (from 1 very large or 2 small heads cauliflower)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ¾ teaspoon fine ground sea salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, for gluten free use all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 2 cups 2% milk, warmed for 1 minute in the microwave
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Roast the Cauliflower
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet (baking sheet will be very full). Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss it with your hands to coat it well with the oil then spread out evenly over the baking sheet.
- Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just beginning to brown and barely fork tender, stirring with a spatula a couple of times throughout the cooking time. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
Make the Cheese Sauce
- Melt the butter with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch oven-proof saute pan over MEDIUM heat (alternately, you can make the sauce in a large saucepan and transfer to a baking dish). Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to LOW and cook, whisking, for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly golden.
- Add the milk and continue whisking, increase the heat as needed to bring it to a low boil stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with onion powder, dry mustard, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and remaining ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the cheese and remove the pan from the heat, stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Assemble and Bake
- Stir in the roasted cauliflower (if using a saucepan, transfer the mixture to a baking dish). Transfer to the oven and bake at 400 degrees F until bubbly and golden, about 15 minutes. BROIL 2 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned.
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