This Low Carb Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a tasty keto spin on a classic mac and cheese. Enjoy it as an indulgent, calorie-wise side dish or load it up with veggies and bacon for a full meal!
How to Make Low Carb Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Here's exactly how to make this recipe step by step.
- Preheat oven to 450 F then add cauliflower and onions. Toss with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through
- While the cauliflower is roasting, you'll make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter, then add milk, cream cheese and cheddar cheese, whisking to remove lumps. Use low heat and stir for a couple minutes – this cheese sauce is THAT simple!
- By that time you'll be removing the cauliflower from the oven – toss it in cheese sauce then add any mix ins or garnishes.
How to Roast Cauliflower
- Prepare your baking dish by greasing it or covering it with parchment paper.
- Cut the cauliflower into uniform sized pieces and drizzle them with olive oil and some salt and pepper.
- Roast the cauliflower in an oven at 425 degrees F. for 20 minutes. The pieces should be tender and the edges slightly charred.
While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare your cheese sauce. It is very simple to make! You just melt together butter, milk, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese.
Use a light hand when adding the milk because cauliflower does not soak up liquids like starchy pasta does. In fact, the sauce will look very thick. This is how you know it will be perfect on the cauliflower!
The cheese sauce just needs to be warm enough to melt the cheeses. Do not over cook the sauce or the milk will start to curdle. By cooking the cheese sauce at a low temperature, you can ensure that it has enough time to melt and become smooth, but not enough heat to curdle.
What is considered low carb?
Generally, diets of less than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day are considered low carb. However, most people will need to be under 50 grams of carbs a day to see the desired results.
This is the point when the body goes into ketosis. When your body doesn’t have enough glucose to burn for energy, it starts to dip into its fat stores instead. The body always burns glucose, which is found in carbohydrates, first. This is how rapid weight loss happens on a low carb diet.
It's no secret that I'm a giant fan of Mac and Cheese. All you have to do is look at these recipes for my Instant Pot Mac & Cheese or this delish Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. I have a few other mac and cheese recipes too, but I thought I should save you some scrolling LOL!
What are the health benefits of roasted cauliflower?
Cauliflower has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk of cancer. It also has lots of fiber and vitamin C. No other mac and cheese can claim all that!
And of course, by using cauliflower instead of pasta, this dish becomes gluten free.
If you’ve never had roasted cauliflower before, you’ve been missing out! Keep this part of the recipe in mind for a quick and delicious side dish for any meal!
Can you make it with cauliflower rice?
You sure can! You can either chop up a head of cauliflower into super small rice-like pieces or you can go ahead and use pre-packaged cauliflower rice, which is likely your easiest option. My personal preference is to use slightly larger cauliflower florets to soak up the cheese sauce a bit more, but cauliflower rice does work and allows you to get more cheese flavour.
Make sure to use 1 head of cauliflower that's been riced up, or use 4 cups packaged cauliflower rice.
What type of cheese to use
You can technically use any cheese you have on hand to make this recipe! It really doesn't matter too much. I used a mixture of cream cheese and cheddar cheese, in part because cheddar is my favourite, and the cream cheese adds a nice, creamy consistency.
If you don't have cream cheese, you can just leave it out altogether and add the difference in cheddar. Mozzarella, gouda, Swiss, parmesan and just about any cheese you can imagine also make nice additions but I would recommend using a cheese with a stronger flavour profile such as cheddar in order to really get a cheesy taste.
You can always pair the stronger cheese with a lighter cheese such as Swiss or mozzarella – it's a great alternative to the cream cheese since both cheeses are known for their gooey texture, which will add that creaminess you're looking for.
What substitutions can I make in this recipe?
For the Cheese:
If you don’t have cream cheese at home or prefer not to use it, you can use more cheddar in its place. The cream cheese creates a thicker smoother cheese sauce, which is why I always indulge in the cream cheese for this recipe.
For the Milk:
I use 2% milk because it’s what we keep in the house. However, any variety of milk will work just fine. This includes non-dairy nut milk like almond and coconut. If you want something even creamier and more indulgent, you can use half and half or heavy cream.
How do I make cauliflower mac and cheese into a complete meal?
Mac and cheese is often a side dish because it’s traditionally only staches and dairy. This dish is different.
It’s already packed with vegetables as the base.
The cheese has quite a bit of protein, but you can add more. Try some of these additions to your mac and cheese for a one-pot dinner.
- Chicken – try a few different flavor combinations with these shredded chicken recipes
- Ground beef or turkey
- Pork chops, bacon, or ham
- Bell peppers
What do I serve with cauliflower mac and cheese?
You can choose to leave this dish in its perfect state and eat it just the way it is. It can be a healthy, complete meal, but you may want a little something else to go with it.
You could opt for a protein or more vegetables. Try a few of these dishes with the cauliflower mac and cheese.
Storing and reheating this recipe
This recipe makes perfect leftovers! Store in glass containers in the fridge up to 5 days. Sprinkle a little bit of water overtop and microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time. This mac and cheese also heats up really well on the stovetop in a saucepan – just be sure to add a little bit of extra butter or cooking spray to the pot before you heat it up. It's at this point that you can also go ahead and add any add-ins to refresh your leftovers.
Can you freeze cauliflower mac & cheese?
Yes you can! Freeze in glass or foil containers. In foil containers, you can reheat straight from the freezer to the oven – just bake at 375 F for 30 minutes. If microwaving, use glass containers and microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, stirring halfway through.
More low carb cauliflower recipes
If you're obsessed with cauliflower and want to try a few other low carb recipes using it, be sure to check out these other recipes!
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls to pack up individual servings of this cauliflower crust pizza
- Freeze this recipe in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
Meal Prep Challenge
If you'd like some more help with meal planning, then you'll love my free 5-day meal prep challenge! Over the course of the challenge, I'll send you a free meal planner and shopping list templates so that you stay on the right track with meal prep (plus more goodies of course!)
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Low Carb Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup light cream cheese
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- Preheat oven to 450 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add cauliflower and onions and toss with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- While cauliflower is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt butter in a large saucepan, then add milk, cream cheese and cheddar cheese, whisking to combine and simmering over low heat for 4-5 minutes until smooth.
- Remove cauliflower from oven and toss in cheese sauce. Garnish with extra shredded cheddar cheese (optional) and chives then serve and enjoy!