If you are looking for a simple, quick yet extremely delicious side dish for your Sunday roast, Easter lunch, or Thanksgiving table, this Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole (or Cauliflower Cheese) recipe is perfect for you.
I promise this scrumptious British comfort food will turn the whole family into cauliflower lovers!
This delicious roasted cauliflower with cheese is not just a perfect side dish but also a tasty vegetarian main meal when served with some nice crusty bread and green beans on the side.
Why This Recipe Works?
- You can make this delicious Baked Cheesy Cauliflower 3 days in advance and cook it when needed.
- Cauliflower Cheese Bake is the classic side dish for any roast dinner whether it's a family gathering, Christmas dinner, or a weekday meal for two.
- You can serve this roasted cauliflower with cheese as a main vegetarian dish with a bowl of Tomato and Walnut Salad (Gavurdagi Salatasi) or Taboule (Lebanese Tabouli Salad), and some Bazlama (Turkish Flatbread).
- This foolproof Baked Cheesy Cauliflower recipe requires just a few basic ingredients and turns out perfectly every time if you follow the recipe to the letter.
How to Make the Perfect Béchamel?
Béchamel is one of the 5 basic sauces of French cuisine.
Although it is very simple to make the béchamel sauce, there are a few basic rules to make it properly:
- Firstly, stir the béchamel constantly: Melt the butter and stir in the flour until it forms a roux, whisk as you add the milk gradually. Make sure to move the whisk around the entire pan, too, whisking around the sides and across the base to stop the sauce from catching.
- Secondly, use the right ratio of ingredients: Use an equal amount of butter and flour to start the roux, and then add the milk gradually until the desired consistency.
- Lastly, add the milk a little at a time: If you add the milk all at once, the roux will get lumpy.
Ingredients You'll Need
Please scroll down to the recipe card below for the full ingredients list with measurements, complete recipe method, recipe notes, and nutritional information.
- Head of cauliflower - It is a healthy and delicious vegetable full of nutrition. Use fresh cauliflower with clear white fleurets for the best results. You can use half broccoli and half cauliflower for this recipe.
- Butter - Use good quality unsalted butter. To make the bechamel, make sure it is totally melted before adding the flour.
- Milk - I use full-fat or semi-skimmed milk for the bechamel sauce. Add it slowly in small batches to the butter and flour mixture for a velvety sauce.
- Nutmeg - It is the perfect spice for the bechamel sauce. I use freshly grated nutmeg for more intense flavor and freshness.
- Cheddar Cheese - Mature or extra mature cheddar adds a bit of kick to the sauce. You can substitute it with gruyere or gouda.
- Breadcrumbs - I use panko breadcrumbs for extra crispness but you can use any type of breadcrumb you have in hand. You can substitute it with cornflakes. Just blitz it in a food processor before using the cornflakes.
How to Make Cauliflower Cheese Bake?
This is a very simple recipe with a few easy steps that you need to follow to achieve the best results:
Parboil the Cauliflower
Trim the whole cauliflower head and then cut it into bite-sized florets.
In a large saucepan, bring enough water to boil and cook the florets for 6 to 8 minutes, until firm but tender.
Put the florets in a colander and let them drain while preparing the cheese sauce.
Prepare the Cheese Sauce
Preheat the fan oven to 180° C (360° F).
To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat and stir in the flour.
Mix well using a wooden spatula or a whisk and cook for two minutes stirring all the time.
Whisk in a little of the warm milk at a time stirring continuously until you have a smooth, velvety sauce.
Cook on low heat for a few minutes stirring all the time until the sauce has thickened and the flour taste has disappeared.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the salt, nutmeg, and 100 g of the shredded cheese.
Although this cauliflower bake is traditionally made with cheddar cheese, you can replace it with any other hard cheese you like.
Combine and Bake
Place the drained cauliflower in a 23 cm (9") Ø oven dish or a casserole dish in a single layer, then pour the creamy sauce over it.
Give it a quick stir to combine the cheesy sauce with the cauliflower.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs on top.
Place the baking dish in the preheated oven.
Cook it for about 35-40 minutes, until it's bubbling inside and golden brown outside.
Top Tips From the Chef
- Cook the cauliflower al dente, overcooked cauliflower makes the Cauliflower Cheese Bake watery.
- Let the cooked cauliflower fleurets drain and ensure they are totally dry before mixing them with the cheese sauce.
- The homemade cheese sauce (a.k.a white sauce) is the most crucial element of this entire recipe. You can refer to the tips above and watch the video on the recipe card to master the art of creating a perfectly silky béchamel sauce every time.
- Don't skimp on the cheese, this deliciously cheesy cauliflower side dish is meant to be cheesy!
How to Serve Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower?
Cauliflower cheese bake is the best accompaniment for roast dinners whether it is a family Sunday lunch or a big celebratory Christmas dinner.
Serve this great side dish along with Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder, Turkey Shepherd's Pie, Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts, Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes, Honey Roasted Carrots and Parsnips, Green Bean Casserole with Fresh Green Beans, and Swede and Carrot Mash for a family feast!
You can serve Baked Cheesy Cauliflower as a main dish along with Bazlama(Turkish Flatbread) or a slice of Homemade Sandwich Bread and a bowl of Greek Cucumber Salad or Tomato and Walnut Salad (Gavurdagi Salatasi).
- Add crispy bacon pieces to the cauliflower and cheese mixture for a smoky, savory twist.
- Combine cauliflower and broccoli florets for a colorful and nutritious casserole.
- Replace some of the cheddar with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary.
- Brown and crumble sausage and layer it between the cauliflower and cheese for a flavorful casserole.
Yes, you can make the cauliflower cheese one or two days in advance and keep it in the fridge until you want to bake it. Make sure you take the dish out of the fridge an hour before baking in order to bring it to room temperature.
You can reheat leftover cauliflower cheese in the microwave for 2 minutes on medium heat.
Alternatively, you can reheat it in a preheated oven for 10 to 25 minutes or until piping hot in an oven-safe dish.
Make sure to cover it with tin foil or a lid to avoid it over-browning.
The main reason your cheesy cauliflower bake goes watery is you probably overcooked your cauliflower.
Also, make sure you let the cauliflower drain and totally dry before adding it to the bechamel sauce.
For more delicious British recipes why not try:
I hope you enjoy the process of making this delicious Cheesy Baked Cauliflower Casserole as much as you enjoy eating it! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet Olsun!
Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole
- 1 large cauliflower (around 800 grams)
- 60 g butter
- 60 g all-purpose flour
- 550 ml milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch of nutmeg
- 150 g cheddar cheese (100 g+50 g separately) (grated)
- 20 g breadcrumbs
- Cut the cauliflower into florets and cook in boiling water for 6-8 minutes, until firm but tender.
- Put the florets in a colander and let them drain while preparing the cheese sauce.
- Preheat the fan oven to 180° C (360° F).
- To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat and stir in the flour.
- Mix well using a wooden spatula or a whisk and cook for two minutes stirring all the time.
- Whisk in a little of the warm milk at a time stirring continuously until you have a smooth, velvety sauce.
- Cook on low heat for few minutes stirring all the time until the sauce has thickened and the flour taste has disappeared.
- Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the salt, nutmeg and 100 g grated cheddar cheese.
- Place the drained cauliflowers in a 23 cm Ø oven dish and pour the cheese sauce over. Give it a quick stir to combine the cheese sauce with the cauliflower.
- Sprinkle the 50 grams grated cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs on top of the cauliflowers.
- Place the oven dish in preheated oven and cook for about 35-40 minutes, until it's bubbling inside and golden brown outside.
- Cook the cauliflower al dente, overcooked cauliflower makes the Cauliflower Cheese watery!
- Let the cauliflower fleurets drain and make sure the are totally dry before adding them to the cheese sauce.
- The cheesy béchamel sauce is the most important part of the whole recipe. Read the tips above and watch the video in the recipe card to learn how to make perfectly silky béchamel sauce each time!
- Don't skimp on the cheese, this delicious British side dish is meant to be cheesy!
- You can make the cauliflower cheese one or two days in advance and keep it in the fridge until you want to bake it.
- Although this dish is traditionally made with cheddar cheese, you can replace it with any other hard cheese you like.
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