If you are looking for a simple, quick yet extremely delicious side dish for your roast dinner, this Cauliflower Cheese Recipe is perfect for you. I promise this underrated British comfort food will turn the whole family into cauliflower lovers!
The first time I tried this cheesy cauliflower dish was when I came to London back in 2008. It was served as a side dish with my Sunday roast dinner and since then it has been my favourite accompaniment for a roast. This delicious cauliflower bake is not just a side dish but also a tasty vegetarian main meal when served with some nice crusty bread and a bowl of salad on the side.
This ultimate British comfort food has many variations. Some variations have sautéed bacon and mushrooms, and some have English mustard, parmesan, or Gruyere cheese. You can customize your own cauliflower cheese or just follow my simple yet delicious recipe.
Why This Recipe Works?
- It is a very easy recipe to follow with step-by-step instructions.
- You can make it 3 days ahead and cook it when needed.
- Perfect side dish for any roast dinner whether it's a family gathering or a dinner for two.
- You can serve it as a main vegetarian meal with a bowl of Tomato and Walnut Salad (Gavurdagi Salatasi) or Tabbouleh and some Bazlama (Turkish Bread).
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Cauliflower - It is a healthy and delicious vegetable full of nutrition. Use fresh and clear white fleurets for the best results. You can use half broccoli 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.
- Plain Flour - It is also known as all-purpose flour. It is perfect for making cakes, cookies, pastries and thickening sauces.
- Milk - I use full fat or semi-skimmed milk for bechamel sauce. Add it slowly in small batches to butter and flour mixture for velvety sauce.
- Nutmeg - It is the perfect spice for bechamel sauce. I freshly grate whole nutmeg for more intense flavour 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.
This is a very simple recipe with a few easy steps that you need to follow to achieve the best results:
- Prepare and parboil the cauliflower - Trim the cauliflower and then cut it into bite-size florets. In a large pan, 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. Preheat the fan oven to 180° C and then start making the cheese sauce.
- Prepare the cheese sauce - 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. Although this dish is traditionally made with cheddar cheese, you can replace it with any other hard cheese you like.
- Combine and bake - place the drained cauliflowers in a 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 and place the oven dish in preheated oven. Cook it for about 35-40 minutes, until it's bubbling inside and golden brown outside.
Cauliflower cheese is the best accompaniment for roast dinners whether it is family Sunday lunch or a big celebrational Christmas dinner. It also goes great with roast or grilled meat or sausages. Alternatively, you can serve it as a vegetarian main meal with some bread and salad. Try pairing this delicious cheesy cauliflower with Bazlama(Turkish Flatbread) or a slice of Homemade Toast Bread and a bowl of Greek Salad or Tomato and Walnut Salad (Gavurdagi Salatasi).
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 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.
For more delicious British recipes why not try:
Top Tip From the Chef
Béchamel is one of the 5 basic sauces of French cuisine. It is often used in recipes such as Homemade Lasagna Recipe, Authentic Greek Moussaka and Fish Pie Recipe. Although it is very simple to make the bechamel 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.
I hope you enjoy the process of making this baked Cauliflower & Cheese dish as much as you enjoy eating it! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet Olsun!
Cauliflower Cheese Recipe
- 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.
- 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 to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
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