Looking for a simple side dish that your kids will love? Have a picky eater that thinks veggies are evil? Try my cheesy cauliflower that is a proven winner with my kids and I’m sure yours will love this side dish too.
My two boys couldn’t be more different nutrition-wise. If you set a bowl of fruit and a cookie in from of my son he would always choose the fruit. He likes to generally eat healthily and only complains when I serve green beans or Brussels sprouts.
My other one though could sniff out a sugar-laden treat from 10 miles away. Most days it’s a struggle to get a banana down him for breakfast. So I make small concessions and try my very best to make good things as appealing as possible. And this easy cheesy cauliflower casserole is a hit with both of my boys.
This cauliflower cheese bake has-
- Tender steamed cauliflower florets. For this recipe, you can use fresh or steamed fresh bags of frozen cauliflower.
- A cheese sauce made with butter, flour, milk, and two types of shredded cheese. Make a thickened roux then add the parmesan and Colby jack cheese.
- Simple seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and nutmeg.
A few years back I was watching The Rachel Ray Show and she recommended adding nutmeg to cheese sauces. Ever since then, that is what I’ve done. Who am I to question Rachel Ray?
Visit YouTube for a video of how to make this
How to make cheesy cauliflower step-by-step
In a large stockpot, add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil while you cut the cauliflower.
Remove the core of the cauliflower and chop the stems into uniform pieces.
Add the cauliflower to a steaming basket that fits a large pot.
Steam the vegetables for 15 minutes.
In another pan, make the sauce. Set the heat to medium-high and melt the butter.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir to mix the flour into the butter completely. It should be smooth.
Pour in the milk.
Let the base thicken enough that there isn’t much liquid and you can lift it up on a slotted spoon (see below).
Add the spices.
Turn off the heat and add the parmesan and all the shredded cheese, minus 1/4 cup for the topping.
Transfer the cauliflower from the steam basket. Stir to coat the cauliflower completely.
When I add the cauliflower to the cheese sauce, the cauliflower does break down some but this dish isn’t similar to a mashed cauliflower recipe because there will be both small and big pieces throughout.
Grease a baking dish, at least 8×8 in size.
Add the mixture to the dish.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.
Put into a 350-degree preheated oven for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
Tips & Variations
- You can swap out the whole cauliflower with 2 bags of steam fresh cauliflower that you make in the microwave. Follow package directions for how to make it.
- While I used parmesan and Colby jack, this would also be great with sharp cheddar, Monterey jack, swiss, or pepper jack cheeses.
- Make it a loaded cauliflower bake by adding ham, bacon, or both.
- What should you serve with cauliflower side dishes? This side dish goes perfectly with this Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy from Budget Bytes.
Place any leftovers in a covered container and refrigerate. Eat within 3 days. Reheat in an oven-proof baking dish at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or microwave for 1 minute.
It is not recommended to freeze this recipe.
More side dish recipes
And here you are……
From our home in the Bottom Left of the Mitten to yours ~ Enjoy!
- large stockpot
- steamer basket for a large pot
- 8×8 baking dish
- 1 head cauliflower chopped
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons parmesan
- 3/4 cup Colby jack cheese 1/2 cup for sauce then 1/4 cup for topping
- Cut and steam the cauliflower using a steamer basket on top of a pan with 4 cups of water.1 head cauliflower, 4 cups water
- In another pan, melt the butter. Once melted stir in the flour. Now add the milk and continue to cook until thickened.2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 cup milk
- Now add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and nutmeg.1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Turn off the heat and add the parmesan and 1/2 cup of the Colby jack cheese. Stir until melted and combined completely.2 tablespoons parmesan, 3/4 cup Colby jack cheese
- Add the cauliflower back into the pot and stir the sauce and cauliflower so that it covers every piece.
- Put the cauliflower into a greased oven-proof bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese.3/4 cup Colby jack cheese
- Put into a 350-degree preheated oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Enjoy!
Tips for making this recipe:
- If you don’t have a steamer basket you can boil the vegetables or steam them in the microwave.
- Store in a covered plastic container and eat within 3 days.
- This dish does not freeze well because of the cheese sauce. I recommend halving the recipe if you won’t eat it within a few days.
- To store: add leftovers to a covered container and refrigerate. Eat within 3 days. Reheat in an oven-proof baking dish at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Originally published in June of 2017. Updated post in April of 2022 with new photos, the same great recipe.
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Last Updated on April 7, 2023 by Erin@BottomLeftoftheMitten