November 15, 2022
This is the ultimate low-carb recipe for mac and cheese lovers! Cheesy, small, and tender pieces of cauliflower that feel like pasta… oh. my!
You’ll make this quick and easy stovetop mac and cheese recipe on repeat -second helpings expected.
Creamy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
One bite of this cheesy cauli mac will satisfy anyone’s comfort food craving! The cauliflower gets steamed to perfection and then tossed in a velvety cheese sauce you can whip up in less than 15 minutes.
It’s a great option for anyone following a low-carb or gluten-free diet or who loves their veggies smothered in cheese.
Let’s review the items you’ll need for this cauli mac and cheese.
- Cauliflower: our veggie swap for this low-carb mac and cheese.
- Milk: regular whole milk.
- Half & half: makes it super creamy.
- Seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.
- Cream cheese: adds a tangy element to the cheese sauce.
- Shredded cheese: regular ole Cheddar or any quality cheese you have on hand.
*Grab the ingredient measurements and detailed instructions from the recipe card below.
Best Cheese to Use for Cauliflower Mac
For the creamiest sauce, select block cheeses that melt easily and smoothly. Cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda, and even basic Colby Jack are all great options with different flavors and notes to bring to this dish.
Why a block of cheese? Most pre-shredded cheeses contain some type of starch to prevent the shreds from clumping together. However, this means they won’t melt as well when cooking.
For a more sophisticated cauliflower mac, go with Gruyere and Gouda; Cheddar and Colby Jack are great options if you’re looking for a milder flavor.
How to Make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
From fridge to stove-top, you can assemble this recipe in less than 15 minutes. Here’s how:
Wash and prep the head of cauliflower into florets.
Add the cauliflower and water to a microwave-safe pan. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until fork tender.
- Make the sauce
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat up the milk, half and half, and seasonings over medium-high heat. Add the cream cheese and keep stirring until it’s dissolved.
- Watch it melt
Add the shredded cheese to the sauce and stir to combine. Once it’s melted remove the mixture from heat.
- Toss it together
Drain the cauliflower and toss them into the cheesy sauce. Grab a plate and serve yourself a bite of pure joy.
Making the Sauce Creamy
To make a super creamy cheese sauce, always add the cheese toward the end. If you add it too soon, the cheese will begin to break down and separate, creating little bits of ‘grain.’
It also helps that this cheese sauce is not made with a bechamel sauce, which contains flour. When not whisked properly, the flour will create lumps in the finished sauce, but we don’t have to worry about that here.
How to Keep it From Getting Watery
Before you add the steamed cauliflower to the sauce, drain the cooking liquid! Otherwise, your cheese sauce will be thin and runny.
Is Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Keto?
This cauliflower mac and cheese makes an excellent low-carb swap to the original dish, but at 16 grams of net carbs per serving, it doesn’t make the keto cut.
Keto’s daily recommended intake of net carbs is less than 25. Just one serving of this creamy mac would leave one with less than 10 net carbs for the rest of the day.
That’s not to say this recipe is off limits! Enjoying your favorite dishes is a part of a balanced diet too.
How Many Carbs are in Cauliflower Mac & Cheese?
One cauliflower mac and cheese serving has only 19 grams of carbohydrates; subtract the fiber, and you get 16 grams of net carbs.
It qualifies as both a low-carb AND comfort-food side for everyday sides or special occasions.
What to Serve with It
Time to turn this cauli mac and cheese into a meal! Here are extra tasty entrees and sides that make would a great side-kick to our starring dish:
Other Epic Cauliflower Recipes
On a cauliflower kick? Me too, and I’ve got plenty of recipes right up your alley, like this Roasted Curried Cauliflower. The florets take on a nutty-golden flavor from the oven’s heat and curry spices, it’s a must.
Another favorite is my Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup– there’s a secret to its depth of flavor, and it’s not in the splash of cream.
Both are solid ten on the flavor scale and suitable for low-carb diets.
Quick Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into small bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 4 ounces of cream cheese
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Place cauliflower florets and ½ cup of water in a 9×13 pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave the cauliflower for 6 minutes, carefully opening up one corner to release the steam, test for doneness, and add an additional minute or two of steaming if necessary.
- Make the sauce in a 5qt pot over medium high heat by heating up the milk, half and half, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Once warm, add the cream cheese and dissolve it into the milk mixture.
- Add the shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the pot and mix to combine until the sauce is thick and smooth, turn off the heat.
- Add the steamed cauliflower into the pot and toss with the cheesy sauce. Serve immediately.