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If you’re looking for a low carb mac and cheese replacement, you may be surprised by this cauliflower mac and cheese (aka cauliflower and cheese) recipe! Yes, I know it’s not actual pasta, but this keto mac and cheese will totally fulfill that comfort food craving. Keto cauliflower mac and cheese is almost like the real thing, and so much healthier.
Being Russian, I didn’t get to try all-American macaroni and cheese until much later. I still remember tasting it for the first time, at a friend’s house as a pre-teen. Not knowing (or caring!) back then about how processed it was, I absolutely fell in love! Of course the creamy cheese sauce was the best part. The carbs in mac and cheese didn’t even cross my mind.
My adoration for mac and cheese followed me through my college years. I didn’t cook a lot in college, but mac and cheese was a staple. I learned to make my own homemade kind eventually, and then I missed it dearly when I switched to a low carb and gluten-free lifestyle.
Of course, you’ll never think you’re eating pasta when you eat cauliflower. But, with the right low carb cheese sauce, keto cauliflower mac and cheese is the next best thing. (If you want something more noodle-like, check out my other low carb pasta alternatives.)
This keto mac and cheese recipe was originally published on June 24, 2017, and was republished in March 2020 to add useful tips and answer common questions.
What Is Cauliflower Mac N Cheese?
Cauliflower macaroni and cheese is essentially cooked cauliflower with rich cheese sauce. Roasted cauliflower makes a great stand-in for macaroni – hence the name. It makes delicious as a keto side dish or vegetarian keto main dish.
What Does Cauliflower Mac And Cheese Taste Like?
Keto mac and cheese tastes like all the cheesy goodness of macaroni and cheese, but using cauliflower florets instead of macaroni. Even if you’re a die-hard pasta lover, I think you’ll love the flavors in this dish.
By the way, do you say “mac and cheese” or “mac n cheese”? I had to list it both ways to help people find this post. Either way, this keto version with cauliflower will do the trick.
Cheese Sauce For Cauliflower Macaroni
What makes this low carb cauliflower mac and cheese the ultimate comfort food is the keto cheese sauce – it’s so deliciously rich and creamy! That’s what makes this dish such a good mac and cheese sub. And, it’s super simple, with just three ingredients in the sauce, plus salt and pepper.
I love this sauce so much that I wrote a post dedicated to this keto cheese sauce recipe. In addition to keto cauliflower mac and cheese, it’s delicious for topping or dipping fresh or steamed broccoli.
How To Make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Roast cauliflower. This baked cauliflower mac and cheese starts with roasted cauliflower. Toss cauliflower florets with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 10-15 minutes, until crisp tender, or done to your liking.
- Make cheese sauce. Heat the cheddar cheese, heavy cream, milk, and more butter, stirring frequently. Heat until the cheese mixture is smooth, being careful not to overheat.
TIP: You have some substitution options for the sauce. You can lighten up the recipe by using more almond milk and less cream. Or just the opposite, make it more rich by using more cream instead. Coconut milk or coconut cream would also be fine, if you don’t mind some coconut flavor in there. I also like to throw in some garlic or other spices for a more adult version.
- Toss keto macaroni and cheese together. Toss cauliflower and cheese sauce together and serve immediately.
Can I Make Keto Mac And Cheese With Frozen Cauliflower?
Yes, you can! You’ll just need to roast it for longer, and the end result will be softer.
What Can I Do If My Sauce Isn’t Thick Enough?
The sauce will thicken as it cools from piping hot to warm. However, if you’re concerned and want it thicker, you can simply add more shredded cheese to the sauce before tossing with the cauliflower.
Is Cauliflower Mac And Cheese Keto? Gluten-Free?
Yes, this is a keto mac and cheese recipe that is also gluten-free. Some other versions are not keto or gluten-free, if they include flour in the sauce or breadcrumbs on top.
How Many Carbs In Cauliflower Mac And Cheese?
There are 7 grams net carbs in a generous 1 cup serving of keto mac and cheese with cauliflower. (If you are counting carbs, grab my keto food list to have carbs for hundreds of foods in one place.)
Will Kids Eat Low Carb Mac And Cheese?
Yes! My kids are excited when they see that I made cauliflower mac and cheese. If you have kids and are looking for ways to get them to eat more veggies, I hope you’ll try this recipe.
Besides, I don’t believe in this “separate kid foods” nonsense. My job is to offer my kids nutritious food, and it’s up to them to choose how much they want to eat. This is so important for them to learn to recognize hunger signals and get used to eating unprocessed real food.
Still, kids love their familiar comfort foods, and even our friends’ kids that are used to regular mac and cheese love this cauliflower version.
Can You Make Keto Mac And Cheese Ahead?
Yes, you can prep the components for cauliflower mac & cheese ahead of time. Roast the cauliflower and make the cheese sauce and then right before serving, reheat cauliflower in the microwave or a 350 degree F oven. Gently reheat cheese sauce and toss with cauliflower.
If you have leftovers, you can reheat them in the oven or microwave.
Can You Freeze Cauliflower And Cheese?
This healthy cauliflower mac and cheese is best fresh, but you can freeze it if you must. The texture won’t be the same, though.
Thaw in the fridge and reheat in the oven. The sauce may separate a bit, so stir well afterward.
What To Serve With Low Carb Mac And Cheese
I love to serve this cauliflower mac and cheese recipe with a simple protein to turn it into a whole meal. Here are a few keto main dish recipes for you to choose from:
- Crispy Baked Drumsticks – The secret to the crispy skin we all want on our drumsticks…without the deep fryer!
- Turkey Meatloaf – This flavorful meatloaf is wrapped in bacon. BACON!
- Pan Seared Halibut – Light, lemony, and full of flavor! Think you don’t like fish? Try this!
- Slow Cooker Turkey Breast – Make the cauliflower mac n cheese while the slow cooker cooks this turkey breast.
- Garlic Chicken Thighs – Chicken and cauliflower macaroni and cheese is a well-rounded, healthy meal that’s ready in no time.
More Keto Cauliflower Recipes
Cauliflower is one of my favorite low carb vegetables, so I have tons of recipes with it. Browse all my keto cauliflower recipes here, but here are some reader favorites:
- Cauliflower Rice – Anyone following keto needs to know how to make cauliflower rice! This will show you everything you need to know.
- Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower – With parmesan and garlic, this is an easy and flavorful way to roast both veggies together.
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower – With no chopping required, roasting whole is one of the easiest ways to make keto cauliflower.
- Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Just 3 ingredients and it’s not soggy. You can actually pick it up!
- Cauliflower Breadsticks – Easy and cheesy!
Tools To Make Keto Macaroni and Cheese:
Click the links below to see the items used to make this recipe.
- Baking Sheet – You will love this baking sheet. It’s heavy duty and non stick.
- Parchment Paper – Line your baking sheet with parchment paper when roasting the cauliflower for keto cauliflower and cheese.
- Glass Bowls – This set of glass bowls has many different sizes to choose from. I use these all the time.
Reader Fave Keto Recipes
The recipe card is below! Readers also made these similar recipes after making this one.
Low Carb Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe with Keto Cheese Sauce
An easy keto cauliflower mac and cheese recipe with just 5 INGREDIENTS + 5 MINUTES prep time! Rich, cheesy low carb mac and cheese will satisfy your cravings for macaroni.
Recipe VideoClick or tap on the image below to play the video. It's the easiest way to learn how to make this recipe!
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RECIPE TIPS + VIDEO in the post above, nutrition info + recipe notes below!
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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Melt 2 tablespoons (28 g) of butter. In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower florets with the melted butter. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Arrange the cauliflower florets on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for about 10-15 minutes, until crisp-tender.
- Heat the cheddar cheese, heavy cream, milk, and remaining tablespoon of butter, stirring frequently. (You can do this on the stove in a double broiler, or in the microwave.) Heat until the cheese mixture is smooth. Be careful not to overheat or burn the cheese.
- Toss cauliflower with cheese sauce right before serving.
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Serving size: 1 cup
Video Showing How To Make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese:
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Nutrition Information Per Serving
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database. You can find individual ingredient carb counts we use in the Low Carb & Keto Food List. Net carb count excludes fiber, erythritol, and allulose, because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. (Learn about net carbs here.) We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.
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