This Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole is extra cheesy, flavored with thyme, and is an easy recipe to prepare. You will enjoy the creaminess from the Mornay sauce topped with golden parmesan cheese. This is a delicious side dish to serve for a special evening with friends, Thanksgiving, or Christmas dinner.
Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable: you can prepare a comforting casserole like the broccoli cauliflower cheese bake or this slow cooker cauliflower corn chowder or a keto-friendly and healthier gluten-free “fried rice”.
Most of all, this homemade cauliflower dish is an amazing add-on to your next gathering and will impress everyone. My whole family loves this gratin, and I’m confident yours will too.
Also, this is a great moment to shine and show your French cooking skills as we are going to take the Bechamel sauce to the next level and into a Mornay sauce.
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What Goes into a Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole?
The ingredients for this recipe are simple and easy to swap if you need to:
- A head of cauliflower: of course, this is the main ingredient but I have tried in the past to add broccoli to this casserole and it is as delicious.
- Mornay sauce which is basically a cheesy bechamel: salted butter, flour and milk, these ingredients cannot be changed. Then you need cheese: here I chose a sharp cheddar cheese, the stronger white one. You can adapt with your favorite one.
- Nutmeg: I believe every cheese mixture should have a little pinch of nutmeg for that hint of nutty taste.
- Parmesan cheese: Again, this shredded cheese can be easily substituted by another one such as emmental, gruyère or cheddar.
- Thyme: this could be optional but recommended. The addition of herb brings an elegant and fragrant touch.
- Seasoning: garlic, salt and pepper.
How to Make Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole
There are 3 main steps to make, and it will be ready in a little over 30 minutes.
First, in a large pot, bring water to a boil. Cut your head of cauliflower into florets. Rinse them and put them in the boiling water. Cook for 15 minutes until tender but not fully cooked. Now, you can drain the water and set it aside.
This is a good moment to preheat the oven.
Next, in a small pot, on medium-low, melt the butter and add the flour; stir well using a wooden spoon. This is a roux. Now, bring your heat to low and gradually add the milk. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce is velvety. This is your bechamel. Pour the cheddar cheese and stir until fully combined. This is your Mornay sauce.
Lastly, let’s assemble: in a baking dish, put the florets and pour the cheesy mixture all over. Generously top with parmesan cheese and sprinkle with thyme.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is perfectly golden. With all the wonderful cheese in your Mornay sauce, the top browns up so lovely and easy.
Variations and Suggestions
Other ways of cooking the cauliflower before pouring the Mornay sauce on top of it:
- If you prefer you can steam the cauliflower instead of putting the florets in boiling water.
- Or, you can make roasted cauliflower as a first step. I would suggest roasting for about 30 minutes in the oven. You might want to toss your vegetable in a large bowl with a little bit of olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper if you chose this cooking technique.
HINT: Poke a floret with a knife to check the tenderness of it.
The sky is the limit. You can elevate this casserole in many ways:
- Make a bed of caramelized onions before putting in your florets, it will add a little sweetness: My favorite!
- Add some cubed ham in the dish before pouring the cheese sauce
- Toss with some sautéed garlicky mushrooms
- Toppings: Sprinkle some freshly cut green onions, bacon bits, panko crumbs for some crunch
What to Serve with Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole
Undoubtedly, this is a casserole dish that can be served for multiple occasions:
- Make it for your next Sunday dinner with your family on the side of a Supreme steak
- This also pairs deliciously with a turkey for Thanksgiving
- Your Christmas ham will go hand in hand this creamy gratin
Looking for more delicious side dishes?
- Stuffed and loaded baked potatoes
- This cheesy Canadian bacon, swiss chard and potato gratin
- Garlic Rosemary Fondant Potatoes
Can you make this recipe ahead of time? If you want to get ahead for a big gathering, you can prepare the whole casserole without baking 24 hours before. Store it in your fridge covered with some plastic wrap.
Can you Freeze Loaded Cauliflower Casserole? Absolutely. Make sure your dish is fully cooled down before freezing it in an air-tight container.
Should I cover my casserole while baking? It is not necessary. Your cauliflower is covered in a creamy and cheesy sauce and topped with cheese; it will not dry out.
Could I use frozen cauliflower? Absolutely! If the cauliflower is pre-cooked, you might not need to steam, roast, or cook it. You might just need to blanche it (scalding the vegetable in boiling water for a short time, such as 2-3 minutes).
Can I double this recipe? For sure! Make sure to use a bigger baking dish.
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- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 1/3 cup of flour
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 1 cup of old cheddar
- 1 cup of parmesan cheese
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1 pinch of salt and pepper
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil.
- Cut your cauliflower head into florets. Rinse them and put them in the boiling water.
- Cook for 15 minutes until tender but not fully cooked.
- Then, drain the water and set it aside.
- Pre-heat the oven at 400F.
- In a small pot, on medium-low, melt the butter and add the flour; stir well using a wooden spoon. This is a roux.
- Turn down your heat to low and gradually add the milk. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce is velvety. This is your bechamel.
- Pour the cheddar cheese and stir until fully combined and melted; your Mornay sauce is ready.
- Assembling: in a baking dish (11" x 7"), put the florets and pour the cheesy mixture all over. Generously top with parmesan cheese and sprinkle with thyme.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is perfectly golden.
- Serve and enjoy!
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Peugeot , 056975014498, Clear Acrylic
10-Piece Serving Flatware Silverware Set,Stainless Steel Serving Utensil Set,Include Slotted Serving Spoon, Serving Spoon, Butter Knife, Sugar Spoon, Serving Fork(Silver)
Pyrex Basics 2 Quart Glass Oblong Baking Dish with Red Plastic Lid - 7 inch x 11 Inch by Pyrex
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 282Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 536mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 13g
Recipe calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. If you need nutritional calculations for medical reasons, please use a source that you trust.