Cheesy Baked Cauliflower

A simple casserole of creamy, cheesy cauliflower makes a sumptuous holiday or weeknight side dish served alongside roasted chicken, pork chops, or steak! Tender, bite-sized florets are covered in a decadent cheese sauce, packed with cheddar and Monterey jack.

To make this a loaded baked cauliflower recipe, add crumbled bacon and sprinkle with chives, and stir in a cup of chopped ham, chopped spinach, or both. To add some texture, top the casserole with buttered panko breadcrumbs. You can keep this cheesy cauliflower dish quick and easy or dress it up with all the fixings. It’s up to you!


I like to keep things simple, but that also means I’m prone to using what’s on hand. You don’t have to stick with only cauliflower for this dish.

A mix of cauliflower and broccoli is one of my favorite combinations. You can also sub in an entirely different vegetable for the cauliflower. Any lightly roasted, blanched, or steamed vegetable will work well. Brussels sprouts, green beans, and broccoli are all great options.

You can even use frozen vegetables—just cook them according to package instructions, and drain off any excess liquid before you combine them with the sauce.

The cheeses are as easy to substitute as the vegetables. Pretty much any melting cheese—the kind you use in grilled cheese or mac and cheese will work.

I like to use one sharp and one mild cheese to get a balanced flavor. Feel free to use all one type of cheese if you like, and that flavor will really come through. Avoid using soft, spreadable cheeses like brie and camembert, as those will tend to make the sauce too oily.

These are all good choices:

  • Colby
  • Medium or mild cheddar
  • Swiss
  • Gruyere
  • Fontina
  • Provolone
  • Havarti

Scooping Easy Cauliflower Bake out of a glass casserole dish.

Scooping Easy Cauliflower Bake out of a glass casserole dish.


This sauce is pretty foolproof, and it shouldn’t break on you, since it is cooked very gently (it barely comes up to a simmer) and it contains plenty of flour and cornstarch to keep it stable.

Just keep a watchful eye, whisk continuously, and remove it from the heat right when it thickens up, and it will turn out perfectly every time. You can even use a probe thermometer to guide you, removing the pot from the stove when the sauce registers at 200ºF.

Grate the cheese yourself rather than buying it pre-shredded. This is one case in which a convenience ingredient will actually do more harm than good.

The anti-caking agents used in pre-shredded cheeses tend to do funny things to the texture of cheese sauces, making them gloppy and gooey. You’ll get much better results if you grate your own.


This casserole can be assembled up to one day in advance, then baked just before serving.

If transferring the casserole directly from the fridge to the oven, you’ll need to bake it for a few additional minutes. Just test with a fork or probe thermometer to make sure it’s piping hot in the middle (about 170°F).

To Freeze: Once cooked, you can freeze individual servings of this casserole in small resealable containers.

To Reheat from Frozen: Microwave on high for about two to three minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave. Let it sit for a minute or two after removing from the microwave to allow the temperature to even out, then enjoy!

Overhead view of Best Cheesy Cauliflower in a casserole dish with a blue dish towel under it.

Overhead view of Best Cheesy Cauliflower in a casserole dish with a blue dish towel under it.