Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

This baked cauliflower mac and cheese recipe is the BEST way to eat your veggies! An oozy, gooey cheese sauce coats tender cauliflower florets.

Cauliflower mac and cheese

I don’t think recipes can get more fun than this cauliflower mac and cheese. It’s delicious, comforting, and completely ironic. You won’t find any “mac” here, and you won’t find any “cheese.” What you will find is a whole bunch of cauliflower coated in a gooey, oozy vegan cheese sauce and baked with crispy panko breadcrumbs on top.

If you’re skeptical, don’t be. This cauliflower mac and cheese is surprisingly addictive. The first time I made it, I served myself a small scoop. A few minutes later, I went back for another…and another…and another. Of course, it’s not exactly like classic mac, but it checks the same cozy, “cheesy” boxes. I can’t get enough of it, and I don’t think you’ll be able to either.

Cauliflower mac and cheese recipe ingredients

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe Ingredients

You just need a handful of ingredients to make this cauliflower mac and cheese recipe:

  • Cauliflower, of course! Look for a head of cauliflower that’s fairly big, just over 2 pounds. For this recipe, make sure to break it into small florets, about the size of macaroni.
  • Vegan cheese sauce – That creamy, gooey sauce looks like it’s made with cheddar cheese, but I promise, it’s totally dairy-free! Its rich, oozy texture comes from blended potato, sweet potato, and cashews. Nutritional yeast adds yummy cheesy flavor.
  • Smoked paprika and cayenne pepper – I stir them into the cheese sauce for a smoky, spicy kick.
  • And panko bread crumbs – For crunch! To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free panko.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Cauliflower florets on a plate

How to Make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

This cauliflower mac and cheese recipe is super easy to make! Here’s how it goes:

First, make the cheese sauce. Blend the vegan cheese sauce ingredients together, adding an extra garlic clove, smoked paprika, cayenne, and salt to amp up the flavor. Season to taste, and set aside.

Then, cook the cauliflower. Drop the florets into a large pot of salted boiling water, and cook for 5 minutes.

Pouring cheese sauce over cauliflower florets

Next, fold the cooked cauliflower into the cheese sauce. When the cauliflower is tender, drain it and transfer it to a large bowl. Pour in the cheese sauce and stir until the florets are evenly coated.

Stirring cauliflower with sauce in a large bowl

So creamy!

Hands sprinkling breadcrumbs over cauliflower mac and cheese in a baking dish

Finally, broil. Transfer the cauliflower mac and cheese to a baking dish and sprinkle it with the panko. Broil until the topping is lightly browned.

Enjoy!

Plate of cauliflower mac and cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Serving Suggestions

This “mac n cheese” is fantastic as-is, but feel free to serve it with a little extra cheese (or “cheese”). I love topping mine with Vegan Parmesan, and Jack always showers his with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. We both sprinkle some fresh parsley on top.

Enjoy this recipe as a light meal on its own, with a hunk of crusty bread or focaccia for sopping up the cheese sauce at the bottom of your bowl. It’s also a yummy side dish. Serve it with your favorite protein, veggie chili, tomato soup, or a baked potato with all the fixings.

Cauliflower mac and cheese recipe

More Favorite Comfort Food Recipes

If you love this recipe, try one of these healthy comfort foods next:

Love cauliflower? Find more of my best cauliflower recipes here!

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

rate this recipe:
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Serves 4
This cauliflower mac and cheese recipe is SO fun and delicious! Just like regular mac and cheese, it's creamy and comforting, but it's made with veggies instead of pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Vegan Cheese Sauce
  • 1 additional garlic clove
  • ½ teaspoon additional sea salt
  • Heaping ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 large cauliflower, just over 2 pounds broken into ½-inch florets
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • Parmesan or Vegan Parmesan

    , for serving, optional

Instructions

  • Make the cheese sauce according to this recipe, blending in the additional garlic clove, the additional ½ teaspoon salt, the smoked paprika, and cayenne.
  • Preheat the oven broiler.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the cauliflower florets for 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the cheese sauce and stir to coat. Transfer to an 8x8-inch baking dish and top with the panko. Broil for 2 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve with Parmesan or vegan Parmesan, if desired.

15 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Christie
    07.22.2021

    5 stars
    This might be a silly question but is the extra garlic glove for the sauce chopped up or put in whole and removed after cooking the sauce. I’m just imagining taking a bite of the “Mac and cheese” and getting a full clove of garlic….I do like garlic but not that much! Hahaha

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.23.2021

      Hi Christie, it gets blended into the sauce in step 1, so it’s not whole.

  2. Pam
    06.23.2021

    5 stars
    All I have to say is thank you! I have made this multiple times. I love this dish!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.24.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. Lydia from Google
    03.09.2021

    5 stars
    Lives IT. I am not a Vegan. I had cauliflour i needed to use, i saw your recipe. Although i didnt have The cashews substituted tahini. Looking forward to trying your other recipes. Thank you

  4. V
    03.04.2021

    5 stars
    I loved it! It had my family completely fooled! (Until my youngest saw the funny shaped ‘pasta’) Would 1000% recommend! Great job Jeanine

  5. Melissa
    02.27.2021

    5 stars
    I loved everything about this dish! I’m not a vegan but I am definitely a fan of plant based foods. This is the first time I made a vegan cheese sauce – fabulous!! Thank you for this terrific recipe!

  6. Helen Monty
    02.21.2021

    5 stars
    Wow, the vegan cheese sauce is amazing! I’ve been looking for an alternative for my husband who is trying to keep his cholesterol down, and have made it for the first time today – it’s so creamy as well. Love your recipes 😊

  7. Elisa
    02.18.2021

    5 stars
    Made this last night for dinner and loved it! I did add spinach to the casserole before popping into the oven and it wilted perfectly in the sauce. Next time, I think I am going to add more veggies… perhaps some broccoli or peas and carrots for color and added nutrition 🙂

  8. Fikri
    02.17.2021

    5 stars
    This is wonderful reciep.

  9. Terry
    02.17.2021

    This recipe looks delicious but, unfortunately, I can’t eat nightshades so no potatoes in the sauce (sweet potatoes are okay). Can you please suggest a substitute? Thank you!

      • Terry
        02.18.2021

        Thanks so much! I look forward to trying this.

  10. Kim
    02.16.2021

    5 stars
    Wow! This was delicious! I can’t believe how “cheesy” the sauce was! It kinda blew my mind! We added the extra garlic, smoked paprika, and cayenne. Yum!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.17.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.