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.


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!

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Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

rate this recipe:
4.86 from 28 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
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.


  • 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


  • 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.


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Karlie

    Would adding some gluten free pasta to it change it terribly much? We have celiacs and Crohn’s in our house, and having it be all cauliflower might wreak some serious havoc with our systems 😬. But I’m trying to add more plant-based dishes to our lives. I can’t go vegan or vegetarian (I have both diseases) without ending up in the hospital, but I’d like to cut meat way back!

  2. Talia

    5 stars
    Amazing recipe! Creatively healthy while still tapping into flavors of an indulging comfort food. This will be a repeat dish…

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. Anne N.

    5 stars
    The cheese sauce is very good. I loved it in this dish, and I’m sure I’ll use it for nachos and other recipes as well.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      So glad you loved it! The cheese sauce is awesome on nachos. Definitely recommend!

  4. Ramae

    5 stars
    Wonderful. Subbed half of the cauliflower with gluten-free, lentil pasta to add some protein. Came out perfect. Will definitely be making again. Thank you!

    • Phoebe Moore

      So glad you loved it!

  5. Hannah

    5 stars
    I made the recipe exactly as written and thought it was really good. The cheese sauce was amazing and I’ll definitely plan to make it again to put on other things.

    I think when I make this recipe again I’ll try roasting or air frying the cauliflower instead of boiling it, as the texture of the cauliflower was a little wet and felt like it could benefit from being dried about a bit.

  6. Leila

    Will this recipe freeze? I want to make it As a treat for my vegan house sitters but will need to prepare a week in advance.

  7. Carla

    1 star
    This is suppose to be for nutritional yeast the recipe doesn’t even call for the yeast how strange!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Carla, it’s in the Vegan Cheese Sauce, that’s linked.

  8. Kerry

    My husband can’t have nutritional yeast. Could you suggest an alternative, or edit to make the cheese sauce taste good? Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Kerry, I would just skip it and add one of the other flavor ideas: smoked paprika, or chipotles to make it more flavorful.

  9. Susan

    5 stars
    This is SO GOOD! The sauce is a keeper, I can’t wait to try it in other ways – thank you.

  10. Christie

    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

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

  11. Pam

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  12. Lydia from Google

    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

  13. V

    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

  14. Melissa

    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!

  15. Helen Monty

    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 😊

  16. Elisa

    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 🙂

  17. Fikri

    5 stars
    This is wonderful reciep.

  18. Terry

    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

        Thanks so much! I look forward to trying this.

  19. Kim

    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

      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.