This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is easy to make using cauliflower florets and a deliciously creamy vegan cheese sauce. It’s the perfect low carb, keto dinner when you’re craving this classic comfort dish without the pasta. Grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and great for meal prep.
Updated November 2020
Easy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe
Got a craving for a big bowl of mac and cheese but want to make it grain-free and dairy-free due to food allergies or dietary restrictions? This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is the perfect healthy comfort food we all need right now. It’s easy to make and packs in a ton of healthy vegetables while still being dairy-free and grain-free. This gluten free mac and cheese is deliciously creamy, cozy with steamed broccoli, winter squash, carrots and coated in a vegan cashew cream cheese sauce.
As much as my kids love a classic bowl of our Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese and our Instant Pot Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese, they are equally obsessed with this low carb version. Everybody loves creamy homemade macaroni and cheese with a crunchy breadcrumb topping. But the classic baked mac and cheese recipe is not gluten-free. With my easy plant-based cauliflower mac and cheese, no one has to miss out on the best side dish at the dinner table!
Is This Recipe Low-Carb?
Cauliflower mac and cheese is far lower in carbs than your average mac & cheese recipe. Believe it or not, cauliflower is even lower in carbs than broccoli. It’s also packed with healthy proteins! This means cauliflower mac and cheese is a great option for anyone following a Keto diet. Plus, it’s vegan and gluten-free.
Why we love this easy vegan dinner
- A delicious and cozy keto mac and cheese recipe that is grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, low carb and keto-friendly
- Packed with fresh vegetables, fiber and nutrients
- A healthy, low-carb comfort food recipe that is full of flavor and topped with crunchy toasted cashews.
- Perfect for any busy weeknights, Thanksgiving or any holiday dinner
- Great for making ahead and Sunday meal preps
Ingredients you need for keto mac and cheese:
This mac and cheese alternative is super easy to make with cauliflower, cashews and a plant-based cheese sauce. This dish is full of savory seasonings, and you can top it with your favorite brand of vegan cheese, if desired.
- Cauliflower – you’ll need 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
- Favorite winter squash: peeled and diced – we like butternut squash, kabocha squash or sugar pumpkin
- Carrots – peeled and sliced into rounds
- Cashews – soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes.
- Unsweetened almond milk – or sub with non-dairy milk.
- Nutritional yeast – adds a nutty and cheesy flavor without using any dairy
- Seasonings: Dijon mustard + Garlic powder + Onion powder – adds flavor and makes the baked macaroni cheese delicious
- Fine sea salt & black pepper, to taste
- Pinch of cayenne pepper – optional but just a pinch of cayenne pepper adds a touch more warmth to your mac and cheese.
For the crunchy topping:
- Vegan cheddar – or any other dairy-free cheese
- Finely chopped chives and parsley, to garnish
- Chopped cashews, finely chopped and toasted, add a crunchy finishing touch to this dish.
How to make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
This low carb mac and cheese is easy to make and comes together in less than 30 minutes. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
Cook the vegetables: Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the cauliflower florets and cook for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower to a colander and drain then transfer to a baking pan or casserole dish. To the same pot of boiling water, add the squash and carrots and cook until tender and soft. Drain and transfer to a high speed blender.
Make the cheese sauce: Drain the cashews add to the blender along with the milk, nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic, onion, salt and cayenne pepper. Blend until smooth.
- Bake the macaroni and cheese: Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with vegan cheddar cheese if using and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The sauce should be bubbling and thick.
- Serve: Garnish with finely chopped chives, parsley and toasted cashews. Serve warm.
Tips for the Best Low Carb Mac and Cheese
- Use Fresh Cauliflower: I suggest using fresh rather than frozen cauliflower for the tastiest results. However, you can still make a delicious mac and cheese with frozen cauliflower. Just let it thaw out in the fridge completely before cutting and boiling.
- Drain the Cauliflower Well: After you boil your cauliflower, make sure you drain it well. Otherwise, the excess moisture will thin out your cheese sauce.
- Top with Vegan Cheese: I love sprinkling some vegan cheese over this dish before I bake it. It adds a ton of cheesiness and really brings your mac & cheese to the next level!
What to serve with cauliflower mac and cheese
Wondering what goes good with cauliflower mac and cheese? This easy dinner tastes great alone or you can serve it with any of your favorite main dishes.
- Add Veggies: If you want to serve this mac and cheese as a main dish, I recommend adding in some hearty veggies. Spinach or roasted broccoli would taste great!
- Serve with Chicken: Treat your family to a satisfying meal of Juicy Grilled Chicken , Instant Pot Lemon Chicken with Garlic, Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore that all go great with this low-carb mac and cheese.
- Pair with Pork: My Slow Cooker Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork Sliders go so well with this mac & cheese!
- Serve with Vegetables: To keep things Keto and vegan, serve your mac and cheese with some fresh Grilled Vegetables or some Sauteed Green Beans.
Storage and reheating instructions
The great thing about roasted cauliflower mac and cheese is that you can make it ahead of time and it works beautifully for your Sunday meal preps when you’re looking for a quick side dish that you can easily heat up.
How to store and reheat leftovers: Be sure to allow the leftover cauliflower mac and cheese to cool on the counter for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge and enjoy it within 3-4 days.
To warm it up, heat it in the microwave for 15 second increments, stirring after each one, until it reaches your desired temperature.
Can You Freeze Cauliflower Mac and Cheese?
You can freeze your cauliflower macaroni and cheese for longer storage, if desired, though it’s definitely best when fresh.
To freeze: Since cauliflower can get a little bit soggy, we recommend freezing the cheese sauce separately in a resealable container for up to 3 months.
To thaw: Simply place the container in the fridge to thaw overnight before reheating the sauce on medium low in a saucepan on the stovetop. Just be sure to stir it very well, as the freezing process can cause some separation.
When you’re ready to serve, make the cauliflower as per the instructions above and then assemble with the thawed cheese sauce.
More cauliflower recipes you might like:
This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is easy to make using cauliflower florets and a deliciously creamy vegan cheese sauce. It's the perfect low carb, keto dinner when you're craving this classic comfort dish without the pasta. Grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and great for meal prep.
- 1 large cauliflower , chopped into florets
- 1/2 cup favorite winter squash , peeled & diced - we like butternut, kabocha or a sugar pumpkin
- 1 small carrot , peeled & sliced into rounds
- 1 cup cashews , soaked in boiling or very hot water for 20 minutes
- 1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- ½ cup vegan cheddar , optional (may sub with regular cheese if not vegan or dairy-free)
- Finely chopped chives and parsley
- ½ cup cashews finely chopped and toasted
Preheat oven to 350F. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the cauliflower florets and cook for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower to a collander and drain then transfer to a baking pan or casserole dish.
To the same pot of boiling water, add the squash and carrots and cook until tender and soft. Drain and transfer to a high speed blender.
Drain the cashews and add to the blender along with the milk, nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic, onion, salt and cayenne pepper. Blend until smooth.
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with vegan cheddar cheese if using and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The sauce should be bubbling and thick.
Garnish with finely chopped chives, parsley and toasted cashews. Serve warm.