Cauliflower Au Gratin
Cauliflower au gratin is cauliflower florets cooked in a creamy Gruyère cheese sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and baked to perfection. A simple, yet elegant and delicious side dish! If you’re a fan of cheesy cauliflower, you’ll love this easy, flavorful, crowd-pleasing recipe. This is my absolute favorite way to eat cauliflower!
I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new side dishes to add to my repertoire. It’s easy to come up with the main course, but then my mind blanks when it comes to the side items. For some reason, my brain goes straight to dessert. Ha!
Well today, I’m sharing a new side dish idea that I know you’re going to love, cauliflower au gratin. This easy recipe swaps out the traditional potato with cauliflower that is baked in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with a delicious crunchy breadcrumb topping. If I have to be a grown-up and eat my vegetables like a good girl, I definitely prefer them to be smothered in a creamy, flavorful cheese sauce! Give me a big high five if you agree!
About Cauliflower Au Gratin
This cheesy cauliflower dish is cooked au gratin. You may be more familiar with potatoes cooked au gratin, or scalloped potatoes, which are basically the same thing. What does “gratin” mean? In French, “au gratin” means “by grating.” In traditional French cooking, a gratin is a made in a shallow dish containing potatoes, vegetables, or even seafood, covered with a lightly browned crust of bread crumbs or cheese.
Au gratin can also mean casserole, or scraping from the pan, and I guarantee you’ll be scraping the pan of this cauliflower gratin for every last delicious morsel.
This cauliflower casserole is easy to make with simple, inexpensive ingredients, yet it bakes up rich and so flavorful. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this recipe:
- Butter. Adds rich flavor to the dish. I prefer unsalted butter in both cooking and baking, so you can control the saltiness of the recipe.
- Flour. I typically use all-purpose flour when making this recipe, but know that whole wheat or a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour are also options.
- Milk. I love using 2% or whole milk for extra richness, but really any milk will work, even unsweetened almond milk.
- Cauliflower. It’s no secret that cauliflower is good for you. It packs this dish with vitamin C, vitamin K, and countless antioxidants. It’s also a low-calorie superfood loaded with dietary fiber, folate, and choline.
- Salt & pepper. A must for adding additional flavor to the cheese sauce!
- Gruyère cheese. I love gruyere cheese in this recipe because it’s deliciously rich and creamy! It’s a smooth-melting type of Swiss cheese with a pleasant flavor that tastes slightly nutty. So good!
- Panko breadcrumbs. While topping this gratin is optional, I do recommend it. Everyone loves a good crunchy breadcrumb coating!
- Parmesan. In addition to Gruyère, we’re using parmesan cheese to top this cauliflower gratin for even more wonderful cheesy flavor.
- Chives. Optional for garnish to add color and fresh flavor.
How to Make Cauliflower Au Gratin
Making this flavorful side dish recipe is really easy! There’s just a little bit of chopping and a few different steps, but there are also lots of ways you could prep ingredients in advance to save extra time. Here’s the simple process, but for the full, printable recipe, reference the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Prep. You’ll want to have all the ingredients for making this recipe prepared before you begin cooking it. Chop the cauliflower florets, grate the Gruyère cheese, measure the butter, milk, and flour for the sauce, and mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan for the topping. Get your oven preheating to 350ºF and spray your baking dish with nonstick spray. You’ll want to use a nice shallow glass dish for this recipe because you’ll be serving the gratin right from the dish.
- Make the sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook; stir constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. You will then cook the cauliflower florets in the sauce, be careful not to overcook the cauliflower as it will continue to cook in the oven. After about 5 minutes, remove the cauliflower and sauce from the heat and stir in the Gruyère cheese until melted.
- Bake. Pour the cheesy cauliflower mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish and the final step is to add a sprinkling of Panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese before the cauliflower gratin goes into the oven. Bake until golden brown, then serve up your cauliflower gratin and watch the compliments come rolling in!
What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Cauliflower?
Cauliflower is considered a superfood because of its nutrient-rich content! It’s low calorie and packed with antioxidants, fiber and B-vitamins. It provides antioxidants and phytonutrients that can protect against cancer. It also contains fiber to enhance weight loss and digestion, choline that is essential for learning and memory, and many other important nutrients.
Cheesy Cauliflower Variations
This cheesy cauliflower gratin is easy to make and even easier to customize! Here are some great ways to make it your own:
- Cheese. I like the slightly nutty flavor of Gruyère cheese with this cauliflower au gratin, but you could substitute another kind of cheese. Other great options are Swiss cheese, sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, fontina or Asiago.
- Add bacon. Cauliflower gratin with bacon or pancetta added would be so tasty, too. Just cut it into 1 inch pieces, cook until crisp, drain, and add it with the cheese.
- Spices. Try experimenting with different spices and herbs. If you love garlic, try adding a bit of garlic powder to the white sauce. Paprika would be a good addition, as well, maybe sprinkled on the top to add a little color. And instead of garnishing with chives, sprinkle fresh chopped parsley over the top, just before serving.
- Healthier options. Lighten this dish up by using low fat milk to make the white sauce. It won’t be quite as creamy, but you’ll save some calories and fat. If you’re really looking to cut calories, don’t mix any cheese into the white sauce and just sprinkle a half a cup on top of the gratin before baking.
Tips for making cauliflower gratin
This cauliflower casserole is really very easy, but here are a few tips to make sure your dish bakes up perfect every time!
- Grate the cheese. I recommend shredding your own cheese for this dish. The pre-shredded cheese in bags at the grocery store is often coated in preservatives and anti caking agents and does not melt smoothly.
- Make ahead. This dish can be assembled up to 8 hours before you plan to bake it. I do recommend leaving the breadcrumb parmesan cheese topping off until you’re ready to bake it. Cover the pan and store in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
- Frozen cauliflower. I have made this casserole with both fresh and frozen casserole, and either works just fine. If you’re using frozen cauliflower, be sure to thaw it and remove any excess water before proceeding with the recipe. One head of cauliflower is about 3 to 4 cups.
I love to serve this cauliflower au gratin as a side dish to grilled meats and seafood. Try it alongside these sweet potato salmon cakes for an easy, satisfying meal. This cheesy cauliflower dish is a culinary delight and you’ll never look at cauliflower the same way again! The flavors and textures just can’t be beat!
Reheating + Storage Tips
For maximum creaminess, this cheesy cauliflower bake is really best eaten right away. However, here’s some tips, if you do have leftovers:
- Storage. Store any leftover cauliflower gratin in the refrigerator in individual, airtight containers or cover the entire pan and place it in the refrigerator. It will stay good for up to 4 to 5 days.
- Reheating. Rewarm individual portions in the microwave or place the pan back in the oven until heated through.
If you try this easy cauliflower gratin recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves them as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Cauliflower Au Gratin
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 head cauliflower (3 to 4 cups), cut into small florets
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- optional: chives to garnish over the top after baking
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir the cauliflower into the sauce. Cover with a lid and cook until the cauliflower starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the Gruyère cheese until melted.
- Pour mixture into a 2 quart baking dish. Combine the panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over top. Cover with foil and bake until cauliflower is tender (can be easily pierced with a knifte), about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden.
- Serve immediately, garnished with chives, if desired.