Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe

Cauliflower has glowed up quite a bit in the last few years, with the ability to closely resemble a pizza crust, 'mashed potatoes,' 'rice', and now macaroni and cheese! Many of our Trifecta coworkers cooked and loved this recipe! This low-carb recipe cauliflower is the perfect comfort food made keto-friendly to satisfy your potential desire for a delicious side dish keto mac and cheese. And thankfully for us, cheese is very keto-approved.

How Many Carbs In Cauliflower?

Cauliflower closely mimics the same consistency as macaroni and doesn't change the flavor of any dish you add it to. But compared to cooked pasta, which contains about 39g of carbs per serving, one cup of cauliflower packs only 3g of net carbs... and less than 30 calories! Making it a perfect addition to your keto diet or any low-carb meal plan. 

How To Calculate Your Keto Macros

Use this calculator to find out your keto macros in minutes!

How to Cook Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

A well-executed keto mac and cheese can be one of the best sides to enjoy with just about any entree. Kids love it, and big kids - also referred to as adults - also love it every now and then. Luckily for you, making your own - even a keto version - is insanely easy.

The secret to success in this essential cauliflower recipe comes from roasting the cauliflower and combining different cheeses - helping to take a classic staple to a whole new level.

You will also be making your own cheese sauce -- it’s a lot simpler than what you may think!

While it can be easier to just buy shredded cheese, it is worth taking the time to shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese often has added cellulose, potato starch, or other anti-caking additives, that prevent the cheese from sticking together in the package. Cellulose is completely safe and harmless, but it can affect how well your cheese melts. In other words, if you're looking for a silky smooth cheese sauce, stick with block cheese and shred it yourself. 

Feel free to combine your favorite cheeses as desired. We suggest a blend in the recipe below, but if you really want to take it to the next level, have fun buying gourmet cheeses like Grayson, and Red Leicester; Yard Bird in Miami uses these, and their mac n' cheese is to die for (as rated by the Food & Wine magazine, and talking from personal experience). If you want a velvetier texture, you can also add 1 tablespoon of cream cheese and adjust the liquid as needed. This is optional of course.

Let’s get into it.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 0 minutes
  • Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 6.5 cups cauliflower, cut into very small florets
  • 4 each turkey bacon, diced, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 4 fluid ounce heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, whole, shredded
  • 1/4 cup extra sharp cheese, whole, shredded
  • 1/8 cup Monterey Jack cheese, whole, shredded
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, if desired, for a kicker
  • Extra cheese for garnish/broiling

Kitchen Needs:

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Oven
  • Sheet tray
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Cheese grater
  • Saucepan
  • Spatula and whisk

Step One: Prep the Cauliflower and Season It

Cauliflower cut into florets and roasted in a pan

Preheat the oven to 425F. 

Start by prepping your cauliflower. Look for a large head of cauliflower with no dark spots. Trim away the leaves and cut them into small cauliflower florets, enough to imitate the size of macaroni pasta. You can also include small pieces of stem.

Add your cauliflower pieces to a large bowl and toss with garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and a drizzle of oil. Don’t forget to save some pepper and garlic powder for the cheese mixture. Then toss gently to coat.

Step Two: Roast the Cauliflower & Prep Bacon

Seasoned cauliflower in a foil-lined sheet pan

Place cauliflower in a foil-lined sheet tray and bake in a preheated oven, for 12-15 minutes, until tender and roasted. Remove once golden brown and cooked through. Check constantly to avoid florets from burning. 

As your cauliflower roasts, you can crisp up your bacon. If you're trying to keep this dish vegetarian, just skip this step.

Cut bacon strips half lengthwise, and then width-wise to small rectangular strips. It might help to stack your bacon for cutting and be sure to use a sharp knife. 

Put your bacon pieces in an unheated sauté pan, and bring the heat up from cold to medium - this allows the bacon to begin rendering and cook slowly. Let the pieces sit and don't stir until the bacon begins to crisp up. 

Once the bacon begins looking like crispy small teeth, stir with a wooden utensil, and remove from heat once fully crispy. Once done, transfer the bacon to a dish with paper towels to drain excess fat. Keep on the side until needed.

Step Three: Prep Cheese Mix

cheese sauce in a stainless steel saucepan next to a wooden spatula and a carton of heavy cream

Shred your cheese.

Once the cheese is shredded, add your cheese mixture into a medium saucepan with the cream, nutritional yeast, and a pinch of black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using).

Bring heat up to medium-low until cheese begins to melt, and make sure you are constantly stirring/whisking to prevent clumping or sticking. It helps if you bring up the heat slowly and stand next to the pot to keep an eye on it. 

Once fully melted, reduce heat to low and keep warm, stirring every once in a while until ready. If the mixture is too thick, add extra milk or heavy cream.

TIP: Substitute cheese with nutritional yeast, and butter for ghee if vegan or lactose-intolerant. Nutritional yeast will also boost B-vitamins and ghee provides a delicious flavor (the caveat is that it is a saturated fat - limit the use of such).

Step Four: Mix Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce

keto cauliflower mac and cheese with melted cheese on a round white bowl

In a large bowl (you can use the same bowl you seasoned your cauliflower in at the beginning), mix roasted cauliflower, bacon, and cheese sauce, making sure each piece of cauliflower is evenly coated.

Pour mixture into an oven-safe dish and top off with extra cheese. Broil on high for a minute or two or until cheese begins to brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Feel free to add chives or green onion bulbs for garnish.

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Keto Cauliflower Mac n' Cheese

COOK TIME:

20 min

PREP TIME:

10 min

YIELD:

8

DESCRIPTION

The secret for this perfect side dish is making the cheese sauce from scratch and roasting the cauliflower. Serve this keto cauliflower mac and cheese recipe for dinner or as a larger family-style meal during any holiday. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 6.5 cups cauliflower, cut into very small florets
  • 4 each turkey bacon, diced, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 4 fluid ounce heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup extra sharp cheese, shredded
  • 1/8 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, if desired, for a kicker

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Start by prepping your cauliflower. Look for a large head of cauliflower with no dark spots. Trim away the leaves and cut them into small cauliflower florets, enough to imitate the size of macaroni pasta. You can also include small pieces of stem. Add your cauliflower pieces to a large bowl and toss with garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and a drizzle of oil. Don’t forget to save some pepper and garlic powder for the cheese mixture. Then toss gently to coat.

  2. Place cauliflower in a foil-lined sheet tray and bake in a preheated oven, for 12-15 minutes, until tender and roasted. Remove once golden brown and cook through. Check constantly to avoid florets from burning. As your cauliflower roasts, you can crisp up your bacon. If you're trying to keep this dish vegetarian, just skip this step.Cut bacon strips half lengthwise, and then width-wise to small rectangular strips. It might help to stack your bacon for cutting, and be sure to use a sharp knife. Put your bacon pieces in an unheated sauté pan, and bring the heat up from cold to medium - this allows the bacon to begin rendering and cook slowly. Let the pieces sit and don't stir until the bacon begins to crisp up.Once the bacon begins looking like crispy small teeth, stir with a wooden utensil, and remove from heat once fully crispy. Keep aside in a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Bonus flavor alert! Feel free to use some of the fat and stir it into the cheese sauce (this will add extra flavor).

  3. Once cheese is shredded, add your cheese mixture (minus a little you'll save for topping off your mac in the final step) into a medium saucepan with the cream, nutritional yeast and remaining black pepper and garlic powder. Bring heat up until cheese begins to melt, and make sure you are constantly stirring/whisking to prevent clumping or sticking. It helps if you bring up the heat slowly and stand next to the pot to keep an eye on it. Once fully melted, reduce heat to low and keep warm, stirring every once in a while until ready. If mixture is too thick, add extra milk or heavy cream.

  4. In a large bowl (you can use the same bowl you seasoned your cauliflower in at the beginning), mix roasted cauliflower, bacon and cheese sauce, making sure each piece of cauliflower is evenly coated. Pour mixture into oven safe dish and top off with remaining cheese. Broil on high for a minute or two or until cheese begins to brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Feel free to add chives or green onion bulbs for garnish.

NUTRITION FACTS

Servings: 8 portions | Calories Per Serving: 180

  • Total Fat 14g
    18%
  • Cholesterol 30mg
    10%
  • Sodium 880mg
    38%
  • Total Carbohydrates 7g
    3%
  • Sugars 1g
    0%
  • Protein 3g
    7%
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C