Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

white plate of baked cauliflower with a fork next to it

I mentioned yesterday that I had a life-changing side dish to share with you. Here it is. And I hope you make it. Soon.

Before this dish, cauliflower didn’t rank very high on my veggie-loving list. I mean, I didn’t hate it, but it definitely didn’t call to me from the produce section begging me to buy it.

However, it is no exaggeration to say that this is hands down the best way I’ve ever prepared the homely little vegetable.

All of the cheese and cream quite possibly negates any health benefits from the cauliflower but let’s ignore that little fact because it was all worth it in my book (and by the way, I have successfully used lowfat milk in place of the cream with slightly less thick but still stellar results).

The cauliflower is cooked to tender perfection and lingers in a creamy, cheesy, delicious bath while being topped with garlicky, buttery bread crumbs. Oh my. It was pure cauliflower heaven.

{Update 03/14}: I updated pictures on this lovely little recipe as well as editing a few parts of the recipe (omitting garlic from the bread crumbs, offering panko as a worthy substitute to the homemade bread crumbs, and a few other details). This continues to be one of our favorite cauliflower dishes.

white plate with cheesy cauliflower bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Yield: 4-5 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes
white plate with cheesy cauliflower bake


  • 2 slices hearty white or wheat sandwich bread, torn into pieces or about 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and divided (use half in the topping, half in the cauliflower mixture)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large cauliflower head, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch florets (about 6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pulse the bread, 1 tablespoon cheddar, 1 tablespoon Monterey Jack, 1 tablespoon butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until coarsely ground.
  2. Heat the remaining butter, garlic and flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the cream (or milk) and broth. Stir in cauliflower, dry mustard, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is nearly tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the rest of the cheese.
  3. Pour the mixture into an 8X8-inch baking dish and top with the bread crumb mixture. Bake until the crumbs are golden and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.


Doubling: this recipe can easily be doubled and put in a 9X13-inch baking dish.

Variation: also, to lighten up the dish, I’ve used lowfat milk for a slightly less thick but still delicious variation.

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Recipe Source: adapted Cook’s Country Feb/March 2010