Casseroles/ Sides and Salads

Creamy Cauliflower Au Gratin

Enjoy a cheesy, creamy cauliflower Au Gratin casserole with rich béchamel sauce topped with a crusty layer of breadcrumbs and cheese.

A cheesy, creamy cauliflower Au Gratin casserole with rich Bechamel sauce topped with a crusty layer of breadcrumbs and cheese.

Today we’re making a creamy cauliflower au gratin. Au gratin basically means the casserole is topped with a crusty layer of breadcrumbs and cheese. Despite its very fancy name and obvious French origins, this tastes as comforting and down-to-earth as something you would eat at home.

Even if you are not particularly fond of cauliflower or generally indifferent towards it like me, you will love this! It’s even had meat-eaters ask me when I was gonna make this again. It makes people want to eat their veggies! Why? Because it’s creamy and cheesy.

What makes it great is the white sauce made from a simple mix of butter, flour, milk, nutmeg and cheese. And then there’s that crusty layer I was talking about earlier. Simple breadcrumbs and cheese toppings drizzled with a little bit of melted butter gives you two textures to enjoy. So let’s start cooking.

A cheesy, creamy cauliflower Au Gratin casserole with rich Bechamel sauce topped with a crusty layer of breadcrumbs and cheese.

CREAMY CAULIFLOWER AU GRATIN TIPS AND TRICKS

Do you see that cheese? That sauce is a combination of two types of cheese on top of the bechamel sauce. Think of it as a cauliflower version of mac and cheese, only this has a nice crusty topping. So let’s make some!

Simply whip out that casserole dish, blanch some cauliflower florets for five minutes until al dente and work on the sauce for another ten or so. The sauce is what will take up most of your time at the stove. Layer it in the casserole and top with the crusty breadcrumb mixture then bake! I make it sound so easy and it truly is.

A cheesy, creamy cauliflower Au Gratin casserole with rich Bechamel sauce topped with a crusty layer of breadcrumbs and cheese.

The only thing you’ll need to be careful of is not to curdle the milk while making the sauce by not cooking it over high heat. So be patient and it’ll come out nicely. I know it’ll seem like it’s taking forever for that milk to thicken but it will. I promise! So just keep stirring or whisking until it does. And then you will have made a bechamel sauce. Tada!

Then remove it from the heat and add in your cheese, nutmeg and seasonings. The cheeses will thicken it up some more to this yummy, creamy, cheesy sauce full of delicious goodness.

A cheesy, creamy cauliflower Au Gratin casserole with rich Bechamel sauce topped with a crusty layer of breadcrumbs and cheese.

One word of advice is to drain that cauliflower until it’s bone dry. Any excess liquid will make your casserole watery! I’ve made this mistake before so take it from me. Bring out that colander and drain that cauliflower!

And that’s about it. Despite the labor of love needed to make a roux from scratch and a bechamel sauce, it’s well worth it in the end. So take the time and enjoy the cauliflower au gratin!

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A cheesy, creamy cauliflower Au Gratin casserole with rich Bechamel sauce topped with a crusty layer of breadcrumbs and cheese.

Creamy Cauliflower Au Gratin


  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 46 1x

Description

Enjoy a cheesy, creamy cauliflower Au Gratin casserole with rich béchamel sauce topped with a crusty layer of breadcrumbs and cheese.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Gruyere/Swiss cheese, grated and divided
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Over medium-high heat, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the cauliflower florets for 5 minutes or until al dente. Drain completely and set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.
  3. Add flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes to make a roux.
  4. Pour in milk and bring to a simmer, whisking continuously to remove lumps until sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste, nutmeg, 1/2 cup Gruyere/Swiss and Parmesan cheese.
  6. Pour 1/3 of the sauce in a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Top with the cauliflower and pour the rest of the sauce over it.
  7. Combine breadcrumbs with remaining Gruyere/Swiss cheese and sprinkle on the cauliflower.
  8. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and drizzle over the casserole.
  9. Bake at 375°F  for 25-30 minutes or until the top has browned. 
  10. Allow it to cool slightly before serving.

Nutrition for serving size of 6:

A cheesy, creamy cauliflower Au Gratin casserole with rich Bechamel sauce topped with a crusty layer of breadcrumbs and cheese.
A no fuss recipe for slow cooker BBQ pulled chicken. It's literally set and forget until it's time to eat. Serve with coleslaw, pickles and chips!

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Dana
    November 1, 2020 at 8:21 PM

    Can I gently steam the cauliflower instead of blanching in H2O?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 1, 2020 at 9:02 PM

      Absolutely. Just as long as its steamed until al dente 🙂

  • Reply
    Nicole Shamrock-thomas
    December 19, 2018 at 6:02 PM

    I need to prepare at home & serve approx 2-3 hours later for Christmas. Any suggestions?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 19, 2018 at 7:12 PM

      My suggestion is after baking, let it air out just a bit then cover with aluminum foil and keep it warm in the oven until then. Good luck and Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    Kathy Fischer
    November 26, 2017 at 6:41 PM

    This was delicious! It did turn out a little watery. I drained the cauliflower in a colander and let it set for 15 minutes. I will make this again.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 6, 2017 at 1:36 AM

      Glad you liked it Kathy! Yup, I would think cauliflower is definitely the culprit for the watery-ness.

  • Reply
    Holly
    October 9, 2016 at 4:03 PM

    Love it! I used some fresh buttermilk I needed to use up. Didn’t add salt, the buttermilk had enough salt flavor. Also, used 3 year old sharp white cheddar instead of the swiss, it was sweet enough. This recipe can be adjusted to basically what you have on hand!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 26, 2016 at 3:22 PM

      Great way to change things up to suit what you have. Thanks for trying it out, Holly!

  • Reply
    Pooja
    October 28, 2015 at 12:18 AM

    As an amateur cook, I am always looking for simple recipes to try out and this recipe is amazing……tried it out last night and all I can say is that it’s delicious, cheesy, creamy goodness.
    Although I had to use cheddar cheese instead of Gruyere or Swiss but it was still great.
    Thank you so much!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 29, 2015 at 7:18 PM

      You’re welcome Pooja! Isn’t it an amazing feeling when you succeed in making a nice bechamel sauce from scratch? 🙂 Cheddar cheese works too, you’ll get more of a mac and cheese flavor from it!

  • Reply
    Burcin
    April 25, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    made it. loved it. made it again. I used kasseri cheese instead of parmesan just because I think it gives it a little more bite. I also like to sprinkle a little sweet paprika on top to add color. I skipped the nutmeg which I think works great if you are using swiss cheese (brings out the sweetness).

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 27, 2015 at 4:01 PM

      That’s fantastic! I’ve never tried kasseri cheese before, but it’s always fun to hear people’s customizations!

  • Reply
    Andrew
    November 7, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    This sounds awesome, but what kind of milk to use for the white sauce? 2% or whole?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 7, 2014 at 11:11 PM

      You can use either although using full fat milk will give you a thicker, richer sauce compared to the low fat version. Good luck, Andrew! Bechamel sauce is awesome. 🙂

  • Reply
    Hailey
    October 13, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Maybe a silly question, but do we use the gruyere & the swiss cheese; or just one or the other? If it’s one, which is your fav? Thanks so much!! Can’t wait to make it.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 14, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      It’s either Gruyere or Swiss. I included both options because Swiss is easier to find, at least for me! 🙂 I’m not much of a cheese connoisseur, but I kinda like Swiss simply because it’s more accessible! Good luck making it!

  • Reply
    Alyssa
    October 1, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    A great way to get kids to eat more vegetables! I just wanted to let you know that I have a food photo submission site (Simply Creative Recipes) and I am linking to this post if you don’t mind. You are welcome to submit your recipes to my site if you’d like.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 1, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      I don’t mind at all Alyssa 🙂 Thanks for the link love! And yep, it totally makes cauliflower bearable, at least for me.

  • Reply
    La Cuisine d'Helene
    September 12, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    This will be a winner with my sons. here. It looks incredibly good. I will have to try this recipe this fall.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 13, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      I love this au gratin! It’s been so long since I made it so when I had the leftovers the next day, I was wowed with how great it tasted. Sometimes you tend to forget!

  • Reply
    Nagi {RecipeTin Eats}
    September 9, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    This is so creamy and dreamy…..gratin is the BEST! I have a theory that everything can be made in gratin form and I would happily eat it! Love the photos – so rustic and moody! YUM! Also tres impressed that you make the white sauce the proper way!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 9, 2014 at 9:37 PM

      Merci, Nagi! It’s definitely a fun white sauce but needs a lot of patience!

  • Reply
    Muna Kenny
    September 8, 2014 at 6:45 AM

    I’m not so fond of vegetables only because I feel there is not much to do with them as in cooking, but then a recipe like yours come up and makes me get my vegetables ready 🙂 … The clicks are amazing Farah!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      Thanks, Muna! I’m seriously not much of a cauliflower fan either. In fact, this is probably the only way I eat it!

  • Reply
    bill @thewoksoflife
    September 7, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    Hi Farah,
    I have seen quite a few of these cauliflower casserole recipes but have not tried one yet but you do make it look easy enough. Thanks for some much needed inspriation today!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      Most welcome Bill. I hope the semi step by step pics helped some!

      • Reply
        Kristin
        December 16, 2015 at 12:58 AM

        Can this be made ahead of time is day before? If so do I prep the sauce and keep seperate to the cauliflower or do I finish it and just pop in the oven to cook?

        • Reply
          The Cooking Jar
          December 16, 2015 at 12:51 PM

          Yes you can make it a day ahead. I would separate the sauce like you suggested just so the cauliflower isn’t super soggy if left to sit in the sauce for too long. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Thalia @ butter and brioche
    September 7, 2014 at 4:49 AM

    I am a massive gratin fan.. I can never resist a good bowl of it’s cheesey deliciousness. I have to try your cauliflower version, it looks amazing.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 8, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      It heats up well too. It’s been so long since I made it…but I was happy to find out how great it tasted the next day!

    • Reply
      Justin
      December 24, 2015 at 4:29 PM

      It’s great with just a touch of horseradish! Try it the next time you make this.

      • Reply
        The Cooking Jar
        December 28, 2015 at 2:10 PM

        I can imagine it would. Just a touch though, too much and your’re breathing fire through your nose! I only have experience with horseradish mustard and french dip sandwich and I’ve been victim a couple times to a little overzealous spreading of it.

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