This cauliflower casserole is cooked cauliflower florets tossed in a homemade cheese sauce, then mixed with bacon and green onions and baked to golden brown perfection. A hearty side dish that pairs well with chicken, pork and beef.
Cauliflower is one of my all time favorite vegetables. It’s inexpensive, available year round, packed with nutrition, and pairs will with so many different flavors. This cauliflower casserole has it all – tender vegetables, smoky bacon and plenty of cheese.
HOW TO COOK CAULIFLOWER
You’ll need to cook your cauliflower for this casserole, and there are a few different techniques you can use. I typically just blanch my cauliflower, but any of these methods will work just fine. Keep in mind that the cauliflower will continue to cook as it bakes in the casserole, so be careful not to overcook it initially!
- Blanch: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and cook for 4 minutes or until just tender. Drain the cauliflower and place it in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry, then proceed with the casserole.
- Steam: Heat 1 inch of water to boiling salted water in a shallow pan. Add the cauliflower in a single layer. Cover the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes or until cauliflower is just tender. Remove the cauliflower from the pan.
- Roast: Heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Coat the cauliflower florets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the florets on a greased sheet pan in a single layer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until tender.
How do you make cauliflower casserole?
Start by cooking your cauliflower so that it’s just tender. While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare a cheese sauce by mixing together butter and flour to make a roux. Add milk and whisk constantly until the sauce mixture thickens. Stir in shredded cheese, then toss the cooked cauliflower with the cheese sauce. Add some bacon and green onions, then pour the cauliflower mixture into a prepared dish. Add a layer of shredded cheese, then bake until golden brown. The finishing touch is an additional garnish of bacon and green onions. All that’s left is to serve and enjoy!
Tips for the perfect casserole
- 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.
- This dish can be assembled up to 8 hours before you plan to bake it. Cover and store in the fridge until you’re ready to put it in the oven.
- 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.
- Cauliflower casserole will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This recipe is not a great candidate for the freezer, as the cheese sauce may separate and the cauliflower can become watery upon thawing.
Cauliflower Casserole Flavor Variations
This dish is fabulous as-is, but you can absolutely add other ingredients to customize it to your tastes.
- Protein: Make this a main course by adding diced cooked chicken or sliced smoked sausage. You can also swap out the bacon for cubes of ham.
- Cheese: Use your favorite type of cheese! Some great options include Monterey Jack, Swiss, pepper jack, Colby or Mozzarella.
- Veggies: Instead of cauliflower, try broccoli or diced cooked potatoes. You can even do a combination of vegetables to add extra flavor.
- Toppings: Feel free to add more toppings such as buttered panko breadcrumbs or french fried onions.
This cauliflower casserole is easy enough to put together on a busy weeknight, but is elegant enough to earn its place on a holiday meal table. You just can’t go wrong with this one!
More great side dishes
- Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Loaded Corn Casserole
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Green Beans
- Creamed Corn
- 6 cups cauliflower florets cooked
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk I use whole milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided use
- 8 slices bacon cooked and crumbled, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup green onions sliced, plus more for garnish
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Gradually add in the milk, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then bring the milk mixture to a simmer.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thickened. Stir in the parmesan cheese and 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese.
- Add the cauliflower to the cheese sauce and toss to coat. Stir in the bacon and green onions.
- Pour the cauliflower mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with remaining cup of cheddar cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve, garnished with additional bacon and green onions as desired.