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Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese served to the table in a small bowl with spoon

Roasted Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Creamy, cheesy and delicious, this Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese will satisfy your comfort food craving without all the calories.  Cauliflower Mac and Cheese works beautifully as a delicious one pot vegetarian meal.  *Use a 4 Qt Dutch oven to take the Mac and Cheese from stovetop to oven, or use a 2 Qt baker (8x8 or 8 1/2x11).
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword Cauliflower baked mac and cheese, Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Cauliflower mac and cheese recipe, Cauliflower Mac n Cheese, Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese, Roasted Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 5 Generous Servings
Calories 596kcal
Author Traci York | Vanilla And Bean


  • 2 Tbs + 1 tsp Cooking Oil I like melted coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 Head of Cauliflower trimmed and cut into small, bite-sized. You'll need 5-6 Cups.
  • 1 Cup Purple Onion small diced (about 1 onion) - yellow can be subbed for purple if needed
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 2 1/4 Cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz Pasta Shells
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1 Tbs Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tsp Garlic microplaned (2-3 large cloves)
  • 2 Tbs Whole Wheat White Flour or All Purpose
  • 3/4 C Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
  • Black Pepper to Taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Smoked Paprika to taste
  • Fresh Thyme for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 425F, with rack positioned in the center of the oven. Line a sheet pan with parchment and spread 1 Tbs of oil on the parchment.
  • Arrange the trimmed and cut cauliflower on the sheet pan with the diced onions distributed evenly and in one layer. Once the oven is preheated, put the sheet pan in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta shells. Do this in a 4 quart Dutch oven if you can (for fewer pots to clean). Add the pasta once the water is boiling and boil until tender (or as indicated package directions). Drain pasta and add a tsp. of melted coconut oil to the pasta so that it won't stick together. Set aside. If using a Dutch oven, there's no need to clean it. You'll make the sauce in it too.
  • Check on the cauliflower after 15 minutes. Give the pan a shake and gently, using a spatula, redistribute the cauliflower again in one layer. Set the timer for another 5 minutes then check again. The cauliflower should be turning a nice golden color with bits of dark brown. Cook for an additional 5 minutes if needed. Redistribute the cauliflower again, but this time to the center of the pan. It's ok if it's piled up. Add 1/4 C Parmesan and 1/2 C Cheddar and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is thoroughly melted. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
  • Reduce the temperature of the oven to 350F.
    Spray the bottom and sides of a baker (8 1/2 x 11 or 8x8) with pan spray. Set aside. Otherwise, continue making the recipe in the Dutch oven to go from stovetop to oven.
  • Warm the milk in the microwave in a heatproof, spouted bowl or measuring cup until steaming. Set aside. To the Dutch oven, or medium sauce pot add the remaining 1 Tbs oil and 1 Tbs butter. Melt and allow the butter to bubble. Turn the burner to low. Toss in the microplaned garlic and push it around the pan using a whisk for no more than 10 seconds. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly until a paste is formed. Now you're ready to add the milk, a little at a time while whisking the entire time.
    Continue to add a little more milk at a time while the sauce begins to thicken and become smooth. The goal is no lumps! Once all the milk is in the pot and your sauce is smooth (it won't be too thick at this time), add the salt, pepper, and the remaining cheese. Stir until completely smooth. Remove the pot from the heat.
  • To the sauce, stir in the cooked pasta, the cauliflower, and the little bits of crunchies on the pan. If using a Dutch oven, continue with the breadcrumbs. If using a baker, transfer the mixture to the prepared baker.
    Cover the mixture with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle paprika over the top, to taste. A little goes a long way. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are toasty and the mac and cheese is heated thoroughly.
  • Garnish with fresh thyme.
  • Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Freeze for up to two weeks. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Gently rewarm stovetop with a splash or two of milk to loosen things up.


Adapted from The Heart of the Plate.
(Thanks Mikel!)


Calories: 596kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 1123mg | Potassium: 554mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 667IU | Vitamin C: 61mg | Calcium: 522mg | Iron: 3mg