This pasta-less mac and cheese is loaded with cauliflower florets and baked in a rich cheese sauce with chunks of bacon!
This post is sponsored by Cabot Cheese.
Tampering with mac and cheese may be frowned upon in some places, but I see the traditional pasta dish as a base for so many other recipes. There’s not much that doesn’t taste amazing after being baked in a rich cheese sauce! For this particular version of mac, I used cauliflower florets and a lot of smoked bacon. If you’re a die hard mac and cheese fan and just cringe at the thought of switching out elbow macaroni for cauliflower, I dare you to try this and then rethink your choice!
The recipe is still cooked exactly the same way and has the same thick cheesy sauce that macaroni needs and loves! If there were any changes to mention, I’d say that the cauliflower releases a little amount of water as it bakes. But after leaving the dish to cool for 5 minutes after coming from the oven, the sauce becomes nice and thick.
Important Things to Know About Mac and Cheese!
The cheese is probably the most critical ingredient in mac and cheese, and as popular traditional orange cheddar is. I recommend experimenting with other kinds of cheese. Don’t worry too much about messing up your recipe because I don’t even think its possible to mess up mac and cheese. My favorite way to make it is with extra sharp cheddar, I love the flavor and how tangy the cheese sauce turns out. Cabot Cheese has so many varieties of cheddar cheese but this Seriously Sharp Cheddar is exactly that, it’s sharp and loaded with flavor and makes the ultimate mac and cheese!
Creating a good base for the cheese sauce is also important and that’s why knowing how to make a great béchamel sauce is important. Check out my tutorial on how to make béchamel sauce and be ready to use it for lots of other recipes like lasagna and creamed spinach or creamed kale.
Can This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Be Made Ahead?
It can but after you add the cheese sauce and bacon I’d recommend covering it with plastic wrap and storing it in the fridge until you need to bake it. Hot bubbling fresh cheese is always better!
How To Reheat Your Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Using a microwave is always possible and will be the quickest method, though I recommend using the oven to keep the texture of the mac and cheese how it should be. Try a 400 degree oven with the cauliflower mac and cheese in an oven safe dish and lightly covered with aluminum foil. It should take about 15 minutes.
Check out these other Cabot inspired cheese dishes you might like!
- Game Day Frito Chili Cheese Dip
- Cheesy Sausage and Egg Croissants Muffins
- Pizza Style Potato Wedges with Marinara Sauce
- Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Bacon
- 2 pounds cauliflower florets
- 6 slices cooked smoked bacon
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
- 2 1/2 cups grated Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar, divided
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the cauliflower florets.
- Cook the florets for 4 minutes and then drain in a colander. Set aside.
- In a large pan melt the 3 tbsp of butter and then add the flour.
- Whisk together over a medium/low heat and gradually add the milk whisking all of the time.
- After 2 cups of milk have been added, your sauce should look smooth with no lumps.
- Add 2 cups of the grated Cabot Cheddar and whisk until melted.
- Add the remaining half cup of milk iif the sauce is too thick for you after adding the cheese.
- Add the rosemary, salt and pepper and whisk together.
- Add the cauliflower and chopped bacon to a large bowl and then pour the cheese sauce on top of it.
- Gently stir the sauce through the cauliflower and bacon until well coated then transfer everything to your prepared baking dish.
- Mix the melted butter and panko breadcrumbs together then sprinkle over the surface of the cauliflower followed by the remaining 1/2 cup grated cheddar.
- Place on a baking sheet pan and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes switch to your broiler and broil for 2-3 minutes and the surface is nice and golden.
- Let the cauliflower mac and cheese sit for 5 minutes before serving.