easy cauliflower mac and cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese: Quick, Easy, Healthy

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese: Quick, Easy, Healthy

Information about Cauliflower Mac and Cheese: Quick, Easy, Healthy

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Updated: / First Posted: 23 Comments

With a simple cheese sauce—no standing and stirring over the stove here!—a solid dose of veggies, and a super creamy final result, this healthy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a fast weeknight lunch or dinner option for toddlers. (And the rest of the family too!)

easy cauliflower mac and cheese Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

By adding the cauliflower right to the cheese sauce, we’re able to tuck a veggie right into the sauce without having to make a side dish to go with dinner.

And while I’m not a huge fan of sneaking veggies into the food that our kids eat, I love using cauliflower in the cheese sauce since it acts as a thickener without the need to use a flour-based roux…which can be tricky to make with a little one underfoot!

This is one of our favorite kids pasta recipes both because it’s yummy and also because it’s easy. And it works with just about any shape of pasta your kids like, so you can let them pick a shape or use one you’re in the mood for.

TIP: You don’t need to stir the cheese sauce together on the stovetop—it simply mixes up in a blender.

ingredients-in-cauliflower-mac-and-cheese

Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe you’ll need:

  • pasta (any kind you prefer)
  • cauliflower
  • cheddar cheese
  • milk
  • butter
  • pinch of garlic powder (optional)

TIP: I usually buy blocks of cheese and grate the cheese since it tends to be less expensive, but you can use purchased grated cheese if you prefer. It’s certainly easier that way!

how-to-make-cauliflower-mac-and-cheese-step-by-step

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the process involved in how to make this quick Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to the recipe to see the full details.

  1. Cut the cauliflower into florets if starting with a whole heat.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook until soft. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower.
  3. Add it to the blender with the milk, cheese, butter, salt, and garlic powder. Blend until smooth.
  4. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water from Step 1 and cook. Drain and return to the pot with the cheese sauce.

TIP: You can stir in some of the sauce and save the rest for later if you want to make it less cheesy/saucy to please the kids.

Can I make this mac and cheese ahead of time?

If you want to make this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese ahead, I’d recommend making the cheese sauce and storing it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook the pasta.

You can make the sauce up to 3 days ahead of time if you store it in an airtight container. Warm the sauce for 15-30 seconds in the microwave and stir into the cooked and drained  warmed pasta.

healthy cauliflower mac and cheese in blue bowlWhat kind of pasta is best for this healthy Mac and Cheese?

You can use whichever pasta you want! We like star pasta, alphabet pasta, elbows, and any other smaller shape of pasta in this easy toddler dinner.

And you can use gluten-free pasta, a bean pasta, or regular pasta—they’re all good for this recipe.

Can I use frozen cauliflower?

Sure, you can use frozen cauliflower florets or even cauliflower rice. You’ll just want to shorten the cooking time a little. See the Notes for the full info.

Best Tips for Success

  • Use whichever kind of pasta your family likes best.
  • I usually buy blocks of cheese and grate the cheese since it tends to be less expensive, but you can use purchased grated cheese if you prefer.
  • Omit the garlic powder if you’re at all worried that the kids may not like it.
  • You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time if you store it in an airtight container.
  • Stir the sauce into the pasta right before serving.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Warm for 30-60 seconds in the microwave to serve.
  • You may also like Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, One-Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese, Veggie Chili Mac, and Baby Pasta.

I’d love to hear your feedback if you make this recipe, so please comment below!

This post was first published November 2018.

cauliflower mac and cheese

5-Ingredient Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Amy Palanjian

Use yellow or white cheese according to your child’s color expectations!

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Course Dinner

Cuisine American

Servings 8

Calories 317 kcal

Ingredients 

 

  • 1 small head cauliflower (stem discarded and chopped into small pieces; or about 4 cups florets)
  • 2/3 cup milk (warmed slightly)
  • 1 pound pasta (such as elbow or other mini pasta shape)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • pinch garlic powder (optional)

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork.

  • Use a fine-mesh strainer or slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower and add to a blender. Add the milk, cheese, butter, salt, and garlic powder if using. Blend until smooth.

  • Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water from Step 1 and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.

  • Stir the cheese sauce into the pasta and serve warm.

Notes

  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Warm for 30-60 seconds in the microwave to serve.
  • You can make the cheese sauce up to 3 days ahead and store it in an airtight container. Warm for 15-30 seconds in the microwave before stirring into the pasta.
  • Use whichever kind of pasta your family likes best.
  • I usually buy blocks of cheese and grate the cheese since it tends to be less expensive, but you can use purchased grated cheese if you prefer.
  • Omit the garlic powder if you’re at all worried that the kids may not like it.
  • Stir the sauce into the pasta right before serving.

 

Nutrition

Calories: 317kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 13gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 213mgPotassium: 317mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 262IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 149mgIron: 1mg

Keyword cauliflower mac and cheese, mac and cheese

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