My hot and bubbly cauliflower casserole is a super creamy, cheesy and irresistible side dish. Filled to the brim with tender cauliflower, a creamy parmesan sauce, an added sprinkle of savory fontina cheese, plus a crispy panko topping, this cauliflower casserole recipe is sure to make everyone enjoy their veggies!
Cauliflower Casserole, a Creamy and Cheesy Take on Cauliflower
If you were to ask me which cruciferous veggie I cook with most often, I would probably tell you that it's cauliflower.
Delicate in flavor and easy to work with (not to mention inexpensive), I use cauliflower in everything from making low-carb cauliflower rice, to cauliflower cheese soup, cauliflower mac and cheese, cauliflower curry, or these spiced cauliflower steaks.
I love how versatile it is, and how wonderfully it either blends into a dish or becomes the star!
And because cauliflower is such a stellar veggie, it makes for a delectable cauliflower casserole when combined with a creamy parmesan sauce and fontina cheese, plus a crispy parmesan and panko breadcrumb topping.
Baked until hot, bubbly and golden-brown, this scrumptious cauliflower casserole is a wonderfully cheesy and creamy side dish, sure to make everyone ask for seconds on their veggies!
My Recipe for Cauliflower Casserole
Preparing cauliflower casserole is just a matter of having the components ready, then combining everything and baking off this scrumptious side dish.
The basic components for my recipe are the cauliflower, the sauce, a flavorful sprinkle of fontina cheese, and the crisp topping.
For convenience, I like to use pre-packaged cauliflower florets—they're already pretty much the perfect size, making them a breeze to prepare.
And I make my creamy sauce using a little butter, flour, milk, garlic, and parmesan. This is quick to simmer and whisk up, lending lots of savory, creamy flavor.
Here'a sneak peek at my Cauliflower Casserole recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To begin, I prepare my parmesan cheese sauce, and set that aside to keep warm.
- Next, I combine the ingredients for the crispy panko breadcrumb topping.
- I blanch the cauliflower florets in salted, simmering water for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are slightly tender yet still crisp/firm, and then I drain them.
- Next, I assemble my cauliflower casserole, then top my panko/parmesan topping and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbly.
by Ingrid Beer
This creamy cauliflower casserole with a crisp panko and parmesan topping is a scrumptious way to turn cauliflower into a cheesy side dish!
Yield: Serves 8
Nutrition Info: 273 calories per serving
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- 4 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 4 ½ tablespoons flour
- 2 ½ cups milk (I use 2%)
- 1 ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided use
- Black pepper
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 3 pounds cauliflower florets, or cauliflower head, cut into florets
- ¼ teaspoon granulated onion
- ½ cup grated fontina cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat the oven to 375°, and have medium-large baking dish (about 2 ½ quart size) ready on hand.
- To prepare the parmesan sauce, place a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add in 2 ½ tablespoons of the butter, and once it has melted, add in the garlic, and stir until aromatic.
- Sprinkle in the flour evenly, and stir to create a roux, or a paste-like consistency. Then, pour in the milk, whisking all the while to avoid lumps.
- Cook the mixture for about 5-6 minutes (whisking often), or until it comes to a vigorous simmer and thickens up.
- Whisk in a pinch or two of salt (I used 1 teaspoon total) and a pinch of pepper, and remove the sauce from the heat. Add in 1 cup of the grated parmesan cheese, and whisk that in until well blended; set aside to keep warm.
- Prepare your panko topping by mixing together the panko breadcrumbs with the remaining ¼ cup of the parmesan, plus the paprika. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and drizzle that into the mixture, mixing it together with a fork. Set aside.
- Blanch the cauliflower florets in salted simmering water for about 4-5 minutes, or until slightly tender yet still crisp/firm. Drain well and pat dry.
- To assemble the cauliflower casserole, spread about 1 cup of the parmesan sauce onto the bottom of the baking dish. Add in the blanched cauliflower florets, and sprinkle over them the granulated onion.
- Pour the remainder of the parmesan sauce over the seasoned cauliflower, smoothing it out, then sprinkle over the fontina cheese.
- Sprinkle over the panko breadcrumb topping evening, then bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden-brown and crisp on top.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Tips & Tidbits for Cauliflower Casserole recipe:
- Pre-packaged cauliflower florets for ease: While you can certainly use a head of cauliflower for this recipe, cutting it into florets, I recommend pre-packaged florets as they'll save you little time preparing and even some cleanup at the end!
- A quick blanching: You'll want to take just a little of the raw crunch out of the cauliflower, so a 4 to 5 minute blanching in salted, simmering water will do the trick.
- Cheesy sauce: I like the savory-salty flavor of parmesan for this creamy sauce, but you can substitute different cheeses such as cheddar, gruyere, or a four-cheese blend.
- Crisp breadcrumbs: Panko breadcrumbs are my crumb of choice, but you can use fresh breadcrumbs or traditional crumbs, your choice.
- Make ahead for easy cauliflower casserole: You can simplify things if you blanch your florets, prep your parmesan sauce, and mix your breadcrumb topping the day before you want to serve this side. You could even allow things to cool, then combine the sauce with the florets in the baking dish, and wrap in plastic. Then simply top with the breadcrumbs before baking.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2018, and has been updated with even more love!