Australian/ Baking/ Christmas/ Dinner/ Recipes/ Side Dish/ Super Simple

Creamy Cauliflower Cheese Recipe

13/10/2023 (Last Updated: 02/09/2022)

Bake this creamy cauliflower cheese recipe for your next BBQ or dinner! This classic cheesy veggie bake is the ultimate Aussie side dish – super easy to make with only 6 ingredients.

A spoonful of cauliflower cheese being picked up out of a white baking dish.

Why We Love This

This amazing cauliflower cheese is a family favourite recipe perfected by Laura’s mum! Just like Sarah’s mum’s potato bake, it’s a comforting side dish alongside a Sunday roast, at BBQs or family gatherings. 

This is the best home-style cheesy cauliflower you find on many Australian tables, especially at Christmas time. 

As always, feel free to adapt the recipe to suit your tastes or even use up other veggies from the fridge. Keep it basic as per mum’s original recipe below, or use our epic variation ideas to amp it up and really make it your own! 

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Related: Tuna Mornay / Greek Moussaka / Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake

A metal spoon rests in a big baking dish filled with fresh cauliflower cheese.

What is Cauliflower Cheese? 

This homely veggie bake goes by quite a few names depending on where you live. In Australia, it’s most commonly known as cauliflower cheese, but in other countries it’s known as cauliflower bake, cauliflower casserole or cauliflower gratin.

It consists of boiled or roasted cauliflower florets baked in a cheesy white sauce (a simplified, no fuss béchamel or roux).

Cauliflower cheese is a common side dish in Australia, often served up alongside roast lamb, beef or chicken, at a BBQ alongside sausages or rissoles, or as a beloved part of our Sunday night family dinners.

We’re so excited to be sharing Laura’s mum’s recipe with you today. She’s been cooking it ever since Laura can remember, and to this day all the kids still squabble over the leftovers. Even more than for her other classic recipe for pumpkin soup!

What You’ll Need

  • Cauliflower – The star of this recipe. We usually make this with all cauliflower, but you might like to use half cauliflower half broccoli for extra colour and nutrition. 
  • Cheese – The real star of the show! You’ll need plenty of shredded cheese / grated cheddar cheese in the sauce and to garnish over the top before baking. For a more intense cheese flavour, use extra sharp cheddar cheese varieties, Parmesan, gruyere, Jarlsberg or raclette!
  • Butter – We love salted butter for this recipe. It also works well with regular butter, margarine or Nuttelex if you prefer. 
  • Cornstarch / Cornflour – This helps to thicken the sauce while keeping it deliciously smooth. If you’re planning on making this recipe gluten-free, check the package to make sure your brand isn’t made from wheat. (Confusing, we know!)
  • Milk – We use full cream milk but you can use skim milk if you like. Add a splash of cream if you feel like lashing out for an extra creamy cheese sauce!
  • Spices – We love adding nutmeg and optional salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Ingredients laid out to make cauliflower cheese.

How to make Home Style Cauliflower Cheese Bake:

  1. Place cauliflower florets in a large saucepan and cover with around 1.5 L / 3 pints of water. Bring to the boil and boil for 15-20 mins or until cauliflower is soft and tender but still holds its shape (test with a fork). Drain well and transfer to a baking dish.

For the cheese sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in the same saucepan you used to cook the cauliflower, on medium-high. Add cornstarch / cornflour and stir well with a whisk for about 1 minute to make sure it’s cooked through. This will stop it tasting like flour in the final sauce. Tip: Aim for a lemon curd consistency here – if it’s too thin, add another ½ tbsp cornstarch / cornflour and mix well.
  2. Turn off the heat to pour in the milk (this will stop the sauce becoming lumpy). Whisk through quickly, then pop back onto low heat and keep whisking until thickened, around 1 minute. Tip: If the sauce becomes too thick at this stage, add a little more milk to loosen.
  1. Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and stir to melt it through the sauce. Tip: You can increase heat slightly to help the cheese melt if needed.
  2. Season with nutmeg, and optional salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Tip: If the sauce is too thick to pour, add a little more milk once again to loosen.

To Bake:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 360°F.
  2. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower florets, making sure each piece is well coated.
  3. Top generously with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the cheesy top is bubbly and golden brown.
A close up of the golden brown cheese sauce, baked onto the top of cauliflower florets.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Avoid Watery Sauce – Make sure to drain the cauliflower really well so you don’t end up with extra liquid in your baking dish.
  • Sauce Texture – If your sauce is too thick, add another splash of milk and stir to loosen. 
  • Melting the Cheese – If your cheese is stubbornly refusing to melt, don’t worry! You can increase the heat slightly and keep stirring – it will melt eventually!
  • Storage – Leftovers will last for 2-3 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. possibly longer. You can freeze it (though we almost never do) for around 3-4 months, but the longer you leave it, the more the quality will deteriorate. So ideally try to use it up within a month or two.

FAQs

What should I serve with cauliflower cheese?

Cauliflower cheese is the ultimate side dish, although when you love it as much as we do, you might even want to eat it on its own as a main meal! 

Serve it up alongside roast chicken (or lamb, beef or pork), teriyaki chicken, beef rissoles or sausages, with some crisp salads like shopska salad or Greek salad on the side to lighten it up.

Can I make it in advance?

Yes you can. Boil the cauliflower, drain well and cool completely, then pop in an airtight container. Make the sauce and allow it to cool, then make sure it’s sealed and pop it in the refrigerator as well. 

On the day you plan to serve it, transfer the cauliflower to a baking dish. Heat the sauce slowly on the stove to loosen and make it pourable again, then pour it over the cauliflower. Top with cheese and bake as usual.

What size baking dish should I use?

This recipe works well in a large (29 cm / 11 in) rectangle glass baking dish. We’ve also cooked it in a slightly smaller, deeper dish and it’s worked just as well. If you have an even larger dish, why not double the recipe to make it go even further and really feed a crowd!

My cheese sauce is too thick / too thin – help!

Don’t panic, your sauce will still be perfect with a little tweaking.
If it’s too thin – add a little extra cornstarch / cornflour, or another handful of cheese to thicken it up.
If it’s too thick – add another splash of milk and mix well to loosen.

Is this recipe gluten free?

Cauliflower cheese is easily made gluten free as long as you use cornstarch / cornflour that is actually made from ground corn grains.

Aussie readers, be sure to check your package labels as some brands of “cornflour” in Australia are actually made from wheat!

Variations

  • Toppings – Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs, dukkah, panko or seasoned stuffing mix for extra texture and flavour on that decadent cheese topping!
  • Roast Instead of Boil – Mum always boils her cauliflower, but you can use roasted cauliflower if you prefer. Pop on a lined baking tray and roast at 200˚C / 400˚F for around 20 mins until softened and lightly golden on the edges.
  • Easier Sauce – Instead of making the mornay cheese sauce, top the cooked cauliflower with thickened cream / heavy cream and cheese, just like we do in Sarah’s mum’s beloved potato bake.
  • Extra Veggies – Try it with finely chopped garlic, sliced onions, capsicum / bell pepper or mushrooms stirred through the cauliflower.
  • Extra Flavour – Add a sprinkling of mustard powder, garlic powder or onion powder while making the sauce.
  • Loaded Cauliflower Cheese – Stir in some lightly fried bacon or ham, and/or al dente macaroni before baking for a fusion cauliflower mac and cheese. OMG!
  • Leftover Sauce? – Use it as a base for spinach cob loaf or cheese and bacon cob loaf.
A large dish of cauliflower florets, topped with a creamy cheesy white sauce.

More classic Aussie recipes to try next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

A hand peeks out of the corner as it scoops up a large spoonful of cauliflower cheese.

Creamy Cauliflower Cheese Recipe

Bake this creamy cauliflower cheese recipe for your next BBQ or dinner! This classic cheesy veggie bake is the ultimate Aussie side dish – super easy to make with only 6 ingredients.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Christmas, Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: Australian, French
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 278kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $8

Ingredients

  • 800 g cauliflower up to 1 kg will work, separated into chunky florets, with leaves removed and stem removed
  • 4 tbsp butter 60 g / 2.1 oz
  • 5 tbsp cornstarch / cornflour 60 g / 2.1 oz
  • 1 ½ cups milk 375 ml / 12.7 fl oz
  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese 165 g / 5.8 oz, shredded / grated
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

Optional

  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Place cauliflower florets in a large saucepan and cover with around 1.5 L / 3 pints of water. Bring to the boil and boil for 15-20 mins or until cauliflower has softened (test with a fork). Drain and transfer to a baking dish.
    800 g cauliflower

For the cheese sauce:

  • Melt the butter in the same saucepan you used to cook the cauliflower, on medium – high. Add cornstarch / cornflour and stir well with a whisk for about 1 minute to make sure it’s cooked through. This will stop it tasting like flour in the final sauce. Tip: Aim for a lemon curd consistency here – if it’s too thin, add another ½ tbsp cornstarch / cornflour and mix well.
    4 tbsp butter, 5 tbsp cornstarch / cornflour
  • Turn off the heat to pour in milk (this will stop the sauce becoming lumpy). Whisk through quickly, then pop back onto low heat and keep whisking until thickened, around 1 minute. Tip: If the sauce becomes too thick at this stage, add a little more milk to loosen.
    1 ½ cups milk
  • Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and stir to melt it through the sauce. Tip: You can increase heat slightly to help the cheese melt if needed.
    1 ½ cups cheddar cheese
  • Season with nutmeg, and optional salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Tip: If the sauce is too thick to pour, add a little more milk once again to loosen.
    ½ tsp nutmeg, salt and pepper

To bake:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 360°F.
  • Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower florets, making sure each piece is well coated. Top generously with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the cheesy top is bubbly and golden brown.
    1 ½ cups cheddar cheese

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Avoid Watery Sauce – Make sure to drain the cauliflower really well so you don’t end up with extra liquid in your baking dish.
  • Sauce Texture – If your sauce is too thick, add another splash of milk and stir to loosen. 
  • Melting the Cheese – If your cheese is stubbornly refusing to melt, don’t worry! You can increase the heat slight and keep stirring – it will melt eventually!
  • Storage – Leftover cauliflower cheese will last for 2-3 days in the fridge, possibly longer, when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Topping – Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs, panko or seasoned stuffing mix for extra texture and flavour on that decadent cheese topping!
  • Cheese – Swap the cheddar for gruyere, Jarlsberg or raclette for extra bite!
  • Roast Instead of Boil – Mum always boils her cauliflower, but you can also use roasted cauliflower if you prefer. Pop on a lined baking tray and roast at 200˚C / 400˚F for around 20 mins until softened and lightly golden on the edges.
  • Easier Sauce – Instead of making the mornay cheese sauce, top the cooked cauliflower with thickened cream / heavy cream and cheese, similar to potato bake.
  • Extra Veggies – Try it with finely chopped garlic, sliced onions, capsicum / bell pepper or mushrooms stirred through the cauliflower.
  • Loaded Cauliflower Cheese – Stir in some lightly fried bacon and/or al dente macaroni before baking for a fusion cauliflower mac and cheese.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Creamy Cauliflower Cheese Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
278
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
20
g
31
%
Saturated Fat
 
12
g
75
%
Trans Fat
 
0.3
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Cholesterol
 
56
mg
19
%
Sodium
 
309
mg
13
%
Potassium
 
515
mg
15
%
Carbohydrates
 
16
g
5
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
6
g
7
%
Protein
 
11
g
22
%
Vitamin A
 
615
IU
12
%
Vitamin C
 
64
mg
78
%
Calcium
 
307
mg
31
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Creamy Cauliflower Cheese Recipe
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