The ultimate keto comfort food recipe. Cheesy Cauliflower Mac and cheese is the recipe that everyone turns to when they are craving traditional Macaroni & cheese.
My recipe is far from the first Cauliflower Mac and cheese recipe but I have a few tricks to making it one of the best.
Follow a few easy steps to make your cauliflower Mac and cheese superior to other recipes.
Let’s begin with the cauliflower itself, boiling the cauliflower ahead of time is key.
When cutting up the cauliflower make sure your pieces are similar in size so they cook evenly. Another trick is to salt the water just like you would pasta.
Two or even three teaspoons is not too much salt when boiling your cauliflower.
Most of that salt will be washed off when shocked in cold water but enough will absorb into the cauliflower to season throughout.
The cauliflower should be tender but not fully cooked. Since you’re cooking the cauliflower twice you’ll need to account for it baking in the cheese sauce.
You should test the cauliflower after it’s boiled for six minutes by poking with a fork. If you overcook the cauliflower you’re going to have a consistency closer to mashed cauliflower...but that’s another recipe.
As soon as the cauliflower is cooked it’s important to shock the cauliflower in cold water and drain thoroughly. If you don't you'll have soup not Mac.
One complaint I’ve seen with recipes using cauliflower is that they’re watery. Cauliflower itself has a high water content and boiling it only adds more.
To make this Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese the best its important to make sure you drain all the water and pat the cauliflower dry before adding it to the sauce.
Even after draining the cauliflower there is still a lot of water locked inside the vegetable itself. You need to at the very least pat the cauliflower dry after you’ve drained it.
Another trick is to pop the cauliflower in the oven spread out on a sheet pan. You don’t want to cook the cauliflower but just dry it out a bit.
I recommend 8-10 minutes at 300 degrees F. Just long enough to make your cheese sauce.
All cheese sauces are not created equal. Different cheeses have different flavors and create different textures.
I like to use a combination of soft and hard, mild and sharp cheeses to develop the ultimate cheese sauce.
Cheeses like Parmesan or Romano are hard nutty cheeses where as cream cheese and Boursin are soft and creamy.
When you combine all of them together you get the perfect balance of flavor and texture.
The second secret to cheesy perfection is temperature. Too often I see people bring their cheese sauce to a boil and then wonder why their sauce is greasy and grainy.
A cheese sauce should never reach a boil. Even when the cauliflower Mac is baking in the oven.
I decided to use a combination of heavy cream and chicken stock. When preparing the sauce start with the soft cheeses like Boursin and cream cheese to begin thickening the sauce.
Then add your melty cheddar cheese then finish with your hard Parmesan Cheese. This will give you the velvety smooth texture we’re looking for.
Once the cheese sauce and cauliflower is ready to combine, gently fold the sauce and cauliflower together before pouring into your baking dish.
I like to use an enameled cast iron pan but any Pyrex or oven safe casserole dish will due.
Finally before broiling I top the cauliflower mixture with a layer of cheddar and crushed Pork Rinds.
You can make your own but as a great time saver I use Pork King Good Breadcrumbs. They’re the perfect texture and ready in a moments notice to add to any recipe.
If you’re oven has a low broil Setting that is ideal otherwise place your cauliflower Mac on the lower rack so the cheese has enough time to bubble and brown without burning.
The cauliflower Mac will have everything you want in a cheesy casserole. A crispy crust on top with tender cauliflower enrobed in a velvety smooth sauce.
This is just a base recipe, now it’s up to you to make it yours. Add bacon or jalapeños for an extra kick. Play with the cheeses and seasoning to change the flavor profile. Please let me know if you make this Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese.