This creamy, cheesy Cauliflower Casserole with bacon gives the loaded baked potato treatment to cauliflower au gratin.
If you’re looking for a single side dish to serve at your next holiday gathering or family dinner that pleases just about every taste preference and diet under the sun, look no further than this easy cauliflower casserole.
- The Vegetable Haters. Tender, caramelized roasted cauliflower florets are hidden amongst indulgent, melting pockets of cream cheese, gruyere, and crispy bacon, a.k.a. you’ll question whether or not this dish actually contains vegetables (same goes for this Broccoli Bake).
- The Health-Conscious. Healthy swaps, like Greek yogurt and reduced-fat cream cheese, cut calories without sacrificing flavor in this creamy cauliflower casserole without mayo or sour cream.
- The Vegetarians. This recipe is easy to scale. You can easily divvy it up into a second smaller (or larger) casserole dish to make a vegetarian cauliflower casserole without bacon (this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese can also be easily adapted).
- The Carb Counters. No need to make a separate low-carb option. The recipe, as it is written, is already an excellent side dish for the carb-conscious at your dinner table.
It’s easy to prepare (it can even be made ahead) and offers that sought-after WOW factor from the very first bite.
5 Star Review
“OMG! This was amazing! EVERYONE raved about it! I will definitely make it again!”— Renee —
How to Make Cauliflower Casserole
So, how do you make a healthy cauliflower casserole bake?
A handful of simple ingredients and a few straightforward steps and you’re on your way to creamy, cheesy cauliflower casserole nirvana.
- Cauliflower. Unlike raw cauliflower (which is bland), roasted cauliflower (like in this Roasted Vegetable Salad, for example) is complex, caramelized, and rich. For maximum ease, I roasted the cauliflower in the same baking dish that I used for the final casserole; no need to wash in between.
Cauliflower Health Benefits
- It’s no secret that cauliflower is good for you. Cauliflower is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, and countless antioxidants.
- Additionally, cauliflower is a low-calorie superfood loaded with dietary fiber, folate, and choline.
All of that nutritional benefit does not mean that we should have to sacrifice taste. In fact, this cauliflower casserole (as well as these Grilled Cauliflower Steaks) is so stand-out delicious, you’ll forget that what you are eating is good for you.
- Garlic Powder. All the garlic flavor without the fuss of actually chopping garlic.
- Ground Black Pepper. Kicks up the cauliflower and jives well with the bacon.
- Ground Nutmeg. My nod to the traditional flavors in a classic cauliflower casserole au gratin recipe.
- Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese. Lends the ultimate creamy texture that ramps up the “loaded” factor of this dish.
- Greek Yogurt. My sneaky swap for mayo or sour cream that keeps this cauliflower casserole creamy. I opted for nonfat plain Greek yogurt to keep the recipe on the lighter side.
- Bacon. Turns this casserole into the stuff of dinner legend. For maximum ease, I use my easy Oven Baked Bacon or Air Fryer Bacon method.
- Cheese. Gruyere and Parmesan are the perfect nutty combination here! (This Brussels Sprouts Casserole is another side dish crowned with this tasty cheese combo.)
- Chives. A beautiful addition of color and fresh flavor.
I adore this healthy cauliflower casserole just as it is, AND I adore the different delicious spinoffs it can create. A few ideas:
- Loaded “Baked Potato” Cauliflower Casserole. Swap the Gruyere for sharp cheddar and the nutmeg for cayenne.
- Fontina and Herb Cauliflower Bake. Swap the Gruyere for fontina, add 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme to the cauliflower prior to roasting, and top the final casserole with chopped, fresh parsley. Bacon optional…or not.
- Italian. Swap the Gruyere for shredded provolone or mozzarella, omit the nutmeg, and add 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning plus a pinch of red pepper flakes to the cauliflower prior to roasting.
- Lightly coat a casserole dish with nonstick spray, and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Toss the cauliflower florets with the oil and spices, then roast until tender.
- Cook and crumble the bacon. Mix together the cream cheese, yogurt, and shredded cheese.
- Remove the cauliflower from the oven, dollop with the cream cheese mixture, and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.
- Bake the cauliflower casserole at 425 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Pop under the broiler to brown the top. Sprinkle with chives and additional bacon. ENJOY!
Make Ahead + Storage Tips
- To Store. Store creamy cauliflower casserole in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees F until hot. You can also gently rewarm leftovers in the microwave until heated through.
- To Freeze. Place leftover casserole in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Here’s how you can make this cheesy cauliflower casserole ahead.
- Roast the cauliflower 1 day in advance, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Prepare the cream cheese mixture 1 day in advance and store in the refrigerator.
- When ready to cook, warm the cauliflower in a baking dish in a 350-degree F oven until hot.
- Let the cream cheese mixture come to room temperature.
- Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F, then dollop on the cream cheese mixture, top with cheese, and bake as directed.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Casserole Dish. These white casserole dishes are classic, elegant, and look beautiful with any table setting.
- Sheet Pan. Not just for cookies, I love this sheet pan for baking bacon and roasting veggies too.
- Cheese Grater. Preshredded cheese may be convenient, but sometimes you just cannot beat freshly grated cheese.
Whether you are looking to please picky eaters (hi, cream cheese and bacon), try new easy cauliflower recipes, or are among those who *think* they don’t care for baked cauliflower recipes, I hope you give this loaded cauliflower casserole a try.
It’s sure to be a fast favorite at your table!
Frequently Asked Questions
While cauliflower is a keto-approved food, I’m not as familiar with the specifics of that diet, so I would recommend checking other resources if you’re looking for a keto cauliflower casserole or keto cauliflower recipes.
Yes. Or, at least this recipe is. Some cauliflower casseroles are made with copious amounts of cheese and heavier ingredients like mayo or sour cream. My version opts for Greek yogurt, reduced-fat sour cream, and less cheese to cut calories but still yield an impressively creamy and cheesy cauliflower casserole.
I have not personally tried this swap, and I don’t think I would recommend it. I fear the frozen cauliflower would make this casserole too watery so I would stick to fresh, if possible. If you decide to experiment and make a frozen cauliflower casserole, I would love to hear about your results.
- 2 medium heads of cauliflower cut into bite-size florets (about 3–4 pounds cauliflower, prior to being cut, or 5–6 cups florets)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 slices bacon
- 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Gruyere or similar melty, nutty, alpine-style cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese divided
- 3 tablespoons fresh chives chopped
- Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Lightly coat a wide 3-quart (9×13) casserole dish, with nonstick spray, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Transfer the cauliflower to the prepared casserole dish and spread it into an even layer. Keep the bowl handy. Roast cauliflower on the lower rack for 30 minutes, until the florets are tender and begin to brown.
- Meanwhile, arrange the bacon strips in a single layer on the prepared foil-lined baking sheet. Bake on the upper rack until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the bacon and cauliflower from the oven. Stir the cauliflower, spread it back into an even layer, and place it on the upper rack to continue cooking until the end of its baking time.
- Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and lightly pat dry. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop or crumble the bacon into small pieces.
- In the same bowl that you used to toss the cauliflower, beat together the cream cheese and Greek yogurt until combined. Stir in 1/3 cup Gruyere cheese, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, and half of the chopped bacon.
- Remove the roasted cauliflower from the oven and dollop the cream cheese mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of Gruyere and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
- Return the pan to the upper third of the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and gooey, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the oven to broil. Broil the casserole until golden on top, 1 to 3 minutes. Do not walk away, and watch carefully to make sure the cheese does not burn.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh chives and remaining bacon. Serve hot.
- TO STORE: Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO FREEZE: Baked cauliflower casserole may be kept frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
- TO REHEAT: Warm the cauliflower casserole in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F until steaming and heated through.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: The cauliflower can be roasted 1 day in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The cream cheese mixture can be prepared 1 day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. When ready to cook, warm the cauliflower in the baking dish in a 350-degree F oven until hot. Let the cream cheese mixture come to room temperature. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F, then dollop on the cream cheese and bake as directed.
- TO DOUBLE: This recipe is easy to scale! Feel free to double it (bake in two separate 9×13-inch pans) or halve it and bake in a 1 1/2-quart casserole or gratin dish.
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