Our loaded cauliflower casserole recipe showcases a hidden aspect of the tiny trees.
When someone mentions vegetables, we immediately think of the usual salads, sautés, soups, and such. Of course, they’re all tasty, but once in a while, something different would be nice.
Today’s recipe transforms cauliflower into a super creamy bake with bacon and cheese on top. It is literally loaded with creaminess and flavor, making for the ultimate, deliciously appealing, comfort food.
And as with our other recipes, we designed this loaded cauliflower casserole recipe to be healthy so you can indulge without feeling the guilt. We’ll share how we did it in this article.
What Is a Casserole That’s “Loaded”?
A casserole is a baking dish filled with different ingredients and cooked slowly in the oven. A casserole recipe can call for anything, from vegetables and meat, to even pasta.
A ‘loaded’ casserole defines the casserole as having a lot of one particular ingredient, typically the main ingredient and a dairy product. It’s a go-to if you want to treat yourself with something creamy and indulging.
Is Loaded Cauliflower Casserole Healthy?
Because it’s often packed with dairy, the saturated fat content is off the charts and saturated fat belongs to many nutrients of which the USDA recommends us all to limit our consumption.
To make this dish healthier than it normally is, we added several healthy twists:
- Instead of using pure dairy products like in other recipes, we made an alternative cream sauce of roux and milk. It’s as rich and creamy but doesn’t contain as much saturated fat.
- We only used a small amount of cheese on top. It makes the casserole look delicious but doesn’t pile on the saturated fat content.
With saturated fat in check, we present to you a satisfying but healthy casserole.
Cauliflower Casserole Ingredients
We love this vegetable’s versatility. It’s crunchy when eaten raw but becomes more and more tender as it cooks down.
In this recipe, we want to highlight its tenderness. It’s first steamed to fork-tenderness, then fused with the cream sauce in the oven.
To cut back on the prep time, you can use frozen cauliflower. It requires 5 minutes longer of steaming, but you’ll save time on chopping and washing, so we think it’s more convenient.
2. Flavorful Cream Sauce
The base of this sauce is a roux and milk.
A roux is made by cooking flour and butter together in a pan. After the butter has melted, flour should be stirred in quickly so it’s evenly cooked.
Next, milk is added to the roux, and as the two incorporate, the milk thickens and reaches a creamy consistency. This ‘sauce’ was still a little thick at this stage, so we added a good amount of broth to loosen it a little, and provide some extra savoriness.
All that it needed now was flavor. We seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder — the base of the flavor in many dishes.
To add an extra hint of sweetness, we sautéd minced garlic with the butter before adding the flour. It later formed a coating for the florets, which we think you will love.
After we placed the florets and cream in the baking dish, we topped it off with cheese and bacon. We used cheddar for its appetizing golden color and the bacon crumbles that we had made earlier.
It won’t look like a lot but we don’t recommend adding too much as it can pile on the saturated fat levels, and you want to save room for the main dish that is served with it.
4. Fresh Herbs
As the casserole came together, we sprinkled freshly chopped parsley and scallions on top to garnish.
How to Make Loaded Cauliflower Casserole
With the bacon cooked, cheddar shredded, cauliflower cleaned and ingredients measured, you’re ready to cook:
Steam the florets (and preheat the oven)
Make the cream sauce
Add the cauliflower to the baking dish
Pour in the sauce and mix
Sprinkle the cheese and bacon on top
Sprinkle the herbs on top (and more pepper)
For exact measurements, timing and oven temperature, check out our loaded cauliflower casserole recipe card below.
Tips for Making This Cauliflower Casserole
You can boil water in a fast-boiling kettle and then pour it into the pot to cut down on waiting time. You can also place the florets in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of water, cover it with cling wrap, and microwave for 7 minutes.
If you can’t find frozen cauliflower, you can make them at home. This article about making frozen broccoli will help you as the process is similar.
We used parsley and green onions to garnish, but you can swap the onions for chives. Their peppery, more pungent aroma might be more to your taste.
How to Store and Reheat Casserole
If you plan to eat the leftovers within one week, cover the whole baking dish with cling wrap and refrigerate it. To keep them for longer, we recommend storing them in the freezer.
To freeze the casserole, portion it out into containers and seal them tightly. You can seal them with cling wrap or use Ziploc bags if you don’t have airtight containers.
To reheat, transfer the casserole into a room-temp container — a larger one if you’re reheating many servings. Cover it with foil to avoid burning the top, and bake at 430°F for 10 minutes (20 minutes if it’s frozen).
Instead of baking, you can also microwave the container on high for 2 minutes (7 minutes if it’s frozen).
Loaded Cauliflower Casserole Recipe
- 18 oz cauliflower cut into florets and washed
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 cup unsalted chicken broth
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper divided
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1.5 oz cheddar cheese
- 0.25 oz bacon seared and crumbled
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp green onions chopped
- Preheat the oven to 430°F. Heat a pot of water and steam 18 oz of cauliflower florets for 15 minutes.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tsp minced garlic along with 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter and cook until fragrant. Add 4 tbsp all-purpose flour and stir quickly to incorporate.
- Add 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 cup unsalted chicken broth, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp onion powder. Stir to combine and reduce for 2 minutes to thicken the sauce.
- Add the steamed florets to a clean baking dish.
- Pour the creamy sauce into the baking dish and swirl it around to fill the nooks and crannies.
- Top the casserole with 1.5 oz cheddar and 0.25 oz bacon.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle on top 2 tbsp parsley, 1 tbsp green onions along with 1/4 tsp pepper you saved earlier. Serve.