Baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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I am SO excited to share the recipe for this Baked Cauliflower Mac & Cheese with Bread Crumbs with you all. It has been a while since I made a version of baked mac & cheese at home, so I figured I was due. It also came highly requested by my husband. Cheese basically runs through his veins at this point, LOL.

If I’m being completely honest, mac & cheese is one of my top five favorite foods. I’m talking Kraft mac & cheese, out of the box, especially shells. I don’t think anyone can deny that that stuff is freaking GOOD. It’s not the healthiest, obviously, but hey – we’re here for a good time, not a long time, right? ; ) At least that’s what Ethan always says…

As much as I love treating myself, I also love playing with recipes to make them a little healthier so I can feel good about eating them and serving them to my family. That’s exactly what I did here!

how I made this baked mac & cheese a little bit healthier

Here are some of the ways I have made this mac & cheese just a little bit more nutritious:

  • Whole wheat pasta (if you can find it)
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • Veggies added: onion, garlic, cauliflower, green onions
  • Real, sharp cheddar cheese
  • You could easily substitute broccoli for the cauliflower if you prefer!
Here it is before going into the oven.

This recipe was inspired by Damn Delicious’ Skinny Cauliflower Mac & Cheese. Also an amazing recipe! She has tons of goodies on her site, so definitely check her out. Another one of our faves of hers is One Pan Mexican Quinoa. The Mexican Quinoa is super good with ground chicken added, too! It makes amazing leftovers for work lunches.

I have made the Damn Delicious version before using low-fat cheese and 2% milk, so it is possible, BUT I will tell you — it is damn good with half and half and full fat cheese. Sometimes you just can’t skimp on the full fat dairy products, peeps. They have lots of nutrition to offer, and they make it super satisfying. But it’s your call!

you can Easily Add Chicken To THis Baked Mac & Cheese

If you want to add chicken breast to this baked mac & cheese, that is definitely an option! Just cut some chicken into thin strips and bake at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes (or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F) while you are cooking your pasta.

Make sure to turn the oven back down to 375 degrees F when the chicken is done. This is what I did with my family since most of them prefer to eat meat, but we do have one vegetarian in our house, and I always like having the option of adding meat or not!

Recipe time!

Baked Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Wellness For The Win
Baked Cauliflower Mac & Cheese with Bread Crumbs puts a healthy spin on a childhood favorite without sacrificing flavor! Easy to make & feeds a crowd.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 351 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups rotini pasta whole wheat, if possible
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp ghee or butter
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 tbsp plain whipped cream cheese
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup 100% whole wheat bread crumbs
  • Chopped green onions to garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Within the last 3 minutes of cooking time, add cauliflower florets; drain well.
  • Add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to a very large skillet and/or dutch oven (4-5 inches deep; large enough to hold all of the pasta + other ingredients) over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, stir and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, transfer onion and garlic to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Melt ghee/butter in the same large pan over medium high heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in half and half, and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in cream cheese, Dijon and garlic powder until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in 1 cup cheese until melted, about 1-2 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more half and half as needed; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Stir in cooked pasta and cauliflower; gently toss to combine. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese.
  • Transfer all ingredients to prepared 9×13 pan. Sprinkle whole wheat bread crumbs evenly over the top of the mac & cheese.
  • Place into oven and bake until bubbly, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with chopped green onions, if desired. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 351kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 14gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 260mgPotassium: 240mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 440IUVitamin C: 14.9mgCalcium: 255mgIron: 1.3mg
Keyword baked mac and cheese, healthy mac and cheese, mac and cheese, roasted veggies, vegetarian, whole wheat bread crumbs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

I can’t wait to hear what you guys think of this recipe! Pin this on Pinterest so you remember to come back and make it over and over, and tag me in your creations on Instagram at @wellnessforthewin. That always makes my day! : )

Enjoy!

Shanna

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22 Comments

  1. Have you tried this for meal prep for the week? I’m thinking of making and eating throughout the week for lunch!

    1. Last time I made it I ate the leftovers for the next 2-3 days, and it still tasted amazing! So I think it would be perfect for meal prep! : )

  2. 5 stars
    Yum! This is the best homemade Mac and cheese recipe. I have a family of picky eaters who enjoyed the healthy addition of cauliflower. I took her suggestion and added chicken. This recipe was a hit! We are already looking forward to having it again. Thank you!

    1. Yay, thank you so much Karley! I’m so glad to hear that your family loved it, despite being picky eaters! 😉 I strive to make all of my recipes picky eater-approved. 🙂 Thanks again!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made it a few times and we love it! My 8 year old is so picky and eats nothing, but she eats it, no problem! My 10 year old was invited to hv dinner at a friends house (every 5th grade girls dream come true) and she said “no thank you, my moms making cauliflower Mac n cheese, I can’t miss it!” Mind blowing 🤯

  4. 5 stars
    I made this as a meal prep and ate on it for a few days! I used whole wheat penne instead of rotini and added chicken. Super yummy 😋

    1. Woo hoo! So glad to hear that!! Sounds delish with those easy modifications! Now I’m craving it LOL. Thanks for your review!!! XOXO

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times now and really love it! I typically use Banza chickpea pasta because that’s what I have on hand, and it works just as well in the recipe! I added chicken the first time and it was such a great recommendation! Love this blog and the realness, fun, and inspiration that Shanna provides. Thank you!

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Angela! That means a lot! And yes, last time I made it I used the chickpea pasta, too and I was so pleased with how it came out! Always nice to get a little protein boost! 🙂 Thank you again for your feedback. I really appreciate it! XO

  6. 5 stars
    Omg! This was SO delicious! Officially one of my new favorite recipes. It is sooo yummy but also feels good in my body after I’ve eaten it too! Can’t wait to have leftovers tomorrow! 🙂

  7. Second time making this recipe. The first time, I don’t think I made any modifications and it was delish! This time, I used lentil pasta instead of whole wheat, subbed the cream cheese for plain greek yogurt (what I had on hand), and added some leftover roasted carrots and spinach that needed to be used. It was just as delicious as the first time. Love recipes that I can make easy swaps in, depending on what I have in the fridge, and sneak in some extra veggies!

    1. Yay, this sounds perfect! Love the modifications you made!! Always a great idea to sneak in some extra veggies if you have them! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

      1. 5 stars
        This is easily the best healthy Mac and cheese I’ve ever had! My husband and I make this all the time – it’s such a great go-to recipe for us! The cauliflower isn’t overpowering and the bread crumbs add such a nice touch. And it makes great leftovers!

  8. 5 stars
    I made a buffalo chicken style of this mac and cheese so I tweaked some things, but I used this recipe to include the added cauliflower. Absolutely love any recipe that adds in some vegetables and still tastes amazing! Next time I’ll have to try the more traditional mac and cheese style. 🙂

    1. Ooooh, delicious! Love that idea! I totally agree – healthy food can and should taste good! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  9. 5 stars
    Love this recipe!! I always come back to it cause it’s easy and a great way to sneak in veggies!

  10. 5 stars
    We loved this for dinner! And bonus…so many leftovers for just the 2 of us! The cheese sauce came together perfectly! And we added some shredded chicken for more protein.

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