This Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole is a blend of cauliflower florets, cheddar cheese, bacon, and creamy sauce. And it’s super easy to make—perfect for the holidays, or anytime! Kind of like a Loaded Baked Potato…but without the carbs!
Looking for more Thanksgiving sides? Try this easy corn casserole recipe!
An Easy, Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole
Do you love all things au gratin? I do, too. In fact, any creamy, cheese-filled casserole is fine with me! From good old broccoli and cheese casserole to Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole and everything in between, cheesy bakes are one of my favorite ways to serve up a saucy main course or side dish.
Let me introduce you to this gorgeous dish: a cheesy cauliflower casserole that is not just delicious—it’s made almost completely from scratch. Plus, it turns into a keto, low carb side with one easy swap (see the “Tips and Variations” section below)!
With a base of cream cheese, sour cream, and grated cheddar, plus a sprinkling of bacon and bread crumbs, this cozy casserole turns regular old cauliflower into a warm and cozy veggie option the whole family will devour!
What You’ll Need
This dish is easy to bring together with some basic ingredients, but one thing you won’t find is cream of mushroom soup. It’s just not necessary to make this casserole super creamy and cheesy!
- Cauliflower: I use frozen cauliflower and just cook it according the package directions; you could also cook and drain fresh cauliflower florets, if you prefer.
- Cream Cheese: Bring the cream cheese to room temperature before you get started.
- Bouillon: My favorite brand is Better Than Bouillon, but you can use whatever chicken bouillon you like, or leave it out and just increase the salt and seasonings.
- Sour Cream: This helps create the creamy cheese sauce. You could also use Greek Yogurt.
- Grated Cheese: Cheddar is my go-to, because it has a strong, cheesy taste! Colby and monterey jack would also be good options.
- Bacon: Chop up six slices of your favorite bacon, cooked.
- Butter: Unsalted or salted is fine. You may need to adjust the salt in the recipe depending on what you use, but I have not found it to make much difference overall.
- Panko: These crispy breadcrumbs add plenty of texture!
- Salt and Pepper
- Thyme: Dried is fine, or you can mince up some fresh thyme leaves (no stems).
- Green Onions: Optional, for garnishing the casserole.
How to Make Cauliflower Casserole
There are a few different components here, but overall this recipe is very simple to make. Just cook the cauliflower, mix up the sauce, and toast the breadcrumbs. Then put it all in your casserole dish and bake!
- Prep the Oven and Baking Dish. First things first. You’ll want to preheat your oven to 375°F, and coat a 2- quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Then set the baking dish aside for now.
- Cook the Cauliflower. Cook the cauliflower according to the package directions, and drain it well. I like to leave mine in a colander over a bowl or a tray, to catch the juices. You can also cut fresh cauliflower into florets, cook them until fork-tender in a saucepan of simmering water, and drain well. It’s up to you!
- Make the Cheese Sauce Mixture. In a large bowl, stir together the cream cheese, bouillon (if using), sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon, and seasonings. Stir well to thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients.
- Assemble the Casserole. Add the drained cauliflower to the cream cheese mixture, and stir gently to incorporate. Scrape the mixture into your greased baking dish and set aside while you make the breadcrumbs.
- Toast the Breadcrumbs and Top the Casserole. Melt the butter in a medium skillet, and add in the panko breadcrumbs, stirring over medium heat until toasted. Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs on top of the cauliflower.
- Bake. Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 18 – 20 minutes or until bubbly. Let it stand for 5 minutes or so before serving.
Tips and Variations
This easy casserole is sure to please! Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for making sure it turns out just right. Enjoy!
- Undercook the Cauliflower: For a more crisp-tender bite to the finished dish, try slightly undercooking the cauliflower when you’re cooking and draining it. It will continue to cook in the oven, but it will not come out as soft.
- Keto-Friendly: To reduce the carbs and make this gluten-free, use pork rind panko crumbs instead of original panko! Heck this is a tasty swap even if you’re not looking for a keto friendly holiday side.
- Vegetarian: For a vegetarian version of the dish, omit the bacon and chicken bouillon, and instead, add a sprinkling of hard cheese like Parmesan or Asiago for depth of flavor.
What should you serve with cauliflower casserole? This creamy dish makes a great light main course or a comforting side dish with just about any meat main course. Here are some great recipes that go well with cauliflower casserole:
- Baked Meatballs: Savory Baked Meatballs are perfect with this cheesy dish! They’re loaded with onion and garlic, and packed with protein.
- Chicken Strips: These Crispy Coconut Chicken Strips are a family favorite. Fried or baked, the shredded coconut turns golden-brown and crispy, a major upgrade from ordinary breading!
- Pasta: For a mostly-vegetarian meal (or all vegetarian, if you make the vegetarian version of this casserole), try serving Cauliflower Casserole with Mushroom and Garlic Butter Pasta. It’s an easy, 30-minute meal filled with mushrooms and tomatoes in a flavorful, easy sauce.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To refrigerate, just cover the casserole well, or place leftovers in airtight containers. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To reheat, place the desired amount in an oven-safe dish and bake at 375°F until heated through.
Can I Freeze Cauliflower Casserole?
Yes, you can! Just place individual portions in airtight containers or freezer bags, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and serving.
Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole is a scrumptious “loaded baked” blend of crisp-tender cauliflower florets, cheddar cheese, bacon, and creamy sauce. Plus, it’s super easy to make! Perfect for the holidays, or anytime!
- 48– ounces frozen cauliflower, cooked according the package directions and drained
- 1 (8- ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 teaspoons chicken bouillon (I like the brand Better Than Bouillon)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- optional garnish – sliced green onions
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 2- quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Cook the cauliflower according to the package directions and drain well.
- In a large bowl combine the cream cheese and bouillon. Stir to combine. Mix in the sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon, and seasonings until incorporated.
- Add the drained cauliflower into the cream cheese mixture and stir to incorporate. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan. Set aside.
- Place butter in a medium skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat and add in the panko breadcrumbs. Stirring frequently, cook the breadcrumbs until lightly toasted.
- Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs on top of the cauliflower.
- Bake uncovered for 18 – 20 minutes.
You can store this casserole in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Using steam-in-bag microwavable cauliflower makes it even easier!
Keywords: baked cauliflower recipes, christmas side dishes, loaded cauliflower casserole, thanksgiving sides
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