Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

It’s officially the holiday season, so the next handful of recipes will be holiday focused and perfect to share with family and friends this season!

I’m starting this series with one of my favorites – cheesy cauliflower gratin! It’s wholesome and hearty and ooey gooey, but it’s also a bit lighter than the classic. I cut back on some of the high fat ingredients (think heavy cream), but have secured all of the flavor. We have a cheesy sauce with lots of garlic, nutmeg, cayenne and a splash of lemon juice to brighten things up. It wraps around the tender cauliflower and bakes to golden brown. It’s pretty fantastic, my friends!

You could also make this with broccoli or Brussels sprouts or a mixture of all 3. YUM.

I hope you add this one to your holiday list and stay tuned for more holiday-inspired recipes that are super delish. (Hint: there will be sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, pomegranate and squash involved.)

Also, I’m starting to plan recipes for 2020, so if there are any recipes you want to see on the menu, let me know in the comments!

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Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

  • Author: Julie Andrews
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20-25 mins
  • Total Time: 35-40 mins
  • Yield: Serves 10 1x
  • Category: Side Dish, Holiday
  • Method: Stove-Top, Baking


An easy, cheesy cauliflower gratin that’s lighter than the classic.


  • 1 medium (3 pound) head of cauliflower, cleaned and cut into florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 23 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere and/or cheddar cheese
  • Splash fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9-inch pie or baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the cauliflower florets for 4-5 minutes or until barely fork tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 30-60 seconds or until fragrant. Whisk in the flour and let simmer 1-2 minutes or until lightly browned. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer for 3-4 minutes or until thickened, whisking frequently. Whisk in the salt, black pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Remove from the heat and whisk in the Gruyere and lemon juice.
  4. Pour half of the sauce into the prepared baking dish. Transfer the steamed cauliflower to the dish, then pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top of the cauliflower.
  5. In a small glass dish, microwave the remaining tablespoon of butter for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the cauliflower.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese sauce is bubbly. Turn the oven to a broil and cook 2-3 additional minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Let slightly cool, then serve topped with parsley (if using).


Cooking Tip: After draining, place the steamed cauliflower in a kitchen towel to dry. This will help the gratin from becoming watery.

Substitution Tip: Try this recipe with broccoli.


  • Serving Size: 1/10 of recipe
  • Calories: 142
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Sodium: 249mg
  • Fat: 9g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 6g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 9g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 27mg

Keywords: cauliflower, gratin, cauliflower gratin, side dish, holiday, potluck