Cauliflower au Gratin KETO

Cauliflower au Gratin is an essential dish that I highly recommend adding to your culinary expertise and repertoire!   If your family or guests enjoy recipes that are packed full of flavor and cheesiness then this recipe will certainly be a hit!   Goodness, it’s just crazy to admit that this recipe is even ‘healthy’ according to the (all-the-rage) keto diet and yet is one of the best recipes you’ll ever enjoy.

Since my family has been eating more deliberately in terms of respecting the cycle and rhythm of the seasons and what we’re blessed to enjoy in each of the stages of nature, we’ve just enjoyed food all the more!  We’ve always added raw cauliflower to our appetizer and pre-meal munchie platters, but had never given much thought to adding cauliflower as an interesting and delicious side dish to our meals!   It just always seemed so, well, BORING!

Trust me, my husband and I cannot live without delicious flavor!  Anything dull and tasteless is truthfully given to our dogs and cats, whether as treats or blended in their food….and absolutely no recipe that doesn’t pass our taste buds’ approval is ever, EVER shared on our blog here.  Plus, this recipe is super hard to resist for even the pickiest of veggie-averse children.  Amen to that!

So with that said, we’re now eating more of this delicious, white veggie in place of all of the unhealthy carbs that we’re avoiding!  We’ve found, like thousands of other people, that cauliflower recipes are truly packed with amazing flavor since they absorb so much of the other ingredients and seasonings added.

You can’t find an easier recipe for cauliflower au gratin than this . . . even my cooking-challenged husband can prepare this recipe without any supervision of blowing up something in the kitchen.

Just What Is Cauliflower “au Gratin”?

This creative recipe is a healthy alternative to the highly decadent potatoes au gratin.  Pronounced ‘aw graw-taw’ (the ‘n’ is silent), it refers to a crisply baked top that is quite simply a ‘method’ of preparing a recipe topped with bread crumbs, grated cheese and/or cream, and butter . . . and then nicely browned in the oven.  Potatoes au Gratin is the famous French dish also known as  Potatoes au Gratin Dauphinois that was developed back in 1788 in the French region of Dauphine’.  You absolutely need to try the recipe I have for Dauphinoise Potatoes.

So that’s what this recipe is:  A creamy,  cheesy casserole of cauliflower, cheese and cream sauce, and a buttery crumb topping!

How Healthy is Cauliflower au Gratin?

Oh my gosh, so many consumers have found this wonderful, super-healthy, superstar vegetable to use in place of our beloved potatoes.  

All because cauliflower has a wide range of health benefits including:

  • Low-carbohydrate
  • Fat-free
  • Cholesterol-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Low in sodium
  • Contains only 25 calories and 5 grams of carbs in 1 cup
  • Nutrient-rich, especially high in vitamins C and K, and folate (that’s essential during pregnancy) and new cell growth
  • High in antioxidants that help fight inflammation (that has run rampant due to contemporary food choices, and thus the culprit for so many health issues)
  • In some research studies, it may reduce some forms of cancer (Mayo Clinic)

Cauliflower au Gratin

Why You’ll Love Cauliflower au Gratin

  • The taste is insanely delicious and packed with layers of flavor ~~ just ask my veggie-averse husband (except for potatoes, that is)!
  • The sauce is super rich, creamy, and cheesy (and that’s OK on a low-carb, KETO lifestyle).
  • Which brings up that it is more healthy with low carbs and chock-full of healthy vitamins and health benefits!
  • Roasting, instead of steaming enhances the flavor of an often-thought-bland and boring vegetable.
  • Roasting prevents the cauliflower from weeping and retaining water from steaming (which causes the casserole to be watery instead of creamy and cheesy).
  • You can not only make and bake this ahead of time, but you can also freeze it for later!

Tips for Perfect Beautiful and Delicious Cauliflower au Gratin

  • Select cauliflower that has a head of tightly compacted florets that appear to be creamy-white curds of milk/cheese with bright green, firm leaves attached underneath.  Do not buy cauliflower that has brown or grey spots or loose florets.
  • If time is an issue, as it is for so many time-constrained people, give yourself a break and pick up a tub of pre-washed, pre-cut cauliflower florets in the produce department.  Store in a tightly covered plastic container in the fridge for up to 4 – 5 days.  When you see the dark spots forming, you’ve sadly let it go too long and it’s best not to use it.
  • Roasting is KEY to preventing the cauliflower from becoming watery.  That’s actually what’s best about the roasting process — sort of drying food out for use later!  I really don’t recommend steaming the cauliflower, it just adds more moisture from the steam itself.
  • Do try not to use frozen cauliflower due to its tendency to have very watery results when it thaws out.
  • Although Gruyere is the best (standard) variety of cheese to use for this recipe, for some cooks, Gruyere isn’t readily available in their markets and it’s not exactly the cheapest cheese to use.  So go ahead and use what you prefer or have on hand.  Good options include cheddar (white or yellow), provolone, mozzarella, pepper jack (for a nice kick), and oh gosh, dare I say Swiss cheese, or just whatever you like that you’ve got in your fridge. 
  • Turn down the stove heat before adding the cheese.
  • For more gluten-free results, substitute gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free flour.

What you’ll need to make a super-delicious Cauliflower au Gratin

  • Fresh cauliflower  – (surprise, surprise!), yup the cauliflower has to be fresh and raw.  Select 2 nice, large heads WITHOUT any brown spots, and cut them into flowerets.  PRO TIP: Forget all of the frozen stuff, but if you’re short on time, you can simplify this by picking up pre-packaged raw cauliflower that’s been pre-washed and pre-cut for you (gotta love that!).
  • Garlic – ( no surprise when it comes to my recipes, right?).  And always use fresh whenever time permits, but if you’re in a time crunch, grab some of that garlic powder off of your spice shelves and it will do just fine in a pinch.
  • Gruyere cheese – oh my gosh, one of my absolute favorite cheese varieties to use  . . . very few recipes use Gruyere, so do enjoy freshly grated Gruyere in this recipe!  You can use Swiss in exchange if you prefer.
  • Butter – I always use butter in most of my casseroles to coat the baking dish and/or to enrichen the dish itself.  No one ever complains about using butter in my home!  Some home cooks use only unsalted butter, but my fam prefers salted butter; this is totally up to you and your preferences.
  • Whole Milk PLUS Heavy Cream – here’s the base of the excellent sauce of this dish (whole milk and heavy cream)!!  For an extra level of super-rich flavor and texture and another way to elevate this recipe to another level of deliciousness is to add some full-fat cream cheese.
  • Cheddar cheese – optional, but cheddar cheese DOES add another dimension of flavor.  It also adds a nice bit of color too.

Variations to Try

  • Add some pepper jack to the cheese amount for a nice little kick.
  • Add more garlic for a better Mediterranean flavor.
  • Add some dried red pepper flakes.
  • Add some dried Italian seasonings.
  • Add jalapeno peppers, whether sliced or diced (fresh or canned) to the sauce.
  • Substitute half of the cauliflower with roasted broccoli florets and cut stems.
  • If available, add other colors of cauliflower, such as purple, green, or orange.

Cauliflower au Gratin


Storing Cauliflower au Gratin

  • This can be stored in a tightly covered container in your fridge for up to 4 days (but it shouldn’t last that long if you like warmed-up leftovers)!
  • Good news!  You can freeze this yummy, healthy, keto/low-carb-friendly cauliflower recipe!  
  • Just allow (any leftovers, if you have any) to cool down and put it in a nice tightly-covered, freezer-safe container.  You can store this as a whole in one container or divide it up into individual portions for the perfect grab-n-go veggie for work, school, or travel.
  • 6 months is how long this keeps in the freezer.
  • To RE-HEATThis casserole can be reheated in the microwave oven in a non-metal, microwave-safe dish.  You only need a few (1 – 2) minutes to nuke this in the micro and about 10 minutes in a pre-heated 350 F degree oven. . . . BUT for the best re-heating results you can use a small toaster oven that won’t use the amount of power that a full oven requires.  We couldn’t live without our little countertop oven for reheating leftovers or pizza (in particular) that doesn’t come out all rubbery!  

How To Make Cauliflower au Gratin


Let’s get at to the kitchen, shall we?

Gather up and measure out all of your ingredients

Preheat your oven to 425 F degrees.

Generously butter a 2 – 3 quart baking dish.  Set it aside and cross that off your ‘to-do’ list!

If you want a MORE layered result, use a 2-quart baking dish

If you want to bake this all in one layer, use a 3-quart baking dish

It’s totally up to you!

Cut the cauliflower into ‘florets’ — aren’t they just beautiful?

Spread those lovely florets on a rimmed baking dish in an even layer.

Roast them until they are just turning brown, yet still firm, right around 20 minutes.

Once browned to your liking, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it aside.

REDUCE the oven temp down to 375 degrees F.

Add the flour and stir to incorporate nicely.

Allow this to cook for about 1 minute, until nice and bubbly.

Very slowly, with lots of love and anticipation, pour and whisk in the milk and the (gotta love it) heavy cream . . . oh yeah!

Using a whisk, mix the cream and milk well.

Cook this mixture until it simmers and is thick enough to form a coating on the back of a spoon — 8 minutes.

Reduce the heat.

Add the salt.

Add 3/4ths of the gruyere cheese.

Stir until it is all melted and until smooth and blended nicely into the cream sauce – 1 to 2 minutes should do it for you.

Set aside.

Now you’re ready for the next step:

Melt the remaining 6 Tbsp. of butter in a large frying pan (skillet)

Add the rosemary, thyme, garlic, and any herb/spice you wish to enhance this recipe with

Cook this mixture for 3 minutes . . . 

and stop and take a big whiff of the incredible aroma your kitchen is taking on!  Whoaza!!

Add the panko

and stir to coat it completely with butter!

Add the remaining Gruyere and Parmigiano cheeses

Blend well

Now let’s put this all together so we can stop drooling!

Place the roasted cauliflower on the baking sheets into the buttered baking dish.

Pour the sauce all over the top, oh my!

Sprinkle that delicious panko, cheese, and herb mixture on top!

Sprinkle with a dusting, not very much, of ground paprika for color

Bake until the panko topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes.


And enjoy this Cauliflower au Gratin to the fullest, along with all of the compliments to the chef that you will receive!



What Do I Recommend To Serve With Cauliflower au Gratin?


This is just superb with any meat entree, so here’s just a smidgen of ideas to start with:

Savory Herb Pork Chops in Garlic Butter Sauce (Keto-friendly)

Osso Buco (Keto-friendly)

Stuffed Pork with Pancetta and Fontina (Keto-friendly)

Italian Pork Loin Braised In Milk (Keto-friendly)

Italian Breaded Pork Scallopini

Pork Saltimbocca (Keto-friendly)

Pork Tenderloin Roast from A Classic N.Y. Times Cookbook and Chef (keto)

Steaks with Garlic, Chive, and Mushroom Sauce (keto-friendly)

German Jaegerschnitzel


More Vegetable Side Dishes that You Might Enjoy:


Creamy Baked Parmesan Zucchini and Rice Gratin (replace the rice with cauliflower rice for a low-car, Keto-friendly version)

Lemon Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Three Cheeses

Cheesy, Pepper Jack Corn Casserole with Garlic Buttered Breadcrumb Topping

Roasted Cauliflower with Italian Cheese and Herbs

Creamy, Cheesy Dauphinoise Potatoes au Gratin

Roasted Parmesan Garlic Carrots

Fresh Green Haricots Verts (French Green Beans) with Roasted Vegetables 

Cheesy Pecorino Corn with Italian Herbs


and so many more side dish recipes for you here!

Side Dishes on La Bella Vita Cucina!


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Cauliflower au Gratin KETO

Cauliflower au Gratin KETO too

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 7 reviews
  • Author: Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina


  • 12 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for the baking dish
  • 2 large heads of cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 16 oz. gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 2 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (the Italian’s secret spice ingredient)
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Ground paprika for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚.
  2. Generously butter a 3-quart baking dish. spread the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and roast until just starting to brown around the edges but still a bit firm, about 20 minutes. remove from the oven and set aside until no longer steaming, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚. 
  3. Meanwhile, melt 6 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
  4. Add the flour and stir to combine. Let cook until bubbling, about 1 minute. slowly whisking in the milk and heavy cream.  Cook, stirring until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and comes to a gentle simmer, 6 to 8 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low; add the salt and three-quarters of the gruyère and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute.
  5. Melt the remaining butter in a medium-sized skillet over low heat.   Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and nutmeg.  Cook until bubbling, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the panko and stir to coat completely in the butter. remove from the heat.
  7. Stir in the parmesan and remaining gruyère. 
  8. Transfer the roasted cauliflower to the buttered baking dish.  Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle the panko mixture on top.
  9. Sprinkle with ground paprika for color.
  10. Bake until the panko is golden brown and the cauliflower is tender about 25 minutes.
  11. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.