Cauliflower Low Carb Mac and Cheese
I’ve been making this Low Carb Mac and Cheese for years, in one form or another. Finally got around to photographing it, so here we go!
This “Mac and Cheese” definitely needs the quotation marks - it’s not *exactly* like mac and cheese, it’s a cheesey cauliflower dish.
However, when you’re low carbbing and actual pasta is off the table, it’s got a satisfying mix of tastes and textures, and scratches that particular itch!
It can be made vegetarian if needed, and served either as a main dish or a side dish.
Sometimes I get distracted by the “Mac and Cheese” name, forget that we are, in fact, talking about a dish that is almost entirely cauliflower... and toss in some broccoli florets to feel “responsible”.
Brains are weird sometimes. Anyway!
About the Chicken
While chicken doesn’t normally find itself in Mac and Cheese, I added it into this one to add some protein, and fill it out as a main dish.
You can make this vegetarian by either skipping the chicken entirely, or swapping it out for your favourite alternative protein source.
Sometimes we’ll do up some crispy smoked tofu - we do it the same way we do for my Low Carb Sesame Crusted Smoked Tofu, just skipping the sesame seeds - or using white ones - purely for aesthetic reasons.
If you’re looking to serve this as a side, you can definitely just skip the chicken altogether!
About the Cheese
On one hand, you’ll never have exactly the same Low Carb Mac and Cheese twice, when you use odds and ends. Variety is the spice of life, you’ll never get bored!
On the other hand, you’ll never have exactly the same Low Carb Mac and Cheese twice, so if you happen across the PERFECT mix of cheese bits... savour it while you can!
When we have a fair amount of cheese on hand - or we’re buying specifically for making this - I like to plan ahead for what flavour profile I’m in the mood for.
If I’m in the mood for a smoky “Mac and Cheese”, I’ll front load the cheese mixture with some smoked cheddar and/or smoked provolone. ACTUAL smoked cheese, please - not that “smoke flavour” grossness. (Sorry, I have OPINIONS on the matter, LOL!)
Once I’ve figured out the general idea of where I’m going, I’ll let that guide me on what other cheeses I add, if any.
For instance, a little bit of Red Dragon cheese - it has brown ale and mustard seeds - works well with smoked cheese, but I’m not a fan of including horseradish havarti with it.
Generally speaking, I find that if you’re not veering too far outside of the norm (lavender cheese, guacamole cheese, etc), MOST cheeses work together.
About the Cauliflower
I tend to use a head of cauliflower when they’re in season and looking good, but a large bag of frozen cauliflower works as well.
When I’m using a fresh head of cauliflower, I like to JUST use the florets, with as little of the stem parts as possible - I find the stems can taste a bit bitter.
In general, cauliflower can have a bit of a bitter / horseradishy taste from time to time - I’m not sure if that’s just me and my sense of taste, or if it’s that overpowering to others at times, as well.
Because of this, I like to taste a bit of the cauliflower after cooking, and before tossing in the sauce. If it’s super horseradishy, either grab a bag of frozen, or account for that when picking your cheese, if possible.
When using frozen cauliflower, I just follow the same directions for microwaving it. In theory, you’d think it would need more time to cook, as it’s cooking from frozen... but freezing breaks it down a bit, so it ends up at the right texture in the same amount of time.
About Topping This Mac N Cheese
Nine times out of ten, I make this Low Carb Mac N Cheese as-is.
Sometimes, though, I like to add a crunchy topping along with the grated cheese, before broiling. There are a few options, and which you choose will depend on your dietary needs, tastes, and availability of ingredients:
Pork Rinds is a popular snack option on the low carb diet. Crushed up, they can make a great substitute for bread crumbs.
Almond Flour or Finely Chopped Almonds
When I’m in the mood for almonds as a topping, I’ll usually grab some sliced almonds and chop them up a bit - I like the crunch it adds.
Almond flour is a much finer grind of almonds, but it still works well to add a bit of texture in with the cheese.
Plaintain or Potato Chips
Plantain chips are NOT low carb, but sometimes I make this when I’m not actually low carbbing, more as a gluten-free substitute, or when I just have a bunch of cauliflower to use up.
When that’s the case, potato chips or plantain chips are a GREAT topping - my favourite of the lot. I’ll usually just toss some in a plastic baggie, squeeze most of the air out, and mash it up.
However you top this Low Carb Mac and Cheese, I hope you enjoy it!
More Low Carb Recipes
Looking for more Low Carb recipes? I've got you! Here are a few of my favourites:
Low Carb Keto Chirashi Bowl
Low Carb Peanut Chicken Zoodles
Low Carb Tuna Mango Poke
Keto Spicy Salmon Poke
Riceless Stuffed Grape Leaves
Scotch Egg Meatloaf
Singapore Mai Fan Style Zoodles
Spicy Tropical Chicken Zoodles
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Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese” with Chicken
- 1 head Cauliflower
- Salt and pepper
- 4 oz Cream cheese
- 1 cup Heavy cream
- 3 cups Shredded cheese s of choice
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Mustard Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- ½ tsp Smoked Paprika
- ¼ tsp Smoked Serrano Powder
- 2 tsp Finely chopped fresh chives
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups Cooked chicken chopped or shredded
- ½ cup Shredded Parmesan cheese
- Crumbled pork rinds optional
- Grease an 8 x 8" baking pan
- Break up cauliflower into small florets, transfer to a microwave safe dish. Season with a little salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 8 minutes.
- As your cauliflower is cooking, make your cheese sauce:
- In a medium-large pot, melt cream cheese over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Add heavy cream, gently whisk to combine.
- Once cream cheese mixture is hot, add shredded cheese and seasonings. Stir until cheese is melted and everything smooth. Add chives, season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Drain your cooked cauliflower and add it to the pot of cheese sauce, along with the chicken.
- Pour into prepared baking pan, top with Parmesan cheese and crumbled pork rinds, if using.
- Broil on high until top is golden, serve hot.