How to Make Quick Gluten-free, Dairy-free Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Want some macaroni and cheese, but don’t want wheat, carbs, and/or dairy? Here is a Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe that’s low on carbs and high on veggies and protein. Best of all, you can make it in under 30 minutes.
Sometimes you want something warm, creamy, and comforting, like macaroni and cheese. Yet, you didn’t run a marathon today and are trying to eat healthy foods. That’s where thoughtful substitutions come in. Before you know it, you have warm, creamy, cheesy meal with no mac OR cheese.
Gluten-free, Dairy-free Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese“
We’ve established that we want creamy comfort food that’s also healthy. Here’s how we’ll achieve this:
- Use nutrition yeast and coconut milk instead of cheese. Creaminess – check!
- Use cauliflower instead of macaroni. Vegetables – check!
- Toss in some bacon to amp up flavor (leave out for vegan-friendly)
- Have a mac’n’cheese-like dinner in 30 minutes or less. Quick – check!
- Keep the ingredient list short – five ingredients, plus salt and pepper. Easy and convenient – check!
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese goes nicely with a tossed green salad. Learn my favorite tips for throwing together easy and interesting salads.
Instead of Cheese, Use Nutritional Yeast and Coconut Milk
Nutritional yeast comes in dry, yellow flakes and has a nutty, cheese-like flavor. It’s an excellent source of vitamin B12 and protein as well, so you won’t miss any of the protein from cheese. If you’ve never purchased it before, it can be found in most large supermarkets, all health food stores (sometimes in the bulk section!), and always online.
Coconut milk is full of natural saturated fats and it has an amazingly creamy texture.
Instead of Macaroni or Pasta, Use Cauliflower
Cauliflower is similar in color and texture to cooked pasta, so visually, it fits right in with a mac’n’cheese-inspired dish. Additionally, it has a small fraction of the carbohydrates that pasta does, while having more fiber (than refined pasta), vitamins and minerals.
Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese” Flavor Boosters: Bacon and Chives
A little bacon goes a long way, and adding a few chopped slices to this dish really elevates it. If you’re vegan, feel free to leave it out, or add some vegan bacon or sausage.
Chives have a mild onion flavor, but their big contribution is a pop of green color.Print
Dairy-free, Gluten-free Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese”
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 main, 8 side dish 1x
- Diet: Gluten Free
Want some macaroni and cheese, but don’t want wheat, carbs, and/or dairy? Here is a Cauliflower Mac and cheese recipe that’s low on carbs and high on veggies and protein. Best of all, you can make it in under 30 minutes.
- 4 – 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 lbs frozen cauliflower
- 0.75 – 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 0.75 – 1 cup nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives, green onions, or cilantro
- In a wide soup pot or heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Transfer the bacon onto a paper towel-lined plate or bowl. Drain off most of the fat remaining in the pan, and don’t wipe the pan clean of fat.
- While the bacon is cooking, cook the frozen cauliflower. (You’ll probably have to do it in two batches – one for each 1-lb bag). Dump all the cauliflower from one bag onto a big plate and microwave for 3 – 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is warm (no icicles). Repeat with the second 1-lb bag.
- After the cauliflower is warm, loosely chop it so that the florets are broken down into slightly smaller than bite-size pieces.
- Transfer the warm chopped cauliflower to the pot you used to cook the bacon. Add the remaining ingredients, except the chives, starting with 0.75 cup of the nutritional yeast and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Add more nutritional yeast, coconut milk, salt and pepper to get the consistency and taste you like best.
- Stir in half of the bacon and transfer to a serving dish (optional – we just serve it from the pot). Garnish with the remaining bacon and the chives. Serve.
Vegan variation: omit the bacon or sub with vegan bacon (or sausage)
Add-ins: The options are endless! Here are some ideas:
- I added three sliced sausage links to make it more main-dish worthy for the meat-lovers in my family.
- Add a cup of chopped leftover chicken, ham, or any other meat.
- As with traditional mac ‘n’ cheese, try adding other veggies (peas, anyone?). I like sauteing a few sliced mushrooms with the bacon in Step 1.
- Turn up the heat: garnish with sliced jalepeños or red pepper flakes; mix in 2 tablespoons of Frank’s or Sriracha sauce.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 0.25 of recipe
- Calories: 239
- Sugar: 7 g
- Sodium: 539 mg
- Fat: 11 g
- Saturated Fat: 8 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 17 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 17 g
- Cholesterol: 6 mg
Keywords: gluten-free, dairy-free, low carb
To recap, here’s the problem we solved: Comforting mac’n’cheese-like dish that’s paleo-friendly (gluten- and dairy-free), lower in carbs, but still high in protein. We did this by:
- Using nutritional yeast and coconut milk instead of cheese.
- Subbing cauliflower for macaroni or pasta.
- Adding bacon and chives for flavor boosts.
- Keeping the prep time at 30 minutes or less
- Making it easier with a short ingredient list
Now you can make your own creamy, dreamy, “cheesy” main dish with all the goodness and none of the guilt. If you make this recipe, let me know what you think in the comments or post on social media – enjoy!
Other Helpful Resources:
Salad Slam! 4 Simple Steps to Perfect Salads
Recipe inspired by: Fake Ginger’s Loaded Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
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