Stovetop Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

This easy Stovetop Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is as luscious as it looks. Simmered in a milk broth and pureed to creamy perfection, cauliflower adds a nutritional boost to this fan favorite. It’s been kid-tested and is mama-dietitian approved, so dig in!

I know replacing carbs with cauliflower is all the rage these days but I prefer to enhance our carbs with cauliflower instead.

spoonful of cauliflower mac and cheese

During both of my pregnancies, I couldn’t bare to look at a vegetable, especially green ones. My boxed mac and cheese habit got a little out of control while my lack of veggie intake started weighing heavily on my dietitian conscience. This recipe was born as a result.

cauliflower simmering in milk in saucepan

Here I simmered a small head of cauliflower in a simple milk broth and then pureed it to creamy perfection in the Vitamix (affiliate link!).   

Watching all that cheese melt into a big pot of creamy cauliflower sauce might just be one of my favorite parts of making this dish. That and hovering over the stove with a spoon to sneak a few tastes before our toddler catches me eating out of the pot. Because that happens 100 percent of the time.

bowl of stovetop cauliflower mac and cheese with parsley and gray background

If I’m being honest, I usually snag a spoonful or two from our little guy’s bowl, too… But those bites don’t count — right, mamas? 

Thankfully, he’s a better sharer than I am when it comes to food. This stovetop cauliflower mac and cheese ranks high, along with french fries, on my “Foods I Have a Hard Time Sharing” list. One taste and I’m guessing you’ll be hugging your bowl reaaaaal close at dinnertime, too.


Stovetop Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Simmered in a milk broth and pureed to creamy perfection, cauliflower adds a nutritional boost to this ooey, gooey mac and cheese. Oh, and it’s ready in less than 30 minutes.

  • Prep Time:
    10 min
  • Total Time:
    25 minutes
  • Makes:
    6 cups 1x
  • Prep Time:
    10 min
  • Total Time:
    25 minutes
  • Makes:
    6 cups 1x
  • Ingredients

    • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) uncooked elbow macaroni
    • 1 ½ tablespoons butter
    • 1 ½ tablespoons flour
    • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
    • 1 cup milk
    • ¾ teaspoon dry mustard
    • 12 ounces (about 45 cups) cauliflower florets cut into 1” chunks (from 1 small head)
    • 1 ½ cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Gruyere, Monterey Jack etc.)
    • Optional: Fresh parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper for serving


    1. Cook the pasta. Cook according to package directions, drain and set aside.
    2. While the pasta cooks, simmer the cauliflower. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir constantly just until roux puffs slightly, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the broth, milk and dry mustard until smooth. Increase heat to medium-high. Add cauliflower and bring milk-broth to a rapid simmer (not boil) stirring frequently. Immediately reduce the heat again to medium-low. Cover and simmer until cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    3. Puree. Carefully transfer cauliflower and milk-broth to a blender. Firmly hold the lid to prevent hot liquid from escaping and puree until completely smooth, about 20-30 seconds. Return puree to pan over medium-low heat.
    4. Add the cheese and macaroni. Add the shredded cheese and cooked macaroni, stirring well until cheese has melted. Serve immediately with fresh parsley, salt and/or pepper to taste, if desired.


    Ingredient Prep

    • Prep the cauliflower florets and shred the cheese; store in the refrigerator up to 7 days in advance

    Little Helpers

    Involving little ones can decrease picky eating and increase appetite and willingness to try new foods. Here are a few ways they can help: 

    • Toddlers — Add ingredients to the pot (with close supervision); push buttons on the blender (with supervision, not immersion)
    • Little Kids — Measure elbows, butter, flour, etc.
    • Big Kids — Chop cauliflower into florets; shred the cheese


    Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days; add a splash of milk or water when reheating in the stove or microwave


    • Serving Size: 1 cup
    • Calories: 262
    • Sugar: 3 g
    • Sodium: 186 mg
    • Fat: 9 g
    • Saturated Fat: 5 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 4 g
    • Trans Fat: 0 g
    • Carbohydrates: 31 g
    • Fiber: 1 g
    • Protein: 14 g
    • Cholesterol: 29 mg

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    stovetop cauliflower mac and cheese in a bowl with a gray background and text overlay

    Author: Elle Penner M.P.H., R.D.

    I'm Elle, Registered Dietitian and minimalism-obsessed mama with a thing for simplifying, particularly when it comes to clutter, calendars, and family meals. Favorite things include carbs, cooking, kid-free workouts, and high-waisted yoga pants.

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    • This was sooo good! That comment about standing over the leftovers shoveling spoonfuls into my mouth may have been me. Thank you for this great recipe!

      • Thanks for sharing. I’m so happy you loved it! There’s nothing better than a recipe you enjoy as much as (if not more than) your kids. 😉