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You’re familiar with low carb pasta dishes — you tried spaghetti squash, made zoodles with your favorite pasta sauce and even transformed zucchini into lasagna. But a low carb mac and cheese recipe? Do tell.

Like many low carb pasta alternatives, low carb mac and cheese involves substituting a vegetable for pasta. In this recipe, you’ll combine roasted cauliflower with a creamy cheese sauce for a keto, gluten-free twist on the classic favorite. But unlike the original, this recipe comes with only 6 grams of net carbs per serving.

The Secret to Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

The trick to making delicious mac and cheese — a dish just as good as the real thing — is in the cheese sauce. You’ll use three different kinds of cheese plus heavy cream to make a thick, gooey sauce the cauliflower can absorb.

To make the cheese sauce, you’ll need 4 ounces of both fontina and sharp cheddar cheese, plus 2 ounces cream cheese. Combine the cheeses with 1 cup heavy cream, paprika, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a large pot over medium heat.

While the sauce is simmering, chop your cauliflower into florets and boil until tender. When the sauce has simmered until smooth and the cauliflower florets are cooked, combine the two into a baking dish. Set the baking dish into a 375 F preheated oven.

While your favorite mac and cheese recipes might include a crunchy topping like potato chips and breadcrumbs, these two additions are not low carb friendly. If you’d like some added texture, consider crumbling some bacon bits or green onion on top.

Is Dairy Allowed on the Keto Diet?

With four forms of dairy included in this recipe, you must be wondering, “Is dairy keto friendly?” The simple answer is yes — with a few caveats.

Keto-Friendly Dairy Options

Dairy, like other animal products, should be of the highest quality you can reasonably afford. Select organic, grass-fed dairy products whenever possible, avoiding low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Dairy products such as butter, heavy whipping cream, heavy cream and ghee are high in fat and contain zero carbs, making them ideal for the ketogenic diet.

Dairy Products to Avoid on Keto

Some forms of dairy are not keto-friendly. Milk, half and half and condensed milk contain moderate-to-high amounts of carbs, primarily due to its sugar content (a glass of whole milk contains over 12 grams of carbs). Lactose in the sugar found in milk, which is not easily digested by many people.

When using dairy in keto recipes — such as this low carb cauliflower mac — avoid dairy with high lactose content. Substitute heavy cream for milk or half and half whenever possible, or ghee for butter if you are overly sensitive to lactose.

Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a common ingredient in keto recipes due to its versatility. It’s been made into mashed potatoes, pizza crusts, and rice, and now it’s the main ingredient in this mac and cheese.

It’s Loaded With Vitamins

Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C and provides over 70% of the daily value in just one cup.  The human body isn’t capable of producing vitamin C itself, so it’s important we add foods into our diet that are a strong source of this immune-boosting vitamin. This water-soluble vitamin is responsible for a wide variety of processes in the body including repair of tissues, absorption of iron and decrease of LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

Cauliflower also contains vitamin K which helps prevent blood clotting, helps to maintain brain function, bone building and a healthy metabolism. Vitamin K is also known to improve bone health and keeping the skeletal muscle structures healthy[*].

It Could Help Lower the Risk of Cancer

Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower have been shown to slow cancerous tumor growth[*]. How? Cruciferous vegetables are rich in glucosinolates, a sulfur-containing compound that has been shown to slow tumor growth[*]. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower has been shown to reduce the risk of lung and colorectal cancer, in particular[*].

It Helps Fight Inflammation

Inflammation is one of the root causes for most of the chronic diseases. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower are known for their abundant source of antioxidants. These antioxidants — particularly beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and quercetin — help to reduce oxidative stress and boost the immune system[*].

Enjoy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Aside from the nutritional value of this dish, the combination of three different types of cheeses and addition of heavy cream gives the most rich, creamy and luxurious texture. This is the ultimate comfort dish that will allow you to stay in ketosis, satisfy any pasta craving and provide a wide variety of nutritional benefits you can feel really good about.

This cauliflower mac is ready in a total time of just 40 minutes and won’t cause a blood sugar spike like traditional recipes. Enjoy it as a side dish or top with bacon bits for a complete meal.

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Low Carb Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

keto cauliflower mac and cheese

This baked keto cauliflower mac and cheese casserole is filled to the brim with cheesy goodness but without all the carbs.

  • Author: Corina Nielsen
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups
  • Category: Sides
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar (shredded)
  • 4 oz fontina (shredded)
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large head of cauliflower

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat an 8×8 baking dish with butter or non stick spray.
  2. Cut cauliflower into small 1/2″ to 1″ pieces. Steam for 4-5 minutes until barely tender. Remove from heat and drain well. Pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. In a small pot, combine heavy cream, cheeses, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat under medium fire until smooth. Stir well.
  4. Add cauliflower to cheese mixture and toss to coat.
  5. Pour into baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 393
  • Fat: 33g
  • Carbohydrates: 10g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 14g

Keywords: keto cauliflower mac and cheese

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Responses (26)

  1. Thanks for this recipe, I love it so much. I made it originally as directed and that hooked me. I have since made it multiple times with a varying supplement of cheeses. Yum!

  2. I roasted the cauliflower and used smoked paprika. It was amazing and will be part of my regular rotation!

  3. I just saw this recipe and will try it, looks good. I roasted cauliflower the other day for another recipe – you slice the florets into slabs and put olive oil on them and roasted on parchment paper lined cookie sheet in the oven. They were very good – I put a bit of Himalayan pink salt on as well. Turn half way through. I used 425 oven.

    For this recipe you could probably use small florets or slice larger ones in half, olive oil and smoked paprika as mentioned. Then roast as above.

  4. Vitamin K actually is a vital part of the coagulation cascade, meaning it’s vital in HELPING blood clot, not preventing it. It’s why we give newborns a shot of Vitamin K; to help prevent hemhorragic stroke after birth.

    Great recipe tho, thanks.

  5. Thank you for sharing your recipe. The best tasting cauliflower I ever had in my life!Bacon bits were a nice touch!😀

  6. I sprinkled chicharonnes on top. The spicy ones and it was delicious! Great recipe, my whole family loves it.

  7. Flavor was great but it was super runny. Not sure what I did wrong. I was hoping for a more creamy/gooey texture.

  8. Delicious and creamy, with some crispy bits on top. I recommend this recipe highly. I served it to some friends who are not cauliflower lovers but they really enjoyed it!

  9. Amaaaazing!! Will totally make this again. Roasted my cauliflower and then baked it. Topped it with crushed pork rinds. Awesome!

  10. This is amazing! I made it as posted but topped it with hemp hearts. It just added a touch of crunch. Delicious. Thank you!

  11. Tossed the cut cauliflower in garlic avocado oil, then roasted in a 425 degree oven until slightly browned. Added the cheese sauce, baked as above and ……YUMMMMMMM!!!!!

  12. Made this recipe tonight but with a few substitutions. I forgot to buy heavy cream so I doubled the amount of cream cheese and added a splash of unsweetened almond milk (just enough liquid to cover bottom of the pot). Came out great and not soupy like some other reviews. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  13. I made this as a main dish by adding: one large onion, chopped; four slices of bacon, crumbled; and a pound and a half of grass-fed hamburger. I used three types of cheese. It was really yummy. Thank you!

  14. Flavor was great but very runny. I did everything the recipe said! Any tips to make it thicker?

  15. I left a comment earlier regarding the nutritional value being high for keto if you eat more than the 1/2 c serving. But, I did make this and we loved it. I added a little xanthum gum to thicken it as mine looked a little soupy before putting it in the oven. Turned out perfect.

  16. I make this as described but added a can of salmon to it. I liked the idea of some protein along the lines of tuna and noodle casserole from my childhood. Delicious and not soupy (roasted the Cauliflower first.

  17. It sounds like to me some people didn’t drain the cauliflower before they added the cheese sauce. That could be why theirs was like soup or soupy.

  18. I used riced cauliflower and cut the recipe roughly in half, used mexical style 4 cheese shredded cheese, ended up with a texture of almost extral creamy grits but it was really good!

  19. I really love this recipe, but I had to make a change: with the cheeses I used, the sauce was too thick, more of a cheese clump. So I added 1/2 cup more of heavy cream and it was perfect. I also added a 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard to the sauce, and it really lifted the flavor.

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