A keto cauliflower casserole makes the perfect side this holiday season. It’s just as creamy, savory, and richly-flavored as its other casserole counterparts, but using fiber-rich cauliflower and other smart ingredient swaps makes this cauliflower casserole recipe that much better for you.
Read on to learn why you need to start making cauliflower casseroles a staple in your holiday meal rotation, a tasty casserole recipe you can try, and tips and tricks to adapt the recipe to suit your own dietary needs.
Why Is Cauliflower Good For You?
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals, and other health-boosting compounds. It is relatively low in calories despite being such a rich source of nutrients and fiber. It also contains much less carbohydrates compared to grains, legumes, and other starchy veggies. This includes potatoes — which explains why cauliflower is often called on as a keto-friendly substitute when making gratins or potato casseroles.1
As it contains many beneficial nutrients, it’s a good addition to most diets. It is a versatile vegetable that can be swapped in for many other vegetables that are often higher in carbs. Case in point — the loaded cauliflower recipe that follows below.
Try This Easy, Cheesy, Loaded Cauliflower Casserole Recipe
This easy, cheesy, healthy cauliflower casserole is flavorful and festive enough to be a great low-carb side dish this holiday season, but it’s simple enough to make even on regular days. You can even make this dish ahead of time, freeze it in an airtight container, and bake it for a quick weeknight meal when you’re in a pinch.
This keto version makes full use of flavorful vegan cheeses and sour cream, as well as crumbled plant-based bacon as in traditional “loaded” casserole recipes.
- 1 large head cauliflower, or about 1.5 lbs cauliflower florets
- Olive oil spray (or other non-stick spray)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup vegan sour cream
- 2 Tbsp. dairy-free milk
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp minced garlic (or garlic powder)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 cup vegan sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
- 2 Tbsp. crumbled plant-based bacon
- Chopped scallions or green onions (for garnish)
- Preheat your oven to 425 F. While it heats up, prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange cauliflower florets on the baking sheet in a single layer. Season with olive oil spray, salt, and black pepper.
- Roast cauliflower in the oven until tender but still crisp, about 12 minutes. When done, remove from the oven.
- While waiting for the cauliflower to roast, in a large mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, milk, mustard, cayenne pepper, and half the cheddar cheese.
- Add the roasted cauliflower to the cheese mixture. Mix well.
- Transfer the mixture to a prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese, return to the hot oven, and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Garnish with your toppings and serve warm.2
Additional Vegan Options For Your Keto Cauliflower Casserole
Create a velvety vegan creamy cheese sauce and combine this with your cauliflower florets before baking as usual. Instead of plant-based bacon crumbles, try using toasted breadcrumbs and vegan parmesan cheese on top of your casserole for that same salty, crunchy texture. Here’s how to make your vegan cheese sauce:
- 1 cup cashews, soaked in hot water until soft (about 20 minutes), drained, and water discarded
- 2 cups soy milk, unsweetened
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup tapioca flour or starch
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp granulated onion
- 1 ¼ tsp sea salt, or more to taste
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a high-powered blender. Make sure the cashews have been soaked long enough to break down easily in the blender, otherwise your cheese sauce will not be as smooth as you’d like it to be. If it still comes out too thick, add some more vegetable broth to thin it a bit.3
How To Store Casserole Leftovers
Make sure you store your leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator. They should keep for 3-4 days.4 Alternatively, you may want to consider serving personal-size portions of casserole by baking them in individual ramekins or smaller-sized ceramic or glass dishes. This could minimize food waste, too.
How To Make Loaded Casseroles Healthier
As seen above, rich and flavorful casseroles need not be fat or calorie bombs. There are many ways to lighten up typically heavy casseroles, while still retaining the comfort-food goodness that’s perfect for your holiday feast. Here are some tips for customizing or reimagining your usual casserole recipes into healthier or more nutrient-rich versions:
- Combine various vegetables for more flavor and nutrients;
- Add fiber-rich legumes and grains, like beans or brown rice5
Experiment with your family’s classic casserole recipes, and play around with healthier substitutions. You may end up creating new family favorites you’ll all enjoy year after year, regardless of the season.