Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free, and it’s the perfect way to sneak in some veggies for your picky-eaters!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

When you’re a food blogger and you have your camera in-hand, ready to do a photoshoot with all the food and plates staged, and then your 4-month old corgi puppy does something really strange – well, you kind of have to stop everything you’re doing and take pictures of him instead.

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

And then this is what you do when you’re using a macro lens. Don’t mind that crumb on his nose. It’s probably a food crumb. He gets a lot of those. That and leaf crumbs. He manages to find those everywhere around the house.

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

But enough about Butters – let’s talk mac and cheese! But not just any kind of mac and cheese. I am so excited to share with you a skinny, lightened-up mac and cheese that you can stuff your face guilt-free!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

Now after I discovered my newfound love for cauliflower after making this and this, I just had to find a way to sneak it into some good ol’ mac and cheese, my absolute favorite kind of comfort food. But since bikini season is just around the corner, I swapped out some ingredients to lighten it up to keep me from gaining a gazillion pounds before our Cabo trip. After all, who has any kind of self-control over mac and cheese?

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

And since this is already lightened up and chockfull of cauliflower, I just couldn’t help but add a bread crumb topping. It’s a completely optional step, but I personally can’t have mac and cheese without that crunchy goodness. Either way, this will be one mac and cheese you’ll want to make again and again. Even your picky eaters will be begging for seconds!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes

Total Time 40 minutes

Yield 4 servings

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

A lightened-up mac and cheese that you can eat guilt-free, and it's the perfect way to sneak in some veggies for your picky-eaters!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup Panko*
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup elbows pasta
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk, or more, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-inch baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add Panko and cook, stirring, until browned and toasted, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley; set aside.
  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Within the last 3 minutes of cooking time, add cauliflower; drain well.
  • Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the pot. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring often, until onions have become translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in pasta, cauliflower, sour cream, milk and cheeses, a handful at a time, until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  • Spread pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Place into oven and bake until bubbly, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, sprinkled with Panko, if desired.

Notes

*Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb and can be found in the Asian section of your local grocery store.

http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/26/skinny-cauliflower-mac-cheese/


Comments

  1. Sabine says

    This sound really good. The kids are busy during the week so I was wondering if this can be frozen if I make two pans. Should I freeze the second pan before or after baking? How long should I bake the frozen mac and cheese if it’s not baked and how long to heat it up if it is already cooked but still frozen? This would be a quick hands off meal since I could just bake some chicken while the mac and cheese are cooking or reheating.

  2. Becky says

    I don’t know how you ever drag yourself away from that damn cute Butters!!!! He is so ADORABLE!!!! Thanks for sharing your doggie with us along with the yummy recipes. I’m trying this tonight!

  3. says

    You might be psychic…look into it. Last night I literally doodled a note on the back of a receipt to find a recipe for cauli mac and cheese…..So excited to try this out! thanks for all the delish recipes!

  4. says

    Growing up, we only ate Kraft mac ‘n cheese because that’s all my mom had the time or energy to make, but now that I’m an adult and less of a picky eater, your cauliflower version looks phenomenal! I finally got on the cauliflower bandwagon last fall, and I’ve been loving it ever since. Plus it gives me an excuse to eat more cheese and pasta — always a good thing! :) Have a fabulous trip to Cabo!!

  5. says

    The mac and cheese looks good, but I can’t get over how cute that nose is!!! Such an adorable puppy and I’ve never seen one sleep in that position! Love that puppy and all I want to do is kiss that nose with the crumb on it! Can you tell I’m a dog lover? LOL

  6. olivia says

    Wow. Made this and damn was it gooooooood! I wouldn’t really say skinny though…just as decadent as ever, in fact. I added in spinach and grated carrots and I think more cauliflower than called for. Also used a smoked gouda instead of the gruyere because it’s what I had and it was a great choice. Thanks so much!

  7. Vee says

    This is the perfect guilt-free version of mac and cheese!!! Can’t wait to try it! I wanted to check that the cauliflower should be cooked before mixing with the mac or are the florets raw? Thanks!!!

    • Chung-Ah says

      Vee, the cauliflower should be parboiled. Please refer to the directions:

      “In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Within the last 3 minutes of cooking time, add cauliflower; drain well.”

    • Chung-Ah says

      It is best to use fresh cauliflower in this recipe. If you only have frozen cauliflower on hand, I recommend thawing completely before boiling it as indicated in the directions.

  8. says

    A guilt-free mac and cheese! Count me in. I love sneaking veggies into my dishes because sometimes I just find it so hard to make sides. It’s almost like having your cake and eating it too :) I can’t wait to try this!!

  9. GirlWithGlasses says

    Holy moley this looks good. I’ve been trying to get more cauliflower into my diet. This is the perfect excuse. AND OMG YOUR DOG IS SO CUTE!

  10. KT says

    Made this today. Had to make a few substitutions just because we were short on ingredients. Used string cheese instead of gruyere…used garlic pepper instead of garlic and onions…used bread crumbs instead on panko. Had to use the cauliflower that was stinking up the fridge. This was amazing. To top it off, my 16 month old gobbled it up too! Will try with 100% of the ingredients again soon but even with changes it was fabulous!

  11. GirlWithGlasses says

    Made this tonight! I didnt have a small dish like that so i put it in a large baking dish and it didn’t bake as well but was still delicious! Didn’t have elbow so I just used some other small pasta. I also added carrots. It tastes so good but next time no carrots and less pasta! Thanks!!

  12. Molly says

    Is this healthy??? How many calories are in it??? Im doing the 21 day fix and this is of the meals for it but doesn’t tell me the calorie intake

  13. Lisa says

    This was a high end Mac and cheese–I used a smoked gruyere which was killer. My two Kraft Mac and cheese-loving children were converts!! Thank you for this delicious, satisfying, healthy dish!

  14. says

    I’m not sure I’ve ever written in about a recipe before, but I had to in this case because this is a phenomena recipe. It’s not even a good substitute for my old homemade recipe. I like it better. Outstanding. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Nana says

    Just stumbled upon on your blog searching for cauliflower mac and cheese and this looks good! Can’t wait to try this and a lot more of your recipes. Also, your red pot is adorable. Do you mind sharing where to get one like it? Thanks!

    • Chungah says

      The brand of the pot is Le Creuset – you can purchase it through major department stores, Amazon, Williams-Sonoma, and of course, the Le Creuset store.

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