Damn Delicious

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Less fat AND less calories. Except taste and flavor is not compromised AT ALL! So cheesy, comforting and irresistible!

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - Less fat AND less calories. Except taste and flavor is not compromised AT ALL! So cheesy, comforting and irresistible!

 You know that saying, “Have your cake and eat it too?”

Well.

That’s what’s happening here.

You can have your cake.

With less fat.

And less calories.

With veggies sneaked in.

That you probably won’t even notice.

Because you’ll be too distracted by all that cheesy creaminess.

Don’t worry.

That’s completely normal.

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Less fat AND less calories. Except taste and flavor is not compromised AT ALL! So cheesy, comforting and irresistible!

15 minutes25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cavatappi pasta
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup half and half, or more, as needed
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. Melt butter in a 9-inch oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in half and half, and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in cream cheese, Dijon and garlic powder until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in 1 cup cheese until melted, about 1-2 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more half and half as needed; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Stir in pasta and cauliflower; gently toss to combine. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  6. Place into oven and bake until bubbly, about 12-15 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately, garnished with chives, if desired.

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132 comments

  1. This recipe has become a staple in my home, and almost every potluck over the past 3 years (back when we could share food ).  The cheese sauce is EVERYTHING! Incredibly easy to make and modify to suit your taste. I almost always leave out the pasta, and add any kind of seasoned ground meat and crushed red pepper flakes for some heat. Love, love, looooove this recipe

  2. I made this tonight and it was delicious! It did take about 3/4 cup more half and half for me, and I topped it off with a sprinkle of panko breadcrumbs and some tobasco. I will definitely make again!

  3. Hi where can I find the nutritional information? Thanks!

    • Jenifer, nutritional information is actually provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if you would like to make changes to a specific recipe, I recommend using free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information. Hope that helps!

  4. I cannot find the nutrition information. What is the calorie count? Carb count?

    • Catherine, nutritional information is actually provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, I recommend using free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information. Hope that helps!

  5. Gruyere? Milk? Reading through the comments, it sounds so good, but are we looking at different recipes?

  6. THis is very good. I did change a couple things. I substituted organic ghee for butter, gluten free flour and gluten free brown pasta. I substituted coconut milk for half and half , about 1.5 cans.  I used 1 tsp mustard powder and Dijon mustard. I mixed in puréed butternut squash for color and to squeeze in more veggies about 1 cup. I sprinkled top with crunchy red peppers and fresh parsley. YUM! 
    Thanks 

  7. Love this recipe! My husband is diabetic and the carbs in regular mac and cheese just were too much. I love the idea of filling it out with cauliflower. Genius idea! I also recently found Birds Eye Zucchini Lentil Pasta which is significantly lower in carbs than regular pasta. I used it in this recipe and the combination of your recipe and the lentil pasta made this a low carb win! Thanks!

  8. Why would you get rid of the original recipe altogether? Now your recipe is similar to the other ones on google and I was specifically looking for the old one because I like that recipe better. Seems like other people do too. I’m disappointed I never printed it out. I searched forever until I finally realized this is where the recipe is supposed to be. Now I don’t even have the correct ingredients from the store.

  9. I’ve made this before but did half sharp cheddar half Gouda. Delicious!!! I’m wondering though, could this be cooked on the stovetop instead of baking? Thanks!

  10. I love all your recipes and I’m sure this one will be no exception! However, you used to have a different skinny cauliflower recipe posted here that my family loved! I never printed it out because I save a lot of my recipes on Pinterest. Some of the ingredients were: 3 cloves garlic minced, 1 onion diced, 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream, 1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk or more, to taste, 1 cup gruyere cheese shredded, 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, etc. Is there any way I could get that recipe from you again?

  11. No! Where is the original recipe???  🙁

  12. We made this great mac and cheese yesterday and it was absolutely delicious!

    We used fat reduced milk and cream cheese. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Greetings From germany!

  13. can you make this recipe without the pasta?

  14. I made this today and it was delicious and easy!  First time making mac and cheese where it turned out great.  Cavatappi is the way to go.

  15. This is really delicious and easy to make…perfect for Lent! But, how is this “skinny”??? Half and half, cream cheese, cheddar cheese??? I’m not complaining; I just think maybe you should rename it!

  16. Made this tonight and though I’ve seen tons of your recipes on Pinterest this is my first foray into DamnDelicious land. 

    Wow.

    Made it exactly as written (although bacon or chicken or jalapeños will go into future variations) it is nearly a perfect side dish.. adding a protein would get you main dish status but I am stunned at how great this was.. 

    Sprinkled scallions on top instead of chives as scallions are always in my fridge and it was perfect.  Sriracha drizzled on the portions really elevated it.  This recipe will be in my rotation for life.  

  17. This was really good, I had to add quite a bit more half & half to thin. I am trying to like cauliflower but I am giving up, it is just a flavor I can’t seem to like other than cauliflower pizza. I will definitely do this again with broccoli or asparagus. I did the cheddar cheese version & it was excellent.

  18. Just had this for supper, delicious!!! One thing though, is the pasta amount of one cup correct??  I used more like 3 cups, as one cup didn’t seem like enough, and is was perfect, very saucy and cheesy still with that amount.  I didn’t have an oven safe skillet either so just threw it in a 9 x 11 glass dish and into the oven, will definitely make again and again! Thanks for the recipe!

  19. Addition of cauliflower makes it more adorable for people like me. I prefer enjoying deliciousness with less calories and hiding veggies to get kids dig in. This is a great dish . Trying it out soon

  20. I love this dish, and the skinniness of it is great!

  21. That is a really clever and creative way of using cauliflower. Nice post! (:

  22. Hi there! Random question, I just read above that you updated the recipe- which is awesome! However my hubby is super attached to the way the recipe was before and I never thought to write it down- do you think you could maybe list it just once more? Even for the day? I completely respect that you updated it, and I’m sure it’s wonderful, but I can’t for the life of me remember how you did it before and I’d really like to make it that way! Hope you don’t feel that this is disrespectful! 

  23. I am so confused….are these posts for the right recipe?  Skinny Cauliflower Mac n Cheese?  Because  I have been reading everyone’s substitutions and in the recipe I don’t see any Gruyere, sour cream, Panko or onion (obviously not referring to the chives).  These are the ingredients copied and pasted from the recipe:

    INGREDIENTS:
    1 cup cavatappi pasta
    2 cups cauliflower florets
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 cup half and half, or more, as needed
    2 ounces cream cheese
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

    Am I missing something here?  Do you have 2 different recipes for this?  I really want to know how I should really make it because it looks delicious, but I love Gruyere and would rather use that than cheddar anyway.

  24. Can’t wait to try it, it looks so YUMMY!! My vegetarian would definitely love this, cauliflower is her new vegetable. 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe. 

  25. I am preparing to make this recipe…. however everyone’s comments refer to Gruyere Cheese but the recipe lists using cheddar cheese. Has the recipe been updated to use cheddar instead of Gruyere Cheese? I wanted to get it right and was unsure of which cheese to use now.

  26. This is SO SO good. Every time I make it my husband comments about how good it is even though he’s had it a hundred times. For anyone who’s wondering, I do freeze it although I’m sure that changes the texture a little. I adjust the recipe to a scale of using 2 heads of cauliflower whenever they’re on sale, and I use whatever cheese I have on hand (although that obviously changes the taste and texture too). So that makes enough for one big pan and 2 small 8×8 foil pans for the freezer and I have a great “lazy meal”!

  27. YUM!!!! I made this tonight for dinner! It was a hit!!! Saved a little for my lunch tomorrow.
    This is a repeat recipe for our home! 

  28. really good – added an egg with milk before adding – really good!

  29. I made this the other night and wanted to love it, but think I screwed up along the way. I doubled the recipie with two small heads of cauliflower, one cup of pasta, and I used mozzarella instead of cheddar(doubled all other ingredients). Unfortunately the sauce was REALLY watery and I’m just not sure what went wrong! I was expecting a more creamy cheese sauce, like an Alfredo. Any suggestions for when I remake?

  30. This recipe had a good base flavor, but the onion was so overpowering! Perhaps the onion I used was too large. I also had problems with the cheese melting to the correct consistency without the aid of a roux. I used Swiss in place of Gruyere. Unfortunately, had to throw this one out, wanted to like it though!

    • Sarah, I’m sorry that this recipe did not turn out the way you had imagined. I only post recipes that have been successfully tested in my own kitchen, and as you can see from the comments here, many of these readers have had great outcomes in the final dish as well.

      I really hope you get a chance to try this again using gruyere. Substituting a different kind of cheese can yield very different results both in taste and texture.

  31. This is awesome. I will definitely try this at home.

  32. This was absolutely fabulous, such a great twist on Mac and cheese…no butter or flour, freaking awesome.  I used Jarlsberg cheese instead of Gruyere because it is what I had handy but otherwise made it as written.  Thanks so much for your recipes, you hold a special place in my heart for turning me on to orzo 🙂  Keep them coming!!

  33. Quite possibly the CUTEST recipe post ever! And yummy too. This post made my day (and inspired me to make this dish!)

    Thank you from a new fan!

  34. Yum!!  This is awesome. Trying to eat more veggies but still have great taste. Your lettuce wraps and other recipes keep me coming back to your site. Thank you so much!!

  35. Wonderful texture and flavor without velveeta. Reheats smooth. This was delicious and so easy to make. Makes a bigger batch than I was expecting.

  36. The skinny cauliflower mac’ n cheese was amazing- really a nice, “grown up” twist on he dish. I did sub greek yogurt for sour cream because it’s what I had on hand, otherwise made as written. I really enjoy your recipes. Thanks so much! This one is a keeper.

  37. Sub Greek Yogurt for Reduced Fat Sour Cream… even healthier

  38. I made this dish on Monday for dinner. What a hit!!!! My picky daughter ate a huge bowl of this! My husband devoured half of the dish. It was amazing! I did make a couple substitutions. tThe recipe called for 1/2 cup sour cream, I used cream cheese (chive and onion) that I had on hand. I added peas for color and extra veggies, and I used regular seasoned bread crumbs in lieu of Panko. It was still creamy, scrumptious and very flavorful! I will be sure to make this again! The possibilities of add-ins is limitless! Thanks so much!

  39. love love love this recipe!! It has become one of our faves here, even with the kids.  Yummy!

  40. Anyone know what the container breakdown is for 1 serving of this for 21 Day Fix?

  41. I couldn’t find the nutrition values for this recipe

    • Nutritional information is provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, I recommend using free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information.

  42. just about to make cauliflower Mac and cheese and as usual went on Pinterest and you popped up, yet again! So making it with a fresh tomato and basil layer in the middle to lift it on a rather warm evening, popping breadcrumbs on top and a quick blitz under the grill.

  43. Thanks for sharing your fabulous recipes! Honestly, I am not one of those people that makes a lot of changes to recipes. But, I did make this with 1 cup cauliflower and 1 cup broccoli and it was really great.

  44. I’m thinking of doubling this recipe for a dinner party. Any suggestions? Just double everything?

  45. This mac and cheese looks amazing! I was looking for a mac and cheese with broccoli to lighten it up but cauliflower is such a great idea! I cannot wait to make it tonight. Ps your pooch is too cute!

  46. I think adding pureed carrots to the cheese sauce would make it that much more healtheier…..just a thought. looks amazing! Trying tomorrow!

  47. Had to leave a comment – I made this last night, trying to find a recipe that made cauliflower appealing to my family. This dish it’s absolutely amazing! So delicious. A real work of art – all of the flavors balance perfectly. We will be enjoying this one over and over again. Everyone loved it! Thank you.

  48. Hey Chungah! This recipe is really great, but I’d like to try it without noodles–just cauliflower. Would you recommend adding more cheese, cream, etc, if I used two heads of cauliflower instead of one?

  49. hello! I just made this succulent dish! yummmmmmmmmm…one question..can I freeze this?

    • Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried freezing this myself – there were no leftovers left to freeze! Please use your best judgment for freezing and reheating.

  50. I’m making this for a pot luck tomorrow and would like to use a 9×13 glass baking dish, should I multiple things by 2 or 3 for a dish that large?

    • I worry that doubling the recipe will be too much. It may be best to increase the recipe by 1.5 to use a baking dish of that size.

  51. Do you know how many calories are in this dish? Thank you for making so many incredible dishes.

    • Nutritional information is provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, it is best that you use free online resources at your discretion (you can gooogle “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information.

  52. Milk? Did I miss something in the ingredients? I’m making it right now, so I’ll put a splash of milk in.

    Thanks

  53. Wow! Spent all day filming and came home to make this for the kiddos. So glad I happened upon this recipe. Thank you so much! This is the best Mac ‘n’ Cheese we’ve EVER had.

  54. Looks reallygood,
    just would like to know what the weight watchers points would be and the serving in this recipe

    • Debbie, I try my very best to provide nutritional information for my recipes. However, if they are not available, it is best that you use free online resources at your discretion (you can gooogle “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information.

  55. Hi! Is there a less expensive cheese I could use instead of Gruyere? A cup of that sounds like alot! Maybe a low-fat cheese? Thanks so much!

  56. Had this recipe saved to my Pinterest & just got around to making it tonight. Directions were easy to follow & I’m currently stuffing my face.

  57. 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!

    • 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.

  58. 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!

  59. 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!

  60. Pingback: 15 Pasta Specialties for Simple, Comforting Dinners - GleamItUp

  61. 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

  62. 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!!

  63. 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!

  64. 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!

  65. This looks brilliant! Can’t wait to try!

  66. Pingback: Skinny Cauliflower Mac & Cheese - Stylish Adventures with AL

  67. 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!!

  68. Looks dlish! Can I double this recipe?

  69. Can I use frozen cauliflower for this recipe? If so, how long should I boil it for?

    • 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.

  70. I’M GOING TO MAKE THIS RIGHT NOW.

  71. 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!!!

    • 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.”

  72. This was delish! Loved the garlic in the recipe…thank you for sharing it.

  73. 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!

  74. 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

  75. I keep a list of recipes I’m going to make in the next couple of weeks. This just went to the top!

  76. 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!!

  77. Love the lightened up mac and cheese but Butters…oh gosh…was he sleeping in that position? So darn cute!

  78. Great recipe, can’t wait to enjoy this with our next cauliflower harvest in a few weeks!

  79. Butters is absolutely adorable! And the mac & cheese would be adorable in my mouth right about now!

  80. You’re going to Cabo AND you get skinny mac n cheese?! Lucky girl 🙂

  81. This looks and sounds fantastic! I love how it’s so easy to make a dish a lot lighter with a few adjustments. You clever cookie you 😉 Thanks for a great recipe 😀 x

  82. That mac and cheese looks so delicious-and your puppy is ADORABLE! Oh my goodness……….

  83. This would be great for Meatless Monday! Can’t wait to try it!

  84. This looks SO delicious! Just shared the recipe with my fitness clients, they’re going to love it. Thanks for sharing =)

  85. Mac and cheese and Butter nose- perfect pairing!

  86. 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!

  87. 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!

  88. A skinny mac and cheese I definitely a recipe I want to try out! This looks divine!

  89. 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.

  90. This mac and cheese looks so freaking GOOD! Love this recipe!

  91. This sounds delicious – but the corgi photos made my day. 🙂

  92. This looks delish. Love that it’s cauli-based, and no doubt, everyone else will too L:)

    And Butters. Holy cuteness!! He gets cuter with every single pic!!

  93. I can’t get over how cute Butters is and I’m in love with this mac & cheese!

  94. The noodles are just vehicles for the cheese sauce anyway, bring on the healthier cauliflower cheese vehicle!