This gluten free cauliflower cheese without flour is delicious, rich and comforting. It's a great way to enjoy cauliflower as a side dish with your Sunday roast, or served by itself as a light vegetarian lunch.
Cauliflower cheese is a traditional British dish, kind of like mac and cheese, but using healthy cauliflower with cheese sauce rather than pasta. And this gluten free cauliflower cheese, wheat free and made without flour, is really easy to make!
What you'll love about the recipe?
- Healthy and nutritious. Cauliflower is a super healthy ingredient. There's not many white foods that are good for you, but cauliflower is one of them! It's part of the brassica family, and a great source of B vitamins, vitamin C and fibre. It is also rich in a number of other antioxidants which have proven health benefits (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower) However, it's not always easy to get kids - or adults - to eat plain cauliflower. Cauliflower smothered in cheese sauce seems to solve that problem! It's a great way to add a delicious extra portion of one of your five-a-day.
- This gluten free cauliflower cheese is made without flour and is suitable for coeliacs. The recipe uses cornflour, which also known as cornstarch. Cornflour is made from maize and naturally gluten free. It's a great store cupboard staple, ideal for making a flourless sauce.
- Quick and easy. Cornflour is incredibly easy to use in a sauce - you can simply add the cornflour and milk together, bring them to a simmer and you'll end up with a silky smooth sauce. This easy gluten free cauliflower cheese recipe can be made from start to finish in 20 minutes.
- Lower in fat. Gluten free cauliflower cheese sauce is lower in fat than a traditional sauce made with a roux. There's no butter or cream, and the base can be made with skimmed milk if you want to lower the calories. But the finished dish is delicious, creamy and rich:)
- This healthy side dish is great for meal prep. Gluten free cauliflower cheese is delicious served with a traditional Sunday roast or on a special occasion such as Easter or Christmas, all times when it's great to get ahead with your preparation!
A whole cauliflower will serve 4 people. Cauliflower is super easy to prepare, and you can use the leaves as well. The fresh green colour will make the dish look more attractive, and the leaves will add an even wider range of nutrients. Cauliflower leaves are mild tasting, and have a fleshy base which is similar to pak choi.
Milk. You can use any kind of milk for this gluten free cauliflower cheese sauce recipe. I prefer to use skimmed milk as you'll get a rich creamy taste and texture from the cheese. You could also use a non-dairy alternative such as oat milk if you prefer.
Cornflour. In the US and some other countries, this is known as cornstarch. It's a very fine white powder which is used for thickening sauces. Note that is is not the same ingredient as the type of corn flour or corn meal which is used to make tortillas and cornbread.
Mature cheddar cheese. Use a strong flavoured cheddar to give a much better-tasting cheesy sauce. You could also use parmesan if you prefer.
Seasoning. I like to include mustard powder as well as salt and pepper for added flavour. If you don't have mustard powder, you could use a teaspoon of Dijon mustard instead, but do check that it is gluten free. You can also add a small pinch of cayenne pepper for extra spice, or a pinch of garlic powder. Nutmeg also goes well with cheese. But remember, cheese is naturally quite salty, so be careful not to over-salt the dish.
How to make gluten free cauliflower cheese
Prepare the cauliflower first so that it can cook whilst you make the sauce. Discard any wilted leaves. Remove the remaining leaves and cut into even sized pieces. Cut off the thick main stalk from the cauliflower and separate the florets. Halve the very largest florets through the stalk so that they are roughly the same size.
Place the cauliflower florets in a large pan, stalks downwards. Add about an inch of boiling water. The stalks will be in the water, and the top of the florets will cook in the steam. Cover with a lid. Bring up to the boil, and after a couple of minutes, add the leaves to the pan. Simmer for a further 4-5 minutes until the cauliflower is just tender. Drain well.
Meanwhile, make the gluten free cheese sauce. Add the cornflour, milk and seasoning to a cold pan, and stir well. Place on a medium heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. The sauce will thicken - simmer gently for a minute to cook the cornflour, then remove from the heat. Add 50 g of the grated cheese and stir until melted.
Place the cauliflower in an ovenproof baking dish and top with the sauce.
Sprinkle with the remaining 25g of cheese, and place under a hot grill. Grill for 3-4 minutes until golden and bubbling.
- Make sure to stir the sauce constantly as it comes up to the boil so that it stays smooth and creamy. If you do end up with any lumps, whisk with a balloon whisk until smooth.
- Cook the cauliflower until just tender. Overcooked cauliflower can result in a watery cauliflower cheese:(
Variations for cauliflower cheese without flour
- For non vegetarians, you could also add some pan-fried bacon lardons
- You can also add extra vegetables such as leeks. Remember though, any veggies you add will need to be cooked first
- For an even richer creamy sauce, stir in a couple of tablespoons of creme fraiche or cream
- For a crispy topping, sprinkle over two tablespoons of gluten free breadcrumbs or ground almonds before placing the dish under the grill
- You might also like to try this coronation cauliflower salad which is gluten-free and ideal for meal prep.
Enjoy your gluten free cauliflower cheese hot, straight from the oven.
If you're serving it as a light vegetarian meal, add a green leafy salad on the side. You could also add some gluten free savoury scones for a more filling meal.
Cauliflower cheese without flour is also good as a healthy vegetable side dish. Try it with spatchcock chicken and roast root vegetables. Maybe treat yourself to some gluten free Yorkshire puddings. Or serve it with some gluten free chicken goujons, or simple baked fish.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, this gluten free cauliflower cheese recipe is great for meal prep. Assemble the cauliflower cheese and store in the fridge for up to a day. Then bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees for 30 minutes.
I prefer not to freeze gluten free cauliflower cheese. It can go a little watery when frozen, which can spoil the taste and the texture. For the same reason, I think it's best to use fresh cauliflower rather than frozen.
Watery cauliflower cheese can often be caused by overcooking the cauliflower. Make sure that your cauliflower is just cooked by testing it with the point of a knife. Then drain it thoroughly.
Yes, absolutely. Simmer the broccoli in a small amount of water for 5 minutes and follow the rest of the recipe.
Other healthy gluten free cauliflower recipes
This post on how to make a gluten free roast dinner has got lots of recipes and tips about GF cooking.
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Gluten Free Cauliflower Cheese without Flour
- 1 whole cauliflower
- 450 ml milk skimmed or wholemilk, dairy or non dairy
- 2 tablespoon cornflour
- ½ teaspoon dried mustard powder or 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (gluten free)
- pinch of pepper, and salt if required
- 75 g mature cheddar cheese, grated
- Prepare the cauliflower. Discard any wilted leaves. Remove the remaining leaves and cut into even sized pieces. Cut the curd of the cauliflower into florets, discarding the central main stalk. Cut the largest florets in half through the stalk so that they are all roughly the same size.
- Place the cauliflower in a large pan with the stalk at the bottom. Add about an inch of boiling water so that the stalks are covered and the top of the floret is out of the water. Cover the pan and simmer for 2 minutes, then add the leaves on top of the florets. Put the lid back on. Simmer for a further 4-5 minutes until the cauliflower is just tender. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Add the cornflour, seasoning and cold milk to a cold pan. Stir well, and place on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. As the sauce comes to the boil, it will thicken up. Simmer for a minute, continuing to stir. Turn off the heat and add 50 g of the cheese. Stir until melted.
- Preheat the grill.
- Place the cauliflower in a baking dish. Top with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining 25 g grated cheese. Grill for 3-4 minutes until golden and bubbling.
- Add seasoning to taste. As cheese is naturally quite salty, you may not need extra salt.
- If you want to prepare the recipe ahead of time, assemble the dish and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Cook the cauliflower cheese in the oven rather than the grill so that it has time to heat through properly. Cook for 30 minutes at 190 degrees (170 fan).
Please note nutritional information is per serving and is provided for guidance only.