Cauliflower mac & cheese with bacon

Cauliflower mac & cheese with bacon recipe

With this recipe for mac & cheese, the cauliflower is poached in milk with aromatics which all gets blended into the sauce. As an alternative to a bechamel, it is somehow lighter even though there is a lot of cheese. Choose a strong aged Cheddar or other hard cheese of your choice such as Dalewood Fromage Huguenot. This is probably my go-to cheese for cooking with. They sell it grated in bags which you stash in the freezer (this is post is not sponsored). A good mature Gouda works too. Cauliflower mac and cheese with bacon is a great mid-week supper dish and leave the bacon to keep it vegetarian obviously. The crumb topping makes this dish so don’t leave it off.

Recipe – serves 4 – 6 people

Cauliflower mac & cheese with bacon

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Cauliflower mac & cheese with bacon recipe


Mac and cheese:

  • 500 gms short pasta of your choice like macaroni or fusilli
  • 1 large head of cauliflower approx 750 – 800gms, broken into florets and the stems chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 500 – 600 ml milk enough to cover the cauliflower and add more if necessary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 125 gms streaky bacon cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups of grated strong hard cheese such as mature Cheddar plus an extra ¼ - ½ cup for the topping

Crumb topping:

  • ¾ cup of fresh white breadcrumbs or panko
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan


  • Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and drain and set aside.
  • In a large pot add the cauliflower stock, milk, bay leaves, garlic, salt and pepper ensuring the liquid covers the cauliflower. It doesn’t matter if you go a little over the quantity here. This is very forgiving. Bring this to a gentle boil and cook over low heat for about 25 – 30 minutes.
  • While that is cooking, fry the bacon until crispy and then set aside. Add this to the pasta when it has finished cooking to separate the noodles.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
  • Once the cauliflower is fall-apart soft, remove the bay leaves and process until smooth using a stick blender. Alternatively, allow to cool slightly and blend in a food processor or liquidizer. When smooth return the mix to the heat and warm it up. Add the 2 cups of cheese and nutmeg and stir until dissolved. Check seasoning adding more salt & pepper if necessary and if it is very thick, add a little extra milk.
  • Make the crumb topping by tossing all the ingredients together in a bowl until well mixed.
  • In a large ovenproof dish, add the pasta, bacon, cauliflower & cheese sauce and mix well. Sprinkle over additional cheese and as much as you desire. Then spread the crumb topping over the surface and bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
Author: Sam Linsell

A few more of my other favourite pasta recipes:

My best pasta recipes

My favourite mid-week supper recipes



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