Cauliflower au Gratin

5 from 3 votes

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This is a downright irresistible casserole with a rich cheesy sauce, crunchy breadcrumb topping, and tender cauliflower.

Cauliflower au Gratin

I am the biggest sucker for a side dish that steals the show. And what if it was a side dish that could also serve as a main dish? In the same way as a substantial baked mac and cheese can be either an entree or a side, so can a vegetable gratin. The cheesy sauce, the breadcrumb topping, the toothsomeness of tender, sturdy cauliflower — add a salad to this, and I probably couldn’t even tell you if there was something else on the table.

This casserole is perfect for the holidays — a terrific addition to a Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s menu, and also great for Easter. If you want to serve it as a side for a weeknight dinner, it’s great with mains like Roast Chicken and Pan-Fried Pork Chops. But again, also hearty enough to be a main course for a cold winter night dinner. And while there are a few steps involved, the whole thing is very easy to pull together.

Cauliflower au Gratin in an oblong, white baking dish.

Cauliflower Gratin: This is downright irresistible with a rich cheesy sauce, crunchy breadcrumb topping, and tender cauliflower.

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What Does “au Gratin” Mean?

The name gratin or au gratin comes from the French word “gratiner,” which means to broil.  You might also see this called a Gratiniata, Gratine, or Gratinee. Different names in different languages, but this type of dish is popular in Mediterranean cuisines, especially Italian and French, as well as American cooking.

Woman using a fork to serve Cauliflower au Gratin.

Variation

If you want to make this a gluten-free casserole, you can use gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose flour. The flour, along with the cheeses and milk, creates a rich, creamy sauce that isn’t at all watery.

How to Make Cauliflower au Gratin

  1. In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the pancetta is crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave about 1 tablespoon fat in the pan and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the same skillet. Toast the breadcrumbs until they are golden brown and slightly crispy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the breadcrumbs into a medium bowl.
  2. Return the pan to the heat and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and whisk frequently until the mixture is well combined and blond in color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half or milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture is bubbling and thickened. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in half of the gruyere until it’s melted, along with the cooked bacon.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the cauliflower and cook for about 4 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain, then add the cauliflower to the sauce and toss to combine well. Transfer to a prepared baking dish.
Oblong baking dish of cauliflower and sauce on a wooden board.
  1. Add the remaining ½ cup Gruyere and the Parmesan to the bowl with toasted breadcrumbs and stir to blend. Sprinkle the mixture over the cauliflower.
Woman adding bread crumbs to a baking pan of cauliflower au gratin.
  1. Bake for at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until bubbling around the edges and golden brown on top. Serve hot or warm.

What to Serve With Cauliflower au Gratin

Spoon in a partially-served baking pan of Cauliflower au Gratin.

More Cauliflower Recipes

Also see How to Cook Cauliflower.

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5 from 3 votes

Cauliflower au Gratin

This is a downright irresistible casserole with a rich cheesy sauce, crunchy breadcrumb topping, and tender cauliflower.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 10 People
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Ingredients 

  • 4 ounces thick sliced bacon or pancetta (diced)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups half and half or whole milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds; cut into florets)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese (divided)
  • ½ cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a plate with paper towels. Lightly oil a 1 1/2-quart baking dish or a 9-inch round or square baking pan, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon or pancetta over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the paper towel-lined plate. Leave about 1 tablespoon fat in the pan; pour out any extra. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and slightly crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and scrape the breadcrumbs into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Return the pan to the heat and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and whisk frequently until the mixture is well combined and blond in color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half or milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer, whisking frequently, until the mixture is bubbling and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in half of the gruyere until it’s melted, along with the reserved crispy pancetta.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the cauliflower and cook for about 4 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain, then add the drained cauliflower to the sauce and toss to combine well. Transfer the sauced cauliflower to the prepared baking dish. Add the remaining 1/2 cup gruyere and the Parmesan to the bowl with toasted breadcrumbs and stir to blend. Sprinkle the mixture over the cauliflower.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until bubbling around the edges and golden brown on top. Serve hot or warm.

Notes

If you want to make this a gluten-free casserole, you can use gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose flour. The flour, along with the cheeses and milk, creates a rich, creamy sauce that isn’t at all watery.

Nutrition

Calories: 306kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 59mg, Sodium: 383mg, Potassium: 314mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 522IU, Vitamin C: 28mg, Calcium: 292mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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