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A delicious creamy and cheesy keto cauliflower au gratin casserole. Forget the panko, you'll fall in love with the crispy bacon and caramelized onions topping. An easy dinner to make, this will be loved by everyone - including toddlers and babies.
Table of Contents
What is Cauliflower au Gratin?
Extremely similar to cauliflower cheese, cauliflower au gratin is a cauliflower casserole baked in a cream sauce made with a strong French cheese like Gruyere, Swiss or Emmental.
Au gratin simply means a dish covered in cheese and breadcrumbs that was broiled in the oven in French. In my family, we make different dishes made au gratin as you can literally make anything as long as it's covered with cheese and you brown it in the oven.
For other gratin recipes, you can make low carb Shepherd's pie, cauliflower mac and cheese, leftover turkey casserole, keto zucchini lasagna, keto zucchini and squash casserole, scallops au gratin, and so on.
You'll find famous versions made by Ina Garten or Otto Lenghi, but since they use flour and milk, they aren't keto friendly. Here is my healthy version made with keto friendly ingredients.
In my low carb version, the creamy and cheesy cauliflower au gratin is topped with bacon and onions, the cheese sauce is made without flour or milk and so is extremely low in carbs.
The ingredients in this keto cauliflower au gratin are incredibly simple and easy to find. It is made without flour and without milk so the carbs are quite low. You actually do not need any sort of flour to make a white sauce, just cream cheese, heavy cream and cheese will do the trick.
- Cauliflower: Or you could use broccoli, romanesco or do a mix of both.
- Bacon: Traditionally not in it, but tastes so much better with bacon (who wouldn't agree?)
- Onion: Make sure to caramelize them before so that they're nice and sweet. I recommend using a sweet onion, but if you don't have any simply use a yellow onion or white onion.
- Keto White Sauce
- Cream Cheese: This is used to thicken the sauce.
- Heavy Cream: Much lower in carbs than milk and of course much creamier!
- Parmesan: Any grated cheese will work here.
- Gruyere Cheese: This is added to add a bit of thickness and cheesiness. Any type of cheese will work.
- (Optional) Pork Rinds: Ground pork rinds could be sprinkled on top of the gratin for a little crunch instead of the panko, but I chose to leave them out as I was giving some to Charlotte.
How to Make Cauliflower au Gratin
Before starting the dish, you'll want to steam your cauliflower so that you can make the fried onions and bacon and white sauce while the cauliflower is cooking.
I personally used a vegetable steamer, but you could use a simmering pot of water and put a metal steamer in there too. You'll want to steam the cauliflower for about 15 minutes, just until fork-tender. Try not to steam it too long as it'll become too soft and crumble up.
- Pro Tip！Steam or roast the cauliflower instead of boiling it to make sure your cauliflower cheese doesn't end up too watery.
Once your cauliflower is in the steamer, you can start caramelizing the onion and bacon.
You'll want to slice both into thin pieces and fry them in a frying pan until golden brown. Once golden brown and soft, set aside.
For the white sauce, add the cream cheese to the same frying pan and separate it into pieces so that it takes less time to melt and it's also easier that way.
- Pro Tip！Use room temperature cream cheese so that it's easier to melt.
Add some heavy cream, a little at a time, and mix it in the cream cheese. Make sure you're always whisking to make sure there are no cheese lumps and that the cream doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once all of the cream is added in, add some of your grated cheese to thicken the white sauce. Here, we're using gouda, but you can use gruyere, emmental, Swiss, cheddar and so on. Continue mixing until all of the cheese has melted and your keto white sauce is done!
Add the steamed cauliflower to a baking dish, add half of the bacon and onion mixture on top, drizzle the white sauce all over, top with some more cheese and add the last bit of onion and bacon. The last step is simply to bake the dish for about 15 minutes and it's ready to serve!
If you'd like to watch my Youtube tutorial on how to make this delicious and simple cauliflower au gratin, watch below and make sure to subscribe for more cooking videos! Charlotte is also joining me in my Youtube tutorials! Enjoy 🙂
My cauliflower cheese is too runny.
Did you boil the cauliflower? I recommend steaming it or baking it in the oven to avoid excess water. Did you you wait until the white sauce thickened up? If not, the sauce will stay runny. If you want it to be extra thick, you can also add ¼ tsp of xanthan gum.
My cauliflower is too watery.
Did you boil the cauliflower? I recommend steaming it or roasting it in the oven to avoid excess water. Don't over steam it either as the cauliflower tends to retain water.
My white sauce curdled.
Did you cook the white sauce on high heat? This usually happens when it's cooked on high heat. You can try this next trick to fix it. Put the sauce in a blender with a tablespoon of cold water and put on high speed until mixed together. This usually helps it stick together once more.
My white sauce sticks to the pan.
Heavy cream and milk tend to burn easily so make sure you're whisking constantly, cooking on low-medium heat and using a non-stick pot or frying pan works wonders.
Frequently Asked Quetions
Simply place the baking dish in the microwave to warmup the dish. You can also pop it back into the oven and bake it at 180C/350F for 25 minutes to reheat it.
You can make cauliflower gratin with just cauliflower, or you can add any type of protein you like. It's very good with ham, pulled chicken, prosciutto, shrimp, tuna or salmon.
You can use any type of cheese that you like. I like making mine with whatever I have on hand. I have used different types of cheese like gouda, cheddar, emmental, Swiss, gruyere, havarti, white cheddar, parmesan, cotija cheese, goat cheese or even a shredded mixed type of cheese works.
You can, but I don't recommend it as frozen cauliflower is much more watery than fresh. The cream sauce will be very watered down.
Unfortunately, this is one of those dishes that taste much better with dairy.
Of course, this dish keeps extremely well in the fridge for 4-5 days or freezer in the freezer for 1-2 months.
Keep it in the fridge covered for 4-5 days or in the freezer for 1-2 months.
Instead of baking it in the oven, you could add a heat proof dish to your air fryer and air fry for 15-20 minutes at 350F/180C.
How to serve this to a baby or toddler
Now this is actually the perfect dish to introduce to your baby or toddler. My Charlotte has been eating this since she was about 8 months. Since the cauliflower is soft enough to crush between fingertips, it's the perfect toddler meal or an introduction to solids.
Make sure the cauliflower is so tender that you can squish it with two fingers. Just give the cauliflower and the cheese sauce. Skip the bacon and onions until they're better at chewing. For onions I usually chop them thinly and cook them until soft when serving. For bacon, I use low sodium bacon and chop thinly so that she can swallow easily.
Skip the salt for your babies or add just a tiny amount in the dish.
Serve as is, just make sure the cauliflower slices are small enough for them.
What to Serve with Cauliflower au Gratin
This is a dish that can be served on its own or with different sides.
- Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables like bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, kale, eggplant or squash all go very well with this.
- Roasts & Grilled Protein: Serve with a keto pork roast, steak, grilled chicken or chops.
- Fish & Seafood: Serve with some pan fried fish or seafood.
- A steamer: It helps to have one for when you want to steam food, especially when you're introducing your baby to solids!
- Cheese shredder: French cheeses usually don't come pre-shredded so you'll probably need to shred your own cheese.
Easy Keto Cauliflower au Gratin Recipe with Heavy Cream
- Baking Dish
- Frying Pan
- 1 large (700 g) cauliflower (or 2 small heads)
- ½ (75 g) onion
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 slices (130 g) bacon
- 3 tbsp (65 g) cream cheese (room temperature)
- 1 ¾ cup (420 ml) heavy cream
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ½ cup (60 g) emmental cheese ((this is for the cheese sauce) or gouda, swiss, gruyere, cheddar, mozzarella, etc. )
- ½ cup (60 g) emmental cheese ((this is for the topping))
- Slice the cauliflower head into slices. Place in a steamer and steam for 15 minutes. You can also oven roast the cauliflower for 30-40 minutes at 180C/350F. I don't suggest boiling the cauliflower as it gets too watery.
- While the cauliflower is steaming, let's prepare the sauce and toppings.Thinly slice the onion and bacon slices. Place in a frying pan with the butter and fry until the onions and golden and the bacon is crispy. Set aside. Use the same pan for the white sauce.
- Add the room temperature cream cheese to the frying pan and break into smaller pieces with a spatula so that it's easier to melt. Put the heat on medium and let the cream cheese melt while stirring.
- Add the heavy cream a little at a time and whisk it in the cream cheese. Keep on whisking until there are no more cheese bumps from the cream cheese.
- Add the pepper, salt, nutmeg and emmental and whisk everything together until the cheese has melted. Turn off the heat.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. In a deep baking dish add the steamed cauliflower, top with half of the bacon and onions, pour the white sauce all over, top with the rest of the bacon and onion and then sprinkle the emmental cheese all over.
- Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, just until the top cheese has melted. Take out of the oven, let it cool 10 minutes before serving!
WATCH THE RECIPE VIDEO (must disable adblocker)
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