Cauliflower cheese

Cauliflower cheese

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
1 large cauliflower
50g cheese, either Gruyère, strong Cheddar, Parmesan or a mixture
20g butter
20g plain flour
pinch english mustard powder
pinch cayenne pepper
300ml milk
1 tablespoon dried white breadcrumbs
ground white pepper


  1. Cut the cauliflower into even-sized florets. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the cauliflower until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Grate the cheese and set aside. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat, then stir in the flour, mustard and cayenne. Mix to a smooth paste and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and gradually start to add the milk, a little at a time, stirring and incorporating it well into the roux as you add it. As more of the milk is added, the sauce will start to loosen and thin. Once a third to half of the milk has been incorporated off the heat, add the remaining milk in generous additions and return the saucepan to the heat.
  4. Increase the heat to medium to high and stir the sauce constantly as you bring it to the boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the grill to its highest setting.
  6. Off the heat, stir all but 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese into the sauce, allowing it to melt in the heat of the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper and then stir in the drained cauliflower until it is well coated with sauce.
  7. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, placing the more attractive florets uppermost and spooning over any remaining sauce. Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese and sprinkle over the top. Grill until the topping is golden and bubbling.


  • If making the cauliflower cheese in advance, cool it once assembled and refrigerate. Before serving, bake in an oven preheated to 180°C for about 30 minutes until golden.


  • Cauliflower cheese with pancetta and Parmesan: Cut 100 g derinded pancetta into cubes and fry over a moderate heat until golden brown, then stir into the sauce with the cauliflower. Use 50 g grated Parmesan in place of the above breadcrumb and cheese topping.

    Broccoli gratin with blue cheese: Use broccoli in place of the cauliflower. Stir 25 g grated Cheddar into the sauce and cool slightly before adding 25 g crumbled blue cheese, which should not entirely melt. Sprinkle with the mixed crumbs and 2 tablespoons grated cheese and proceed as for the main recipe.

    Baked leeks with cheese: Use 2–3 leeks in place of the cauliflower. Cut the leeks into 5 cm lengths and wash them well. Boil until tender, about 6 minutes, then drain well. Proceed as for the main recipe.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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