Cauliflower isn’t winning quite as many popularity contests lately, but we aren’t over it, and we assure you this cauliflower gratin will reignite your inner cauli-lover too! Imagine perfectly tender cauliflower with a rich, salty, cheesy sauce. It’s worthy of a holiday feast yet wholesome enough for everyday!
Have a head of cauliflower laying around that you just haven’t used yet? (Guilty!) This creamy plant-based and gluten-free side is the solution! Just 10 ingredients required. Let us show you how it’s done!
What is Au Gratin?
Gratin, also called au gratin, is a French cooking technique that involves creating a delicious browned crust over a dish (source). While the topping is usually made with breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg, and/or butter, the following is a plant-based and gluten-free version.
The golden crust is most commonly seen over potatoes or pasta, but it’s also delicious on zucchini and cauliflower!
How to Make Cauliflower Gratin
This cauliflower gratin begins with cauliflower being cut into small florets to maximize the creamy coating around each bite. Then we steam the florets until perfectly tender to give them a head start in the cooking process.
Next we make the easy, creamy sauce by sautéing onion and garlic, then adding cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken and coconut milk for the liquid.
It’s best to cook it in an oven-safe skillet (like cast iron) so there’s no need to transfer it to another pan for creating the golden gratin top.
For the spices, a little nutmeg provides warmth, nutritional yeast adds optional cheesiness, and salt and pepper balance it out.
All that’s left to do is stir in the steamed cauliflower, sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese, and put it in the oven to watch the magic happen.
In the oven, it develops a gorgeous golden brown crust. But if you find your oven isn’t doing a great job at browning, you can use the broiler to speed up the process. Just watch closely to avoid burning.
We hope you LOVE this cauliflower gratin! It’s:
& SO delicious!
It’s the perfect side for the holiday table or upping your cauliflower intake in an ultra-delicious way! Try it with our Kale Citrus Salad, Thyme & White Bean Pot Pies, and Butternut Pecan Sweet Potato Mash for a lovely holiday meal.
More Delicious Cauliflower Recipes
- Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- General Tso’s Cauliflower
- Vegan Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
- Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Chipotle Romesco
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Gratin (GF)
- 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets (~7-8 cups florets)
- 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil (or sub vegan butter // if oil-free, sub water and add more as needed)
- 1 cup finely chopped onion (~1/2 small onion)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- 1 (14-oz.) can light coconut milk
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese
FOR GARNISH optional
- Fresh thyme leaves
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
- Cut cauliflower into small, even florets and steam in a large pot with a steamer basket (covered) until tender when pierced with a fork — about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside uncovered to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, heat a large oven-safe skillet (we like cast iron) over medium heat. Add the olive oil (or vegan butter) and onion and sauté until the onion becomes tender and translucent — about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant, being careful not to let it burn.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the cornstarch or arrowroot and whisk to incorporate. Cook for 1 minute.
- Pour in the coconut milk a little at a time, whisking constantly to incorporate. Go slowly to prevent clumps from forming. Continue until all of the milk has been added. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until thickened, whisking frequently.
- Add the nutmeg, nutritional yeast (optional), salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more nutmeg for warmth, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, or salt or pepper to taste. Mixture should be very cheesy and savory to season the cauliflower well.
- Add the steamed cauliflower to the sauce and toss thoroughly to coat. Taste once more and add more salt if needed. (Note: If you didn’t use an oven-safe skillet, you can transfer the mixture to an 8 x 8-inch baking dish now.)
- Sprinkle the top with vegan parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for 12-15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and crisp. If using a cast iron pan, you can broil on high for the last 1-2 minutes (watching closely) for a crispier top. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with thyme leaves (optional) and serve hot.
- Best when fresh. Leftovers will keep stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Not freezer friendly. Reheat leftovers in a 350 F (176 C) oven until warmed through.
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