Slow cooker cauliflower cheese is the recipe you need, no oven is required and you even get brown cheese on top! It makes a great side to a roast dinner or a main vegetarian dish.
A cheap and cheerful vegetarian dish, cauliflower cheese is a British favourite, which is served all year round. I love it best on the side with a roast chicken or gammon.
Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable which can be used in many different ways, for example in a slow cooker vegetable curry, baked whole in the slow cooker, or blitzed in the blender as caulflower rice.
Baked under a blanket of a rich cheese sauce, cauliflower cheese is a cheesy cauliflower bake (or cheesy cauliflower casserole if you are in the USA) that is filling and comforting.
There is no need to boil the cauliflower first, it will cook perfectly during the slow cooking through contact with the slow cooker bowl.
With no need to use the oven, this is an economical dish when made in the slow cooker since it saves on energy!
Why make this recipe
✔️ hassle free – no pre-cooking of the cauliflower
✔️ you don’t need to transfer the cauliflower cheese cheese to an oven dish to brown it off in the oven.
✔️ tastes delicious
✔️ uses much less energy than baking it in the oven
These are the ingredients you will need. You’ll find the quantities together with the full directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- whole cauliflower – the star of the show, look for a large fresh cauliflower with no browning. For ease you could use prepared cauliflower florets, make sure they are not too small as will cook more quickly.
- butter – I use unsalted, this forms the basis of the roux used to make the cheese sauce, together with the flour.
- plain flour – the other key ingredient to make the roux for the sauce.
- milk – I use semi-skimmed as that is what I keep in the fridge. Full fat milk will add more creaminess. Avoid skimmed, which would make the sauce quite thin and not creamy.
- grated / shredded cheese – use your preferred cheese, I use medium cheddar as that is our preference, you could use mature (sharp) cheddar or even a mixture of different cheeses to add more flavour. Mild cheddar will not have much flavour so I tend to avoid using that.
- mustard – I use Dijon or English mustard depending on which is open in the fridge.
Before you start, read my step-by-step instructions, with photos, hints and tips so you can make this slow cooker cauliflower cheese recipe perfectly every time.
Scroll down for the recipe card with quantities and more tips at the bottom of the page.
Break the cauliflower into florets, removing the thick base stem. Put the florets in the slow cooker pot.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour, to form a roux. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Off the heat, stir in the milk little by little, ensuring that each amount of milk is fully combined before you add more. Once all the milk has been added, return the pan to a low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring continuously. This will take approx. 5-10 mins.
Once the sauce has come to a simmer, it will have thickened up nicely. Take the pan off the heat, stir in two thirds of the cheese, and the mustard.
Your cheese sauce is now ready to use.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower in the pot, covering it all fully.
Put the remaining grated cheese over the top.
Put the lid on, with a tea towel tucked under the lid (sides folded up) and cook on high for 2-3 hours or until the cauliflower is cooked and the cheese on top has melted and started to brown. Serve.
This recipe is vegetarian.
To make it vegan, you could try this vegan cheese sauce from the Veg Space.
To make it gluten-free, you might like to use this gluten-free cheese sauce recipe from From the Larder.
Here are some ideas for changing up this recipe:
- breadcrumb topping – throw a couple of handfuls of ready-made breadcrumbs over the cheese sauce with the grated cheese.
- browner topping – if you have a slow cooker with a metal or other ovenproof pot, after the cooking time, put the cauliflower cheese under a medium grill for around 5 minutes to brown off the cheese on top even more.
- broccoli – use half broccoli, half caulifower, or all broccoli to make a broccoli cheese.
- bacon – stir some crispy bacon pieces into the sauce.
- vegetables – stir in some peas and sweetcorn or your preferred vegetable.
- different cheeses – vary the cheese or use a mixture of cheeses in the sauce, eg. red Leicester, parmesan, blue cheese, cream cheese, a stronger mature cheddar etc.
- spices – liven up the cheese sauce and add colour with some paprika or cayenne pepper.
- fresh herbs – add some chopped fresh parsley or chives to the cheese sauce.
- oval 3.5 litre slow cooker
- chopping board
- measuring jug
Allow the cauliflower cheese to cool then store in the fridge for 3 days in a covered container.
Freeze for up to 6 months. Note that the sauce can become thin and watery and the cauliflower can become mushy after freezing. So it is best not to freeze cauliflower cheese where possible.
Cauliflower cheese can go watery if the cauliflower is overcooked or not fully drained (when par-boiled). To avoid this, only cook the dish until the cauliflower is tender. In this recipe we don’t precook the cauliflower so there is no need to drain it before you combine it with the cheese sauce.
This can happen if you add the cheese while the sauce is on too high a heat. The cheese only needs to melt into the white sauce, at a low temperature. In fact if you stir the cheese into the sauce off the heat right after bringing it to a simmer, this will be hot enough for the cheese to melt without splitting.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These are my favourite dishes to serve cauliflower cheese with:
Slow Cooker Cauliflower Cheese
- 1 head cauliflower 1 whole, leaves removed (approx 400 g / 1 lb)
- 40 g butter
- 40 g plain flour
- 450 ml milk I use semi-skimmed / half-fat
- 100 g cheddar cheese grated
- 1 tsp mustard English or Dijon
- Break the cauliflower into florets, removing the thick base stem. Put the florets in the slow cooker pot.1 head cauliflower
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour, to form a roux. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.40 g butter, 40 g plain flour
- Off the heat, stir in the milk little by little, ensuring that each amount of milk is fully combined before you add more. Once all the milk has been added, return the pan to a low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring continuously. This will take approx. 5-10 mins.450 ml milk
- Once the sauce has come to a simmer, it will have thickened up nicely. Take the pan off the heat, stir in two thirds of the cheese, and the mustard.100 g cheddar cheese, 1 tsp mustard
- Your cheese sauce is now ready to use.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower in the pot, covering it all fully.
- Put the remaining grated cheese over the top.
- Put the lid on, with a tea towel tucked under the lid (sides folded up) and cook on high for 2-3 hours or until the cauliflower is cooked and the cheese on top has melted and started to brown. Serve.