This vegan cauliflower gratin recipe is a combination of cauliflower and a dairy-free cream sauce topped with bread crumbs. This tasty side dish transforms simple cauliflower into a rich, creamy casserole that’s way more than the sum of its ingredients.
I love making the perfect vegan side dishes for the holidays or any time of year! This easy cauliflower gratin recipe is a favorite because it’s so flavorful. Gratins are great because they’re basically a vegetable in a gravy sauce with either a crumbly or cheesy topping.
Take, for example, Vegan Green Bean Casserole. It’s green beans in a creamy sauce with crispy fried onions on top. That’s a gratin by another name.
Another example is this Vegan Scalloped Potatoes recipe. The familiar creamy sauce is a give-away.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Adding vegan parmesan creates the perfect cheesy flavor to the sauce
- Using whole wheat bread makes a crispy topping that’s healthy, too
- Using cauliflower florets cut to similar sizes means your gratin will be cooked to perfection throughout!
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Vegan Butter — Use any storebought dairy-free butter or margarine or make your own vegan butter. Use gluten-free bread to keep this dish gluten-free.
- Bread — You’ll need 2 slices of bread, preferably whole wheat.
- Garlic powder
- Vegan Parmesan — Use storebought or make homemade vegan parm (paid link).
- Onion — You can use a small white or yellow onion.
- Flour — Use all-purpose, whole wheat pastry flour (different than whole wheat flour) or gluten-free flour.
- Vegetable Broth — Use a high-quality vegetable broth such as Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base combined with water.
- Vegan mozzarella shreds — I use either Daiya or Follow Your Heart.
- Cauliflower florets — Learn how to cut cauliflower florets, because it’s easier than you think!
What Cauliflower is Best for Gratins?
You can purchase a whole head of cauliflower and then cut it into florets, prepackaged cauliflower florets, or even frozen cauliflower florets for this recipe. Look for cauliflower with a tight head and minimal brown spots (these can be cut off before cutting). You can easily store cauliflower in the fridge for 4 to 7 days.
How to Make Cauliflower Gratin
Wondering how to make this yummy recipe for cauliflower gratin? I prefer cooking it over the store. Of course, you can roast the cauliflower to tenderize it first.
- For roasted cauliflower gratin, toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and season with salt.
- Roast the cauliflower until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Let it cool slightly then add it to the sauce.
For the stove-top method (my preference), follow the steps below.
For the Gratin
- Bread Topping: Start with 2 slices of whole wheat bread and cut it into cubes and crumbs. Sprinkle with melted vegan butter and spices and toss to make sure it’s coated.
- Make the Creamy Sauce. Cook the onions in some vegan butter in a skillet over medium heat. Then add some garlic. Finally, you’ll add some flour to make the thick sauce.
- Vegetable Broth. I prefer to use Better than Bouillon here because it’s consistently a high-quality broth.
Stove-top Cook Cauliflower
- Make the Gratin. Stir in the vegetable broth to the skillet. Then, stir in the vegan cheese, followed by cauliflower florets. Bring this to a simmer and cook, occasionally stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes. The cauliflower should be becoming tender, and the sauce is thickening.
- Bake. Transfer the creamy cauliflower mixture to a casserole dish. Sprinkle with the seasoned bread crumbs, distributing it equally across the top of the cauliflower. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly around the edges.
When the gratin is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before serving. Serve vegan cauliflower gratin with the following:
Cauliflower Gratin Toppings
Technically a “gratin” has bread crumbs on top. However, there are lots of great gratin toppings you can choose from:
- Sprinkle the top with 1 cup of shredded vegan cheddar
- Use gluten-free bread (and then use gluten-free flour in the sauce) to make a gluten-free cauliflower gratin
- Fried onions can make a delicious topping for just about any recipe! Use the fried onions from my vegan green bean casserole.
- I’ve even used quinoa as a topping. Use 1 cup of cooked quinoa in place of the bread crumbs. It’s delicious!
What is cauliflower gratin?
A cauliflower gratin is a casserole recipe with a creamy cauliflower filling topped with crusty buttery bread crumbs.
Is cauliflower healthy?
Cauliflower is a low-calorie, low-carb, nutritious vegetable. Because of its neutral flavor, you can use cauliflower to replace potatoes in many recipes to create low-carb side dishes.
This recipe gets two thumbs up because it comes with another benefit. It’s the perfect side dish I’ve been looking for — it’s delicious and healthy, which means I can bring it to our family holiday dinner.
More Side Dishes
Of course, you love this baked cauliflower with cheese and breadcrumbs! Who wouldn’t? But that just whets your whistle for even more cauliflower dishes. Here are some favorites:
That’s it for this vegan cauliflower gratin. Enjoy!
Vegan Cauliflower Gratin
For the Crouton Topping
- Chop the bread slices into small cubes and crumbs. Add the bread cubes and any crumbs to a bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons of vegan butter and drizzle over the bread. Use a spatula to toss the bread to distribute the melted butter throughout. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and vegan parmesan. Toss to combine. Set aside.
For the Cauliflower Gratin
- Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
- Place a skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of vegan butter. Once that melts, add chopped onion and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic. Stir and cook for one minute. Then whisk in the flour. Stir and cook for another minute.
- In a bowl, stir together the water and bouillon. Pour this in with the flour mixture in the skillet, stirring constantly. Add vegan mozzarella and stir to combine. Add cauliflower florets. Stir to coat the cauliflower. Then bring this to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is beginning to get tender and the sauce has thickened.
- Transfer the creamy cauliflower mixture to a casserole dish. Sprinkle with the seasoned bread crumbs, distributing it equally across the top of the cauliflower. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly around the edges.
- When done, remove from the oven and allow it to cool a little before serving. Serve warm.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2013 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.