Loaded Cauliflower Bake

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Loaded cauliflower bake is one of the best side dishes that can make your tastebuds dance with its cheesy, creamy goodness. You can assemble the simple ingredients in just 20 minutes and bake within 20-30 minutes to enjoy this easy recipe. It works for any weeknight meal, holiday feast, or get-together with friends. I’ve been cooking this cheesy cauliflower casserole for years and my family can’t get enough. For anyone like me who loves comfort food, this vegetable side is sure to satisfy.

You don’t need any fancy culinary skills to make this flavorful bake, it’s so simple. Trust me, the combination of melty cheese, crispy bacon, tangy sour cream and tender cauliflower is going to have you hooked after one bite.

Can I Use Shredded Cheese Instead of Block Cheese?

Yes, pre-shredded cheese works perfectly fine. I prefer a combo of cheddar and Monterey jack but use any melty shredded cheese you love. Just aim for 3-4 cups total. The convenience of preshredded cheese makes whipping up this yummy dish even easier.

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What If I Don’t Have Bacon?

No problem! This cheesy cauliflower is delicious even without the bacon. The smoky and salty flavor from the crispy bacon bits is nice for texture but completely optional. For a vegetarian or vegan version, simply leave it out.

Should I Microwave or Steam the Cauliflower?

Either cooking method works great, so choose whatever is quicker and easier for you. I like to microwave cauliflower florets with a splash of water for 5 minutes until fork tender. Drain any excess liquid before mixing with the cheesy sauce. Steaming on the stovetop works too.

Can I Prepare This Loaded Bake Ahead of Time?

You sure can! Just prepare everything up until baking, then cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, bake as directed until hot and bubbly. It may take 5-10 extra minutes. This make-ahead tip is perfect for potlucks or when hosting guests.

Loaded Cauliflower Bake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower, 1 head (about 6 cups), cut into bite-size pieces
  • Unsalted Butter, 2 tablespoons (¼ stick)
  • Minced Garlic, 1 tablespoon
  • All-Purpose Flour, 3 tablespoons
  • Whole Milk, 2 cups
  • Cream Cheese, 4 ounces (½ block)
  • Kosher Salt, ½ teaspoon
  • Ground Black Pepper, ½ teaspoon
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese, 1½ cups (divided)
  • Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, 1½ cups (divided)
  • Bacon, 5 slices (cooked and diced)
  • Sour Cream, ⅔ cup
  • Diced Chives, 1 tablespoon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a 9×13-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Steam cauliflower in a saucepan with 1½-2 inches of water for 5 minutes. Drain well.
  3. In another saucepan, melt butter, add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add flour, then gradually whisk in milk until thickened.
  4. Add cream cheese to the sauce, stirring until melted. Turn off heat, add salt, pepper, and 1 cup each of cheddar and Monterey jack cheese.
  5. Arrange steamed cauliflower in the casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over it. Add dollops of sour cream.
  6. Top with cooked bacon and remaining cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.
  7. Garnish with chives. Serve hot.

Storage Tips:

  • Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Reheat to serve.
  • Avoid freezing as dairy products may separate.

Microwave Alternative for Cauliflower:

  • Microwave cauliflower with ¼ cup water, covered, for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Cheese Sauce Tip:

  • Don’t overcook the sauce. Turn off heat after cream cheese melts, then add shredded cheese.

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