Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

There are not many people who could use “harm reduction” and “cauliflower macaroni and cheese” in the same context. I’ve been thinking a lot about harm reduction lately, and it’s not just because I was interviewed for a Seattle Times article about Valentine’s Day, sex, and COVID.

Harm reduction

The principle of harm reduction is that it is often possible to reduce the chance of poor health outcomes without giving up “bad” behaviors altogether. There’s an abundance of evidence that aiming for abstinence is likely to lead to failure.

So we give pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to people at risk for HIV to prevent them from getting HIV. We give clean needles to people who inject drugs. People get prescribed cholesterol-lowering medicines even though they might continue to eat French fries. None of us are perfect, and behavior change is really hard.

The story

Today’s musings about harm reduction started while I contemplated what to make for dinner during one of today’s zoom calls. I started putting together a bowl in my mind. We still had leftover BBQ pork. I wanted to make the sweet potato salad from Jubilee (made with cranberries and hazelnuts instead of pecans and raisins). There was leftover mac and cheese in the freezer. Then I realized that I had cauliflower.

Below is a recipe for the world’s best cavatappi mac and cheese converted into something slightly more healthy. Cauliflower macaroni and cheese as harm reduction.

But don’t let me fool you. There’s still a lot of cheese here.

a pot of cauliflower and cheese sauce.

Related recipes

Check out the original cavatappi mac and cheese recipe or use this cauliflower recipe with taco meatloaf. If you’re looking for cauliflower recipes, try these cauliflower burgers. You idea of veggie burgers will never be the same.


Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

5 from 1 vote
Category: Side Dish
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 398kcal
This recipe takes a decadent macaroni and cheese recipe and makes it just a bit healthier by subbing cauliflower for the pasta.
Print Recipe


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces gruyere
  • 1 ounce parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika


  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Chop cauliflower into small florets.
    1 head cauliflower
  • Heat a large pot of lighted salted water to boiling. Then parboil the cauliflower for 5 minutes. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, cut up the cheese into cubes and blitz in the food processor.
    4 ounces cheddar cheese, 4 ounces gruyere, 1 ounce parmesan
  • Make the cheese sauce. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, then add the flour, whisking constantly to make a roux.
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons flour
  • Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly,until the sauce is thickened (some say "until it coats the back of a wooden spoon").
    2 cups milk
  • Remove from heat. Add in about ⅖ of the cheese (you'll need to reserve enough to top the cauliflower), the paprika, and salt and pepper to taste.
    ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • When the cauliflower and cheese sauce are both done, mix them together into the pot and then add to a broiler safe baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and slide under the broiler until just starting to brown.


Calories: 398kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 549mg | Potassium: 244mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1042IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 723mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Love this recipe?Mention @Uglyducklingbakery or tag #uglyducklingbakery!

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