Nigella Cauliflower Cheese Recipe

Nigella Cauliflower Cheese
Yields: 1 Serving Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 10 Mins Cook Time: 20 Mins Total Time: 30 Mins

Cauliflower cheese is a classic comfort food that is easy to make and delicious to eat. It is a dish of cooked cauliflower florets covered in a rich and creamy cheese sauce, topped with more cheese, and baked until golden and bubbly. It can be served as a main course or a side dish, and it goes well with roast meat, salad, or bread.

Nigella Lawson, the famous British food writer and TV personality, has a wonderful recipe for cauliflower cheese that uses red Leicester cheese, a hard cheese with a nutty and slightly sweet flavor. Red Leicester cheese gives the dish a beautiful orange color and a distinctive taste, but you can also use cheddar cheese or any other cheese you like.

In this blog post, I will show you how to make Nigella’s cauliflower cheese recipe step by step, with tips and tricks to make it perfect every time.

Let’s get started!

What is Nigella Cauliflower Cheese?

Nigella cauliflower cheese is a classic British comfort food dish made by covering cauliflower florets in a rich, creamy cheese sauce, topping it with more cheese and breadcrumbs, and baking until bubbling and golden. It was created by celebrity chef Nigella Lawson who uses red Leicester cheese to give it a distinctive nutty, sweet flavor and orange color. The end result is an indulgent, satisfying casserole.

Why is Nigella Cauliflower Cheese so good?

  • The combination of tender cauliflower and gooey, cheesy sauce is irresistible. The cheese sauce permeates every bite of cauliflower.
  • The addition of English mustard adds a lovely tangy flavor to the creamy sauce.
  • The cheese topping and breadcrumb mixture give a delicious crunch contrast to the soft cauliflower and sauce.
  • The hint of thyme complements the cheese beautifully.
  • It’s simple to make but feels decadent and special.
  • It can be served as a main dish or side and pairs well with many meals.
  • It’s a crowd-pleasing recipe perfect for potlucks or family dinners. Both kids and adults love it!

Ingredients Needed to Make Nigella Cauliflower Cheese

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 2 teaspoons of English mustard (from a jar)
  • 50 grams of plain flour
  • 500 milliliters of milk
  • 300 grams of grated red Leicester cheese
  • breadcrumbs and thyme leaves for topping


You will also need the following equipment:

  • a large saucepan
  • a colander
  • a knife and a cutting board
  • an ovenproof dish
  • a small saucepan
  • a whisk
  • a measuring cup and a scale
  • a spoon
  • an oven and a grill (broiler)

Step 1: Preheat the oven and prepare the cauliflower

Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/gas mark 7/425°F. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and finely slice the stalks. Put them into a large saucepan with the bay leaves and cover with cold water. Add a sprinkling of salt and bring to a boil, then drain and refresh with cold water. Let the cauliflower drain again in a colander, pluck out the bay leaves, and discard. When the cauliflower is completely drained, put it into an ovenproof dish in an even layer.

Step 2: Make the cheese sauce

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan, then whisk in the mustard and flour, and cook over gentle heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. This will create a roux, a thick paste that will thicken the sauce. Whisk the milk off the heat, and then put it back on the heat and keep stirring until it becomes really thick and begins to bubble. This will create a béchamel, a white sauce that is the base for many cheese sauces. Sprinkle in all but a handful of the grated cheese, and stir over the heat until it has melted into the sauce. Check the seasoning, and add more salt or mustard if needed.

Step 3: Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and add the topping

Pour the cheese sauce all over the cauliflower into the dish, making sure to cover every floret. Sprinkle the remaining handful of grated cheese over the top. Add some breadcrumbs and thyme leaves to the cheese, and mix together in a bowl to create a cheesy crumble. This will add some crunch and flavor to the dish. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the cheese sauce.

Step 4: Bake and grill (broil) the cauliflower cheese

Bake the cauliflower cheese in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is hot, the sauce is bubbling and the cheesy top is slightly browned. If you want a more scorched top, as Nigella does, you can blitz the dish under the grill (broiler) for a few minutes at the end. Be careful not to burn it, though. You want a golden and crisp crust, not a black and charred one.

Step 5: Enjoy your cauliflower cheese

Your cauliflower cheese is ready to serve and enjoy. You can eat it as it is or with some roast meat, salad, or bread. It is a hearty and satisfying dish that will warm you up on a cold day. You can also make it ahead and store it in the fridge or freezer, and reheat it when you want to eat it. It will keep well for up to 3 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer. Just make sure to thaw it completely before reheating it in the oven or microwave.

What Do I Serve With Nigella Cauliflower Cheese?

  • Roast chicken or beef
  • Baked ham
  • Sausage or bacon
  • Steak
  • Fish like salmon or cod
  • A green salad or coleslaw
  • Garlic bread or dinner rolls

Pro Tips to Make Perfect Nigella Cauliflower Cheese:

  • Cut cauliflower florets to a similar small size so they cook evenly.
  • Don’t overcook the cauliflower; it should be al dente.
  • Make sure the cheese sauce doesn’t boil to keep it smooth.
  • Use good quality cheese for the best flavor.
  • Sprinkle breadcrumbs and thyme evenly over the top.
  • Bake until the topping is browned and crisp.
  • Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving so the sauce sets up.

How do I Store Nigella Cauliflower Cheese?

  • Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Can be frozen for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the fridge before reheating.
  • Freeze in an oven-safe container so it can be reheated directly from the freezer.

How do I Reheat Nigella Cauliflower Cheese?

  • In the oven at 350°F cover for 20-25 minutes until hot throughout.
  • Microwave individual portions for 3-4 minutes, checking frequently.
  • On the stovetop over medium-low heat, add a splash of milk if needed.
  • Under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to crisp the topping.


Nutrition value (per serving, based on 6 servings):

  • Calories: 365.3
  • Carbohydrate: 9.7 g
  • Fat: 30.3 g
  • Protein: 15.9 g
  • Fiber: 3.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 54.9 mg
  • Sodium: 562.3 mg
  • Sugar: 3.9 g

Other Cheese Recipes to Try


What kind of cheese works best in Nigella’s Cauliflower Cheese?

The original recipe calls for red Leicester cheese, but you can use any good melting cheese like cheddar, Gruyère, or Brie. The key is to use a cheese that becomes smooth and creamy when melted.

Can I make Nigella’s Cauliflower Cheese gluten-free?

Yes, you can easily make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs and flour in the sauce. Just be sure to use cheeses that are marked gluten-free.

I don’t have English mustard. What’s a good substitute?

You can substitute Dijon mustard or any other spicy, tangy mustard. Use about 1-2 teaspoons per the recipe. Or you can simply leave out the mustard altogether.

Do I need to cook the sauce and cauliflower separately?

No, you can save time and dirty dishes by baking the raw cauliflower florets directly in the cheese sauce. Just be sure the cauliflower is mostly cooked through before removing it from the oven.

Can I prep Nigella’s Cauliflower Cheese ahead of time?

Absolutely! Assemble the entire dish then refrigerate up to 24 hrs before baking. Or cook completely, let cool and refrigerate, then reheat before serving. It also freezes well for up to 3 months.

Final Words

I hope you liked this step-by-step guide on how to make Nigella’s cauliflower cheese recipe. It is one of my favorite dishes, and I’m sure you will love it too. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. I would love to hear from you. And if you make this recipe, don’t forget to share your photos and feedback with me. I can’t wait to see how it turned out for you.

Happy cooking!

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