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A whole cheesy baked cauliflower on a plate ready to be sliced and eaten.

Smothered Cheesy Baked Cauliflower (gluten-free)

Meeta Arora
This is the easiest, smothered, cheesy baked cauliflower recipe there is to make. It's the ultimate gluten-free vegetable side dish.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 212 kcal


  • 1 Whole Head of Califlower
  • 1 Cup Mayonaise
  • ½ Cup Yellow Onion Grated
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder Or 2-3 cloves minced.
  • 1 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 ½ Cups Cheddar Cheese Shredded


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Trim the head of cauliflower, make sure you keep it whole and intact.
    1 Whole Head of Califlower
  • Pour water into a pot so that it's about 1-2 inches deep. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Place the trimmed cauliflower into the pot. Cover and let it steam over medium-high heat for five minutes.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients except the cheese into a bowl and set aside.
    1 Cup Mayonaise, ½ Cup Yellow Onion, 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder, 1 Teaspoons Salt, 1 Teaspoon Pepper, ½ Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • Remove the cauliflower from the pot and allow it to drain over some paper towels to collect any excess moisture.
  • Place the dry cauliflower into an oven-safe dish.
  • Coat the cauliflower with the sauce mixture.
  • Then sprinkle the top of the coated cauliflower with the shredded cheddar cheese.
    1 ½ Cups Cheddar Cheese
  • Carefully cover the cauliflower without touching the cheese with foil. Note you can also bake this cheesy cauliflower in a dutch oven and use the lid to cover it.
  • Put the cauliflower into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the center of the cauliflower starts to become fork tender.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the top of the cauliflower becomes golden and the cheese is melted.
  • Remove the cauliflower from the oven, and allow it to cool slightly before slicing and serving along with the rest of your holiday (or anytime meals)


Tips and tricks.
  • Carefully time and cut the greens and core out of the cauliflower. You want to make sure to leave the head intact. If one or two pieces come off, it's okay. Just place them back with the rest of the head in the baking dish.
  • Do not over-steam the cauliflower. You want to let the cauliflower steam for only five minutes. Any longer, and you'll likely end up with a head of cauliflower that is falling apart.
  • Make sure to thoroughly dry the head of cauliflower before coating it with the mayonnaise sauce and cheddar cheese. If the head of cauliflower is not dry, the sauce and cheese will slide right off. I like to let it rest on some paper towels for 5-10 minutes after steaming to allow as much moisture out of it as possible.
  • Roast covered and then uncovered. This helps keep moisture in the cauliflower and keeps the cheese from burning and sliding off of it as it bakes.
Alternate cooking methods.
While this whole roasted cheesy cauliflower recipe is delicious in the oven, sometimes you need your oven space for other parts of dinner. Luckily you can also make this an air-fried cauliflower recipe. Just prep it as you would for baking it in the oven and then place it in the air fryer until the cauliflower is tender and the cheese is melted.
Pro tip: If you are making this cheesy cauliflower in the air fryer, I suggest doing it in increments. Roast it with just the sauce until the cauliflower is almost tender. Then add the cheese and roast it again, just until the cheese is melted.
Keyword cheesy cauliflower, cheesy cauliflower recipe, keto roasted cauliflower, smothered cauliflwoer