French people love gratins, its something you need to remember if you want to cook “à la française”. We like to bake vegetables, meat and/or pasta with some crème fraiche and good cheese in the oven for a few hours or minutes. Its convenient, always easy to do and it can be very quick to make.  This cauliflower gratin is one of those recipes, very simple to make with very few ingredients.

Cauliflower gratin only needs 5 ingredients that are the simplest and most common. I’m sure you still have butter, milk and some shredded cheese in your fridge. If you don’t have cauliflower, it’s the only thing you’ll have to buy.

 This cauliflower gratin is part of my grandmother and mother’s recipes. It is a dish appreciated by children as well as adults. My mom used to make it for weeknight dinner. We usually don’t eat meat with it but it happened that my mom accompanied hers with a slice of ham and we served it with some lettuce. In France, dinners are usually a little lighter than lunch, where we usually eat outside and so we eat more.

French Cauliflower Gratin

 The only slightly different ingredient I can’t find in the United States is emmental. It is a cheese that we like grated and use in a lot of recipes. In general, it is emmental that we put on our gratins but also in our pasta. For example, in France, we do not find grated mozzarella. Thats why its interesting for me to adapt my recipes with what I find in the US. For cheese, I turned to Swiss cheese. It’s close to emmental.

 I hope you enjoy this recipe. Do not hesitate to freeze the leftovers (if there are any) in a glass food container like Pyrex, then you can simply put it in the oven to warm it. If you keep them in the fridge for a few days, you can also reheat them in the skillet with a little extra milk, itll be delicious.

French Cauliflower Gratin

French Cauliflower Gratin

Mary Devinat
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 343 kcal


  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cup milk (whole preferred)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese (plus a handful for topping)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Wash and cut the cauliflower into florets. Cook the pieces in a large pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Check with a knife that they are tender inside and not crunchy. When it’s cooked, drain the cauliflower florets and place them in an oven safe dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Make the béchamel by melting the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and whisk vigorously. You will get a kind of thick cream. Then, gradually add the milk, continuing to mix with the whisk. When you are out of lumps, add the cheese until it melts and then salt and pepper, to taste. Once the béchamel is thick and creamy, it is ready.
  • Pour the béchamel over the cauliflower, top with the remaining grated cheese and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.


Calories: 343kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 13gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 280mgPotassium: 850mgFiber: 4gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 796IUVitamin C: 101mgCalcium: 330mgIron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe? Tell us about it!Click here to rate this recipe in the comments section below.
About the Author: Mary Devinat
Mary is a photographer, food stylist and recipe developer. She is French and grew up in Paris. "It is the beautiful country where I learned to love good cooking". Mary presently lives in Philadelphia with her husband.


  1. Michele April 26, 2020 at 9:54 am - Reply

    Can’t wait to try! We bought a frozen bag of Organic “Normandy Vegetables” at Costco and the carrots are tough so it’s been sitting in the freezer. Going to get it out and pick out the baby carrots and use the cauliflower, broccoli and green beans. I found a bag of shredded Gruyere and Swiss at Trader Joe’s too!

  2. charlotte bison March 13, 2020 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    can anything be substituted for the butter?

    • Bill Bradley, R.D. April 10, 2020 at 9:54 am - Reply

      You could try an alternative milk, such as a thick almond milk. This recipe though is really rich because of the milk and cheese.

  3. Sydna A. Byrne March 8, 2020 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    Can you substitute broccoli?

    • Bill Bradley, R.D. April 10, 2020 at 9:49 am - Reply

      Yes, this would work with broccoli. Just would cook it a little less as broccoli is more tender.

  4. Anne March 8, 2020 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Wish it would show the nutritional value. High in fat and sodium. :-(

    • Bill Bradley, R.D. April 10, 2020 at 9:51 am - Reply

      Yes, this one is not a dish I would make often as it is very rich, but more for special occasions.

  5. Janie March 7, 2020 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Sounds ?

  6. Patricia Hudson March 7, 2020 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    I live it taste great!

  7. Shirley J. Grainger-Inselburg March 7, 2020 at 11:54 am - Reply

    This was also a common dish that we always made at home in the UK. My mother would make it, with a good, mature Cheddar cheese, for our meatless meals, but she simply called it Cauliflower Cheese!

    I still make Cauliflower au Gratin even today in the United States, but also make a Leek au Gratin and a Broccoli au Gratin with our excellent Vermont Cheddar cheeses. Delicious, and it is a great way in which to get children to eat their vegetables! Sometimes, I will add Panko breadcrumbs to the cheese topping but will then garnish it with thinly sliced tomatoes or mushrooms to make the presentation more attractive. Before putting it in the oven to bake, however, one would need to add a few knobs of butter or drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes and mushrooms to prevent burning.

    • Bill Bradley, R.D. April 10, 2020 at 9:50 am - Reply

      I would love to try the Leek Au Gratin!

      • Shirley J. Grainger-Inselburg May 15, 2020 at 4:21 pm

        My absolute favorite, even more than cauliflower!

    • Michele April 26, 2020 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Thaws variations sound amazing!!

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