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If you’re trying to find a way to love cauliflower…make this Cauliflower and Cheese with Spicy Breadcrumbs. Trust me, this cheesy cauliflower is delicious. Oven-roasted cauliflower florets tossed in a creamy cheese sauce seasoned with a dash of chili powder and served up “stove-top mac and cheese” style. Finish off these cheesy cauliflower florets with spicy, salty, prosciutto bread crumbs for a dinner that’s mouth-wateringly delicious. Best for nights when you’re craving something cozy, but want something healthier too.

overhead close up photo of Cauliflower and Cheese with Spicy Breadcrumbs

This is a recipe I wasn’t expecting to be so excited about. Because let’s be real, who really needs yet another cauliflower recipe, I mean, right?

It’s true, I think cauliflower has been a little overdone in the last few years, but regardless I still find it delicious and always so versatile. It can be used in so many different ways. And while it’s definitely had its “moment” over the last couple of years, it has still maintained its prominence and is loved by many.

Plus, I think this might just be my favorite cauliflower recipe yet. That’s kind of a bold thing to say, but I’ve never done a cheesy cauliflower recipe. Now that I have, I’m more than into it. Clearly, I’m excited. Forgive the dramatics.

prep photo of Cauliflower and Spicy Breadcrumbs on baking sheet before baking

Here is the story.

Truth is that I’ve had this recipe planned for September for over a month now. I’ve gone to make it more than a handful of times, but then stopped myself because I was convinced that no one really needed, or wanted, another cauliflower recipe.

So I just kept putting this off and pushing the recipe to the back of my thoughts.

Until last week. I’ve been pressed for time before the family heads to Cleveland for my cousin’s wedding. With so much to do, I decided to just send a list of recipes off to my mom to have her pick a few favorites for me to test. Sometimes I can go back and forth on ideas for way too long. When this happens I ask others what sounds good. And then I stop second-guessing and I just start creating.

My mom sent back my list of recipes in order of her favorites. Shockingly this was at the top of her list. So, I did what I do…

I second-guessed again and almost didn’t make this, but then I asked my cousin. She said the very same thing as my mom. And from that point, I said no to myself on second-guessing anymore, and started working on this recipe.

Once I had the full recipe written out in my notebook, I too was excited. I had a good feeling, I just knew this had to be good.

And you guys? This IS good…so very good.

overhead photo of Cauliflower and Cheese before tossing with the cheese sauce

Cauliflower and Cheese with Spicy Breadcrumbs…the details.

Start with the cauliflower. Working on a sheet pan, toss the florets with some olive and a pinch of paprika. I love the smoky flavor and added color the paprika give, so don’t skimp on it. Push the cauliflower to the side. Then add the bread and the prosciutto for the spicy breadcrumbs to the other side of the pan.

Bake everything until the florets are tender and the prosciutto is extra crispy. The key is to not overcook the cauliflower. You want it tender and crisp, but not mushy.

Once the bread is toasted and that prosciutto is crisp, pulse the mix into crumbs using a food processor or simply crumble with your fingers. Now add a good pinch of red pepper flakes. If you’re a vegetarian, you can just omit the prosciutto. No big deal.

Now, I know the breadcrumbs are a bit of an “extra”, but in my opinion, they’re an extra that’s worth it. Salty prosciutto breadcrumbs are the perfect topping to this cheesy pasta.

overhead photo of Cauliflower and Cheese before adding the Spicy Breadcrumbs

While the florets are roasting, make the cheese sauce.

It’s simple, but not your average cheese sauce. I love to make mine with a bit of chipotle chili powder for some heat. I then add sharp cheddar cheese and creamy gouda cheese for the perfect, melty, cheesy sauce.

By this time the cauliflower should be done, so toss it in with the sauce. Immediately you’ll see delicious things happening. The cheese sauce clings to the florets, and your nose takes in subtle scents of chili powder and fresh herbs. And cheese. But I can’t think of how to describe how cheese really smells. It just smells really good, you know?

overhead photo of Cauliflower and Cheese with Spicy Breadcrumbs

Serve up this classic style, “stove-top mac and cheese”, warm right out of the skillet. And with a very generous sprinkle of those spicy crumbs.

Oh so very delicious. Cheesy, perfectly spicy, a little salty, but also light and herby too. All the very good things served up in one skillet.

It’s such a great warming vegetable-focused meal or hearty side dish. It’s also on the healthier side. It’s a nice switch up from the classic mac and cheese.

And if you’re trying to get your kids, your husband…anyone really, to eat more vegetables, this is the recipe to make. All my picky eating brothers agree.

side angled close up photo of Cauliflower and Cheese with Spicy Breadcrumbs

Looking for other cozy, but healthy vegetarian dinners? Here are a few ideas: 

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Creamy Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Pumpkin Cauliflower Gnocchi with Nutty Browned Butter and Whipped Ricotta

30 Minute Indian Pumpkin Butter Chickpeas

Easiest Coconut Cauliflower Adobo

Lastly, if you make this cauliflower and cheese with spicy breadcrumbs be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Cauliflower and Cheese with Spicy Breadcrumbs

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 493 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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  • 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower, 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Push the cauliflower to one side of the pan. On the other side, toss the bread, with 2 tablespoons olive oil, oregano, and a pinch of salt. Lay the prosciutto around the bread.
    2. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the prosciutto is crisp. Remove from the oven, then remove the bread and prosciutto. Return the cauliflower to the oven and bake another 5-10 minutes, until just tender.
    3. Crumble the bread/prosciutto into fine crumbs using your fingers or pulse in a food processor. Toss with red pepper flakes. Set aside.
    4. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, chipotle chili powder, and onion powder. Cook 1 minute. Slowly add the milk, whisking until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil. Stir in the cheeses. Add the cauliflower and toss. Cook another 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the thyme.
    5. Serve the cauliflower topped with breadcrumbs. Eat and enjoy the deliciousness 🙂
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  1. I made this Cauliflower and Cheese w/ Spicy Breadcrumbs, for dinner company last night. It was amazing! SO many compliments, that my husband (who had prepared the Lam Chops) felt a little slighted. 😂😂

    Then, today, he had to fight me for the 8 Oz. Of leftovers!

    I have been doing Low Carb. for a year. Luckily, my Sister In Law found a zero Carb. bread, at Aldi. AND I found really good prosciutto there too! So, I used those 2 ingredients, to make breadcrumbs that I could eat, in good conscience.

    Fabulous side! Thank you Tieghan! Your recipes are the best!


    1. Hi Liz! I am really glad this recipe turned out well for you! Thank you so much for trying this recipe! xTieghan

  2. This recipe was by far the best cauliflower mac and cheese recipe I have tried! It was very delicious and I will be making it again 🙂

  3. Hello! I am making this for dinner tonight. What meat do you recommend? My husband isn’t much of a huge veggie guy, he needs a meat with his meals! Thanks in advance! I love all your stuff, this makes my mouth water. I cannot wait to try it tonight!

    1. Hey BreeAnna,
      I would do chicken or sausage! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  4. Okay I made tonight this with coconut milk instead of whole milk and added an extra cup of cheese and extra half cup of milk bc I like stuff extra cheese any and saucey. Also took a shortcut and used store bough bread crumbs since I don’t eat meat. Anyway, it was nothing short of AMAZING! Thank you HBH for another great recipe.

    1. Hey Lindsey,
      Yes, coconut milk would work! Let me know if you have other questions. Hope you love the recipe. Thank you! xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe turned out amazing!!!! Definitely use whole milk and add both the milk then cheese gradually on super low to prevent the sauce from breaking. The only thing I did different was to do the prosciutto and bread crumbs before I roasted the cauliflower to make sure I have everything enough room on the pan! So yummy!

  6. 5 stars
    It was great! Everyone enjoyed it and the kids actually ate their veggies!! Made it with salmon and mashed potatoes. The sauce was great on the potatoes as well!

  7. Using what I had at home I substituted cumin for the smoked paprika and coconut milk for the whole milk. And I added minced garlic. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  8. 5 stars
    This was literally the first time I’ve been able to get my 3 year old to eat cauliflower and my husband went back for 2nds of it (also a first). Only prob was that it made way too much sauce. I’ve saved it, with the hopes of maybe putting the extra sauce on some pasta… open to suggestions.

    1. Wow yes!! I am so glad this turned out so well for you, Shannon! Thank you for trying it! Also, I think the sauce would be amazing on some pasta! xTieghan

  9. 5 stars
    You can COOK. This site it’s awesome. So much variety. So much taste! So much flavor! Filled with love, beautiful presentation and wonderful hospitality as if you are dining at your grandma’s house.

    Your recipes are like the light and joy my grandmother used to have as soon as she saw my face. Love unmatche

    1. You are too sweet! I am really glad you have been enjoying my recipes and I hope you continue to! Thank you so much Mimi! xTieghan

  10. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it will be in the regular rotation! Such good flavor, make a salad on the side and call it dinner. Rich, creamy and such a good way to eat cauliflower!