Cheesy, cozy, and satisfying, this Vegan Cauliflower Gratin is a simple dinner that makes it easy to enjoy your veggies. Packed with protein and flavor, all you need to do is throw everything in a baking dish and bake it until golden brown and delicious. Dinner can’t get any easier than that!
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Hey Internet, here’s another easy recipe for you: a vegan cauliflower gratin. Wait, what’s a gratin?
So technically, gratin is a French word referring to a dish with a browned crust, though it usually refers to a dish with cheese and breadcrumbs that has been browned (usually in the oven or under the broiler). So this a vegan cauliflower au gratin.
My mom used to make a scalloped potatoes gratin when I was growing up, which is kind of my inspiration for this piece.
Though it actually started with my dad visiting, and requesting a cauliflower based dinner. He wanted something light as we had a heavy dinner.
So I thought of this idea: Cauliflower (and a little potato) in a casserole with an awesome cheesy sauce and bread crumbs sprinkled on top.
Oh, and sauteed onions and garlic were my dad’s idea and they added a LOT more flavor, but it’s an extra step so I’ve left it optional.
This vegan cheesy cauliflower bake is a great easy dinner and it’s also a good way to get kids to eat their veggies. Or adults; no judgement here.
The vegan cheese sauce in this recipe is actually nut-free and packed with protein because it’s made with tofu! But if you’re not a tofu fan, don’t worry, you can’t taste it.
It also firms up slightly in the oven to make this awesome cauliflower bake, and combines all the veggies nicely.
Ready to talk ingredients?
What You’ll Need
Let’s start with cauliflower because duh. You’ll need a medium cauliflower, cut into bite size florets.
You’ll also need potatoes, diced pretty small, about ½ inch dice so that they cook evenly with the cauliflower.
Onions and garlic, though an optional step, add so much flavor especially when you saute them for a few minutes before assembling your cauliflower bake. So I highly recommend them.
That’s it for the veggies, but you could add any you like. Sub half the cauliflower for broccoli, or add mushrooms if you like.
Keep the amounts of veggies the same though, unless you plan to make more sauce. The vegan cheese sauce in this recipe is just enough to layer in and pour some on top for cheesy goodness.
Vegan Cheese Sauce
Speaking of that sauce: I mentioned above that the base of the sauce is tofu. Tofu is my favorite nut-free base for cheese sauces. If you CAN have cashews and you’d like to use those, go ahead and use about a cup and a half of soaked cashews instead of the tofu.
But since I’m using tofu, let me mention the type. I normally use firm tofu even for blended recipes because I buy them in bulk at Costco.
However, this recipe will work with virtually any type of tofu (though extra firm might not blend super duper well). If you use silken tofu, just cut out the non-dairy milk.
Now for everything else… it’s all flavor. Which means it’s subjective. I highly recommend you add things, test, and alter based on your own tastes.
But here’s what I’ll recommend, as I make cheese sauces REALLY often, haha.
Non-dairy milk helps the firm tofu blend but it also makes it creamier. Any unsweetened, original flavor non-dairy milk will work. My favorite is oat milk or hemp milk.
A little lemon juice provides that much needed tang, but apple cider vinegar or another vinegar could work in its place.
Nutritional yeast makes it really cheesy tasting, and if you’re not a big fan of how it tastes on its own I still think you’ll like how this tastes. Lots of other flavors working together here.
Speaking of lots of flavor, here’s a few more things I like to use: a squeeze of Dijon mustard (or any mustard), onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika and… turmeric and black pepper!
I know, I know, that sounds weird, but in addition to giving it a yellow cheesy color, the turmeric also provides a nice flavor to the cheese sauce. But it’s totally optional, if you prefer.
Oh, and this has nothing to do with flavor, but for a more stretchy and robust texture, I recommend blending in a few tablespoons of tapioca starch. This is a thickener that, when cooked, provides some pull and stretch to the vegan cheese sauce. Optional, though.
And the topping, I almost forgot, is panko bread crumbs. There ARE gluten-free Panko and that’s what I used here. Either will be fine, if you don’t have an issue with gluten.
Finally, you may choose to top your finished vegan cauliflower au gratin with fresh chopped parsley and/or vegan Parmesan topping.
Tips for Making Vegan Cauliflower Gratin
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (or 232 degrees Celsius).
- Note: chop your potato small (around ½ inch dice) as it takes longer to cook than the cauliflower.
- Now, if you choose to do it, saute diced onions in a nonstick skillet for approximately 5 minutes. After the onion has become translucent (about 4 minutes), add the garlic and saute another minute. You can choose to use oil if you wish, but I always just use a bit of water. Whiz up your vegan cheese sauce in the blender while these cook.
- Add a single layer of chopped cauliflower and potato to a large baking dish (I used a deep 9x13 baker) and add half the onions and garlic, sprinkled or spread over the top (tip: use a set of tongs if you’d like to sprinkle the hot vegetables over the cauliflower and potatoes).
- Pour on half the vegan cheese sauce, making sure to cover every vegetable.
- Now add the rest of the cauliflower, potatoes, onions, and garlic. Cover with the rest of the vegan cheese sauce.
- Sprinkle your panko crumbs on top.
- Cover with aluminum foil and place your vegan cheesy cauliflower bake in the oven.
- Bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for 20 minutes. You may choose to broil it the last few minutes if you’d like to really brown the top. I did not broil mine and it still got fairly browned.
- Serve with fresh chopped parsley and/or vegan Parmesan topping and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The leftovers of this make for a light and delicious lunch. You may also freeze it in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
More Vegan Cheesy Goodness
I loooooove cheese, so I made it part of my goal with this blog to produce a lot of vegan cheeses and vegan cheesy dishes. ALL of my vegan cheese recipes are nut-free, but they always have an option to use nuts if you’re kinda nuts--I mean, if you prefer.
Check out some of my faves, below:
- 5 minute Nut-free Vegan Mozzarella Cheese Sauce (stretchy AND melty)
- 5 minute Nut-free Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce (stretchy AND melty)
- Vegan Philly Cheesesteak
- Vegan Brie
- Cheddar Wheel
- Ricotta Pasta
- Vegan Mac and Cheese with Peas
- Vegan Feta
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Nacho Fries
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. We both went back for seconds!
This vegan cauliflower gratin is:
- High protein
- And oh so delicious! It makes a great main or side.
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!