Three individual servings of cheesy cauliflower-macaroni and cheese, topped with crispy panko breadcrumbs

Super-creamy mac & cheese

Total Time
1 hr 30 min
45 min
45 min
When you think of mac and cheese, does your mind go to puréed vegetables? If not, this recipe might make you think again. Here, we've used puréed cauliflower and carrots to add a wonderful creaminess to the sauce, which in turn creates a lightened up version of this beloved American classic. It still has the best parts of the traditional recipe, too: breadcrumbs, loads of cheese, and, of course, macaroni.


Cooking spray

4 spray(s)

Salted butter

1 tsp

Panko breadcrumbs


Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

2 Tbsp


2 pound(s)


4 medium, thinly sliced

Low sodium vegetable broth

1 cup(s)

Whipped cream cheese

¼ cup(s)

Dijon mustard

1½ tsp

Reduced fat cheddar cheese

½ cup(s), shredded, divided

Gruyère cheese

¼ cup(s), shredded

Table salt

1 tsp

Hot pepper sauce

¼ tsp

Uncooked macaroni

8 oz


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring a large saucepot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat; add panko and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, 4 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and let cool; stir in Pecorino and set aside.
  3. Cut 3 cups small florets from cauliflower; set aside. Cut remaining cauliflower (including stem) into 2-inch pieces. Add cauliflower pieces and carrots to boiling water; cook until very tender, 10–12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine broth, cream cheese, mustard, 1/4 cup cheddar, Gruyère, salt and pepper sauce in a large blender. With a large slotted spoon, transfer cooked vegetables to blender; puree into a creamy sauce.
  5. Add pasta to same pot of boiling water; cook half the time of package directions, adding reserved cauliflower florets during last minute of cooking. Drain pasta and cauliflower; return to pot and stir in pureed sauce.
  6. Coat a 2 1/2-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray; spoon pasta mixture into prepared pan in an even layer. Sprinkle dish with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar and reserved crumb mixture; bake until golden on top, 25–30 minutes.
  7. Serving size: 1 cup


Add extra cooked cauliflower florets to the pasta mixture if you desire.