Baked Jalapeno Popper Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

baked jalapeno cauliflower mac and cheese

For anybody on a low-carb or keto diet, mac and cheese is one of those dishes that just seems so out of reach. Enter cauliflower mac and cheese.

Yes, cauliflower.

I know to many of you this is nothing new, but cauliflower has been used to replace so many of our favourite carby foods, it’s unreal.

  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Pizza crust
  • Pasta

Cauliflower Nutrition

Now, I am not on a keto diet or even a low carb diet. I believe carbs are a healthy part of a balanced diet.

However, mac and cheese is a very highly refined carb dish with a lot of fat and not a lot of nutrition.

Cauliflower is very nutritious. It offers so many more nutritional benefits than plain old white macaroni does.

  • High in fiber — 11 percent of your daily recommended amount of fiber in only 1 cup.
  • Great source of Vitamin C — 61 percent of your daily amount in 1 cup. Vitamin C helps boost your immune system, helps improve skin since it is needed for the biosynthesis of collagen (extra important for those on the keto diet), and aids in wound healing. It is also a powerful antioxidant to help protect you against cancer causing free radicals.
  • Important source of vitamin K — aids in blood clotting and bone metabolism. Getting enough vitamin K is very important for those on blood thinning medication like Warfarin.
  • High in folate — extra important for pregnant parents. Folate prevents neural tube defects. 

Other Healthy Dinner Recipes to Enjoy

How to Make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

roast cauliflower

I highly recommend roasting your cauliflower and the jalapeno for this recipe. You can use boiled or steamed cauliflower and fresh, de-seeded jalapenos but roasting them adds more flavour.

And let’s be honest — cauliflower needs all the help it can get. 😅

cauliflower replaces carbs and joy
Who can relate?!

Roasted Cauliflower

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If you have a whole head of cauliflower instead of the bagged florets, cut into florets and season with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place in a single layer on a baking sheet along with 2 to 3 whole jalapenos. Roast for about 20 minutes. 

De-seed and mince your jalapenos. Roasting and de-seeding adds all the awesome jalapeno flavour and decreases the heat.

cauliflower mac and cheese sauce

The Best Easy Cheese Sauce

This cheese sauce can be made with milk and half and half for a lower fat version or use cream if you are on a high fat keto diet (or if you just want to indulge!).

Add 1 teaspoon of butter to a pan and toss in your roasted, diced jalapeno. Stir in 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of half and half or use all cream and seasonings to taste. Bring to a low simmer and then add 6 ounces of cream cheese! Yum!

Next, remove from heat and add your shredded cheeses. I used 4 ounces of sharp cheddar and 2 ounces of parmesan. 

Prep Your Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Place your roasted cauliflower in a greased baking dish (8×8″ or equivalent) and add your cheese sauce.

Sprinkle with crumbled cooked bacon, if using, and top with extra shredded cheese if you wish.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes and then broil for 2 to 3 minutes if you like it toasty like I do!

cauliflower mac and cheese with jalapeno popper
jalapeno popper cauliflower mac and cheese
jalapeno popper cauliflower mac and cheese

For a Fit Food Grocery List, healthy habit trackers and calendars and much more, check out my Free Resource Library!

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jalapeno popper cauliflower mac and cheese
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5 from 1 vote

Cauliflower Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

A delicious mac and cheese made with jalapeno popper flavours and served over cauliflower for a healthier, low carb version of a classic dish.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword cauliflower, flour free, gluten free, keto, kid friendly
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 505kcal
Author Rach


  • 1 head of cauliflower chopped into florets
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2-3 jalapeño peppers
  • 2 cups milk or cream
  • 1 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 6 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 5 strips bacon cooked and crumbled optional


  • Preheat your oven to 450 F.
  • Place the cauliflower pieces on a large baking sheet, and toss with olive oil.
  • Add whole jalapenos to the baking sheet.
  • Season with salt and place in a single layer. Place the cauliflower in the oven on the middle rack and roast for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.
  • When finished roasting, de-seed the jalapeno and remove stem, dice.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
  • Add diced jalapeno to the pan.
  • Add milk and cream and seasonings.
  • Stir over medium-low heat until the mixture starts to simmer and thickens.
  • Add cream cheese and stir to melt.
  • Turn off the heat and add the rest of the cheese, stir to melt.
  • Place roasted cauliflower into an 8x8" or equivalent greased baking dish.
  • Pour the cheese sauce over cauliflower. Add crumbled bacon, if using, and sprinkle with any additional cheese if you wish.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Optional: Broil for additional 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese.


Calories: 505kcal
baked jalapeno popper cauliflower mac and cheese
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Omg this looks so yummy. Saving to make later!!

Andrew Burnie

5 stars
For somebody who’s not all that keen on cauliflower, I loved this! It’s so tasty! The easy cheese sauce is a nice touch too, no need to stress about getting the lumps out of a white sauce first!

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