Tender cauliflower and cubed ham in a creamy cheese sauce topped with crispy bacon. This low carb and keto recipe is easy, cheesy and delicious!
There are a bazillion recipes for cauliflower mac and cheese around these days. Who would have guessed that a low carb staple like cauliflower would become a mainstream favorite? We Low Carbers have enjoyed cauliflower as a rice substitute and as a potato substitute for years. Cauliflower Rice Pilaf and Loaded Cauliflower are two of my favorite recipes!
Using cauliflower as a pasta substitute was just the next natural progression. I, for one, love cauliflower mac and cheese and all its variations. My family’s current favorite is this creamy cauliflower mac and cheese casserole with ham. It’s hearty, tasty and very easy to prepare.
Typically, a casserole is a mixture of meat and vegetables held together with a starchy binder, eggs, cheese and maybe canned soup to make a creamy sauce. The ingredients are poured into a pot or deep dish and cooked slowly in the oven. People like them because they are easy – just throw the ingredients together and let it bake. Ketogenic casseroles take a little extra thought.
Cheesy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
This cauliflower mac and cheese casserole recipe is more of a stove top casserole and super easy to make. I guess you could say it’s more like macaroni and cheese from a box in that the cheese sauce is made on the stove then mixed together with the macaroni. Except, in this case, the cheese sauce is made in a pan and then mixed together with the cauliflower and ham.
The addition of ham makes this low carb casserole a hearty “one pan meal”. It’s the perfect recipe for incorporating leftover ham from a holiday dinner. But, I have asked the deli to cut a half-inch thick slab of ham for me or have even used leftover ham steak for this recipe. It’s all good.
Because cheese, ham, and bacon have a fair amount of sodium, I opt for using low sodium bacon and only enjoy this dish once every few weeks. But, it might not have any more sodium than a restaurant meal and some people eat out several times a week. Use your best judgement.
How to make Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Casserole with Ham
Because this is a ketogenic recipe for cauliflower mac and cheese, we won’t use starch as a binder. And instead of canned cream soup, cheese will compose the sauce. Using a smaller amount of liquid helps keep the sauce nice and thick.
Cut the cauliflower into bite sized florets and steam. While the cauliflower cooks, Dice the bacon and fry on medium heat in a 10-12 inch frying pan. When crispy, remove and drain on paper towels. (You can also use turkey bacon.)
Dice the onion, mince the garlic, cube the ham, and grate the cheese. When the cauliflower is tender, drain very well and leave uncovered to release steam.
Pour out the bacon grease, but do not wipe out the pan. Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil coated pan over medium heat (or use 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil) until softened. Add the wine, water, chicken base, white pepper, and cream cheese. Stir to soften the cheese. Add the heavy cream and cheddar cheese. Simmer, stirring often, until nice and thick.
Stir the well drained cauliflower and ham into the thickened cheese sauce, top with bacon, and serve. Alternately, spoon the cauliflower mac and cheese into to a casserole dish for serving and top with the bacon.
This is a very delicious and cheesy cauliflower casserole. To get a nice cheese pull while serving, layer the casserole in the serving dish with a little extra mozzarella. By the time you serve, the cheese will be melty. When you spoon the cauliflower casserole into bowls, you will get a nice string of cheese. Your family will be impressed!
How to Reheat Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Casserole
NOTES: The sauce is thickest when left to cool a little before serving. Refrigerate leftovers. To reheat, place leftover mac and cheese casserole in a microwave safe bowl, cover, and cook at full power, stirring halfway through. Cooking times will vary depending on the amount of leftover cauliflower casserole and the power of your microwave.
Alternately, cover leftover casserole with foil and place in a moderately hot oven (350 degrees F) and cook until hot. Make sure to stir at least once. Cooking times will vary depending on how cauliflower casserole is being reheated and whether or not you have a smaller wall oven or a larger oven.
I tested this recipe a few times by baking in the oven. Each time it became a little watery as the cauliflower released moisture. For best results, follow the directions for making this particular cheesy cauliflower casserole on the stove top.
Tasty Low Carb Cauliflower Recipes
Are You Crazy for Cauliflower? Here are a few more low carb keto cauliflower recipes you may enjoy
- Creamy Cauliflower Hummus
- Broccoli Cauliflower Rice
- Amish Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
- Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon and Caramelized Green Onions
- Fluffy Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (keto, low carb)
- Cauliflower Hash Browns
- Cauliflower Pilaf
Creamy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Ham
- 1 pound cauliflower
- 10 oz ham, cubed
- 3 slices reduced sodium bacon
- 1/4 cup onion (1 oz)
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp organic chicken base
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 oz cream cheese
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (2 oz)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese (4 oz)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- Cut cauliflower into bite-sized florets and steam until tender. Then drain well and leave uncovered to release steam.
- While cauliflower steams... chop onions, mince garlic, cube ham, and chop bacon.
- Heat a medium-large pan over medium heat and cook bacon until crispy, about 5-6 minutes. Remove bacon and pour out fat leaving enough to coat the pan.
- Saute the onions and garlic until softened, about 2 minutes. Add wine, water, chicken base, and cream cheese, stirring occasionally to help melt the cheese.
- Next, add the cheddar, mozzarella, Worcestershire sauce, and white pepper. Gently simmer until cheese has melted and the sauce is nice and thick.
- Add the drained cauliflower and ham to the pan. Heat through and top with the bacon. Serve. Alternately, spoon into a serving dish and top with bacon.
- NOTE: The sauce is thickest when left to cool a little before serving. Refrigerate leftovers. Serves 4 at 5.7g net carbs per serving.
- To reheat, place leftover mac and cheese casserole in a microwave safe bowl, cover, and cook at full power, stirring halfway through. Cooking times will vary depending on the amount of leftover cauliflower casserole and the power of your microwave.
- Alternately, cover leftover casserole with foil and place in a moderately hot oven (350 degrees F) and cook until hot. Make sure to stir at least once. Cooking times will vary depending on how cauliflower casserole is being reheated and whether or not you have a smaller wall oven or a larger oven.