Healthier chicken and cauliflower casserole, which can be made keto! Loaded with cauliflower, chicken, and a healthier creamy cheesy ranch sauce.
Growing up, one of my favorite meals was mac and cheese. There is just something about that cheese sauce that always gets me! Today I'm sharing this chicken and cauliflower casserole as a healthier alternative to mac and cheese.
I made this a few different ways: with heavy cream (for my low carb peeps), and with almond milk (because my body does not like large amounts of dairy). So you can make this a few different ways, depending on your diet/preferences.
Not only is it creamy and cheesy, but this cauliflower chicken casserole has only has 330 calories per serving. Compare that to this mac and cheese recipe which has 695 calories per serving...ouch!
Reasons to love chicken and cauliflower casserole
- it is ready in 45 minutes
- it is low carb but satisfying
- you can change up the sauce depending on if you are keto or wanting to use almond milk
How to make it
I adapted this recipe from my favorite Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin! I used cauliflower for this recipe and added my homemade ranch seasoning to the sauce. It is a subtle ranch flavor but you can amp it up with an extra tablespoon of the seasoning!
- roast cauliflower for 25 minutes
- while cauliflower is roasting, whip up the creamy ranch sauce. You need to add the milk/cream gradually so it's best to get started right away!
- after cauliflower has roasted and softened, add in the chicken, then toss in the sauce.
- return to the oven for 10 minutes
- smother with cheese and bake for 5 more minutes
- sit for 10 minutes and ENJOY!
Can I make this casserole keto friendly? Yes. I tried making the sauce a few different ways, and here are some ways you can do it:
- as written, with almond milk, but you need to use flour to thicken (8 g carbs per serving)
- swap the almond milk for heavy cream and the flour for almond flour (keto friendly!) (6 g carbs per serving)
- unfortunately almond milk + almond flour did not thicken for me 🙁
Can I make it dairy free? I have not tried this with vegan cheese, but it *may* work. If you try, I'd love if you leave a comment below to let me know how it goes?
Can I make it ahead? Sure! You can bake ahead and reheat leftovers (they are good for up to 4 days in the fridge). I am not sure if you can assemble ahead and bake up the day you serve. It may work, but you may want to keep the components (chicken, cauliflower and sauce) separate until just before baking.
Tips & equipment
- casserole dish– I use this one from Crate & Barrel, but any deep 9 x 13 inch baking dish should suffice
- reusable silicone lid– I LOVE this one from GIR (I also own the 9 x 9 inch one!)
- Looking for more healthy casserole recipes? Try this Mexican Spaghetti Squash Casserole, this Overnight Breakfast Casserole and this Instant Pot Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
Healthier Chicken and Cauliflower Casserole
- 1 head cauliflower (cut into 1 inch florets; roughly 8 cups)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast (cut into 1 inch cubes)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons homemade ranch seasoning
- 4 tablespoons all purpose flour (or almond flour if you are using heavy cream)
- 3 cups almond milk (or regular milk, or heavy cream)
- 2 ½ cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoons salt
- Heat oven to 425°F.
- Toss cauliflower with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Arrange in a deep 9 x 13 inch baking dish and roast (uncovered) for 25-30 minutes, until softened.
- While cauliflower is cooking, start working on the sauce: Melt butter over medium heat. Add the ranch seasoning and flour, and stir until it is all combined and crumbly.
- Gradually (working in ¼ cup increments), add in the almond milk, stirring continuously to make a creamy sauce. This may take 10-15 minutes, so be patient.
- When all the almond milk as been added and sauce is thickened, add 1 ½ cups of the shredded cheese in 3 batches. Stir until completely melted and remove the sauce from the heat.
- Stir in ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of salt. Have a quick taste and decide how you'd like it.
- When cauliflower is slightly soft, stir in the chicken breast pieces and pour the sauce over everything.
- Return to the oven for 10 more minutes (uncovered).
- Sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese and return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes (uncovered). Cut into a piece of chicken to see if it's ready.
- Allow casserole to rest for 10 minutes (this helps the sauce thicken up).
- Casserole may be cooked ahead and portioned out into meal prep containers. Heat until steaming hot in the microwave.