This cauliflower mac and cheese recipe will be everyone’s new favorite!
Tender cauliflower florets and chunks of bacon are cooked in a rich and creamy cheese sauce, and the air fryer makes it in minutes! Cheesy and smoky flavors create a fabulous low carb meal using cauliflower instead of macaroni. Make it with broccoli, cauliflower rice, or frozen cauliflower. Either way, it’s always a winner!
A Healthier Version of a Cheesy Fave!
- Low-carb and keto followers will love this uber-healthy version of everyone’s favorite classic comfort food! Even the kids will ask for more!
- Cook bacon cauliflower mac and cheese up to a day in advance and reheat just in time to share at a potluck or picnic.
- Make this bacon cauliflower mac and cheese recipe as a time saver for those busy weeknights! Simply add a side salad or some vegetables.
Ingredients & Variations
BACON: Experiment with different flavors of bacon – maple, brown sugar, or hickory smoked. Diced pieces of ham or slices of summer sausage will still be low-carb and taste delicious!
CAULIFLOWER: Fresh, diced cauliflower is called for here, but frozen cauliflower can save time and be used from its frozen state as well as cauliflower rice. Switch out the cauliflower for broccoli or use a colorful combo of both!
CHEESE SAUCE: This rich and cheesy homemade sauce is better than any Kraft version! Be sure to use full-fat cream cheese and heavy cream for the best flavors. Keep it tame or make it spicy and mix in a seasoning blend like taco seasoning, cajun seasoning, or go extra flavorful with adobo seasoning.
How to Make Air Fryer Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
- Cook bacon and cauliflower (as per the recipe below).
- Microwave the remaining ingredients with the drained cauliflower until the cheese is melted. Stir thoroughly.
- Put everything in a Vortex-safe dish and cook in the air fryer until the top is golden brown.
In the Instant Pot:
Get the same slow-baked results in the Instant Pot, too!
- Cook bacon and cauliflower as directed in the recipe below, and place all ingredients in the Instant Pot.
- Close the lid and manually cook for 2 minutes. Quick release, stir, and enjoy!
Air Fryer Tips & Tricks
- For quick clean-up, place a slice of bread on the bottom of the air fryer to absorb bacon drippings. Here is the best recipe for getting perfect bacon in the air fryer every time.
- For an extra crispy topping, sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of the cooked mac and cheese and place it back in the air fryer until the breadcrumbs are browned.
- Keep leftover bacon cauliflower mac and cheese in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Reheat portions in the air fryer or on the stovetop.
- Portions can be frozen for up to 4 weeks but will need to be thoroughly stirred because the sauce might separate. Simply stir in fresh cream and cheddar cheese before reheating!
More Cauliflower Recipes in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Cauliflower – Super quick
- Air Fryer Broccoli and Cauliflower – Healthy
- Air Fryer Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower – Cheesy
- Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower – Flavorful
Air Fryer Bacon Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- 4 strips bacon
- 1 cup water
- 1 small cauliflower diced
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- green onions or parsley finely chopped, for garnish
- Cook the bacon in the air fryer for 5 minutes. Dice into small pieces.
- In a microwave-safe bowl - add one cup of water and the cauliflower. Microwave for five minutes. Check for tenderness. If still hard cook another few minutes. Drain.
- Preheat Air Fryer to 400°F.
- In the same bowl, combine the cream cheese, heavy cream, one cup of cheese, salt, cayenne, bacon, and paprika. Microwave one more minute.
- Put the cauliflower mixture in a Vortex-safe dish. Place on the lowest shelf - use a quick cover if you have one to keep the top from browning too quick.
- Cook for 4 minutes. Remove top and cook for 2 more until golden brown.