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Air fryer cauliflower cheese

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In our home, particularly during the colder months, we love a hearty roast dinner. This air fryer cauliflower cheese is a delicious air fryer side dish that goes perfect with my Ninja Foodi roast beef.

I’ve got a TON of easy air fryer recipes that I love to cook, and these air fryer cauliflower cheese is super simple, and absolutely delicious too.

Cauliflower cheese is a fantastic dish to make in the air fryer. You can pop it in the air fryer just after you place your Yorkshire puddings in the oven and then you won’t have to open the door again while your Yorkshires are rising.

When you’re looking to bulk your roast out, on a budget, cauliflower cheese can be a great side to serve. It’s hearty, and you can even use frozen cauliflower florets too.

Making family style meals is always a winner in my home. I love to place out the serving dishes and have everyone serve themselves. Then it is very simple to place leftovers directly in the fridge and use them over the coming days with very minimal fuss and effort. This is a great way to cut back on food waste too and helps me to make a simple dinner the next evening, or just a fast lunch.

A cauliflower cheese cooked in the air fryer in a Le Creuset dish.

Ingredients for air fryer cauliflower cheese:

Cheese sauce:

  • 25 g butter
  • 25 g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • l1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 1 minced clove) 
  • 300 ml whole milk
  • pinch Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt and pepper 
  • 150 g cheddar cheese

Other ingredients:

  • 300g cauliflower florets (frozen or fresh)

Topping: 

  • 20g sharp cheddar cheese (grated) 
  • 20g parmesan (grated)
Ninja Kebab Stand, Ninja sling, Ninja mini muffin tray

Method for making cauliflower cheese in the air fryer:

Start by finding a baking dish that is suitable for use in your air fryer and the right size to fit into the air fryer basket, or air fryer pot.

I have a Ninja Foodi OL750UK and so I remove the inner basket and just use the main cooking pot. Then I use my favourite ceramic Le Creuset dish, or an enamel dish.

Prepare your cauliflower.

Personally I like to cut the cauliflower florets from the cauliflower head, place into salted cold water, bring to the boil and then I will drain after 5-6 minutes. You CAN boil the entire head, stalk out of the water, and then cut the florets off after cooked if you want to make it easier to remove the florets.

Drain this and set to the side.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the flour. Mix well.

Cook on the hob for 1 minute.

Add the salt, mustard, garlic and a pinch of nutmeg. Then slowly add the milk, while whisking the mixture, until it is fully combined. Once you have mixed in all of the milk just remove the saucepan from the heat.

Add in the cheddar cheese, stir continuously until it is melted. Only add back onto the heat if needed. Add the pepper and stir through.

Once you’ve prepared your cheese sauce stir through the drained cauliflower florets and add these to the cheese sauce.

Place this into your air fryer suitable dish and then add the cheese mix to the top, or another topping of your choice (see below for suggestions).

Then pop it into the air fryer.

Air fry at 200C for 5-6 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

There is no need to stir this during cooking, or disturb it at all, but do check at 4-5 minutes, just to ensure that the top is not burning as each air fryer is different. Check my air fryer tips for some other tips and tricks to using the air fryer too!

A bowl of air fryer roasted tomato soup with basil. Alongside is a grey tea towel with a brushed aluminium teaspoon and a white and blue enamel dish with air fryer croutons.

Alternative vegetables that you can add to your cauliflower cheese:

You CAN add any vegetables you like, however, I find that broccoli works well, as does spinach. If I’m adding broccoli I’ll cook in the same water as the cauliflower, for the same time, and use the same quantities (just split 50/50).

You can also add some cauliflower and/or broccoli into this air fryer mac and cheese dish. I love cooking air fryer vegetable recipes.

Want to add a little extra special flavour to your dish? 

I love to add some protein to this dish, to make more of a meal. This is perfect for a simple lunch. I’ll add some air fryer bacon or even some leftover whole roast chicken. Chorizo works beautifully too.

Tenderstem broccolini in an air fryer basket

Topping ideas for your cauliflower cheese: 

While the cheese mix above works very well you could also use panko breadcrumbs, normal breadcrumbs or even polenta. Anything that will go golden brown, and have a bit of a crunch to it, works very well as an addition to this dish.

Sometimes I will take some air fryer croutons, blitz them in the food processor, and then sprinkle these over the top. Ideal for the days when I don’t have any extra cheese to hand.

How to reheat air fryer cheesy cauliflower: 

If you’ve got a cooked cauliflower cheese that you want to re-heat then you can do this in the air fryer. The timings are similar to the above, just check after 3-4 minutes and make sure that it is piping hot throughout when serving.

Two corn on the cobs cooked in the air fryer on a white plate

Want to use a different cheese sauce?

There is no need to make your own cheese sauce from scratch if you don’t want to. While the Bisto cheese sauce is not quite as nice as home made (in my opinion) it is VERY simple to make up and ideal to have on hand in your pantry. All you need is water (or milk if you want a thicker sauce).

You’ll also find cheese sauce in the fresh aisle in most supermarkets, often with the fresh pasta, and you can use this too if you want something both super tasty AND simple to make.

Do you want to use a different cheese in your sauce?

I love to use smoked cheese or even cream cheese when I want to use up fridge leftovers or make a thicker sauce. You can use any variety of cheddar cheese for this and personally I love one with a hint of spice to it.

Floral background with text overlay that says air fryer tips and tricks 20+ great tips!

Want to use roasted cauliflower instead?

You could make your own cheese sauce up while you roast the cauliflower in your air fryer with a little spray olive oil. This will have more of a bite to it but is perfect if you’re a fan of a firmer bite to your cauliflower.

How to make cauliflower cheese in the air fryer:

A cauliflower cheese cooked in the air fryer in a Le Creuset dish.
5 from 1 vote
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Air fryer cauliflower cheese

How to make a delicious simple cauliflower cheese in the air fryer.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine British
Keyword air fryer, cauliflower, cheese
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 309 kcal
Author Katykicker

Ingredients

Cheese sauce:

  • 25 g butter
  • 25 g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 minced clove
  • 300 ml whole milk
  • pinch Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt and pepper
  • 150 g cheddar cheese

Other ingredients:

  • 300 g cauliflower florets frozen or fresh

Topping:

  • 20 g sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 20 g parmesan grated

Instructions

  1. Start by finding a baking dish that is suitable for use in your air fryer and the right size to fit into the air fryer basket, or air fryer pot.
  2. I have a Ninja Foodi OL750UK and so I remove the inner basket and just use the main cooking pot. Then I use my favourite ceramic Le Creuset dish, or an enamel dish.
  3. Prepare your cauliflower.
  4. Personally I like to cut the cauliflower florets from the cauliflower head, place into salted cold water, bring to the boil and then I will drain after 5-6 minutes. You CAN boil the entire head, stalk out of the water, and then cut the florets off after cooked if you want to make it easier to remove the florets.
  5. Drain this and set to the side.
  6. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the flour. Mix well.
  7. Cook for 1 minute.
  8. Add the salt, mustard, garlic and a pinch of nutmeg. Then slowly add the milk, while whisking the mixture, until it is fully combined. Once you have mixed in all of the milk just remove the saucepan from the heat.
  9. Add in the cheddar cheese, stir continuously until it is melted. Only add back onto the heat if needed. Add the pepper and stir through.
  10. Once you’ve prepared your cheese sauce stir through the drained cauliflower florets and add these to the cheese sauce.
  11. Place this into your air fryer suitable dish and then add the cheese mix to the top, or another topping of your choice (see below for suggestions).
  12. Then pop it into the air fryer.
  13. Air fry at 200C for 5-6 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

  14. There is no need to stir this during cooking, or disturb it at all, but do check at 4-5 minutes, just to ensure that the top is not burning as each air fryer is different. Check my air fryer tips for some other tips and tricks to using the air fryer too!

Note: All calorie information is for demonstration purposes only and is based on the specific uncooked ingredients that I used when creating the recipe.

If you enjoyed this post I’d love it if you could pin it on Pinterest!

A cauliflower cheese cooked in the air fryer in a Le Creuset dish.
Recipe Rating




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Ruth Holyhead

Sunday 17th of December 2023

Followed most of your method and ingredients for the cauliflower cheese and it was superb. Thank you

katykicker

Sunday 17th of December 2023

This is lovely to hear, thanks for commenting!

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