Heartbeet Kitchen
Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe with Fontina Cheese Sauce
November 29, 2016 (last updated January 23, 2021) in Dinner · Gluten-Free · New Year's Eve · Nut-Free · Vegetarian · Winter · 14 Comments

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe with Fontina Cheese Sauce {gluten-free, nut-free recipe} the best whole roasted cauliflower recipe, with fontina cheese sauce.

I’m not a picky eater, but I am a particular eater.

I enjoy fruit and chocolate, but never together (which is how these coconut butter dipped strawberries came to be).

I love poached eggs, but not super runny yolks. If you eat breakfast with me, I’ll always clarify to the server, “medium poached, like I don’t want yellow oozing everywhere  when you I poke it with a fork.” I know some of you are shaking your head and saying, “but that’s the best part!

Hot coffee, never iced. Even when it’s 89 degrees at 7:00 am, and the humidity is already at 65%. To me, it doesn’t have as much flavor, ad I can’t drink it as fast.

Give me all the butter. Except on toast. Biscuits, yes – toast, no. I don’t like the way it changes the flavor of the bread.

And cheese. Except don’t build me a cold sandwich with a cold piece of cheese. I will pick it off every single time, and have done since I was a child. But this only applies to sandwiches. Don’t you doubt that I’m always anchored next to the fancy cheese board at any party.

Now warm, melted cheese… that’s where my true love resides. In just about every application…. but especially savory fontina cheese sauce that sinks into SMOKING hot whole roasted cauliflower. With edges charred and browned, dried herbs mixed with olive oil and a little dijon mustard giving it a crust that most with associate with meat.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Fontina Cheese Sauce {gluten-free, nut-free recipe} Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Fontina Cheese Sauce {gluten-free, nut-free recipe} Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Fontina Cheese Sauce {gluten-free, nut-free recipe}

Thanks so much to Roth Cheese for sponsoring this Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce recipe! 

This is the kind of dish that wins friends. Both those who love vegetables, and those who might be convinced to try only because of the cheese. I make this whole roasted cauliflower recipe and cauliflower steaks similarly, learning from Joy The Baker that simmering (basically poaching) to soften in a “brine” I used (peppercorns, olive oil, garlic, bay leaves) infuses them with initial flavor all the way through. Additionally, the cauliflower is now partially cooked, so the roast will take care of the crispy edges, and turn the core tender as well. Because how many cauliflower steaks have you had where the outer florets looked perfect, but not cooked through? But this…. so tender it nearly melts in your mouth with the cheese.

When making cheese sauces, I like using fontina (made from cow’s milk) because it melts like a gem and is extremely versatile. Roth Cheese, from my neighbor state, Wisconsin, produce a Swedish-style Fontina. The smooth, creamy body accents the slightly tart flavor and mild, yeasty finish. This sauce recipe evolved from the rosemary bechamel I used on these cauliflower steaks at a recent dinner party, and couldn’t have been more perfect for this whole roasted version.

Savory. Rich. A golden, crackly masterpiece. Comfort feelings reminiscent of those I had when eating deep fried cauliflower and cheddar cheese sauce at the local watering hole with my parents when I was young. Except it’s a little more refined, quite impressive to serve, and wholesome, real food magic. Enjoy, xo.

the best whole roasted cauliflower recipe, with fontina cheese sauce.the best whole roasted cauliflower recipe, with fontina cheese sauce.

If you make this whole roasted cauliflower recipe, be sure to tag me on instagram with hashtag #heartbeetkitchen, or @heartbeetkitchen!

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Fontina Cheese Sauce

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Fontina Cheese Sauce

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

A recipe for whole roasted cauliflower with a creamy fontina cheese sauce.


  • Cauliflower:
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 head of garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, leave removed and core cut off a bit on the bottom so it sits flat
  • cauliflower crust:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dijion mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fontina cheese sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups two percent milk
  • 2 1/2 ounces Roth fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • grated fresh nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Bring large pot of water (I use a 5 quart dutch oven and fill it about 5 inches to the top. You're looking to give the cauliflower room to float) to boiling. Stir in all of cauliflower ingredients, then put in cauliflower, core side facing the ceiling (so top of head down). Simmer for 15 minutes, until cauliflower is fork tender.
  3. Drain cauliflower, and carefully place it on parchment lined sheet pan. Whisk crust ingredients together and brush all over cauliflower crust (if your cauliflower is really large, use an extra tablespoon of oil when mixing the ingredients up). Bake for 40 minutes, until crust is charred and brown. You can broil for a few minutes at end to really get crispy edges.
  4. Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan on medium to melt. Whisk in flour, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, so flour can get heated through. Then whisk in cream and milk, until smooth. Add salt and bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken.
  5. Add shredded cheese and whisk, until melted. Cook for one minute, than add rosemary, parsley and a few gratings of fresh nutmeg. Taste, and add a little salt if needed.
  6. Pour over warm cauliflower, and reserve some for dipping.

the best whole roasted cauliflower recipe, with fontina cheese sauce.the best whole roasted cauliflower recipe, with fontina cheese sauce.

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14 thoughts on “Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe with Fontina Cheese Sauce

  1. Karlie

    This is beautiful! My mom and I have a favorite whole roasted cauliflower at a restaurant, I can’t wait to share this recipe with her so we can make it at home! Thanks for sharing

  2. Abby @ Heart of a Baker

    Hoooooly goodness, this looks amazing! I’ve been eyeing up whole roasted cauliflower for some time now, but my husband doesn’t like cauliflower is anything, so I might have to eat it all myself :) That cheese sauce is calling to me! Plus, these pictures are SO GOOD my friend xoxo

  3. Emily Tritabaugh

    This dish is amazing. I made it last night with a group of friends and plates were licked clean.

    The only change I made was using almond flour instead of brown rice flour because I already had it. We ended up having 1/3 of the cheese sauce left that was used today on eggs and will be used throughout the weekend on other dishes.

  4. Kimberley Quinn

    I have one question, you say 1 Head of garlic, smasjed. Now, you mean the whole peeled head of garlic? Not 1 CLOVE of garlic? Not complaining, my friends and I never feel there is such a thing as too much roasted garlic. Just being careful the first time I make this.
    Love cauli and adore cheese! Thank you for a great recipe!😄

    1. amandapaa Post author

      Hi Kimberly! The head of garlic, smashed, is to go in the brine that you’ll boil the cauliflower in first. It just infuses the water. So it’s not ground up to actually eat. :) Enjoy!

  5. Liz Teachey

    Hi, I made this recipe last night and it was a hit. My husband and a friend who don’t like cauliflowers loved it and had seconds and thirds. I used gluten free flour and Gruyere instead of the rice flour and fontina cheese only cause I could not find it but still delicious!


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