This Creamy Cauliflower Gratin is delicious and savory without the dairy or the coconut! It’s the perfect side dish, great for the holidays and is AIP, paleo, vegan and Whole30 compliant.
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Here’s a creamy dairy and coconut-free side dish that is AIP, paleo, vegan, Whole30 compliant and sure to please. The hidden ingredient(s) in this Cauliflower Gratin? Zucchini and butternut squash! These ingredients make this “cheese” sauce creamy and give it a yellow colour.
To make this Creamy Cauliflower Gratin, you sauté peeled and chopped zucchini and butternut squash with onions, garlic and spices. Next, add these ingredients with apple cider vinegar and water to a high powered blender and blend until smooth. Return mixture to stovetop and add in tapioca starch slurry to thicken the mixture. Boil cauliflower in salted water for 3 minutes. Arrange the gratin by adding 1/2 the ‘cheese’ sauce to the baking dish, followed by the cauliflower, a sprinkle of fresh parsley and then remaining sauce. In this recipe, I’ve added some Grain-Free Seasoned Coating Mix from Paleo Powder to the top of the dish which gives it a crispy and flavorful crust. You can also add some crushed plantain or cassava chips, or AIP sourdough breadcrumbs (omit for Whole30).
Creamy Cauliflower Gratin FAQs
Can I substitute cauliflower in this dish?
Broccoli would probably work really nicely here alongside or as a substitute for the cauliflower.
Can I use arrowroot starch in place of tapioca?
I haven’t tried myself but these two are usually swappable.
Can I omit the vinegar?
If you can’t tolerate vinegar, you can omit it here but this is what gives the sauce that acidic and cheese like flavor. You might want to compensate for that with the addition of some nutritional yeast, more parsley and garlic powder to add some more “oomph” to the sauce.
Where can I find AIP Paleo Powder?
Shop AIP sells this AIP compliant – Grain-free seasoned coating mix that I used in this recipe. As I’ve noted above, you can omit this, use crushed AIP compliant cassava chips or AIP sourdough breadcrumbs as an alternative.
Here’s a demo:
Looking for more creamy AIP coconut-free recipes? Try:
If you liked this Creamy Cauliflower Gratin, I would love it if you would give the recipe a star rating and review. Be sure to snap a picture of the finished product and share it with me on Instagram. Tag @healmedelicious and use the hashtag #healmedelicious.Print
Creamy Cauliflower Gratin
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
This Creamy Cauliflower Gratin is delicious and savory without the dairy or the coconut! It’s the perfect side dish and great for the holidays and is AIP, paleo, vegan and Whole30 compliant.
- 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 cups zucchini, peeled and cubed*
- 1/2 cup butternut squash, cubed
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup filtered water
- 2 TBSP tapioca starch + 1 TBSP water
- 6 cups cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 1 TBSP parsley, chopped
- 1–2 TBSP paleo powder grain-free coating (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375F and set a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium heat.
- Add onions and garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until onions begin to turn translucent.
- Add chopped zucchini, butternut squash, sea salt and thyme and cook 10-12 minutes or until zucchini and squash have become soft.
- Once zucchini and squash are soft, add to a high powered blender along with apple cider vinegar and filtered water and blend until combined into a smooth sauce.
- Return the blended mixture to the skillet and turn the heat to medium.
- Make a slurry by combining the tapioca starch and water.
- Add slurry to zucchini mixture and whisk to combine until mixture begins to thicken.
- Remove sauce from heat and set aside.
- Pre-cook cauliflower in the salted boiling water for 3 mins**
- Strain cauliflower and set aside.
- Fill an 8×8 baking dish with half the ‘cheese’ mixture.
- Add cauliflower and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
- Add remaining cheese mixture and top with grain-free coating (optional)
- Bake in middle rack of the oven for 20 mins then broil 3-4 mins (optional)
- Serve warm.
* peeling the zucchini is optional, but note that if you keep the skins on your sauce will be green rather than yellow
* *Be careful not to overcook the cauliflower at this point because you will be baking it and don’t want it to be mushy.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Side dishes
Keywords: cauliflower, cauliflower gratin, coconut-free, dairy-free, vegan, aip, paleo, whole30
This is so delicious! I used unpeeled yellow squash instead of zucchini and reduced the garlic a little. Have used the sauce as a cheese sub for other dishes.
𝗠𝘆 𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱𝗻’𝘁 𝗲𝗻𝗷𝗼𝘆 𝗺𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝘃𝗲𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲𝘀 𝗰𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗺𝘀 “𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗱𝘂𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 “𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗲𝘀𝗲” 𝘀𝗮𝘂𝗰𝗲!” 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝟭/𝟱 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁’𝘀 𝗺𝗮𝗱𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝘂𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗹𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿; 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝘆 𝗻𝗼𝗻-𝗔𝗜𝗣 𝗳𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗹𝘆 𝗰𝗮𝗻’𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗽 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗿𝗱 𝘀𝗰𝗼𝗼𝗽 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝘀𝗮𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁’𝘀 𝗮 𝘀𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗱 𝗶𝗺𝗶𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝗹 (𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝘂𝗰𝗲). 𝗔𝗰𝗰𝗼𝗹𝗮𝗱𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗯𝘀 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝗸𝘆𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱! 𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗸𝘀, 𝗡𝗶𝗰𝗼𝗹𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮 𝗵𝘂𝗴𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗻 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘂𝗽 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗴𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻 🤌🏼💋
𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗺𝘆 𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗶𝘃𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗟𝗢 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗱𝗼𝗲𝘀𝗻’𝘁 𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝘃𝗲𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲𝘀 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗱𝗲𝘃𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 – 𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗰 & 𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗲𝘀𝗲, 𝗺𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘆!
This was okay but not a favorite. It didn’t come out nearly as creamy or delicious looking as the pictures. Not sure what went wrong.
Hi Nicole! I am making this next week and want to make it a complete dish… do you think it would be okay to mix in ground beef? Or do you have any suggestions of what to pair it with to make it a complete meal?
That would be delicious, as would some chopped chicken breasts (I’ve done this one myself). I’d recommend seasoning the meat and cooking it separately and then folding it in when you’re going to bake everything
Would it be possible to replace the butternut squash with another ingredient? Trying to accommodate a keto diet as well.
Hi Jesse, I haven’t tried other substitutions here. Spaghetti squash might work, but I don’t follow or know whether that’s keto.
Delicious!! Thank you so much!
Tina M Allen
Looks delicious!! I have 2 questions. Will this sauce store in refrigerator for a few days? Also, we love your cheesy mini meatloaf muffins, but just found out daughter is sensitive to coconut. Will this cheese sauce work as a good substitute for that recipe? Thank you for making AIP diet so much easier! 🙂
Hi Tina, yes to the first question.
Regarding the second question, this sauce will not brown the same way. If you do use it, I would recommend thickening it even further for the meatloaf muffins.
sooo goood! a lot of chopping for these RA hands though. but luckily my husband is my sous chef! I did a splash of fish sauce in the sauce which added a lil umami! topped it with crushed pork rinds and nutritional yeast. great recipe!
Okay mine came out GREEN. Luckily I baked it anyways because it was honestly delicious…are you sure your recipe measurements are correct, 1/2 c squash to 2 cups zucchini? I followed the recipe to a T but I think that may be where the problem is.
Glad you enjoyed!! Sounds like you kept the skins on the zucchini? I peeled mine and it doesn’t change the taste at all to keep them on but i’ll make a note in the recipe!
Wow I had no idea! Will definitely try again with the skins off.
This dish is comfort in a bowl. Next time I will double or triple the recipe, and hopefully it will freeze well. I added more apple cider vinegar as I was cooking the sauce for more tang. Absolutely love and will make a lot in these winter months.
Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review. So happy you enjoyed 🙂
This is delicious! The creamy sauce without coconut or nutritional yeast is appreciated. This sauce could be used in so many varieties of things in addition to this recipe. Its going into my regular rotation for sure!! Thank you!!
This is sooo good… and I’m so appreciative of a ‘cheese’ without nutritional yeast!!! Easy to make. I did a trial run to see if my family would want it for thanksgiving, but I ate it all before I shared. Looks like I will be making this again!!!