Anyone else crave buffalo everything and anything? Truthfully it was never my jam until I got pregnant and now I basically crave buffalo sauce on everything: from my morning eggs, to buffalo chicken wraps and yes, even in my mac and cheese.
What could be better than buffalo cauliflower + mac and cheese having a delicious little baby? The answer: not much. I opted to make this buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese recipe vegetarian but you can always feel free to add in some cooked, shredded or cubed chicken. Tony especially loved this one, even though he’s not a huge fan of cauliflower.
I lightened up this recipe just slightly by adding the boost of veggies and skipping the heaviness of cream cheese, but you can absolutely make it more indulgent with extra cheeses and even a drizzle of my blue cheese dressing on top (omg, yum).
Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below! xo.
What is buffalo sauce?
In case you’re wondering what makes this mac and cheese recipe to the next level, it’s buffalo sauce. Buffalo sauce is traditionally made from hot sauce (usually a cayenne pepper hot sauce), butter, vinegar & extra spices.
The flavor can be mild or spicy, so you can truly make this buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese your own! My two favorite buffalo sauces are this brand and this one.
Everything you’ll need to make buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese
You’ll of course need some glorious buffalo sauce, plus some easy pantry staples to make this incredible vegetarian buffalo mac and cheese with cauliflower.
- Cauliflower: a trendy boost of veggies you’ll feel good about eating.
- Pasta: feel free to use any pasta shape you’d like – even gluten free! I love shells or cavatappi, but traditional elbow macaroni noodles would be perfect.
- Butter: you’ll need some butter to create the cheese sauce and the crunchy breadcrumb topping.
- Flour: the cheese sauce is also made with a bit of flour. Feel free to use an all purpose GF flour if you’d like.
- Spices: we’re using onion powder, garlic powder, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
- Milk & cheese: I like to use unsweetened cashew or almond milk, but you can use any milk you’d like. Plus, plenty of sharp cheddar cheese! I think blue cheese crumbles would also be delicious on top.
- Buffalo sauce: the one and only. Feel free to use a mild or spicy buffalo sauce.
- Panko breadcrumbs: we’re topping this bad boy with a panko breadcrumb mixture to give it that crispy, delicious topping. Here’s a gluten free option.
Can I make this gluten free?
Absolutely! Simply use gluten free pasta, gluten free all purpose flour and gluten free breadcrumbs.
Can I make this buffalo mac and cheese vegan?
I haven’t tested out a vegan version of this buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese, but I think it would work just fine using your favorite vegan cheddar brand or use my vegan cashew cheese sauce. Vegan butter is a great option for the topping, or you can simply omit the breadcrumb topping!
Customize your buffalo mac and cheese
The great thing about this creamy vegetarian buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese recipe is that it’s super easy to customize with your fav mix-ins.
- Make it spicy. Use a spicy buffalo sauce like this one, spicy shredded cheddar cheese, and/or add some jalapeño slices or chopped jalapeno to the cheese sauce.
- Boost the protein. Feel free to stir in some cooked, cubed or shredded chicken, bacon or even some chickpeas. Who doesn’t love a buffalo chicken mac? It’s a great way to use up rotisserie chicken!
- More veggies, please. Looking to up the veggies in here? Try roasting some brussels sprouts with the cauliflower and add it in. You could also throw in some spinach before baking!
How to make buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese from scratch
- Roast your cauliflower. You’ll kick off the recipe by roasting that cauliflower to perfection.
- Noodles & sauce. While the cauliflower is roasting you can boil your noodles and make the delicious cheese sauce.
- Gimme the buffalo. After pouring your cheese sauce on those noodles, stir in plenty of buffalo sauce and add the cauliflower to your noodle mixture.
- Top & bake. Pour the buffalo mac and cheese into a prepared baking dish, top with the remaining cheddar cheese and the breadcrumb topping, and bake until golden!
Make it ahead of time
Crunched for time? You can easily make this vegetarian buffalo mac and cheese ahead of time!
- Prepare the mac and cheese fully up until the point where you add everything to a baking dish.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and place it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it.
- Finally, bake it when you’re ready! You may need to add a few more minutes of baking time. FYI: This mac and cheese can be prepped up to 3 days ahead of time.
You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Simply reheat in the microwave.
I would not suggest freezing this recipe as the cheese sauce won’t likely reheat well.
More delicious recipes using buffalo sauce
Try these wonderful pasta recipes
Get all of my pasta recipes here!
I hope you love this creamy, delicious buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!
Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Incredible buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese made with sharp cheddar, your favorite buffalo sauce and a boost of veggies from roasted cauliflower. This easy buffalo mac and cheese with cauliflower is baked to perfection with a crumbly topping and will be a family favorite!
- For the cauliflower:
olive oil or avocado oil
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- For the mac and cheese:
dry pasta shells or cavatappi (or any pasta you’d like, gluten free if desired)
all purpose flour (or sub whole wheat or GF all purpose flour)
unsweetened cashew milk, almond milk or regular milk
sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese)
medium to hot buffalo sauce
- For topping:
sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and reserved for the topping (or about ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese)
- To garnish:
- Green onion, (green part only)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add cauliflower, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat the cauliflower in the oil. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender and slightly golden, flipping cauliflower halfway through cooking. Keep heat in the oven.
While the cauliflower is cooking you can boil your noodles and make the sauce: boil the noodles in a large pot until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Once done cooking, drain and return noodles to the large pot.
While the noodles are boiling, make your mac and cheese sauce: in a large skillet, add butter and place over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in a little bit of the flour and then slowly add in milk, a little bit at a time, alternating with the flour and vigorously whisking away any lumps. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes stirring every so often, until the sauce thickens up a bit. Stir in garlic powder, onion powder, salt and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper.
Next add in 6 ounces (or about 1 ½ cups) of shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the sauce and stir until completely melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles, then add in buffalo sauce. Stir to completely coat the noodles, then add in your roasted cauliflower and stir again.
Spray a 2-quart baking dish or 9×9 inch or 11×7 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, or grease with olive oil or butter. Pour in the cauliflower mac and cheese and spread out. Top with remaining ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese if you like extra cheesiness!
In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top of casserole and bake for 25 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serves 6.
I typically make this with unsweetened almond or cashew milk because we don’t buy regular milk. However you can use whatever milk you’d like. If you want a richer mac and cheese, use 2% or whole milk.
I recommend shredding your own cheese from a block of cheese. It generally melts better.
For a heartier option, feel free to add in shredded or cubed cooked chicken breast before baking the mac and cheese!
Servings: 6 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 6)
Saturated fat: 12g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on February 1st, 2021, and republished on February 2nd, 2023.