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Cauliflower Vegan Casserole

$6.15 Recipe/$1.53 Serving

Vegan cauliflower casserole is the perfect comfort meal! Ready in about 30 minutes this creamy cauliflower casserole is packed with flavor and is plant based, dairy free and gluten free! Great as a side dish but could easily be the main entrée as well!

Vegan cauliflower casserole with a wooden spoon in the casserole dish.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Healthy comfort food – the creamy sauce is made with white beans and cashews, but trust me no one will know! The sauce helps to blend together the cauliflower and rice, masking the cauliflower florets, making this a great meal for picky eaters!
  • Great way to get in veggies – this cauliflower vegan casserole is made with an entire head of cauliflower, but trust me you can’t even taste it! The cauliflower falls into the background and the creamy sauce really helps to make this a meal everyone will enjoy!
  • Simple meal that can be made with leftover rice! If you need a simple meal that everyone will love, this leftover rice casserole is the perfect solution! If you want to set yourself up for success during a busy week, make extra rice one night and store it in the freezer! You can freeze it in 1 or 2 cup portions using Soupercubes! Once frozen, transfer to a bag for long term storage. Pull the frozen rice cubes out of the freezer in the morning and have perfectly cooked rice to use in this recipe by dinnertime!
  • Great for meal prep! This vegan cauliflower casserole is great as leftovers and can be eaten as lunch or dinner thanks to the rice, beans and veggies in the casserole! You can freeze leftovers for later as well!
Ingredients to make vegan cauliflower casserole.
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Ingredients

  • Cauliflower – I use an entire head of cauliflower because I find it at a good price at Aldi most weeks. You can also use frozen cauliflower (2 bags) or 1-2 bags of cauliflower florets from the produce department. Just try to be sure you don’t have any large chunks of cauliflower so that they can easily be scooped from the casserole dish after cooking. You can break down frozen cauliflower after steaming if needed.
  • Rice – you need cooked rice. I like to use jasmine or basmati rice since that reheats very well in casseroles and isn’t dry or hard when it’s refrigerated. In this recipe, I used brown jasmine rice but you can also use white jasmine rice in this recipe.

Creamy Sauce:

  • Raw cashews, soaked – cashews provide a creamy base for the sauce and help to give it body and make the casserole more filling. Soak cashews in boiling hot water for 5 minutes before draining and blending the sauce. Check out all the ways to soak cashews below!
  • White beans, rinsed and drained – white beans also help to create a creamy delicious sauce. The beans fade into the background, you won’t even know they are in the dish! I prefer great northern white beans or cannellini beans for this sauce. You can use canned or homemade.
  • Vegetable broth – vegetable broth helps to add a depth of flavor and makes this casserole taste like it took more than 30 minutes to make! If you are not plant based, you could also use chicken stock/broth or bone broth here.
  • Coconut aminos (optional)- these help to deepen the flavor of the sauce. If you don’t have them you can use soy sauce or gluten free tamari.
  • Spices: Salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning – these spices help to flavor the casserole. I love the Italian seasoning with the creamy sauce and cauliflower. You can take this recipe in many directions though by changing out the seasonings.

Almond flour topping:

  • Almond flour (or almond meal) – this acts like breadcrumbs on top of the casserole.
  • Avocado oil (or olive oil) – I prefer avocado oil since it’s got a neutral flavor but extra virgin olive oil will work too. This helps to moisten the almond flour so it can brown up when broiling.
  • Spices: salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning – these spices help the almond flour take on that traditional Italian breadcrumb flavor.

How to make cauliflower vegan casserole

Start by preheating the oven to 425F.

Fill a pot up with water and place a steaming basket over the water. Cover the pot and bring it up to a boil.

Next cut the cauliflower off the stalk and into bite size pieces. You don’t have to worry about the appearance of the cauliflower since it will be mixed with rice and coated in sauce. Just try to make them all the same size so they cook evenly when steaming.

Cauliflower cut on cutting board.

Add the cauliflower to the steaming basket once the water is boiling. Cover and steam for 7-9 minutes until cauliflower is fork tender but not overcooked. You don’t want it falling apart. Check after 7 minutes.

Raw cauliflower in steamer basket before steaming.

While the cauliflower is steaming, pour boiling water (I use an electric kettle) over the cashews to soak them. Soak 5 minutes.

Cashews soaking in glass jar.

Rinse and drain the white beans. I like to let them soak in fresh water for a few minutes to really make sure they are rinsed of their packing liquid.

White beans and raw cashews in mesh strainer.

When the cashews are done soaking, drain the beans and the cashews. Place them in a blender along with the vegetable broth. Blend on high about 1 minute until smooth.

Add the salt, garlic powder and Italian seasoning to the blender, blend again 5-10 seconds to incorporate it.

Steps to make creamy sauce for cauliflower casserole.

Once cauliflower is done steaming, turn off the heat and remove the lid.

Cauliflower in steaming basket after steaming.

Add rice to a large casserole dish. Once rice is down, add the cauliflower from the steamer basket along with the creamy sauce. Stir the dish with a spoon until everything is well mixed.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the almond flour breadcrumb topping. Once well incorporated, spoon it over the casserole.

Place casserole dish in the 425F oven for 10 minutes to allow the rice to come up to temperature and thicken the sauce.

After 10 minutes, turn the broiler on in the oven. Broil for 3-4 minutes, watching carefully to ensure the topping doesn’t burn. I usually move it around 1-2 times in the oven to ensure the entire top gets brown.

Steps to assemble cauliflower vegan casserole.

Top tips

  • Cut the cauliflower into similar size pieces so that it will steam evenly (you don’t want mushy pieces and hard chunks of cauliflower in the casserole). The cauliflower really doesn’t cook down much more when it’s in the oven, so be sure it’s fork tender before adding it to the casserole dish.
  • Be sure to use fresh cauliflower in this casserole. As cauliflower sits in the fridge it can get bitter and have a strong smell. Fresh cauliflower has green vibrant leaves and the cauliflower is mostly pale white (not yellow).
  • This recipe can be made with a whole cauliflower you break down at home, bagged cauliflower florets from the produce section or frozen cauliflower florets. You want at least 6 cups of cauliflower which is usually a medium head of cauliflower or 2 bags of fresh or frozen cauliflower florets.
  • You can also steam cauliflower in the instant pot. Chop the cauliflower up into similar size pieces. Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot. Place a steamer basket inside the insert on top of the water. Add the cauliflower to the steamer basket and cook high pressure for 0 minutes. After the instant pot beeps, manually release the pressure (be careful the steam is hot coming from the top).
  • Be sure to soak your cashews for at least 5 minutes in hot water. This helps to soften the cashews and makes them easier to blend. The longer you soak them, the softer they are. If you have a blender that isn’t as strong, you may want to soak the cashews longer or use hemp hearts in place of the cashews.
  • If you don’t have leftover rice, you can also use frozen rice (I always have a box of frozen jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s in the freezer) or you can make rice in your instant pot while the cauliflower is steaming. Check out all my tips on how to cook jasmine rice in the instant pot.

Other veggies you could use or add

  • Sauteed onions
  • Sauteed zucchini
  • Sauteed brussel sprouts (shredded)
  • Broccoli (steamed)
  • Carrots (steamed)
  • A combination of cauliflower, broccoli and carrots (steamed)
Cauliflower vegan casserole on a white plate with fork on plate.

Other flavor combinations

This cauliflower casserole has a great base of creamy sauce, caufliower and rice. You can change the seasoning by omitting the Italian seasoning and instead adding:

  • Curry – add 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds in place of the Italian seasoning.
  • Taco – add 1 tablespoon taco seasoning or 2 teaspoons chili powder, ½ teaspoon ground cumin and ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika in place of the Italian seasoning.
  • Cajun – add 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning in place of the Italian seasoning.
  • Green chile – add 1 can of green chilis and ½ teaspoon of ground cumin in place of the Italian seasoning.

What to serve with vegan cauliflower casserole

The cauliflower rice casserole is quite filling on it’s own so you can serve it with salad or soup for a full meal or use it as a side dish to serve more people. Here are some great options on what to serve along side cauliflower vegan casserole.

Common questions

Casserole dish filled with vegan cauliflower casserole.

How to soak cashews

There are 4 different ways to soak cashews. All of these methods work great, so just choose the method that works best for what you have and how much time you have. In all of these options, you will want to discard the soaking water before using the cashews to make the sauce.

  • Boiling water – if you have an electric kettle this tends to be the easiest option. Bring water to a boil in the kettle. Once water is boiling, pour the water over the cashews in a cup or bowl and allow the cashews to soak at least 5 minutes.
  • Stove – bring water and cashews to a boil on the stove. Allow the water to boil at least 3-5 minutes to soften cashews.
  • Microwave – in a large bowl or glass, add the cashews and just barely cover them with water. Microwave for 2 minutes. The water will come to a boil in the bowl/jar during this time. Let cashews sit in microwave at least 5 minutes (the glass jar or bowl will be hot). Carefully remove the cashews from the microwave with oven mits.
  • Counter – soak cashews in fresh water on the counter for 6-8 hours. If you will be soaking the cashews longer, move them to the fridge.

What if you don’t have leftover rice?

This recipe uses leftover rice to help speed up the cooking time. I always have cooked rice in the freezer or in the fridge from my weekly meal prep to use in recipes like this. You can make fresh rice (1 cup dry of rice = 2.5-3 cups cooked rice) or you can use frozen rice (homemade or store bought from Trader Joe’s).

What are the best white beans to use

All white beans tend to have thin skin and blend up well to make a creamy sauce. The two I use interchangeably are:

  • Cannellini beans
  • Great northern white beans

I buy these beans in cans and they blend up so well. Other great options include navy beans and lima beans. I do not recommend chickpeas (garbanzo beans) since they will make the sauce a bit thicker than you want.

Can you make this cauliflower casserole in advance

Yes! You can steam the cauliflower and make the sauce in advance, up to 2 days. Assemble everything but the breadcrumb topping ahead of time. When you are ready to make this casserole, combine the ingredients for the breadcrumb topping, spoon it over the top and bake at 425F for 15 minutes right out of the fridge or 10 minutes if you allowed it to come up to room temperature at least 30 minutes – 1 hour before baking.

Can you freeze leftovers

Yes! This casserole freezes very well. I would recommend scooping individual servings into something like Soupercubes to freeze in. Once frozen solid, you can transfer the individual servings to a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge 4+ hours up to overnight. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven once defrosted.

Storing leftovers

Fridge: Store leftover cauliflower casserole in the fridge up to 5 days. You can either cover the casserole dish or transfer the casserole to an air-tight container to store in the fridge.

Freezer: Store leftovers in the freezer for up to 2 months. Be sure to put the name of the dish, the date, the use by date and reheating instructions if needed on the container so reheating is easy. Check out the tips above on how to freeze leftovers in single servings.

How to reheat leftover casserole

From the fridge or defrosted from the freezer, you can reheat cauliflower casserole in the microwave (1-1:30 on high heat) or in the oven 350F for 10 minutes until warm.

Vegan cauliflower casserole in white dish with scoop removed.

Substitutions

  • Cauliflower – you can use any of the veggies listed above. Broccoli or sauteed brussel sprouts would be great alternatives.
  • Rice – you can also use cooked pasta or cooked quinoa in place of the rice.
  • Cashews – if you are nut free or need an alternative to cashews, hemp hearts work great! Hemp hearts do not need to be soaked ahead of time either. You could also use raw sunflower seeds, but those will require soaking just like the cashews.
  • White beans – white beans give the sauce a thick, creamy texture. If you cannot tolerate beans, you could use 1 cup of cashews (soaked) in place of the beans. You could also use cooked potatoes in place of the white beans as well.
  • Vegetable broth – the vegetable broth helps to make this casserole taste like it’s been cooking longer than it has. You can use chicken broth or chicken stock in place of the vegetable broth or you can use water as well.
  • Coconut aminos – these are a gluten free and soy free alternative to soy sauce. You can use gluten free tamari or soy sauce in place of the aminos. You can also omit them completely if needed.
  • Spices – check out the other spice ideas for alternative spices you can use.
  • Almond flour – you can use almond flour or almond meal in this recipe. You can also use ground sunflower seeds, ground cashews or gluten free breadcrumbs in place of the almond flour.
  • Avocado oil – you could also use extra virgin olive oil, melted coconut oil or melted ghee or butter in place of the avocado oil.

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Wooden spoon in casserole dish of vegan cauliflower casserole.

Cauliflower Vegan Casserole

$6.15 Recipe/$1.53 Serving
Vegan cauliflower casserole is the perfect comfort food meal or side dish. Made with rice, cauliflower and a creamy sauce, this easy and delcious recipe is the perfect way to use leftover rice or get in more veggies. Naturally plant based, gluten free and dairy free!
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Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cauliflower vegan casserole, rice and cauliflower casserole, vegan cauliflower casserole
Prep Time: 4 mins
Cook Time: 21 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups cooked jasmine rice - $0.47
  • 1 medium head cauliflower - $2.65

Creamy White Bean Sauce

Almond Flour Breadcrumbs

Instructions

  • Preheat oven 425F.
  • Add water to a large pot and add steamer basket. Bring water to boil.
  • Cut the cauliflower off the stem and cut into bite size pieces.
  • Once water is boiling, add cauliflower to steamer basket, cover the pot and cook for 7 minutes or until fork tender.
  • While cauliflower is cooking, soak raw cashews in boiling water. To do this simply pour boiling hot water over cashews and let soak for 5 minutes.
  • Rinse and drain the canned white beans. If you have time, let the beans soak in clean filtered water for 1-2 minutes.
  • Drain the water from the cashews and beans. Add cashews and beans to blender with 1 cup vegetable broth. Blend on high 1 minute until smooth.
  • Once the sauce is smooth, add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 2 teaspoons of italian seasoning. Blend 5-10 seconds.
  • After the cauliflower is fork tender, turn off the heat and remove the lid.
  • Spoon the cooked jasmine rice into the casserole dish. Add the steamed cauliflower over the jasmine rice and then pour the sauce over the cauliflower. Stir well with a spoon until well incorporated. Press down on the cauliflower to flatten out the casserole.
  • In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the almond flour breadcrumbs. Once well combined, spoon the breadcrumbs over the casserole dish.
  • Bake in 425F oven for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes of baking, turn on the broiler. Broil for 3-4 minutes. Keep an eye on the casserole to ensure it doesn't burn. You can move it around the oven a bit to ensure that the top browns evenly.

Notes

Top tips
  • Cut the cauliflower into similar size pieces so that it will steam evenly (you don’t want mushy pieces and hard chunks of cauliflower in the casserole). The cauliflower really doesn’t cook down much more when it’s in the oven, so be sure it’s fork tender before adding it to the casserole dish.
  • Be sure to use fresh cauliflower in this casserole. As cauliflower sits in the fridge it can get bitter and have a strong smell. Fresh cauliflower has green vibrant leaves and the cauliflower is mostly pale white (not yellow).
  • This recipe can be made with a whole cauliflower you break down at home, bagged cauliflower florets from the produce section or frozen cauliflower florets. You want at least 6 cups of cauliflower which is usually a medium head of cauliflower or 2 bags of fresh or frozen cauliflower florets.
  • You can also steam cauliflower in the instant pot. Chop the cauliflower up into similar size pieces. Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot. Place a steamer basket inside the insert on top of the water. Add the cauliflower to the steamer basket and cook high pressure for 0 minutes. After the instant pot beeps, manually release the pressure (be careful the steam is hot coming from the top).
  • Be sure to soak your cashews for at least 5 minutes in hot water. This helps to soften the cashews and makes them easier to blend. The longer you soak them, the softer they are. If you have a blender that isn’t as strong, you may want to soak the cashews longer or use hemp hearts in place of the cashews.
  • If you don’t have leftover rice, you can also use frozen rice (I always have a box of frozen jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s in the freezer) or you can make rice in your instant pot while the cauliflower is steaming. 
Can you make this cauliflower casserole in advance
Yes! You can steam the cauliflower and make the sauce in advance, up to 2 days. Assemble everything but the breadcrumb topping ahead of time. When you are ready to make this casserole, combine the ingredients for the breadcrumb topping, spoon it over the top and bake at 425F for 15 minutes right out of the fridge or 10 minutes if you allowed it to come up to room temperature at least 30 minutes – 1 hour before baking.
Can you freeze leftovers
Yes! This casserole freezes very well. I would recommend scooping individual servings into something like Soupercubes to freeze in. Once frozen solid, you can transfer the individual servings to a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge 4+ hours up to overnight. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven once defrosted.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Store leftover cauliflower casserole in the fridge up to 5 days. You can either cover the casserole dish or transfer the casserole to an air-tight container to store in the fridge.
  • Freezer: Store leftovers in the freezer for up to 2 months. Be sure to put the name of the dish, the date, the use by date and reheating instructions if needed on the container so reheating is easy. Check out the tips above on how to freeze leftovers in single servings.
How to reheat leftover casserole
From the fridge or defrosted from the freezer, you can reheat cauliflower casserole in the microwave (1-1:30 on high heat) or in the oven 350F for 10 minutes until warm.
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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
407
Fat
 
13
g
Carbohydrates
 
60
g
Fiber
 
10
g
Sugar
 
4
g
Protein
 
17
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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