gluten-free sides vegan

Dairy-Free Cauliflower Gratin

August 14, 2013

Gratin (/ˈgrätn/): In the culinary arts, the term gratin refers to a dish that is baked with a topping of seasoned breadcrumbs and cheese. The gratin topping should be golden brown, which can be achieved by baking or by placing the dish under a broiler.

Dairy-Free Cauliflower Gratin

Now you would think that 12+ years of french class (I was in french immersion) would have taught me that but no…the late great Julia Child is responsible for introducing me to this french word. I have a serious obsession with Julia Child. I’ve read her biography “My Life In France” multiple times, paid way too much for an original copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which I then proceeded to lose gah!) and Julie & Julia might be my favourite movie of all time.

Dairy-Free Cauliflower Gratin

Julia is famous for her Potatoes au Gratin recipe which I’ll be honest, I have yet to try. I’m a crispy potato kind of gal. But no surprise, the recipe consists of butter, cheese, potatoes and more butter!!! She is known for saying “if you’re afraid of butter, use cream!” While I wish I could live life this way my stomach would probably rebel against me. I figured this recipe could use a makeover…even if it does make Julia roll over in her grave.


For my version I swapped in cauliflower for potatoes, kept things dairy-free and used my favourite chili flavoured Simply Chips to up the protein and lower the guilt. It doesn’t exactly taste like 5-year aged Gouda, but for being entirely dairy-free this is good. Plus I am proud of my kitchen creations, even if they don’t exactly compare to the original. I think Julia would be proud too 🙂

“Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun.”
Julia Child

Dairy-Free Cauliflower Gratin

  • Yield: 4 sides 1x


  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (warmed)
  • 3 T tapioca starch (any starch or flour will work)
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Simply Chips or Bread Crumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Roast for 15 mins. Remove from oven and flip florets. Roast for another 10 mins until golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile, cook onion on stovetop with 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat for about 5 mins.
  5. Combine warmed almond milk with tapioca starch.
  6. Turn stove down to low and mix almond milk with onions.
  7. Stir until mixture has thickened.
  8. Add in nutritional yeast and salt and pepper.
  9. Combine stovetop mixture with cauliflower and add to an 8 x 8 baking dish.
  10. Crumble Simply Chips or breadcrumbs on top.
  11. Bake in 425 degree F oven for another 20 mins.

Who is your idol? Does anyone love Julia Child as much as I do?


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  • Reply
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey
    August 14, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Oh my gosh. I most definitely should NOT read blogs this early in the morning before I eat breakfast because I am tempted to skip work and immediately make this. I have been LOOKING for a way to make cauliflower taste like potatoes, and while that may never happen, I never even thought to make them au gratin! This is a great idea, and I will be making it as soon as I can get my hands on some cauliflower.

    P.S. I like my potatoes crispy, too, but potatoes au gratin are so flipping delicious that I suggest you try them at least once. I’ll make them when you come to visit. Maybe by the time you get here, I’ll figure out how to make them dairy free 😉

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 14, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      I’ll bring dessert! But actually if the invite is there I’m coming to visit! I try yours (and Julia’s) judgement so I expect some Potatoes au Gratin waiting for me upon arrival!

      Hope you’re feeling better!!!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I’ve never made a gratin but NOW I want to. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks for that tip about gratin – I’ve never made it before, especially not cauliflower. I’ve always been intimidated by Julia’s cookbooks but I did love the movie.

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      Her recipes can definitely be intimidating. I find that even when I deviate or substitute they always turn out well anyway. Now I want to re-watch the movie!

  • Reply
    Em Kathryn
    August 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    This looks so good! I definitely think Julia Child is awesome. Such enthusiasm. I have lots of idols, but right now I’d say its Dean Karnazes (ultrarunner) and Gwyneth Paltrow (obsessed with her new cookbook)! 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      Gp’s cookbook is so good right??? I’ve never heard of Dean Karnazes…googling him now 🙂

  • Reply
    Run like a G!
    August 14, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    That looks interesting and delish!
    I love Julia Child too!
    I think I may have to read her book!!!

  • Reply
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness
    August 14, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Love this!! and i was actually a french major in college, lived there for about a year, etc- and i thought that gratin simply meant it involved cheese, i didnt know the part about the breadcrumbs! you learn something every day!!

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm

      No way! That’s so cool! I did an exchange there in high school and my partner was legit crazy!!! But I had Paris to keep me distracted. I’ve been back a few times. Probably my favourite country to visit! Let’s just drop everything and move to Paris cool?

  • Reply
    Alex@Veggin Out
    August 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    YES I think I do love Julia Child as much as you do!! 🙂 I love her biography “My Life in France,” and I agree that Julie and Julia might be one of the best movies of all time (among many of course 😉 ). Unfortunately I don’t have her cookbook just because I think there’s a lot of meat dishes in it and I’m vegetarian, but I also don’t feel like my cookbook collection could ever be complete without it… someday I’ll have to get it! But in the meantime, I think recipes like this will have to suffice. This really does look wonderful. I love the taste of nutritional yeast, and you also snuck a veggie in which is awesome!

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 14, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Yay!!! Should we start a fan club??? I’ve actually thought about doing a Julia & Davida type spin-off where I recreate Julia’s recipe with a healthier twist! It’s true though, it’s definitely more geared towards the carnivore. She has some great veggie side dishes though.

      Love nutritional yeast too 🙂 Just ran out though, gotta pick more up!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Julia Child is such an inspiration 🙂 love you idea of using cauliflower.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    This looks so good. I love nutritional yeast, it’s SUCH a staple in my kitchen. Cheesy overload!!

  • Reply
    Sarah Cook
    August 14, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Haha, that picture of Julia Child is hilarious! I love that quote- I always try to look at my recipe failures as a learning experience. It’s the only thing that keeps me going!

    I love this gratin- it sounds amazing and your pictures look great!

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      I know right??? She was hilarious! Sometimes I like to watch old youtube videos of her to cheer me up 🙂

  • Reply
    Kathryn Landel
    August 14, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I love that you swapped out the potatoes for cauliflower and made this dairy free! Definitely putting it on my list of recipes to try,

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Thanks Kathryn! Love Julia’s recipes but all the butter and cheese definitely catches up with me. This is a perfect substitute 🙂

  • Reply
    Reba Cox
    August 14, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    This recipe is absolutely perfect. I was wondering how you healthified Julia Childs recipes… and here it is! I love making these kinds of dishes in my cast iron skillet!

  • Reply
    Run like a G!
    August 14, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    Hello! I nominated you for the sunshine award! Check out my blog at

  • Reply
    *CaNdY FiT*
    August 15, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Ohhh if only my tummy could handle cauliflower! Recipes looks so good!

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      Ooooooh noooo! The original recipe with potatoes might be better for you then! Thank you Kierston 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda @ .running with spoons.
    August 15, 2013 at 2:16 am

    So I know we were just talking about cookies on Twitter, but now I’m thinking that I could definitely go for a slice of this. Holy.snap it looks delicious! I love that you experimented and made it your own… Julia would definitely be proud 😀

  • Reply
    August 15, 2013 at 4:17 am

    This looks amazing! I love cauliflower and use it to make rice, mashed “faux-potatoes”, and pizza crust so I’m sure I would love this!

  • Reply
    Kerry Dyer
    August 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    This looks SO good! I need to find more dairy free recipes! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I remembered having gratin for the first time in Munchen (Munich, Germany). It was divine. I want to go back there now. If you’re interested, here is the link to the restaurant review:

    Mmmm I’ve been seeing a lot of cauliflower ingredient that replaces potatoes! I would love to have a bite of the cauliflower gratin, please!

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      How I wish I could jet off to Germany! That restaurant looks incredible. I’m jealous of all your traveling escapades. Pack me in your suitcase next time 😉

  • Reply
    August 16, 2013 at 8:26 am

    This Cauliflower Gratin sounds amazing. I love that you add more protein and less “guilt” in it. 🙂 Can’t wait to give this a try.

  • Reply
    The Road to October
    August 17, 2013 at 2:46 am

    This looks amazing! I love trying new recipes and I’ll have to give this one a shot.
    I love the movie Julie & Julia.

    And @ – my sister actually lives in Munich! I spend three weeks in Bavaria last September. I didn’t try gratin though, I will make a point to do that on my next visit.

    Oh, and thank you for stopping by my blog! 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida @TheHealthyMaven
      August 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Thank YOU for stopping by!!! Julie & Julia is the best isn’t it? All of you world travellers make me so jealous! It’s been forever since I travelled anywhere!

  • Reply
    Johanna GGG
    August 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Julia Childs was never part of my life (though I did enjoy the Julie and Julia movie) but I had a huge crush on cauliflower au gratin and I love your recipe – in fact I feel like combining it with another recipe my mum used to make with crushed up potato crisps on top.

  • Reply
    August 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    This looks amazing! I love Julie and Julia too – such a great movie!

  • Reply
    September 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I just made this and it is totally delicious! Thank you so much for reminding me of a childhood favourite that I can now enjoy misery free 🙂

  • Reply
    December 8, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Oh man… I made this for Thanksgiving and it was TO DIE FOR! Everyone loved it, and it was great left over too. I will make this every year now, and not just at Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing your creative recipes with us- seriously, thank you!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Im gonna give this method a second go tonight since the first round was so delicious! This time- wild rice, spinach and mushroom in lieu of cauliflower…. whaddyathink? Any words of wisdom?

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I was thinking of making this but I went on the ingredients for the Simply chips and found it said- maybe contain milk, nuts, soy!! My daughter is EXTREMELY allergic to dairy so I can’t chance this. Can you please comment and recommend a solution?? Thanks.

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