Monday, March 24, 2014

Cheesy Baked Cauliflower Tots (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free)

Bite-sized and delicious, these Cheesy Baked Cauliflower Tots are great for a snack or a low-carb side dish!

Cheesy Baked Cauliflower Tots found on

When a food idea takes off on Pinterest, it can quickly spread around the web, and I know that's where I first saw the idea of finely chopped cauliflower made into cauliflower "Tater-Tots." The original deep-fried Tater-Tots are one of those foods from childhood that I kept liking way into adulthood, and I love the idea of a healthier version made from cauliflower, so the minute I saw this I knew I'd be trying it.  I saw ideas for califlower tots that looked tasty from several other bloggers, but every recipe I found had an ingredient I didn't want to use (like breadcrumbs, cornmeal, heavy cream, or butter) so I started experimenting to come up with my own version.

It took me four tries to make what I thought was a perfect recipe for Cheesy Baked Cauiflower Tots, with just enough cheesy taste but still a little caulflower flavor and slightly crisp from the oven. Along the way I had to buy a Mini Muffin Pan, and using a One Tablespoon Cookie Scoop helped me get them all the right size.  Cooking the cauliflower before we chopped it in the food processor also gave a better result, and we drained the chopped cauliflower to keep the tots as crisp as we could get them.

My nephew Jake was cooking with me when I made the final keeper version of these, and although he's definitely not a cauliflower fan, Jake kept nibbling on them until he had eaten pretty much the entire batch.  And the whole time he kept commenting on how good they were, so even if your family is a little suspicious of cauliflower, you might get them to like the cauliflower tots, and they're perfect for a healthy Meatless Monday dish!  (For more meatless recipes, click on the label Meatless Monday or browse Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index.  If you'd like to see some Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, follow our Meatless Monday board on Pinterest or check out my weekly post for Meatless Monday at BlogHer.)

Coarsely chop up 1/2 large head of cauliflower.

Put cauliflower in a bowl, cover the bowl with cling-wrap, and microwave on high for about 2 minutes.  (If there's any water in the bottom of the bowl, drain the cauliflower before you put it into the food processor.)

Process the cauliflower with the steel blade in the food processor until it's finely chopped (but be careful not to over process so it's starting to get pureed.)  It should still be slightly chunkly.  Drain it again if you see any water in the bottom.

Stir in the reduced-fat sharp cheddar, coarsely grated Parmesan, almond flour, Vege-Sal, Spike Seasoning, and black pepper and mix until it's well-combined.

Then add one egg and mix until the mixture is mostly all coated with egg.

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.  Spray a Mini Muffin Pan with non-stick spray and use a One Tablespoon Cookie Scoop to scoop out rounded scoops of the mixture and put in the muffin pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Turn each tot over and put back into the oven and bake about 15 minutes on the other side.

Here's how they looked after the second 15 minutes of baking.  Serve hot.  Jake and I ate them all, but I doubt these would reheat that well, and they were definitely best right out of the oven.

Cheesy Baked Cauiflower Tots
(Makes 24 small Cauliflower Tots; recipe developed by Kalyn with inspiration from several other bloggers who also made Cauliflower Tots.)

1/2 large head caulflower, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup reduced-fat sharp cheddar
1/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
2 T almond flour
1/2 tsp. Vege-Sal (or a slightly smaller amount of salt)
1/2 tsp. Spike Seasoning (Probably optional, but it does add flavor.  You can substitute another all-purpose seasoning blend that tastes good with cauliflower)
fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400F/200C.  Spray a Mini Muffin Pan with non-stick spray.

Cut away the leaves of the cauliflower, but use most of the inner core part.  Coarsely chop the cauliflower, place in a micro-wave proof bowl, cover with cling wrap, and microwave 2 minutes on high.  (Microwaves can vary so you may need to experiment with the time, but the cauliflower should be just slightly soft.)  Quickly take off the cling-wrap and let the steam escape, and if you see any water in the bottom of the bowl, put the cauliflower into a colander and let the water drain off.

Put the steel blade in the food processor, add the cauliflower, and pulse until the cauliflower is finely chopped but still slightly chunky.  (Be careful not to over process so you don't end up with cauliflower puree!)  If there is any water in the food processor bowl, drain the cauliflower again in the colander.

Put finely chopped cauliflower into a bowl and add the reduced-fat sharp cheddar, coarsely grated Parmesan, almond flour, Vege-Sal or salt, Spike Seasoning (if using), and fresh-ground black pepper. Stir until ingredients are well-combined.  Add the egg and stir until the ingredients are mostly coated with egg.  (You might be tempted to add another egg, but don't.  You'll be surprised how well this sticks together.)

Use a One Tablespoon Cookie Scoop or a steel one-tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop out rounded spoonfuls of the mixture and place it in the mini muffin pan.  Bake 15 minutes.  Carefully turn each cauliflower tot over in the muffin tin and bake 15 minutes more, or until tots are nicely browned on both sides.  Serve hot; these are best served right out of the oven.

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
Cauliflower is a great low-glycemic food for the South Beach Diet, and with the use of reduced-fat cheese these Cauliflower Tots would be a perfect snack or side dish for any phase of the diet.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Cheesy Ideas with Cauliflower You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Cauliflower-Crust Vegetarian Pizza with Mushrooms and Olives ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Caulflower Tots ~ Skinnytaste

Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan
Baked Cauli-Tots ~ Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Cauliflower Gratin with Sharp Cheddar and Parmesan ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Cheesy Cauliflower Tater Tots ~ I Breathe I'm Hungry

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!


  1. Wow!! Well I do really love tater tots and I'm definitely up for trying a healthier version! Love how cheesy these are!

  2. Joanne, when I used to teach school my favorite school lunch was a big bowl of tater tots! (That was years ago, of course, but so yummy.) Hope you try this, I really loved them!

  3. For those of us sans microwave, what do you suggest? Just blanching the chopped cauliflower until tender?

    Looks delicious -- definitely want to try these!

  4. I worry a little about added water from blanching, but might work if you drain well. If you have a really good non-stick pan I might just try sauteeing the cauliflower. I haven't made them without microwaving so you'll have to experiment.

  5. Did you make a sauce to go with these? If not, what do you think might go well? Ranch? Ketchup? Marinara? Something else?

  6. I love your recipes and copy them into my computer cookbook regularly.

    However, would it be possible for you to include the South Beach notes in the "printer friendly" area.

    I always use the printer friendly aspect of your recipe, but then have to go back and get the south beach notes and then I copy it all into the computer.

    Thanks so much and keep up the great work.

  7. Cyndi, Jake put some Sriracha on them, but I didn't think they needed a sauce.

    Russ and Gretchen,
    Thanks for supporting my site. However, I'm not willing to do that for a couple of reasons. First, of all, I can't go back and change all the old recipes (1800+ recipes) and if I change the formatting now people are going to ask me why it's not on the old recipes. Second, I know that more than half the people who use my site aren't South Beach Dieters, so I try to walk a fine line between supporting the SBD people and not annoying the others. And finally, it seems like it would not be too hard to just write on the printed recipe what phase it's for, have you tried that?

  8. Can you substitute coconut flour for the almond flour?

  9. I don't know; I've never tried it and they aren't that similar in flavor.

  10. if you want to make sure there's no water left if you have to blanch it, put it in a salad spinner.
    Can you use regular flour? we're not gluten free here...thanks!

  11. You might be able to use a salad spinner with the cauliflower before it's chopped, but I wouldn't try it with the chopped cauliflower.

    I don't know how it would work with flour; almond flour has more texture and flavor.

  12. Kalyn! I made these last night and really enjoyed them. :) They were so easy and fun to put together.

    A few notes -
    - I steamed my cauliflower in a steamer basket on the stove, worked great.
    - I doubled the recipe and it worked perfectly.
    - I didn't have Spike seasoning so I used Bragg's AP seasoning. It was good. (I need to pick up SPIKE!)

    Thanks again for your great recipes. My husband and I love them and it helps me stay in check with a healthier diet. :)

  13. Becky, so glad you enjoyed them, and thank you VERY much for the tips. I love hearing how people make a recipe work for what they have or prefer!

  14. I wasn't so sure about these, but thought I would give them a try. I followed the directions exactly and mine looked picture perfect! The best thing is my carboholic husband and picky daughter both LOVED these. Thank you Kalyn for a wonder recipe!

  15. Roseanne, so glad they were a hit for you!

  16. Another great sounding recipe Kalyn...thank you. I wonder if these would work for Tater Tot Casserole, using these instead of TaterTots on top of the casserole.

  17. Barb, so glad you like it. I don't think I've had tater tot casserole, but I think these would work. I'd cook them a little less initially so they don't get too brown on the casserole.

  18. I tried to add this to tmy Ziplist recipe box but it added the recipe for "Steamed Green Beans and Carrots with Charmoula Sauce" instead. It very well maybe user error but I wanted to mention it just case.

  19. I have them all ready in the pan. Just waiting their turn for the oven. LOVE your site. I cook MANY of your recipes. I have a question. Never used Almond Flour until today. How do you store it? It says that is expires 2/15 will it really last that long once open? Thanks for all you do on this site!!

  20. Cicily, Ziplist won't work right unless you're on that specific recipe (not the home page.) If you click the recipe title to open that page then you'll be able to save it.

    James, thanks for the nice feedback. Glad you're enjoying the site. I store almond meal (and all my nuts, flour, rice, oatmeal, etc.) in the freezer. I recommend that if you can make room. (I have a big freezer in my garage; I know I'm spoiled!)

  21. YAY! I'm so happy you finally got it right. I will be making these soon :)

  22. Kalyn, I've made these (or something inspired by these) twice now during the last few days, both in mini muffin tins and in regular. I only use microwave to heat milk for hot chocolate, so I simply cooked the cauliflower florets in salted water and drained thoroughly (worked perfectly well; there's no salad spinner in the house). Used some Estonian shredded cheese, and a teaspoonful of hot sweet chilli sauce.

    I forgot to flip them over. I have never had tater tots, so cannot compare if they're similar or not, but these were some lovely cheese and cauliflower nibbles, for sure :)

  23. Pille, so glad you enjoyed them! And good to know that turning them over might be optional. Tater tots are usually deep-fried (which is why they're so delicious) but these are a tasty alternative that's healthier.

  24. Amazing!I love your recype and will prepare it soon!Is great!
    Can I use a silicone mufin forms?

  25. Anastasia, I haven't tried it with silicone muffin pan so I don't really know if the results will be different. I'm guessing it will work though.

  26. Kalyn, these look terrific! I don't eat tater tots, but these little beauties are going on my to-do list!

  27. I made these tonight and omitted the almond flour and they turned wonderfully! I also subbed the spike seasoning w salt/pepper/seasoning salt. It needed it bit more spice for our liking so I may need to hunt down the spike seasoning you mention. It's my first time trying cauliflower. I have snubbed it for a long time based on how it looked. Ha! We will definitely make this again!!

  28. So glad you liked it and good to hear it worked without the almond flour. I really like Spike as a seasoning; usually sold near health foods.

  29. Mine didn't hold together well, what did I do wrong ?

  30. Cherie, no way for me to know, but it's mostly the cooking that melts the cheese and other ingredients together that keeps them together, so if you handled them much before they were cooked that could be why. Maybe give it another try!

  31. The flavor was great, will try again soon. Thank you

  32. I was planning to print this to try next week, but really wish the 'printer friendly version' included a photo like I've seen on other sites. I've got no clue if it's the blog hosting software that controls this feature, but please consider adding this if possible. As it is, I'm having to copy the text and the photo into a word processing doc to make my own. I absolutely don't mind doing this for the wonderful recipes you share - the problem is that you have SO MANY! :-)

  33. Marijka, I wish that was an option, but it's not possible on Blogger.

  34. I think if you treat it like spinach, put it in a clean cotton towel and squeeze the moisture out of it; it would be easier to work with.

  35. Blondie, feel free to do that if it's helpful for you. Mind was not that wet.

  36. Hi Kalyn - I'm new to your site - just discovered it the other day and I'm in love!!

    I know you said that you didn't think they would reheat well, but I wonder why? To me, it seems like they would do fine in a toaster oven at a high heat for a few minutes to crisp them back up.

    Wondering if anyone has tried freezing them. I was thinking about freezing them on a cookie sheet, then bagging them up. Thought maybe they could be reheated from frozen (like you would with frozen "real" tater tots.) Has anyone tried this?

  37. I don’t eat eggs. Any suggestions for substitution?

  38. Sorry but I don't have any experience substituting for eggs.

  39. I made,these last night and we loved them but they stuck to the pan and fell apart. I had to use sprinkle parmesan cheese and now I think that is why...

  40. Shayna, sorry to hear that. I do think the grated Parmesan is more "sticky" when it melts and probably holds them together in a way that the shaker parmesan won't do. And maybe try really spraying the pan well with non-stick spray?

  41. I'm always trying to find ways to sneak more veggies into our meals, so although I'm not a fan of cauliflower I've been considering this recipe for a while. Tonight I finally tried them out, and while my 4 yr old wasn't fooled my 8 yr old thought they were delicious! They definitely still have a cauliflower taste, but they're small enough and crispy enough and have enough cheese that I happily snacked on them till they were gone (had to share with the kids, too). I'm sure I'll be making these every couple weeks for our family. Great recipe! Thanks for helping me get more veggies in!

  42. Any tricks to turning them over? Do you dump them out? I tried to scoop them out but left too much yummy bits behind. Making them for Passover and replace Matzah meal for the Almond flour. Very tasty!

    1. Stephanie, maybe you need more non-stick spray? I don't dump them out, and if they don't come out easily when I try to turn then I use a spoon to go underneath and lift it out. But mine didn't stick much.

      Love how you have adapted the recipe for Passover; good idea! But maybe the extra oil from the almond meal helps them not stick? I am not sure, hope you can get it to work.

  43. We love this recipe and the many variations we have invented ( tonight's had thai chile added to them). The problem I find is flipping them over at the midway point. Am I doing something wrong? they seem to break apart so easily. At the end they are lovely and pop right out of the pan, but the mid way flip klls quite a few. We love your recipes!

    1. Hi Nora,
      So glad you're enjoying the recipes. I'm puzzled about why you (and also Stephanie right above) are having so much trouble with them sticking? The only thing I can think of is use more non-stick spray. Maybe cook a little longer before you flip them. I don't think my mini-muffin pan is anything out of the ordinary, but mine come out easily.

  44. So I made this yesterday and mine were all stuck as well and I used plenty of cooking spray....hard to get them out to flip----:( Good idea, though

    1. I have to think the difference must be what the mini-muffin pan is made out of; wish I knew what mine was made out of. It says "Commercial II" on the pan, but I'm not sure if that's the brand.

  45. Hi Kalyn, this recipe sounds like an amazing and healthy substitute for tator tots (a favorite of mine and my husband's). I did wonder if perhaps after putting them in the mini muffin pan you could freeze them that way, put them in a freezer bag, and then perhaps bake them later? I like to try cooking in bulk as much as I can over the weekend, that way there's less cooking during the week after an 8-hour shift. :) What do you think?


    1. Amy truthfully I'm not sure how that will work but I'd love to hear if you try it.


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