Seasoned and roasted Cauliflower bites are perfect for dipping into this spicy, vegan nacho cheese sauce. Low-fat and gluten-free!
Super Bowl Sunday is almost here. If you’re looking for a snack that you can eat without guilt while all of your friends and family are stuffing their faces with chips and guacamole, have I got a treat for you. Make that two treats!
There are plenty of low-fat dips out there–I have almost two dozen right here–but I often have trouble finding low-calorie foods to scoop them up with. Homemade baked tortilla chips are fine, but they’re far from calorie free. And I can chomp on only so many carrot sticks before I start to turn orange. These cauliflower bites are the perfect scooper: cooked but still a little crispy and healthy but highly seasoned.
Plus, here is my new favorite party dip. I’ve been making vegan nacho cheese sauce for years, mixing the sauce from my Macaroni and Cheeze with salsa, but I really love this version for its flavor and for the fact that it contains no nuts, seeds, or nut butters. Instead, it gets some of its richness and color from mashed sweet potato.
I start with a base of lightly-flavored cheese sauce and stir in a can of the original Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Chilies, which gives it a medium-spicy flavor. Rotel makes several flavors, so if you’re a spice-lover, you can use their hot version and if you don’t like the spicy, use the mild version. Whichever one you choose, you will be amazed at how rich and cheesy this spicy dip tastes.
Thank you to reader Judith for suggesting Buffalo cauliflower bites for the Super Bowl edition of my newsletter. And thanks for the inspiration from PETA’s Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” and The V Word’s Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. Both recipes look delicious, though I’d skip the oil and substitute my Tofu-Cashew Mayo for the margarine.
For more Super Bowl party ideas, be sure to subscribe to NewsBites. I’ll be mailing out the Super Bowl edition to new subscribers all this week, so it’s not too late.
Roasted Cauliflower Bites with Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
Roasted Cauliflower Bites
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt optional or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder optional
Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
- 1 cup plain sugar-free non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast see note below
- 1/4 cup mashed cooked sweet potato or canned pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons potato starch or cornstarch
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 10-ounce can Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Chilies or salsa diced tomatoes drained and liquid reserved
- chipotle chili powder to taste
Roasted Cauliflower Bites
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
- Cut the cauliflower into individual bite-sized florets. Try to keep them about the same size. Rinse them in a colander under running water. Shake off excess water but don’t dry. Spread them out on the baking sheet.
- Combine all seasonings in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the cauliflower, turning the florets so that all sides are seasoned. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes; turn florets and bake another 15 minutes or until they are beginning to brown in spots. Remove and serve warm with nacho cheese or other dipping sauce.
Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
- Put all ingredients except Rotel tomatoes and chipotle into the blender. Blend at high speed until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking and stirring until mixture becomes very thick. Stir in the drained tomatoes. If sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon or so of the reserved tomato liquid. Check seasoning, and add chipotle powder to taste if you’d like it spicier.
- Serve warm with Roasted Cauliflower Bites, tortilla chips, or crackers or atop burritos and tacos.
Nutritional info is approximate.
Happy, healthy snacking!
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moonwatcherJanuary 26, 2014 at 8:32 pm
These look scrumptious, Susan!! Spicy and warm and full of that sort of “buttery” tasted of roasted cauliflower–without any butter! And the dip looks great too–who knew a nacho dip like that could be so healthy? Wonderful photos too–thanks for giving us NewBites readers the first heads up. 🙂
East Meets West VegJanuary 26, 2014 at 11:41 pm
That cauliflower looks amazing! Sweet potato in the nacho cheese sauce!? Great idea! What a healthy snack for game day!
admattaiJanuary 27, 2014 at 8:56 am
This looks amazing, I’ll have to try it this week!
3girls1appleJanuary 27, 2014 at 9:21 am
This is just what the doctor order!!! I’m starting a vegan challenge at the end of the month. Ahhhh wish me luck…
Owen HogarthJanuary 27, 2014 at 11:35 am
wow this dish is all around amazing. Not only vegan but no additional cholesterol, definitely something to try this weekend while spending some time watching a movie at home.
TraceyJanuary 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm
Does the nacho cheese sauce work on actual nachos? I have some burrito filling in the freezer and thought I would use it to make vegan nachos for the super bowl
Susan VoisinJanuary 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm
Of course! It makes great nachos. I hope you enjoy it!
ProdisJanuary 27, 2014 at 4:39 pm
Thanks, im from Brazil;
Dawn MeischJanuary 27, 2014 at 8:21 pm
Wow, this sauce looks great. We already make your cauliflower cheese sauce weekly. This one looks like a great way to get my 6 year old to eat sweet potatoes.
AnneJanuary 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm
This looks delicious and I am excited to try it! I do have a (somewhat loosely related) question though. My young adult daughter who eats a fairly plant based diet has noticed she gets a stomach ache any time she has foods containing nutritional yeast. Have you heard of this occurring in others?
Robyn B | Modern Day MissusJanuary 27, 2014 at 11:37 pm
Cauliflower is so underrated, isn’t it, and that cheese looks great – a very interesting recipe.
annie @ chase that i loveJanuary 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm
My eyes just got huge. I would eat these like chips and probably not share. Maybe I’d better get extra cauliflower just in case.
Christine (The Raw Project)January 28, 2014 at 4:21 pm
This looks great and the sauce recipe is genius with sweet potatoes, thanks!
AnnieJanuary 29, 2014 at 10:15 pm
Working with what I had in my kitchen, I made these cauliflower bites with your hummus in a blender recipe and the combination was DELICIOUS. The cauliflower bites are also great on their own. I really love your recipes — thanks for all of them!
ColetteJanuary 30, 2014 at 11:59 am
2 of favorite things – califlower and nutritional yeast!!! I’m defintely making this for dinner tonight 🙂 🙂
Lee at Veggie QuestJanuary 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm
Susan, this looks amazing!! I just printed it out. What a fun Super Bowl snack!
Howard RosenbergJanuary 30, 2014 at 3:09 pm
An alternative for the cheese sauce is Nacho Moms fat free vegan “cheese sauces” (there are 3 varieties). They are great tasting and only 10 calories an ounce!
jelloJanuary 31, 2014 at 1:51 am
I hope you’ll tell me what I can use instead of Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Chilies. Can’t find them here.
Susan VoisinJanuary 31, 2014 at 2:00 am
There are a couple of options. You could try making your own by simmering some chopped jalapeños with diced tomatoes. Or you could use a chunky salsa, but drain it some first and add it to taste because 10 ounces will probably be too much.
LacieJanuary 31, 2014 at 2:59 am
Looks so yummy! I love roasted cauliflower and any other veggie roasted too!
I can’t use the nutritional yeast though. Is it an absolute must to have in the recipe? Is there maybe an alternative to the yeast or maybe best to leave it out all together if I can’t have it?
Susan VoisinJanuary 31, 2014 at 7:54 am
It’s the nutritional yeast that gives this most of the cheesy flavor. You could try leaving it out and adding a teaspoon of white miso (reduce the salt), but I can’t promise the results will be as good.
MommyIceJanuary 31, 2014 at 9:55 pm
We just tried this recipe tonight with baked tacquitos & it was a huge hit with the kids & husband! The entire thing was polished off in one sitting & there’s no guilt because it’s so healthy! (Yeah kids, go ahead – eat some more sweet potato!) Definitely planning on taking this dip with me to the Super Bowl party we’re going to on Sunday!
Shawn HedmanJanuary 31, 2014 at 11:23 pm
Would your fantastic cauliflower bites & cauliflower sauce be too much? I love roasted cauliflower? I’m a cayenne fan btw-I carry an organic bottle in my purse along w/my vitamins-you’re sauce ideas are amazing!
Susan VoisinFebruary 1, 2014 at 12:25 am
That would be a little too much cauliflower for me (which is why I made this sauce soy milk-based) but if it sounds good to you, go for it!
CatherineFebruary 1, 2014 at 3:39 pm
Has anyone tried this with regular white potatoes instead of the sweet?
Susan VoisinFebruary 1, 2014 at 4:16 pm
Sweet potatoes give it a little flavor and color but white will work.
KimFebruary 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm
I just made this “cheese” dip for my Super Bowl party this evening. It tastes even more amazing than it looks. Just about to pull the cauliflower out of the oven. Thank you for sharing!!
JCBFebruary 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm
Just made the cauliflower with nacho cheese sauce and everyone loved it. Thank you for a great recipe.
JackieFebruary 2, 2014 at 6:18 pm
Just made this for the Super Bowl. The Nacho Cheese sauce was the best I’ve tried yet! Will definitely be making this often!
JGFebruary 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm
Thank you for this amazing recipe! I made it for the Super Bowl and everyone loved it!
DeannaFebruary 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm
Have got to comment on this recipe! The vegan nacho cheese, for which I did not have rotel tomatoes or any so I used salsa, was fabulous! This “sauce” actually tasted like cheese! Fantastic! I will definitely use on EVERYTHING! First sauce I felt was truly cheese-llike and look forward to making again and again….
MaureenFebruary 4, 2014 at 6:45 pm
This was a huge hit at 2 Super Bowl parties! We will make this again and again . . ..
CarryFebruary 5, 2014 at 11:19 am
We made this last night for dinner…OMG, it was delicious! My husband and I nearly finished off a whole head of cauliflower. A question: We used raw sweet potato instead of cooked and the sauce didn’t thicken up at all. Do you think they are related or is there another reason why the sauce never really got thick? TIA for your response.
Susan VoisinFebruary 5, 2014 at 11:33 am
I think the sweet potato not being cooked could have been a factor; it takes some cooking for starches to develop; plus, 1/4 cup of mashed cooked potatoes isn’t the same amount of potatoes as 1/4 cup of uncooked potatoes–liquid escapes as it cooks.
Most of the thickening comes from the added starch, so I would make sure you use the full amount of potato or corn starch, even heaping it up a little bit, next time you make it.
CarryApril 7, 2014 at 11:15 am
We made this again last night and upped the raw sweet potato a little. I also cooked it a bit more on the stove. We also subbed 1/4 cup cashews and ~3/4 cup water for the plant milk. It was thicker.
I can’t believe how much this recipe solves my craving for junk food! Thanks!
Garage GymsFebruary 7, 2014 at 2:43 pm
I’m not normally a cauliflower fan, but this looks pretty good. Maybe I’ll give cauliflower a second chance =)
ConnieFebruary 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm
Thanks so much for sharing this! It turned out banging!
deannaFebruary 12, 2014 at 1:57 pm
Susan, I love your recipes! Please share what your favorite ‘non-dairy’ milk is – almond, rice, soy… I try not to use soy but have no problem using it if it makes a difference in the taste.
thanks again for all that you do!
Susan VoisinSeptember 15, 2017 at 9:48 am
I really prefer soy for cooking. I guess my second choice would be cashew.
NicoleFebruary 17, 2014 at 7:55 am
Would arrowroot work in place of the cornstarch?
Susan VoisinFebruary 17, 2014 at 8:26 am
The texture will be a little different but the taste should be the same if you use arrowroot.
kyloFebruary 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm
How long does the nacho sauce keep? or rather how far in advance can I make the sauce?
Susan VoisinFebruary 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm
It should keep for a few days in the refrigerator. It may start to separate, so just be sure to stir it up.
PrincyMarch 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm
I just made this a few moments ago and served them with tortilla chips for snack. My kids (5- and 7- year old girls) and husband LOVED them! Thanks for this terrific recipe!
MaryMarch 3, 2014 at 11:34 am
as a recovering cheese-a-holic, I thank thee! >.<
KaitlinMarch 8, 2014 at 8:06 pm
Just tried the recipe – I love it! Had to stop myself from eating half the head of cauliflower when it came out of the oven. Made the cauliflower recipe as-is, except with no salt. Thanks for posting it, I really like your site!
JennyMarch 21, 2014 at 2:29 am
I just wanted to send a big THANK YOU for this website!
A year ago, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I found a program online that is designed to help overcome MS, and the focus is diet (you are what you eat!). I can eat fish a couple of times per week, but besides that, no other meats, no dairy, and the smallest amount of fat possible.
I’ve stuck to this plan for a year now and get lots of ideas from your website. Without it, I wouldn’t have known where to start!
Thanks again!! Your website has truly helped me!
DanielleMarch 31, 2014 at 8:41 pm
Um… I made this a few days ago and the cauliflower and cheese sauce were both awesome.
I made the sauce tonight with pasta shells. Does anyone have that Annie’s boxed mac & cheese, salsa style, in their taste memory bank? Well, this sauce mixed with pasta shells is exactly like it, except WAY BETTER!
note: I do add a chopped garlic clove instead of garlic powder, some (okay, lots of) black pepper, some smoked paprika and extra cumin to the sauce.
JaimeApril 11, 2014 at 8:26 am
I have trouble finding plain, sugar-free vegan yogurt. What brand do you use?
Corrin RaddApril 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm
Made these tonight and we enjoyed them, thanks!