What’s cooking today: Cauliflower-broccoli cheese in the air fryer

What’s cooking today: Cauliflower-broccoli cheese in the air fryer
Tony Jackman’s cauliflower and broccoli cheese cooked in an air fryer. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Cauliflower cheese is deliciously old-fashioned, but we’ve updated it for you to make in the air fryer. And we’ve thrown in broccoli as well.

More than one method of cooking is involved in this recipe, and you’ll need your beloved old stove as well as the air fryer glaring at you from the countertop. You need to blanch the brassicas, refresh them, make a béchamel sauce, and turn that into a cheese sauce.

Then it’s all put together and finished in the air fryer.

(Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish)


1 small or 1/2 a large head of broccoli

1 small or 1/2 a large head of cauliflower

Florets blanched and drained

For the béchamel:

2 cups full-cream milk

1 bay leaf

3 Tbsp butter

I heaped Tbsp flour

Salt and white pepper to taste

A few gratings of nutmeg

2 cups of grated mature Cheddar cheese


Cut the florets of the broccoli and cauliflower and discard their stalks.

Bring plenty of salted water to a boil and plunge the florets in, pushing them under the water with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Two minutes later, drain them through a colander over the sink. Immediately run cold water through to hold the colour of the broccoli. Drain well.

Bring the milk to near boiling point in a pot, with the bay leaf, on the stove and take it off the heat. It must not boil.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, then take it off the heat and vigorously stir in the flour to make a roux.

Discard the bay leaf from the milk. On a moderate heat, add a little of the hot milk at a time to the roux while stirring vigorously. Continue until all the milk is used up. Turn the heat down low and stir for about 15 minutes for the flour to cook out. Season with salt and white pepper, lightly, and grate in some nutmeg. Stir in the grated Cheddar cheese until combined.

Pour the béchamel cheese sauce over the brassica florets in the pot, and grate more cheese on top.

Preheat the air fryer to 180℃.

Cook in the air fryer for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese topping has turned golden brown. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido. Order his book, foodSTUFF, here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

This dish is photographed in a bowl by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.


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