Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder (A Low-Carb Alternative to Baked Potato Soup!)


Gluten-Free Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder is thick and creamy, and a low-carb alternative to Baked Potato Soup!

When I was in high school (which feels like 4 years ago, but was actually a million, sob!) students were given 30 minutes to eat lunch everyday. Starting senior year we were allowed to leave campus during that time, to do what whatever it is that seniors do, as long as we were back before the next period started.

Sweet, sweet freedom!

Except, it always took 5 minutes to round everybody up, then another 5 to argue over who’d have to sacrifice their parking spot (a rare and precious jewel,) which meant that by the time my friends and I arrived at our dining destination, we’d have approximately 10 minutes left to eat before having to turn around and head back.

What’s that you say? Save yourself the trouble (and the parking spot) and eat in the cafeteria? Pssht! We were SENIORS, darnit!


Anyway, we weren’t left with many options with such a short amount of time to spare, so the girls and I usually resorted to inhaling chalupa value meals from Taco Bell (I know,) devouring cheese fries from A&W (I KNOW,) or slamming bowls of soup from Panera (I know!) during those super speedy lunch runs.

Thick and decadent, Panera’s creamy Baked Potato Soup with bacon was my favorite option of the three (what with it not being a chalupa or platter of cheese fries and all!) Perfect for the fall and winter, I decided to create an updated, non-teenage metabolism version of the soup using one of my favorite potato swap outs – grated cauliflower. (But, uh, kept the bacon… ;) )

I first fell in love with grated cauliflower a few months ago when I made Key West Grilled Chicken with Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower “Rice”, where I used grated cauliflower as a low-carb rice alternative. Guess what I found when I sauteed some of the leftover grated cauliflower though? It tasted like hash browns!

Guess what I found when I replaced the potatoes in Baked Potato Soup with grated, steamed cauliflower? Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder that’s not only rich and creamy like the real thing, but low-carb to boot. Whee!

Clocking in at 265 calories, with 7 grams of carbs and 15 grams of protein per serving (per Livestrong’s Recipe Calculator Tool) I could not be more pumped about this chowder. You will LOVE it!

Start the Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder by chopping 1 celery stalk and 2 garlic cloves. I used my food processor for all the prep work in this recipe so, instead of repeating myself 100 times, just know that you can hand chop / use a box or flat grater for everything you see below!

Remove the celery and garlic to a plate or bowl, then fit the processor with a grating blade and grate 1/2 head of cauliflower, to equal 4 cups grated cauliflower.

Like I said, a box or flat grater will do the job just fine, or you can just chop the cauliflower up real small!

Next grate up 2-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese to be used in both the chowder, and as a garnish. I recommend grating cheese fresh for things like soups and chowders, as the pre-grated stuff is coated in, well, stuff, that makes it not melt as well as fresh. If you’re in a pinch though, by all means – dooo iiit!

Next, chop up 8 strips center-cut bacon, to be used in both the chowder and as a garnish. I know you were panicking. ;)

K. Prep work’s done. Time to get cookin’!

Heat a big ol’ soup pot over medium heat, then add the chopped bacon and let it cook low and slow until it’s nice and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, then remove all but 1 Tablespoon drippings from the pot.

Next add the chopped celery and garlic, season with salt and pepper, then saute until the celery is nice and tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the grated cauliflower to the pot, along with 1 teaspoon onion powder and 2 Tablespoons water, then season with more salt and pepper, and place a lid on the pot to steam the cauliflower until tender. This will take between 5-7 minutes, and just give it a stir every now and again.

Once the cauliflower is tender, add in 1-3/4 cup chicken broth and 2 cups 2% milk.

Also throw in a dash (or 3, or 30) of your favorite hot sauce. This will give the chowder a fabulous flavor, and pretty orange color.

Almost done! Bring the chowder up to a boil then slowly drizzle in 2 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill White Rice Flour) whisked into 1/4 cup chicken broth while stirring constantly.

The flour will make the chowder lusciously thick and wonderful in just a couple of minutes.

Finally, turn off the heat then stir in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese until smooth, then stir in half the cooked bacon. Taste, then add more salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce if neccessary.

Ladle the thickened, cheese and bacon-laced cauliflower chowder into bowls, then top with remaining shredded cheese, cooked bacon, and sliced green onions (or chopped parsley, if you’re in a pinch!)

Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder

serves 8


Gluten-Free Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder is thick and creamy, and a low-carb alternative to Baked Potato Soup!


  • 8 slices center-cut bacon, chopped and divided
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped OR 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 cups shredded or grated cauliflower (1/2 large head)
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 3-4 dashes hot sauce (or more or less)
  • 2-1/2 cups (12oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 green onions, chopped (optional)


  1. Whisk together flour and 1/4 cup chicken broth in a small bowl then set aside.
  2. Saute bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate then remove all but 1 Tablespoon drippings from the pot. Add chopped onion (if using,) celery, and garlic to the pot then season with salt and pepper and saute until vegetables are tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower and onion powder (if using) to the pot then stir to combine. Add water then place a lid on top and steam cauliflower until tender, stirring a couple times, about 5-7 minutes. Add remaining chicken broth and milk then turn up heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Slowly whisk in flour/chicken broth mixture while stirring, then turn down heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until chowder has thickened. Turn off heat then stir in 2 cups cheddar cheese a little at a time until smooth, then stir in half the cooked bacon. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce if necessary. Serve topped with remaining shredded cheese, cooked bacon, and green onions, if desired.


  • Serves 8, 265 calories, 7 grams of carbs, and 15 grams of protein per serving
  • Use a food processor's chopping and grating blades to make prepping veggies and cheese a breeze!

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

I am so jazzed over this recipe!! I mean of course grated cauliflower isn’t going to have the same, super-smooth mouth feel as cooked potatoes, but it is DARN close.

As for the thick and creamy consistency of the chowder? I’ll let the spoon speak for itself…

Hope you’ll give this chowdah a try!


More Chowder Recipes You’ll Love!

Creamy (No Cream!) Sweet Corn and Potato Chowder >


Creamy Pepper Jack and Potato Chowder >

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  1. Jill 11.28.2012

    I have been looking for a great cauliflower soup recipe, this looks delicious! I WAS going to make chili on Sunday, but not anymore! :)

  2. Wendy 11.28.2012

    I cannot wait to make this soup. Sounds delicious and much healthier than the loaded baked potato version…

  3. […] (adapted from Iowa Girl Eats) […]

  4. […] the news and they are talking about a new perfume. No, not from Calvin Klein… but from Yum! Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder (A Low-Carb Alternative to … ***Looking for the recipes you saw on KCCI this morning? Click here for the Orchard Turkey Burgers […]

  5. Jenni 12.27.2012

    What do you think about making this in the crockpot? I have a potato soup recipe that calls for shredded hashbrowns.

  6. […] to make this Iowa Girl Eats’ Cauliflower Chowder again. Thanks for sharing the great recipe Iowa Girl!  I can’t wait to try out more of her […]

  7. […] cauliflower as an alternative for potatoes (like here, here or […]

  8. katie 01.03.2013

    wonderfully terrific soup! just delicious! has anyone tried freezing it? I know some milk based soups dont do so well in the freezer.

  9. Tara 01.11.2013

    Is there a way to do this in the crockpot?!

  10. Amy 01.15.2013

    YUM! I made this yesterday and I’ll admit, I was skeptical since I’m not a fan of cauliflower. I’m definitely a convert now, though! The only change I made was substituting one cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of milk. Leftovers today are even better. Thank you for this deliciously satisfying recipe!

  11. Ashley 01.19.2013

    This sounds fantastic! How much is 1 serving? I have a family of 5 boys, so I was just wondering if I should double or triple this recipe. Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.21.2013

      This made a HUGE pot, so I think it’d be enough for 5 boys. Maybe just have a salad or side to fill up on if supplies run low!

  12. Megan S 01.21.2013

    I made this last night! DELISH! A winner indeed …

  13. Jeanne 01.22.2013

    Made this soup tonight….I doubled the recipe so I could freeze portions to take a soup for lunch while at work. It will be a nice quickie to grab in the morning since I tend to be in a rush! It has a nice rich consistency. I didn’t have any 2% milk so I substituted it with evap milk and worked out quite well. Thank you for this recipe….just bought lots of cauliflower to try some other recipes also.

  14. […] the Blogosphere Cauliflower Cheese by The English Kitchen Pureed Cauliflower by Kalyn’s Kitchen Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder by Iowa Girl Eats Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Fried Eggs by Love & Lemons CrockPot Roasted […]

  15. Shannon O'Neall 01.28.2013

    My husband is gluten sensitive. This looks amazing but I noticed it requires flour. No problem! I’ll use cornstarch instead. I think half the amount of the flour should be perfect! Can’t wait to try this on him :)

  16. […] Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder – Iowa Girl Eats […]

  17. Jessica 02.11.2013

    Amazing! I made this tonight with a couple substitutions (fat free milk, 1/2 FF cheddar & 1/2 cheddar with 2% milk) to lower the calories even more and it was a hit for everyone! Definitely going to do this again and put into a regular rotation. Yum!

  18. […] Source: Iowa Girl Eats […]

  19. Tricia H 02.26.2013

    I made this tonight and is was delicious, thanks for the recipe!

  20. Darcy P 03.07.2013

    I rarely leave comments on blogs, but I just HAD to this time. This is SOOOO good! Thank you for sharing it.

  21. […] little cauliflower soup. Of course that’s my Cliff Notes version of the recipe. Check out Iowa Girl Eats for the full […]

  22. Stephanie 03.25.2013

    Just tried this tonight. My 4 year old gave it a thumbs up. I doubled the recipe. Wasn’t enough. Will have to triple next time. Thanks so much.

  23. Tammy T 04.06.2013

    I am addicted to this soup, thank you for sharing!

  24. Shay 04.17.2013

    Sounds yummy! Has anyone tried this in a crock pot?

  25. jamie 04.24.2013

    I made this chowder some months ago, and it was so delicious! I froze what I couldn’t eat after a day in individual serving sizes and just had it again today. It was just as delicious as I remember, maybe more. I like to top it with lebna (aka kefir cheese aka tart, strained Middle Eastern super-thick yogurt). I even sprinkled some paprika on it! It’s great to have tasty and filling low-carb alternatives to fav foods, especially for diabetics :) Thanks for this recipe!

  26. Carolyn 06.11.2013

    Can you use x-gum in instead of flour to make it gluten free?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 06.12.2013

      I have actually never worked with xantham gum. Let us know how it turns out though – I’m curious to know!

  27. everwondering 06.20.2013

    I made this tonight, and it was a HUGE hit! I was extremely skeptical about the whole cauliflower thing, especially since I’m not a big fan, but wow. Amazing! If I hadn’t made it myself, I never would have guessed it was cauliflower and not potato. So delicious, and the family really enjoyed it too. Will definitely make it again. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. :)

  28. […] the link to the original recipe which gives much more detailed instructions than I ever could or could ever follow myself. I pretty […]

  29. Joni 09.25.2013

    I am so going to try this but before I do I have a question… on the serving size. what is it? a cup a cup and a half per serving? please let me know. I want to put it in individual containers per seving size for easy quick lunches and dinners… thank you

  30. […] recipe from Iowa Girl Eats  […]

  31. Trende 10.05.2013

    I loved this soup! I tweaked the recipe three ways:
    1) Roast the florets on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes at 500 degrees. It brings out the flavor like crazy!
    2) I used Unsweetened Almond Milk instead of 2%. Use a bit less.
    3) I substituted soy cheddar cheese for regular cheddar. I used just 1 cup instead of 2 and it tastes great.
    This soup is so healthy and so filling! Thanks Kristen!

  32. […] love how grated cauliflower mimics potato in Low-Carb Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder. This soup is super thick, creamy, and luxurious. and is a lower-carb alternative to Baked Potato […]

  33. […] It has gotten cold quickly here. Like freezing temperatures and snow cold. I love soup and can eat it all year long, but this weather makes me really want soup. This low-carb version of loaded baked potato soup looks amazing. One of my favorite healthy swaps is making mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.  How did I not think of this??? […]

  34. Tami A 10.28.2013

    Got the link from a sister in Ohio – but wondered if skim milk would do?

  35. […] after a long day day of work or trying to figure out what to eat for every meal. Last week I made bacon cheddar cauliflower chowder soup. I followed the recipe almost exactly, or at least to my ability (since, to be real, I’m […]

  36. Camille 11.12.2013

    Found you on Pinterest. I tried this recipe last night, and I’m glad I did. It’s a great alternative to potato soup!! Thanks for sharing.

  37. Debbie 11.12.2013

    Thanks for the recipe! I followed it almost to a T, but used fat free half and half instead of milk. I also used gluten free flour as the thickener, but think next time I will use cornstarch. I doubled the salt, pepper and hot sauce to give it more flavor. Hubby really liked it and suggested using chorizo (sausage) instead of bacon next time! Thanks!

  38. Kris McKinney 11.13.2013

    I made the soup today, told
    My kids it was baked potatoe soup. They had seconds. It was very tasty. Thank you for the recipe.

  39. Alyssa Bencivenga 11.22.2013

    My boyfriend made this for me last night… it was AMAZING! I am very happy to have stumbled on your blog via pinterest. Much love from California all the way to Iowa :)

  40. […] Original recipe from Iowa Girl Eats. […]

  41. […] this is a deliciously light version of the classic potato […]

  42. Althea 01.10.2014

    How many fat grams in this chowder? I didn’t see fat grams listed. Thank you so much. This chowder looks so good and I will try after I make sure on fat grams. Great site!
    Thank you, Althea

  43. […] Recipe courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats Serves 8 […]

  44. Cathy 01.17.2014

    I JUST made this and OMG – how do you not eat the entire pot in one sitting! This is REALLY good :) I gotta share some with my babysitter and the neighbors otherwise I will eat the whole pot. Thank you!

  45. […] kväll prövade vi Cauliflower Chowder – som var menad som ett alternative till potatis-soppa – och medans den var god, tänker jag […]

  46. Heather 01.27.2014

    I was wondering about the carb count..nutrition facts please?

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