Old-fashioned Cauliflower with Onion Sauce

cauliflower with onion sauce in green bowl

Cauliflower is a delightful fall vegetable, so I was pleased when I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Cauliflower with Onion Sauce. This dish contains cauliflower florets smothered with a rich and creamy sauce made with cream and onion puree. It is then topped with lightly toasted bread cubes.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Cauliflower with Onion Sauce
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

Making the sauteed bread cubes brought back warm memories of my mother in law. She often sauteed bread cubes to lightly toast them when making a topping for casseroles or other dishes. I generally go the easier route when making a bread topping, and use fine bread crumbs and skip sauteing them. But I really liked the larger sauteed bread cubes in this dish, and may have to make them again to top other dishes.

I couldn’t bring myself to use Crisco when I sauteed the bread cubes and instead used butter.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:


  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 large onions

1 cup cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg yolk, beaten

1 head cauliflower

1 slice bread

1 teaspoon butter

Onion Sauce

Remove outer layer from onions, slice and place in a saucepan. Cover with water, and using high heat bring to a boil.Β  Reduce and cook until tender about 15 minutes. Drain, then press through a sieve or puree (I used a Foley mill.) Combine onion puree, cream , salt, pepper, and egg yolk in a saucepan. Using medium heat, heat until the sauce thickens and is on the verge of boiling. Remove from heat.


Cut the florets from the head of cauliflower. Place in a saucepan, and cover with water.Β  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until tender (about 8 -10 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.

Bread Cubes

Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Melt butter in small skillet using medium heat, add bread crumbs. Gently stir occasionally until lightly browned. Remove from heat.

To Serve

Place cauliflower in serving dish. Pour onion sauce over the cauliflower, then sprinkle with sauteed bread crumbs.

28 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Cauliflower with Onion Sauce

  1. I can’t quite imagine taking the time to toast my own bread cubes, but if they really add to the dish, I would. I enjoy both cauliflower and onions, so this looks like a winner. I do think I might sprinkle some finely chopped parsley or something on top for a little color contrast. The lessons of 8th grade home ec die hard.

    1. Oh. . . I never would have thought of it, but I really like the idea of a parsley garnish. The green parsley would look lovely. Parsley seems to be a bit out of style right now, but I’m with you – 8th grade home ec lessons die hard. (And, we did learn a few useful things. )

    1. I hadn’t thought about it until I read your comment, but it makes sense that the toasting is more uniform when done in a skillet prior to adding to the dish.

  2. Oh yes, ditch that crisco! πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ πŸ˜€ butter is better for you anyway. This does sound wonderful.. I don’t have cauliflower on hand but cabbage probably will work out just fine ,if I chop the cabbage up fine.

    1. It’s nice to hear that you approve of my decision to ditch the Crisco. πŸ™‚ The onion sauce would probably nicely complement the cabbage. I think that it would work with a variety of vegetable.

  3. Looks good Cauliflower with Onion Sauce sounds like a nice change from the norm. I’d not heard of sauteed bread crumbs. Such a pleasant memory of your mil. πŸ™‚

    1. My mother in law was a wonderful cook. I learned a lot from her – and to this day am trying to figure out how to crimp the edge of a pie crust as beautifully as she did.

  4. Hi Sheryl, I forgot about Crisco, until you mentioned this. How things change:) Vegetables with sauces seemed to be more popular years ago than they are now. Interesting:)

  5. Reminds me a bit of a recipe I sometimes make to spruce up cauliflower. I mix grated cheddar cheese with mayonnaise and mustard and scoop it over cooked, drained cauliflower flowerettes. Mix. The sauce quickly melts.

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