Epic Winter Veggie Gratin

This lusciously epic Winter Veggie Gratin isn’t your average casserole. Ditch the canned cream-of-craziness, grab some veggies, and meet me in the kitchen!

This lusciously epic Winter Veggie Gratin isn't your average casserole. Ditch the canned cream-of-craziness, grab some veggies, and meet me in the kitchen!

This post is sponsored by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. Love them so!

I hope y’all are hungry because I packed an entire crisper drawer’s worth of veggies into this cheesy little holiday casserole and it. is. awesome!!!

Since my friend’s blogs all seem to have the festive treats game well taken care of, I’m happily stepping away from the baking bonanza this holiday season in lieu of my typical veggie shenanigans. Less time developing cookie recipes (which let’s face it, you already have a zillion of) means I get to spend more time making seasonal produce look so good you’ll want to lick your screen.

Challenge accepted.

This lusciously epic Winter Veggie Gratin isn't your average casserole. Ditch the canned cream-of-craziness, grab some veggies, and meet me in the kitchen!

Epic Winter Veggie Gratin

Tender broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are blanketed with a creamy béchamel sauce with vanilla-infused caramelized onions, Gouda, and Gruyere cheeses, then topped with golden breadcrumbs for a side dish that’s destined to impress!

There are over 2 POUNDS of veggies in this tasty holiday side and, after that first bite you’ll be so glad there are! That’s the best part of a gratin-style casserole, isn’t it? Topping fresh veggies with a luscious cheese sauce that turns every indulgent bite into a swoon-worthy moment.

:: pin it for later ::

Ready to fall in love with your veggies?

Epic Winter Veggie Gratin




Yield 8 servings


  • 1 lb cauliflower florets
  • 8 oz broccoli
  • 8 oz brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 2 cups onion (white or yellow)
  • 1 tsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 4 oz gruyere cheese, grated
  • 4 oz gouda cheese, grated
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 TBSP butter


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Chop your veggies.
  3. Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts until the broccoli turns vibrantly green and all three veggies are somewhere between al-dente and fork-tender. This will take a few minutes, but no longer than 8. When your perfect texture is reached, shock the veggies in an ice bath (more info here) to halt the cooking process. No mushy veggies here! Alternatively if you'd prefer softer veggies, feel free to let them cook a smidge longer and/or skip the ice bath.
  4. Place veggies in a casserole dish and set aside.
  5. Drizzle a medium pot (one deep enough to make your cheese sauce in) with a little bit of olive oil or butter and caramelize your onions, stirring occasionally. Add the vanilla about halfway through as the onions just start to brown and continue cooking until onions are golden and soft.
  6. Turn your burner to medium-low heat and add 1/4 cup (4 TBSP) butter.
  7. Once your butter has melted, slowly mix in flour a tablespoon at a time, whisking the mixture together as you go.
  8. Once your roux has begun to form a paste with the onions, add room temperature (or slightly warmed) milk and cream, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens.
  9. Remove your pot from heat (it will begin to thicken even further at this part) and slowly add 1/2 the cheese.
  10. Right about now you'll want to dive in face first with a crusty baguette. I'll look the other way if you do, but try to save the sauce for the veggies, will ya!?
  11. Pour sauce over veggies, then top with the cheese you set aside earlier.
  12. Next melt 1 TBSP of butter in a small skillet and add breadcrumbs. Mix constantly while toasting, then sprinkle over casserole.
  13. Bake on center rack at 350 for 20 mins.
  14. Prepare to swoon.


This recipe feeds a small army, making it the perfect side dish for a family gatherings or potluck parties with friends or co-workers.

Keeping thing small scale? Don't fret! For a smaller serving, the recipe is easily halved.

Epic Winter Veggie Gratin :: A trio of tender winter veggies blanketed with the most AMAZING cheese sauce, this creamy gratin recipe is out of this world!

substitution shenanigans:

If your cheese stash is limited, feel free to use all Gouda or all Gruyere. I love the recipe with a little of both but it will still rock with just one or the other. No cream handy? No problem! You can use all milk. I’ve used both whole milk and 2% and they both work great! Crazy for breadcrumb toppings? Feel free to double the recipe! As for the veggies, I’d love you to eat broccoli, cauliflower, AND brussels sprouts but if there’s a super picky eater in the bunch you can make it with just broccoli and cauli or simply a metric ton of cauliflower.

I’m pretty insistent that this recipe could make a cruciferous veggie superfan out of any hot-blooded cheese-loving individual though, so give it a try – will ya!?

so . . . how was it!?

Fantastic! We’ve had this veg-tastic side dish twice already and ADORE it! Using Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to infuse the caramelized onion delivered the most wonderful complexity and flavor to the béchamel sauce. Unexpected, yet oh-so-welcome in this dish, the vanilla plays off the sweetness of the golden onions and gives the creamy sauce that little something extra. This is my first time using vanilla in a savory dish and I’m so excited to do so again – it’s the ultimate secret ingredient to take your favorite cold-weather side dish to the next level!

Long story short, this easy cheesy gratin is positively divine; I hope you get a chance to try it and warm up a chilly night with a big plate of comfort food!

hungry for more?

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Feta recipeZucchini au Gratin CasseroleSlow Cooker Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup

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  • Annie

    Have you ever tried freezing this dish before step 12? I made two batches and am hoping to spread it out to another week 🙂

    • Hey Annie! I haven’t but it may work! I think if anything the veggies will be softer than usual but for the sake of food science I say try it 😉 If anything you can always add some broth to it once you thaw it back out and turn it into cheesy broccoli cauliflower veggie soup, lol!

  • Mook

    I was a little sceptical about the vanilla. But wow that’s a great addition.
    Instead of boiling the veggies I baked in the oven at 350 till I got a little pot of a char. It turned out fantastic!!!!

    • Ohmygosh I love that you used roasted veggies; how fantastic! Thank you so much and I’m so thrilled you enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Amelia

    This looks amazing! I’ve been searching for a new winter veggie side dish! Can’t wait to try! My local grocery store does not carry gruyere cheese, what would be the best substitute??

    • I’m so excited you’ll be trying it Amelia! You can use extra gouda in place of the gruyere (I’d stick with regular, not smoked) or use Havarti cheese (it’s super creamy!). Lots of tasty options!

  • lindsay

    Hi Jenn, thoughts on making any part of this in advance?

    • Jenn

      Hey Lindsay! Go for it! I would cook the veggies until al dente since they’ll soften a bit more as they soak up some of the sauce in the fridge. Make everything but the bread crumbs (toss ’em together before serving) and you should be good to go! Hope you adore it as much as we do!

  • Jenn this looks SO good. I make a brussels sprout gratin this time of the year that’s really tasty. I’m intrigued about the use of vanilla here!

  • Ok, I gotta tell you, I am not crazy about Brussels sprouts, but when you add the cauliflower, broccoli and cheese…i’m on board!

  • Oh my goodness, this looks and sounds mind-blowingly delicious!!

  • I’m not a fan of Brussels sprouts but I’d probably eat them in this! Yum!

  • Hahah so glad there is no canned cream of craziness as you called it here! A nice home made veggie gratin : ))

  • You know I love this. Anything packed with veggies and cheese makes my heart go pitty patter.

  • Jenn, this looks like the perfect comfort side dish!

  • This is so crazy epic! LOVE it!

  • As if I needed another reason to love you – you totally stole my heart with this one! I’m always trying to (subtly, lol!) forcefeed my family veggies this time of year, but this dish would sell itself. No one would be able to resist this!!!

  • You cannot go wrong with all that cheese! Truly epic!

  • This sounds incredible!!!

  • I love the addition of brussels sprouts! My dad is big on them all year but not many people seem to like them. But with a dish like this, I am sure I could win a lot of people over!

    • Jenn

      Thanks Kacey! It’s definitely a great way to introduce someone to brussels sprouts – all the veggies bring out the best in each other! The super creamy cheese sauce doesn’t hurt either! 😉

  • The vanilla in here is pure genius!

    • Jenn

      Thank you Dorothy!

  • Amazing. Lifetime veggie here and that sounds different and delicious. Pinned and now following. Ty x

    • Jenn

      Thanks Katie! Happy to have you following along – welcome to Peas and Crayons! 🙂

  • Most of the time I get far more excited about veggie recipes than desserts. This is one of those times. This looks absolutely AMAZING! And I know my family will love this!

    • Jenn

      Thanks Michelle! I’m totally with you on the veggie excitement – I love how vibrant and flavorful they are!

  • Holy cow! This definitely is EPIC! I need to try it – for the cheese and for the vanilla!

    • Jenn

      You totally need this 🙂 Thanks Anna!

  • Adding vanilla extract to this gratin is a genius idea!! I can’t wait to try it.

    • Jenn

      Thanks Jenny! <3

  • Putting vanilla in a veggie gratin is somewhere between genius and crazy and I LOVE YOU FOR IT! Want.

    • Jenn

      Love you too kiddo! It’s so perfect with the caramelized onion béchamel, it was kismet! 😉

  • Epic is right – this looks amazing Jenn!

    • Jenn

      Thanks Sharon! <3

  • Hi Jen! I just found you on the net and am so glad I did! I love this post. I’m a vegetarian and it can’t get any more delicious than this for me! I am so hungry right now! 🙂 (pinned btw)

    • Jenn

      Hi Rakhee! I’m so glad you found me! Thank you and welcome to Peas and Crayons! 🙂

  • I don’t know what’s more stunning! the photos, this recipe or all that CHEESE!!!!!

    • Jenn

      Thanks Cheryl!!! Hope you get a chance to break out the cheese (and veggies – duh!) and try it <3

  • This is absolutely my favorite recipe I found today! Those beautiful green brussels sprouts!! They are calling my name! I love veggies so very much and this beautiful dish needs to happen. Thanks for sharing! Pinning!

    • Jenn

      You’re so sweet – thank you Sara! Brussels sprouts have never had it so good! 🙂