March 22, 2012

Secret Low-Sodium White Sauce

Shhh. I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

White sauce. It’s usually made of milk, cheese, butter, and other ingredients that can be full of sodium.

But here’s what people don’t know. And please, try to contain your reaction as we don’t want to draw attention to this news.

White sauce doesn’t need milk, cheese, or butter. (Are you sitting down?) White sauce can actually be made with one, simple ingredient: Cauliflower. Steamed cauliflower that gets pureed with a little bit of water and, if you’re feeling up to it, a head of roasted garlic.

Amazingly, the result is spoon-licking, creamy, spread-able, bake-able white sauce. That you’ll literally dig into with your fingers. And not be embarrassed about it.

I’ve used it on pizza, on pasta, on macaroni salad, on a spoon. And when you add fresh herbs — like thyme and basil — or spices — like curry or nutmeg — the results only get better.

As for that pizza thing I mentioned, I topped my white sauce with low-sodium sundried tomatoes (Sonoma is my go-to brand), sliced trumpet mushrooms, some freshly torn basil, and spinach. But you could even go the sweet savory route with some sliced pears and even low-sodium ricotta. Talk about fancy pie.

Did I mention how versatile this low-sodium cauliflower white sauce is? Or how easy it is to make?

I did? Good. Because once you make it, you’ll want to keep making it — whether you use it as a dip or a low-sodium substitutios for mashed potatoes. Or for the low-sodium pizza recipe below.

So go ahead. Buys some cauliflower. Get steaming. Make this sauce. Don’t tell anyone.

And chow on.



Crispy Low Sodium Pizza Crust

  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup semolina flour
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt-free garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¾ cups cold water
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Secret Low-Sodium Cauliflower White Sauce

  • 1 head garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1/4 teaspoon mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Toppings: sliced trumpet mushrooms, low-sodium (and reconstituted) sundried tomatoes, basil, spinach
  • Red chili pepper flakes, to taste


Preheat the oven to 425dg F.

Before we get started on the dough, let’s get our garlic roasting. Cut off the very top of your head of garlic just so the cloves are exposed. Sexy.

Tear off a square of foil, place your garlic head in the center, drizzle the top with a little olive oil, fold the foil around the garlic (nice and snug), and then place the whole package in an oven-safe dish. Place the garlic into the oven and cook until it softens, browns, and takes on that sweet, roasted flavor, about 45 minutes to an hour. Set a timer and when it’s finished, remove from the oven to cool.

While the garlic roasts, keep your hands busy by making your pizza dough. You can make this recipe in a large bowl. But I like using my stand-up mixer with the dough hook for more manpower. Either way, begin by stirring yeast and lukewarm water together in a bowl (or directly in your mixer). Add ¼ cup of the all-purpose flour and ¼ cup of semolina. Mix well with a whisk and let it sit until bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Combine the remaining flour, semolina, black pepper, garlic powder, and dried oregano in another bowl. Add to the yeast mixture and add the cold water and olive oil as well. Stir (or turn on that mixer) and combine all the ingredients until it forms a dough. It will take a few minutes to come together, so be patient! As for texture, the dough shouldn’t be dry but not too sticky either…somewhere right in between. Add a little extra flour if needed. Or a touch of water. And then cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm corner of your kitchen until doubled in size, about an hour.

Now let’s make our cauliflower sauce. Fill a medium sized pot with 1 cup of water and put in a steamer basket. Add your cauliflower to the basket, cover pot, and turn heat to medium. Steam the cauliflower florets until they are softened (but not mushy), about 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the florets from the steamer basket and place them into a blender or food processor. Add ¼ cup of water from the steaming pot and the mace. Take your cooled head of garlic, remove the roasted cloves from the flakey husk, and add them to the cauliflower. Blend until it has a silky, sauce-like consistency. Set aside.

Finally…let’s make some pizza. On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 2 equal disks (or 4 if you want smaller pizzas – just watch your baking time carefully as you’ll probably need to cook them for half the amount). Let the doughy disks rest for 20 minutes and then use your hand or a rolling pin to stretch out the dough into 10” crusts. The dough is pretty elastic, so it will probably shrink back on itself. Just keep rolling.

When the size is right, put it on a pizza stone or baking tray on the middle rack and cook for 5 minutes. Take out the crust and slather on your sauce and toppings. I like to give the pie a quick sprinkle of black pepper and red chili pepper flake, as well as a drizzle of olive oil. Place the pie back in the oven until crust is golden brown, another 8 to 10 minutes.

Let it cool, slice, and serve.

+Sodium Count: Cauliflower: 80mg per small head; Sundried tomatoes: 5 to 10mg per serving (about 3 slices), depending on brand; Spinach: 24mg per cup

ellen March 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm

You are SO clever!

Jeff Williams March 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm

My wife recently discovered a dish that I call cauliflower potatoes. It has 64 calories, 46 sodium & 0.5 cholesterol for 2 cups. It contains cooked cauliflower, milk, low sodium margarine & pepper. Blended together, it tastes exactly like mashed potatoes.

Steph @ Lick My Spoon March 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

I made cauliflower puree for the first time this past weekend and am hooooked. Next time will def be adding roasted garlic 🙂

Oui, Chef March 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

HA….aren’t you a sneaky little minx. I LOVE white pizzas and this tasty alternative to a milk based one sounds pretty brilliant to me.

Sharon, San Francisco, CA April 24, 2012 at 8:54 am

can this white sauce live in the fridge for a few days to use as needed?

jessg23 April 24, 2012 at 11:12 am

Absolutely! It should stay good for at least 3 days. But things don’t tend to last that long in my fridge. I usually manage to eat things before they even have a second to go bad.

Andy September 15, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Can this be used as a substitute for Alfredo sauce? If so would there be any change in terms of how to make this sauce for that purpose? Thanks!!

jessg23 September 21, 2012 at 8:04 am

Absolutely! I do it all the time! Add a little more water (or olive oil) to the cauliflower puree and keep blending until it is smooth and creamy!

Crista January 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

I’m so lucky to have stumbled upon your site and this blog post. One of my girlfriends was asking me for a substitute for cheese but there really aren’t many. I’m so excited to share this with her and to try the recipe myself!! THANK YOU

BOBBIE January 4, 2014 at 9:11 pm


Emily February 23, 2014 at 3:58 pm

If your dough doesn’t rise and seems a lil tough, is it a dud? Will it not work for making the pizza dough?

Kent October 13, 2015 at 11:42 pm

Pizza sounds great!

Jenn N June 15, 2016 at 3:34 am

I came across this recipe because I was looking for a Low-So replacement for the White Pizza That I love. Is it okay to switch the toppings out to broccoli, garlic powder and grilled chicken?

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: