This cheesy baked fennel recipe is so easy and makes an elegant, impressive, and delicious dish that pairs well with so many entrées!
Roasted fennel bulbs are oven-baked in a creamy parmesan cheese sauce and garnished with fresh fennel fronds for a show-stopping side dish that everyone will love! Fennel has a sweet, anise flavor that perfectly complements fish, pork, or chicken dishes. Serve it as a delicious and nutritious alternative to potatoes or pasta. The cheesy, creamy sauce in this recipe makes a side dish that fully rounds out a meal with savory satisfaction!
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Fennel is an herb with a thick, white bulb that has green stalks and feathery fronds that can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a mild anise (licorice) flavor and becomes sweet when it’s cooked. It’s also a powerhouse of nutrition delivering high doses of Vitamin C, potassium, and calcium.
Cheesy Baked Fennel!
- Cheesy baked fennel is a rich and creamy low-carb alternative to potatoes and pasta that’s loaded with flavor and so easy to make!
- This light and creamy recipe is a perfect side for fish dishes like salmon and shrimp but can also be added to chicken and pork dishes.
- It’s also an amazing addition to an Italian fennel and sausage soup.
- Prep up to a day in advance, cover, and bake when ready!
Ingredients and Variations
FENNEL: Choose bulbs that are heavy and sweet smelling at the base. Peel away any wilted stalks or fronds.
SAUCE: Heavy cream and parmesan cheese make the perfect sauce for creamy baked fennel. A dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream will thicken the sauce and add a lightly tart flavor. In a pinch, a can of cream of celery soup can be mixed with milk and used instead of heavy cream. For a stronger fennel flavor, crush fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle and add them to the cream before tossing with the rest of the ingredients.
EXTRAS: Sliced red or green apples, sliced brussels sprouts, or zucchini can be baked with the fennel and adds a sweet and colorful contrast to the fennel. Add a little orange zest to brighten up the sauce, if desired.
How to Cut Fennel
- Cut stalks of fennel bulbs and reserve the fronds for garnish.
- Cut the bulb in half vertically and then halved again, into ½” wedges.
How to Make Cheesy Baked Fennel
- Gently toss prepared fennel wedges with cream, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper (as per recipe below).
- Place wedges in a prepared dish and pour remaining cream over the top. Add thyme and butter pats.
- Cover with foil and bake until fennel is tender.
Place creamy baked fennel on a serving dish and garnish with fresh fennel fronds.
- Keep leftover creamy baked fennel in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Reheat in a saucepan with sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave.
What to Serve with Cheesy Fennel
- Smoked Chicken Drumsticks – crispy and juicy!
- Baby Potatoes Recipe – super simple side dish
- Baked Whole Fish – tender and delicious
- Kale Salad – so fresh and healthy
Cheesy Baked Fennel
- 2 bulbs fennel about 1½ pounds
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese shredded, divided
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 tablespoons butter (¼ cup) cut into cubes
- Heat oven to 425°F. Grease a 2 ½-3 quart casserole dish.
- Clean fennel and cut off stalks. Reserve fronds for garnish. Cut in half lengthwise, then into ½ inch wedges.
- To a large bowl, add fennel, cream, 1 cup parmesan, salt and pepper. Carefully toss to combine.
- Place wedges into prepared casserole dish and pour any cream remaining in the bowl over the fennel. Add thyme sprigs and sprinkle with butter cubes. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes.
- Uncover, sprinkle with remaining parmesan, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until fennel is tender.
- Gently remove from the casserole dish, garnish with fennel fronds and serve.
- Nutrition calculated using ½ cup cream and 1 Tablespoon butter.
- It may be easier to use hands to toss and place fennel in the dish, even though it would be messier!
- Leftover sauce is perfect used as a pasta sauce, and the fennel is also delicious served over pasta as well.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.