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Mashed Cauliflower

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This easy recipe for Mashed Cauliflower gives you a vegetable side dish that is low in carbs and tastes just like creamy mashed potatoes. Tastes great with any protein and is suitable for anyone following a low carb or keto lifestyle during the holidays or any time of the year!

Over the last few years, we’ve learned that certain vegetables can morph into healthy substitutes. Zucchini can become pasta, and cauliflower can become rice, pizza crust, or even a great substitute for mashed potatoes!

This recipe is for those who are looking for a lighter version of mashed potatoes or are watching their carbohydrate intake. A big dose of healthy cauliflower is mixed with butter and cheese and is infused with garlic. It then gets mashed into a creamy side dish that is just as comforting and satisfying as a bowl of mashed potatoes but lighter on the calories and carbs.

This healthified side dish can be served with any protein like this Apple Cider Marinated Pork Loin or Chicken Piccata or it can sit under a bed of Shrimp Curry. You can also serve it on your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table to keep things a little lighter so you can enjoy a slice of homemade Pumpkin Pie.

Mashed cauliflower in a white bowl.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • The entire dish is made with just 5 simple ingredients you can find anywhere.
  • Cauliflower is often inexpensive making this a satisfying budget-friendly side dish.
  • You can serve it to friends and family that are following a low-carb lifestyle. 
  • This dish can be easily customized by adding your favorite seasonings or toppings. 

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Head of Cauliflower – You’ll need a large head of fresh cauliflower in order to make 8 servings. This would be about 2 pounds of cauliflower florets. 
  • Garlic Cloves – Whole garlic cloves infuse the cauliflower with fresh garlic flavor making it taste just like mashed potatoes. 
  • Parmesan Cheese – Adds a salty and cheesy flavor that also helps give the dish texture.
  • Unsalted Butter – Adds a rich buttery flavor to the cauliflower and helps make it creamy. 
  • Salt & Pepper – Enhances and balances the natural flavors in the dish.
Top down view of ingredients needed for mashed cauliflower.

How To Make Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

  1. Prepare for cooking: In a large pot, add enough water to cover the cauliflower by at least 2 inches. Add salt and bring to a boil. 
  2. Prepare the cauliflower: While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the cauliflower. Remove the outer green leaves of the head of cauliflower, then chop in half and cut out the core. Remove the florets with a sharp knife and set them aside. 
  3. Boil the cauliflower: Once the water has stayed at a rolling boil, add the cauliflower and whole garlic cloves. Boil until the cauliflower is fork-tender. This should take about 10 minutes depending on the size. 
  4. Blend the cauliflower mash: Once cauliflower is cooked, remove it from the pan and drain out all of the water except ¼ cup. Add the cooked cauliflower to a food processor along with the garlic, parmesan cheese, butter, salt, and pepper. Process until it’s smooth and creamy. If it’s too thick, use 1 tablespoon of the reserved water until it becomes a perfect consistency. 
  5. Season and serve: Adjust the seasonings if needed, then remove them from the food processor and serve hot with your favorite dishes. 
Collage showing how to make mashed cauliflower.

Recipe Tips

  1. When choosing a head of cauliflower, make sure it is crisp and tender with minimal bruising or spots on the outside for the freshest results. 
  2. Cut the florets all roughly the same size so they all finish cooking in the boiling water at the same time. 
  3. If the cauliflower seems too watery at first, keep in mind that it will begin to thicken up as it cools, especially if it’s made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. 
  4. When draining the cauliflower, let it sit for at least 5 minutes to get rid of any excess moisture that could end up reabsorbing when blended. You can also press out the water using a potato masher in a colander. 
  5. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a high-speed blender, though you may have to work in batches to make sure it’s creamy and smooth.

Variations

  • If you’d like a super creamy version of mashed cauliflower, add a tablespoon or two of heavy whipping cream to the food processor. 
  • Season up the mashed cauliflower with your favorite seasonings including curry, Cajun, Greek, Italian, or any seasoning blend you enjoy. 
  • Use purple or green cauliflower for a uniquely beautiful color presentation and additional antioxidants. 
  • You can also change up the flavor by using your favorite toppings including fresh chives, rosemary, chopped bacon, cheddar cheese, diced jalapenos, or caramelized onions.
Top down view of mashed cauliflower with butter and green onions.

Storing and Freezing

Storing: You can store leftover cauliflower mash by adding it to an airtight container and refrigerating for 3-4 days.

Freezing: To freeze any leftovers or extra batches, add the cooled mashed cauliflower to a freezer-safe storage bag and remove as much air as possible, lay flat. Freeze for up to 3 months.

When thawing, remove any excess moisture that shows up in the bag from the thawing process before reheating and serving.

Does cauliflower really taste like mashed potatoes?

While there is a texture difference and a slight taste difference, you can truly make cauliflower taste very close to mashed potatoes by getting the right consistency and seasoning properly just like in this recipe.

Why is my cauliflower mash watery?

This is likely because it was not drained properly or long enough. To ensure a non-watery cauliflower mash, try letting the cauliflower drain in a colander for at least 5 minutes to let the steam escape before processing.

Does cauliflower have a lot of carbs?

Nope! One cup of raw cauliflower contains 5 grams of carbohydrates. 3 grams of those are fiber making one cup 2 net carbs which are suitable for any keto or low carb diet.

Top down view of mashed cauliflower with melted butter.

Mashed Cauliflower

Yield: About 4 Cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This easy recipe for Mashed Cauliflower gives you a vegetable side dish that is low in carbs and tastes just like creamy mashed potatoes. Tastes great with any protein and is suitable for anyone following a low carb or keto lifestyle during the holidays or any time of the year!

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, about 2 pounds cut into pieces
  • 5-6 large garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded off the block
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves, and boil until the cauliflower is knife tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the cauliflower, reserving about ¼ cup of the water for later use. Transfer the cauliflower and garlic to a food processor. Add the Parmesan cheese, butter, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pulse until the cauliflower reaches the desired consistency. Use some of the boiling water if needed to thin out the cauliflower mash. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Serve hot with your favorite entree.
  5. See post for storage options.

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of ½ cup of mashed cauliflower. Actual calories will vary.

*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 92Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 110mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g

*The calories are an estimate and are based on the ingredients and serving size listed. The calories can vary depending on the brand of product purchased.

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