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I’m excited to show you my tips and secrets to help you make the best mashed cauliflower recipe (a.k.a. cauliflower mash or cauliflower mashed potatoes)! It’s unbelievably smooth and creamy and… just delicious. It’s one of the top low carb recipes I turn to over and over (and over) again, because it’s so easy, uses just a few ingredients, and goes with so many dishes. It even made it into my second keto cookbook!
While this is a keto mashed cauliflower, anyone looking for a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes can enjoy it. Since I have been low carb or keto in some form for over a decade, I’ve used cauliflower to replace carbs — every which way — for years, from cauliflower rice to loaded cauliflower, and so many other cauliflower recipes in between. And that has been lots of time to experiment with perfecting the best cauliflower mash, too.
Originally, this was one of those low carb cauliflower recipes that came out of my kitchen when we needed a dinner side. And these garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes were already so, SO good the first time, but I’ve tweaked them a few times since then to make them even better, for the perfect creamy texture and buttery flavor.
Why You’ll Love This Mashed Cauliflower Recipe
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for cauliflower mash, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Cauliflower – To get 4 cups of mashed cauliflower from this recipe, use a large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds for the whole head, which is equivalent to 6 cups or 1.5 pounds of cauliflower florets). If you have a small to medium head (4 cups of florets), use 2/3 of the other ingredient amounts.
- Butter – I prefer to use unsalted grass-fed butter and add salt separately to taste. If you need a paleo or dairy-free option, you can swap in ghee, olive oil, or butter flavored coconut oil.
- Cream cheese – Adds a silky texture and makes the cauliflower flavor more neutral. Cut it into chunks before using. I typically use plain cream cheese, but you can also use flavored, such as garlic and herb. For a dairy-free option, use almond milk cream cheese.
- Garlic – Fresh minced garlic has the best flavor, but the kind from a jar is fine to save time. You can also substitute 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Sea Salt – I prefer sea salt, but kosher salt works in the same amount. Feel free to add some black pepper if you like, too.
- Garnishes – This is optional, but I like to add some fresh chives or fresh parsley. Some extra butter to melt on top is also delicious.
Cooking Methods For Mashed Cauliflower
Like any mashed cauliflower recipe, start by cutting the cauliflower into florets.
TIP: Use more florets and less stems for the creamiest cauliflower mash.
The stems don’t get as smooth as the florets.
Next, we’re going to cook our cauliflower. You can steam it on the stovetop or in the microwave, boil it, or roast it.
If you love the flavor of roasted cauliflower, you can roast it before mashing. However, I find that steaming or microwaving makes for a more soft, creamy mashed cauliflower. Choose your preferred method:
- Boil: Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add the cauliflower, cover with a lid, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until very soft. Drain well.
- Steam: Bring water to a boil in a pot fitted with a steamer basket, then add the cauliflower, cover with a lid, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until very soft.
- Microwave: Place the cauliflower florets into a large bowl with 1/2 cup water. Cover the top with plastic wrap and microwave with 10-15 minutes, until very soft.
- Roast: Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and arrange on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees F, tossing halfway through, until very soft.
- Frozen riced cauliflower: You can even use bags of frozen cauliflower rice to make cauliflower mash as a shortcut. You can cook cauliflower rice like this, but cook for a few extra minutes to make it mushy enough for a mash. You’ll need 1.5 pounds of cauliflower rice if you want to use it in this cauliflower mashed potatoes recipe.
TIP: Make sure the cauliflower is cooked very soft before making the mash — this is a key tip for how to make mashed cauliflower super smooth!
You want it much softer than you’d normally cook cauliflower (beyond fork-tender), which is why you may notice that the times above are longer than normal. Think fall-apart soft!
How To Make Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
This section shows how to make mashed cauliflower with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
Once the cauliflower is cooked until it’s nice and soft, here is how to make a mash with it…
- Saute garlic. Cook the garlic with a little oil in a small skillet, for just 1-2 minutes. I skipped this step in older versions of this cauliflower mash recipe, but now highly recommend that you do this. (You can see some of the older reviews mention that the garlic flavor is too strong, which was from raw garlic in the older version. Sauteing gets rid of this issue.)
- Blend. Add the cauliflower, garlic, butter, cream cheese, and salt to a food processor. Puree until completely smooth, scraping the sides as needed.
TIP: I don’t recommend a potato masher if you really want this to resemble potatoes.
The food processor creates a silky consistency that mashing by hand simply won’t achieve. If you don’t have a food processor, an immersion blender should work as well, but will take longer.
- Garnish. Transfer the cauliflower puree to a plate or bowl, and add any toppings you like. I like a little pat of butter, a few cranks of fresh cracked pepper, and some fresh chives. But I have lots of variations and toppings ideas for cauliflower mashed potatoes below!
Mashed Cauliflower Nutrition
Cauliflower is one of my favorite low carb vegetables, partly because it makes such an easy replacement for traditional carb-filled dishes (like cauliflower rice, cauliflower hummus, cauliflower pizza crust, and this mashed cauliflower, of course!) — but also because it’s a nutritional powerhouse! It’s a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, and potassium [*].
- Is cauliflower keto? Yes, cauliflower is keto friendly.
- How many carbs in mashed cauliflower? On average, mashed cauliflower recipes have around 5 grams net carbs per serving (and that’s how many this recipe has). Compared to the 30 grams net carbohydrates in regular mashed potatoes, it’s a much healthier option.
- How many mashed cauliflower calories? Calories in cauliflower mashed potatoes will vary depending on what is added to it, but this recipe has 132 calories per cup.
The version on the recipe card below is one of the most basic mashed cauliflower recipes (perfect as a versatile side dish for any meal), but there are many ways you can upgrade it if you like:
- Loaded – Swap half of the cream cheese in the mashed cauliflower recipe with sour cream. Once the mash is ready, stir in (or just sprinkle with) chopped cooked bacon (I make bacon in the oven most of the time, but air fryer bacon or microwave bacon are great for making it quickly), shredded cheddar, and sliced green onions.
- Cheesy – Add your favorite cheese (check out the keto cheese list for ideas!) to the food processor. I love cheddar, gruyere, gouda, or parmesan cheese. Keep in mind that the processor will melt the cheese smoothly into the cauliflower, so if you don’t want that, you can stir it in instead. Alternatively, if you prefer melted cheese on top, you can transfer the mash to a baking dish, top with shredded cheese(s), and bake to melt.
- Dairy Free – I mentioned some swaps in the ingredient section above — substitute almond milk cream cheese for the cream cheese, and either olive oil or butter flavored coconut oil for the butter.
- Sour Cream & Chives – Top your cauliflower mash with a dollop of sour cream and fresh chives.
- Lemon Herb – Stir in a teaspoon of lemon zest and a tablespoon of either rosemary or thyme (or 1/2 tablespoon of each). I don’t recommend lemon juice because it will water down the mashed cauliflower.
- Pesto – Add 2 tablespoons of basil pesto to the food processor.
- Add Veggies – Fold in sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, or sun-dried tomatoes.
- Store: You can make cauliflower mashed potatoes ahead of time, or just store leftovers if you have any. It keeps well in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Reheat: Warm up in the microwave, on the stovetop over low heat, or in the oven at 350 degrees F, until hot.
- Freeze: Even though dairy often does not freeze well, it’s fine to freeze mashed cauliflower that has cream cheese, since it’s all mixed together. Cool completely, then freeze for up to 6 months. I recommend freezing in zip lock bags laid flat, until solid, and afterward you can move around in your freezer as needed.
What To Serve With Mashed Cauliflower
Any recipe that goes well with mashed potatoes will go well with mashed cauliflower. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Chicken – Mash goes with any chicken recipe, but especially those that have a sauce, such as pan seared chicken breast (mine has a pan sauce), creamy mushroom chicken, sweet honey garlic chicken, 5-ingredient pesto chicken, or easy chicken marsala.
- Beef – Cauliflower mashed potatoes are the perfect pairing for a steak, such as sirloin, filet mignon, or New York strip. It’s also great with braised or slow cooked meats, such as keto pot roast or Instant Pot beef short ribs — and fantastic with keto meatloaf, of course!
- Pork – My favorite pork option is smothered pork chops, because the mash soaks up the sauce, but you can also serve it with baked pork chops or pulled pork.
- Fish – Try it with pan seared halibut (the lemon butter sauce is amazing over the cauliflower, too!), simple baked salmon, or baked cod.
- Swap Mashed Potatoes In A Meal – Some recipes call for mashed potato as an ingredient, and you can easily swap in this mashed cauliflower instead! Keto shepherd’s pie is a great one to start with.
More Easy Cauliflower Recipes
Want more ways to make turn your cauliflower into amazing comfort food? Try these easy recipes:
Tools To Make Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
- 14-Cup Food Processor – If you’re wondering how to make mashed cauliflower ultra-creamy, the food processor is it! It beats manual mashing by a long shot.
- Glass Bowls – This nesting set is a great value and comes in every size. Perfect for steaming the cauliflower in if you use the microwave method.
- Silicone Steamer – This steamer made from silicone will never get bent and wonky! Perfect for the steamer method.
Easy Mashed Cauliflower Recipe
Mashed Cauliflower (Easy & Creamy!)
Learn how to make cauliflower mashed potatoes super smooth & creamy! You need only 4 ingredients for the BEST mashed cauliflower recipe.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Option 1 – Microwave Method:
Place the cauliflower florets into a large bowl with 1/2 cup (118 mL) water. Cover the top with plastic wrap.
Microwave for 10 to 15 minutes, until very soft and mushy. Drain and pat dry.
Option 2 – Steam Method:
Fill a large saucepan or pot with enough salted water to come right below a steamer basket fitted over it. Bring the water to a boil.
Place the cauliflower florets into the steamer basket and fit on top of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid.
Reduce water to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until cauliflower is very soft and mushy.
Make the Mashed Cauliflower:
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for about a minute, until fragrant.
Place the cooked cauliflower, sauteed garlic, butter, cream cheese, and salt into a food processor. Puree for 1-2 minutes, until completely smooth.
Adjust salt to taste.
Garnish with chives if desired. You can also drizzle some melted butter on top if you'd like.
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Serving size: 1/2 cup
Recipe from The Easy Keto Carboholics’ Cookbook.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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