This post may contain affiliate links, which help keep this content free. (Full disclosure)
I’m excited to show you my tips and secrets to help you make the best mashed cauliflower recipe (a.k.a. cauliflower mash). It’s unbelievably smooth and creamy and delicious. And while this is 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 this garlic mashed cauliflower was already so, SO good the first time, but I’ve tweaked it a few times since then to make it even better. Let me show you how to make mashed cauliflower that has the perfect creamy texture and buttery flavor.
What Is Mashed Cauliflower?
Mashed cauliflower is simply cauliflower that has been cooked until very tender and mashed (or pureed) to resemble mashed potatoes. They are often used as a low carb mashed potato substitute.
How to cook cauliflower like mashed potatoes?
The secret to cooking cauliflower like mashed potatoes is to cook the cauliflower first until it’s SUPER soft, then blend it with your favorite mashed potato add-ins.
Why You’ll Love This Mashed Cauliflower Recipe
- Garlicky, buttery flavor
- Smooth texture like mashed potatoes
- Easy to make, with just 4 ingredients (plus salt)
- Ready in only 15 minutes, with minimal prep work
- Just 5g net carbs per serving
- Healthy and keto friendly
Mashed Cauliflower Ingredients
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 – The best buttery mashed cauliflower needs butter! I prefer to use unsalted grass-fed butter and add salt separately to taste. However, 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 also 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 also fine to save time.
- Sea Salt – I prefer sea salt, but kosher salt works in the same amount. Feel free to also add some black pepper if you like.
- 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.
Ways To Cook Cauliflower For Mashing
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 softer, creamier mashed cauliflower. Up to you!
- How long to boil cauliflower for mash? 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.
- How long to steam cauliflower for mash? 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.
- How long to microwave cauliflower for mash? 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.
- How long to roast cauliflower for mash? 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.
TIP: Make sure the cauliflower is cooked super 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!
Can you make mashed cauliflower from frozen riced cauliflower?
Yes, you can use cauliflower rice to make cauliflower mash. 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 garlic mashed cauliflower recipe.
How To Make Cauliflower Mash
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. Pan fry the garlic with a little oil in a small skillet, for just a minute or two. 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.)
- Puree. 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 and 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 you 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 friendly?
Yes, cauliflower is keto friendly. And it’s a staple in our low carb house.
There are so many ways to make cauliflower delicious. I am a big fan of roasting it, but this creamy mashed cauliflower is the perfect low carb alternative to mashed potatoes.
How many carbs in mashed cauliflower?
This mashed cauliflower recipe has just 5 grams net carbs per serving. Compared to the 30 grams net carbohydrates in regular mashed potatoes, this low carb cauliflower mash is a much healthier option.
If you’re looking for how to make mashed cauliflower keto, you can use this recipe, or any other as long as it does not add any actual potatoes.
How many mashed cauliflower calories?
This cauliflower mash recipe has 132 calories per cup. The number in other recipes can vary depending on the ingredients.
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 Cauliflower Mash – Swap half of the cream cheese in the 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 Mashed Cauliflower – 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 Cauliflower Mash – 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 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 or sun-dried tomatoes.
You can make keto mashed cauliflower ahead of time! It keeps well in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Can you freeze cauliflower mash?
Yes, you can freeze mashed cauliflower after letting it cool. I recommend freezing flat in zip lock bags, then move around in your freezer as needed once solid.
Even though dairy often does not freeze well, it’s fine to freeze this garlic cauliflower mash with cream cheese, since it’s all mixed together. If you find any separation after thawing, you can puree in the food processor again.
You can reheat mashed cauliflower in the microwave, on the stovetop over low heat, or in the oven at 350 degrees F, until hot.
What To Serve With Mashed Cauliflower
Any recipe that goes well with mashed potatoes will go well with this garlic 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, coq au vin, pesto chicken, or chicken marsala.
- Beef – Garlic mashed cauliflower is 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!
- Pork – My favorite pairing 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, 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
Tools To Make The Best Cauliflower Mash
- 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
This reader favorite recipe is included in The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Carboholics’ Cookbook! Inside this beautiful hard cover keto recipe book, you’ll find 100 delectable, EASY keto recipes to replace all your favorite carbs: bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, desserts, and more… each with 10 ingredients or less! Plus, a photo, macros, & tips for every recipe.
Mashed Cauliflower Recipe (Easy & Creamy!)
Learn how to make mashed cauliflower super smooth & creamy! You need only 4 ingredients for the BEST mashed cauliflower recipe.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
Like this video? Subscribe to my YouTube cooking channel for healthy recipes weekly! (Click the bell icon to be notified when I post a new video.)
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
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.
Last Step: Leave A Rating!
Share your recipe picture by tagging @wholesomeyum and hashtag it #wholesomeyum on Instagram, or in our Facebook support group, too – I’d love to see it!
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.
Want to save this recipe?
Create a free account to save your favorite recipes!Sign Up To Save Recipes
© Copyright Maya Krampf for Wholesome Yum. Please DO NOT SCREENSHOT OR COPY/PASTE recipes to social media or websites. We’d LOVE for you to share a link with photo instead. 🙂
I have been using this great and versatile recipe for years, including successfully for Christmas dinner with non-dieting guests. If serving it without gravy, I use garlic/herb cream cheese. Using an immersion blender works well, it gives a lot of control as we prefer a little chunkiness, which also means the cauliflower stays hot in the pot and doesn’t need to be cooked so soft, which avoids it developing a bitter taste. For a quick meal, I sometimes stir the sauce into the cauliflower florets and don’t mash it, delicious and quick.
I have made this recipe few times and have obviously enjoyed since I keep coming back to it. But tonight I made it with a bag of frozen riced cauliflower and I’m obsessed. I actually prefer this method than the fresh one. Seriously delicious and lets not forget how quick it is to make.
Can you give tips for using frozen riced cauliflower? Did you microwave the riced cauliflower first and then just follow the rest of the recipe?
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Brandi, You can find the instructions for that in the post.
The texture was smooth but thin. I steamed the cauliflower and used our Vitamix blender. Blended 1 minute, wiped downsides, blended another minute. Tasted okay but the texture was thin; not close to mashed potatoes. If I make again will try it in the food processor to see if that improves it.
I decided to give mashed cauliflower a go again. I made it once before for keto thanksgiving and it was TERRIBLE! (Different recipe tho) however this recipe is simple and sooo good!!! The texture is comparable and went great with beef pot roast. I used 2 lbs of frozen riced cauliflower and used my immersion blender. I also added a handful of parmesan. It was so so tasty.
Good flavor but waaay too “loose”. Consistency like mush, no texture, and definitely not a replacement for mashed potatoes. And this was after draining the cauliflower well and then even placing it on paper towels for further drying. I think next time I would not try to make such a a smooth consistency but would leave more pieces chunky. But what to do about the watery consistency?? What could be added to ensure more texture and thickness similar to mashed potatoes?
I add some cheddar jack cheese, garlic, and onion powder as well as black pepper and it’s so bomb. Even though I don’t plan on doing keto forever, this will be a dish that I make for the rest of my life!
Made this today. Delicious. I used some herb butter I had made awhile ago. I will have some for dinner and freeze the rest. I’m thinking about adding some cheese to one batch I freeze.
I have tried many Keto cauli mash recipes & this is definitely awesome. My Mom tried it & thought it was wonderful & she is not on Keto
I doubled the recipe but I think I did too much butter, is there anything I can do to make it thicker?
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Carol, The butter maybe the issue that made your mash too thin. Also, using more florets and less stems.
Hi Maya; I made the mashed cauliflower last night for the first time. I used double to cream cheese and “mashed” in my Vitamix. Flavour was awesome (garlic added) but the mixture was far too thin. It spread out on the plate similar to a raw egg that just runs. I have a few servings left; do you have any tips for thickening it up?
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
Hi Maureen, This typically happens if the cauliflower is not drained well enough and/or if it’s not cooked for long enough. It needs to be fall-apart soft and then super dry before adding it to the food processor. It is still less thick than a dense potato mash, but definitely shouldn’t run across the plate. Hope this helps and I’m glad you liked the flavor!
Teri Thibodeaux Cueman0
Tried this the first time and husband could not believe it was not mashed potatoes. Made it as a riff on my normal mashed potatoes recipe and added a little horseradish for a small kick. Delicious! Have now served it several times to company who also cannot believe that it’s actually cauliflower. A real keeper recipe.
This is so yummy and easy to make! I prefer it over regular mashed potatoes any day.
Honestly, I purchased a used food processor just so I could make this dish. BEST purchase I have made in a long time. The cauliflower was creamy and delicious. Added in sour cream and chives the 2nd time which is quite yummy as well. Thank you for this!
Great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Better than mashed potatoes.
I prefer roasting the cauliflower first for flavor, and it also provides a little more bulk. I use an emersion blender right in the pan – keeps things hot and less equipment to wash. Great recipe.
Maya, I might like to try your method of roasting the cauliflower since, with the batch I made, the steamed cauliflower turned out to be too watery in spite of extra draining/drying. Does the cauliflower stay moist enough and not overly dry in the process of roasting it until extra-soft? What baking temp do you use and do you oil the cauliflower before baking?
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
Yes, you can roast it instead. Just use my roasted cauliflower recipe but continue roasting for longer until it’s mushy (if it starts to brown too much, turn down the heat or tent with foil).
I made this recipe tonight and my son and I loved it.
This is a quick, easy and very tasty recipe, great for sub for mashed potatoes.
Excellent! My husbands favorite food is mashed potatoes. He has been a bit grumbly over not having potatoes on this diet… He loved this substitute. We had baked chicken and the gravy was perfect on the mashed cauliflower. I steamed frozen cauliflower, it worked really well.
This is so good! I made some last night and added ground black pepper and parmesan cheese. I love mashed potatoes, and this is a great alternative. The kids even ate it and loved it too.
No matter what I have tried, my palate refuses to accept mashed cauliflower. I will give this a try, though. And I wonder, what if I roasted the cauliflower 1st? Would that maybe be more like a twice bake or at least a little thicker? (I see some of the “thin consistency” in the comments). And I really like the garlic herb cream cheese comment! I don’t always agree that more seasoning is better, however, I do think cauliflower needs a lot!
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Tracy, I have never tried that method but if you do, please let me know your results.
I love this recipe! Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies… I did an experiment the other night, though. I made a shepherd’s pie with taco seasoned meat, salsa, mixed veggies, mashed rutabaga topped with mozzarella cheese. It was amazing! I was wondering, Maya, if you have tried the mashed rutabaga and what options you might offer..
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Kathleen, I have never tried that before but sounds good!
I made this this today to go with roasted chicken and it was delicious.
I love cauliflower and I really love it mashed with butter. People who are not on Keto will love this recipe.
I’ve made this twice already, I can’t believe I would like mashed cauliflower so much but this is delicious. I like to serve it with roast.
I made this recipe and we love it!! Do dry your califlower very well after cooking as this will help with the runny and thin problems.
Rose Marie Kamenitz0
Scrumpdeli-cious! Love this recipe. Very easy to make & will become a staple in our menu.
I like sweet potatoes more than white but this is a “cauliflower” Mash ” so much better w/ a few carbs, as we follow the Paleolithic Lifestyle Diet. So this is the perfect recipe for us!!
Keep these extraordinary recipe!! WE LOVE IT!!
Cauliflower mash is my favorite side. I first tried the Wholesome Yum recipe but have adapted it for my taste over time. I microwave Costco frozen cauliflower rice for 7-8 minutes, drain it and put it in the blender with butter, chives, heavy cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper. I blend everything on the soup setting to keep it heated until it becomes the consistency of mashed potatoes. When plated I put bacon bits and ghee on top for extra richness. This goes great with air fryer chicken thighs. I always go to Wholesome Yum for recipes first as Maya’s are the best Keto recipes!
Made mashed potatoes for the “high carb” folks, and this cauliflower for myself and my brother. We really enjoyed it with our turkey dinner and didn’t miss the potatoes like I thought we would. Was delicious. Thanks for the great recipes you pass on to us!
Looks delish. Can’t wait to try it.
I make this with riced cauliflower and it is delicious! I make it in a small pot and then use an immersion blender to mix it and it comes out very smooth. This goes really well with salisbury steak and gravy. Much tastier than mashed potatoes!
Made mashed cauliflower recipe the other day. Very tasty!
I use cauliflower in a lot of dishes especially since I joined wholesome yum but for some reason I am not a fan of the mashed cauliflower. I followed recipe, it just wasn’t for me.
I like to add cheddar or swiss cheese to it in addition to the cream cheese. Also, I find it helps reduce how runny it is if I squeeze out the excess moisture from the cauliflower using paper towels before I process it.
Wonderful recipe. Easy to make and has great flavor. I did add some garlic as my family likes that additional flavor with very little salt.
Wonderful recipe. Don’t miss potatoes as much!!
Excellent recipe…much better than others I’ve tried… very creamy and smooth.
Ive made this a few times now, and its pretty simple to make. Probably a lot quicker if you used rice cauliflower. I enjoyed the taste and it did taste like potatoes. Thank you for the recipe.
I’ve had mashed cauliflower before but this is so much better. Thank you!
Irene C Janis0
Made this for Thanksgiving and it actually fooled some of the family! They thought they were eating mashed potatoes! Definitely a keeper.
My mashed cauliflower never turned out thick and creamy until I found your recipe. Your tips for not using the stems and using cream cheese has made all the difference. Usually, I keep them simple with just garlic and pepper, but sometimes I like cheese just to shake things up a bit. Thanks for sharing.
I just have to try this on my daughter. If it’s anywhere close to the title, I will have fooled her. (She hates cauliflower!)
A great twist to ‘mashed potatoes’! We made it this Thanksgiving and most couldn’t tell the difference! Delicious and amazing! Thanks for sharing!
Your cauliflower mash looks so good and healthy and low carb. But the southern girl in me still wants to smother it in country gravy. LOL
Thanks for your recipes. Love the simple low number of ingredient ones.
This is great as a side dish but it is also perfect on a shepherds pie of whatever leftover meats and veggies that go together. Very easy.
I tried this for Thanksgiving this year. It was delicious! Thank you.
Realy good we loved this!
Read more comments:
« 1 … 3 4 5