These Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes are a revelation! They have far fewer carbs than your usual mashed potatoes, but are just as smooth and creamy. It’s a creamy vegetable side that’s easy to prepare, and I share a secret for ensuring that they aren’t watery and bland. This recipe only takes 20 minutes to make!

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes - In a Brown Bowl with Chives and Pat of Butter On Top

I’m always a little suspicious of “lighter recipes” that are substitutions of classics, but mashed cauliflower is legitimately delicious. It’s certainly worthy of holiday meals like Thanksgiving alongside some Maple Glazed Carrots, Butternut Squash Soup, and Drop Biscuits.

The first time I made mashed cauliflower at home, I was trying to recreate the cauliflower puree I so often had at fancy restaurants. They always tasted similar to mashed potatoes, but with a silkier and lighter texture, plus more flavor. I have finally figured out how to make them flavorful, creamy, and rich, yet lighter than usual.

Why This Recipe Is The Best

Not watery – I will show you in the step-by-step below how to squeeze the cauliflower to remove excess water after steaming. This makes a HUGE difference and makes the end result similar to the consistency of real mashed potatoes.

Flavorful, not bland – Another benefit of squeezing the water out is that it lets us replace the excess liquid with a small amount of butter and cream. It’s not overly heavy, but still creamy and flavorful.

Make-ahead friendly – You can make the entire dish ahead of time, then reheat before serving, just like you would with regular potatoes.

Fully customizable – The beauty of this recipe is that you can try tons of different flavor variations. You can add garlic, butter, different kinds of cheese, chives, scallions, and more.

Mashed Cauliflower - In a Brown Bowl with Chives and Pat of Butter On Top

How much cauliflower do you need?

Because we will be squeezing a lot of the water out of the vegetable, you will need more cauliflower than you think. I usually do two heads for four people.

Two Heads of Cauliflower On Wooden Board

Step by Step Overview:

Cut the heads of cauliflower down into florets:

Cauliflower Florets On a Wooden Board

Steam or boil the florets until fork tender. I do this in my instant pot, but you can steam in a pan, in the microwave, etc.

Softened Cauliflower Florets in Instant Pot

Let the florets cool, then squeeze the excess water out using a kitchen towel:

Kitchen Towel Wrapped Around Cooked Florets

Sometimes when I’m impatient, I’ll just twist the bottom using tongs. It’s very hot, so don’t touch with bare hands!

Also, don’t skip this step! I’ve tried other methods for getting rid of excess water, even pressing the cauliflower through a strainer, and it’s not enough. You really need the towel.

Cauliflower Puree Squeezed in Towel

Combine the cauliflower with cheese, butter, sour cream, salt, and pepper:

Cauliflower Mash in Glass Bowl with Cheese, Sour Cream, and Butter Added

But really, you can do any sort of flavorings you want to.

To finish, you have two options:

  1. Mix it all by hand, and enjoy a chunkier texture.
  2. Transfer the ingredients to a food processor, and mix until smooth.

I personally like it with a smoother texture:

Cauliflower Puree in Food Processor Bowl with sour Cream and Cheese

How to Serve It

This is a fantastic side for hearty, meaty dishes like Beef WellingtonRoasted Pork Tenderloin, or Prime Rib. It also makes for a beautiful “base” to the plate where you can place the meat on top and capture any sauce in the cauliflower mashed potatoes.

If you have any leftovers, I also enjoy spreading this over Sourdough Discard Flatbread.

Recipe FAQ and Tips:

Can you make Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes without a food processor?

Yes, so long as you’re okay with a chunkier texture, you can mash everything by hand.

Can Mashed Cauliflower be frozen?

Eh, kind of. I find the texture to be so much worse that I don’t bother, but it’s definitely edible.

Can you make Mashed Cauliflower ahead of time?

Yes, just simply rewarm in the oven or microwave to serve again. The only downside is that I think that cauliflower is always a bit smellier once it has been refrigerated as leftovers.

What if the cauliflower is too watery?

This means you need to squeeze it a little better with the towel next time. I’ve tested it without the towel, just pressing as much water out as possible through a strainer, and it wasn’t good enough. The towel is important!

Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. Or, follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest!

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes In a Brown Bowl with Chives and Pat of Butter On Top

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

These Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes" are a creamy vegetable side that's easy to prepare, and quick to make!

Leave a Review »


  • 2 heads of cauliflower*
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (about 2.5 ounces by weight)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp butter softened
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper or to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives optional


  • Cut the cauliflower heads down into florets, then steam or boil for about 8-10 minutes, until completely fork tender and soft.
  • You can also cook the florets in an
    , by adding 1/2 cup of water to the bottom, and placing the cauliflower florets on the steamer insert. Using high pressure, steam for 2 minutes.  
  • Let the cauliflower drain and cool, then squeeze in a kitchen towel to remove the majority of the water in the cauliflower. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve had success with using tongs or rubber gloves to squeeze the cauliflower while it’s still hot, just don’t use your bare hands!
  • For a chunkier cauliflower mash, mix the cauliflower with the remaining ingredients by hand.
  • For a smoother texture, puree the squeezed cauliflower in a food processor with everything but the chives, for about one minutes, until smooth.
  • Mix in the chives if desired, or simply sprinkle on top to garnish. Enjoy! 


 *Weighing about 4 pounds in total, before trimming the stems.
Storing leftovers: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing: While technically edible, I find the texture to be so much worse that I don’t like freezing this dish. But technically you can freeze for up to 2 months.
Make-ahead: This dish can be made fully ahead of time. Rewarm in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes, or in the microwave, until warm.


Calories: 209kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 698mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 5g

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Post updated with new photos, writing, and tips in September 2018. Originally published April 2013. This post contains affiliate links.