Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
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!
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.
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.
Step by Step Overview:
Cut the heads of cauliflower down into florets:
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.
Let the florets cool, then squeeze the excess water out using a kitchen towel:
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.
Combine the cauliflower with cheese, butter, sour cream, salt, and pepper:
But really, you can do any sort of flavorings you want to.
To finish, you have two options:
- Mix it all by hand, and enjoy a chunkier texture.
- Transfer the ingredients to a food processor, and mix until smooth.
I personally like it with a smoother texture:
How to Serve It
This is a fantastic side for hearty, meaty dishes like Beef Wellington, Roasted 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:
Yes, so long as you’re okay with a chunkier texture, you can mash everything by hand.
Eh, kind of. I find the texture to be so much worse that I don’t bother, but it’s definitely edible.
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.
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.
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
- 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!
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.
112 Comments on “Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes”
This is by far the best cauliflower mash I have made. The food processor did not cream it so I put it through my vita mixer and it came out perfectly creamy. Going to try a potato ricer next time. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you
Please add the steps for heating back up to serving temperature. We thought that this was good with a nice flavor, but not really worth the effort. We will just do roasted cauliflower in the future for a carb-like side. But it was fun to try! You are right, the towel step is essential!
Squeezing out the water with a towel is key to this recipe and I also used a ninja blender to make them smooth. I also added a little garlic and herb cheese spread . These were delicious!
When combined on a fork with some turkey and keto gravy, I almost couldn’t tell that it wasn”t potatoes.
I appreciate the recipe. However, it is a lot of work to squeeze out the water and get it to puree smooth enough. (Not really the recipe’s fault.)
So removing the excess liquid with a kitchen towel is definitely the trick….thank you for the tip!
This is so easy and so delicious…… perfect pairings with the cheese, butter and sour cream don’t change anything……….I used the steam in bags of cauliflower
and definatley do not skip squeesing in a towel you will be surprised how much water does come out……….. Enjoy this is a keeper and going to be on the holiday table for sure
OMG…you are my hero. I’ve been trying to figure this out forever. These are the best “potatoes” I’ve ever had! Keto was killing me because I couldn’t have potatoes. Meat and no potatoes…that’s ccrazy! But now my plate is complete.
Getting to try the cauliflower mashed potatoes. I am a diabetic and this will be a. good vegetable. Will let you know how I like it. pat
I found steaming a whole head instead of breaking it down to florets absorbs less water as long as you don’t steam it long. I didn’t have to squeeze water out.
Can you use an electric hand mixer?
My guess is without the blades it wouldn’t get smooth enough, though you could try since the cauliflower is quite soft. This is also probably too thick for a blender.
What type of kitchen towel is good to use to drain the cauliflower with?
I like to use a linen type material rather than terry
Thank you for responding. I will try that. We have been using regular kitchen towels. It’s so hard to squeeze the water out.
Once cauliflower cools, can you drain liquid by using a salad spinner?