Healthy Mashed Cauliflower

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Swap potatoes for cauliflower with this healthy mashed cauliflower recipe! It’s the perfect side dish and comes together quickly with only 6 ingredients. It’s just as creamy and delicious as mashed potatoes, but has half the calories and one-third of the carbs.

Cauliflower is a healthy eater’s best friend. Especially when you’re looking for a healthy way to indulge in “carby” things like bread, rice, pizza and potatoes. It’s amazingly versatile and even surprises me sometimes with how well it can transform from a simple veggie into something like cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower kettle corn or a cauliflower alfredo sauce.

A bowl of mashed cauliflower topped with chives. A serving spoon rests inside the bowl.

So when thinking of holiday recipes to share this year I knew I wanted to showcase cauliflower and immediately thought it would be fun to do a mashed cauliflower side dish. The texture is silky smooth, just like regular mashed potatoes. You can taste the cauliflower flavor, but with a little butter (we used ghee) and a bit of parmesan, garlic and fresh chives, this mashed cauliflower is totally delicious and makes a great low-carb, low-calorie swap for mashed potatoes.

Ingredients measured out to make mashed cauliflower: cauliflower, pepper, parmesan, garlic, butter, chives and salt.

Ingredients in Mashed Cauliflower

  • cauliflower – the star of the show! I recommend using a full head of cauliflower but you can use cauliflower florets as well if that’s all you can find.
  • garlic – a little garlic adds a ton of flavor to this dish.
  • ghee or butter – to make this dish vegan swap the ghee for vegan butter or butter flavored coconut oil.
  • parmesan cheese – for a vegan option use this hemp parmesan recipe.
  • salt and pepper – to season this dish.
  • fresh chives – totally optional but I highly recommend topping with chives to bring this entire dish together!
Side by side photos of cauliflower in a pot before and after being mashed.

How to Make Mashed Cauliflower

Make the most delicious side dish in less than 30 minutes! Start by breaking or chopping the head of cauliflower into cauliflower florets and placing them in a large pot. Cover the cauliflower with water and heat until the water is boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is tender – about 12 minutes.

While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a small pan over medium heat. Add the butter or ghee, minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the garlic is tender and fragrant, make sure you stir frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn!

After the cauliflower is cooked, drain the water (reserving ¼ cup for later) and carefully place the cauliflower in a large food processor with the sautéed garlic, additional ghee, parmesan cheese, chives, salt and pepper. Process until cauliflower is smooth, adding water as necessary to reach your desired consistency.

What if I Don’t Have a Food Processor?

If you don’t have a food processor, there are a couple of options for you!

Stand mixer – place the cooked cauliflower, sautéed garlic, ghee, parmesan, chives, salt and pepper in a stand mixture and mix until smooth.

Immersion blender Add the cooked cauliflower, sautéed garlic, ghee, parmesan, chives, salt and pepper back to the large pot a large bowl and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.

Handheld potato masher – get an arm workout with this method! Add the cooked cauliflower, sautéed garlic, ghee, parmesan, chives, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mash with a handheld potato masher until your desired consistency is achieved.

A bowl of mashed cauliflower topped with chives.

What to Serve with Mashed Cauliflower

I know that I’ll be making a batch of this mashed cauliflower for Thanksgiving. Here’s what I’ll be serving it with:

But it doesn’t have to be part of a fancy meal! This mashed cauliflower also makes a great base for bowl meals. I made delicious bowls using this cauliflower mash as the base and topped it with ground turkey and roasted root vegetables. Highly recommend!

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can reheat the mashed cauliflower on the stovetop, in the oven or microwave.

More Cauliflower Recipes to Try

More Healthy Side Dishes to Try

Be sure to check out the full collection of cauliflower recipes as well as all of the Thanksgiving recipes here on EBF!

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a ⭐ star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below.

4.47 from 15 votes

Mashed Cauliflower

Swap potatoes for cauliflower with this healthy mashed cauliflower recipe! It's the perfect side dish and comes together quickly with only 6 ingredients. It's just as creamy and delicious as mashed potatoes, but has half the calories and one-third of the carbs.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients  

  • 1 large head of cauliflower , chopped into florets (about 10 cups)
  • ½ Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ghee or butter, plus more for topping
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chives , chopped, plus more for topping
  • ¼ cup reserved water

Instructions 

  • Chop cauliflower into florets and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the cauliflower and heat until water is boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 12-15 minutes.
    Cooked cauliflower florets in a large pot that has been drained of the water and has spices added.
  • While cauliflower is cooking, heat a small pan over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon ghee or butter and minced garlic. Sauté until garlic is tender and fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
    Ghee, garlic, and sea salt sautéd in a saucepan. A small spatula rests on the side of the saucepan.
  • Before you drain cauliflower, scoop out ¼ cup water to save for later. Drain cauliflower and add to food processor with sautéd garlic, ½ Tablespoon ghee or butter, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and chives.
  • Process until cauliflower is smooth, adding water as necessary to reach desired consistency. I used 2 Tablespoons of reserved water. If you don’t own a food processor, an immersion blender, standing mixer or potato masher would all work work.
    Mashed cauliflower in a large pot.
  • Transfer to a bowl, top with chives and additional butter/ghee if you prefer and serve.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can mash the cauliflower using a stand mixer, blender or a handheld potato masher — the consistency just won’t be as smooth. If needed, you can reheat the mashed cauliflower in a small saucepan before serving.
  • To make this dish vegan swap the ghee for butter flavored coconut oil and use this hemp parmesan.

Nutrition

Calories: 110kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 766mg | Potassium: 660mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cauliflower, mashed cauliflower
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

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Recipe Rating




24 Comments

    1. Hi Kara – I haven’t tried this recipe with parsnips, but I bet it would be delicious. Let me know how it turns out!

  1. 5 stars
    Made the mash tonight and as always, it was a hit and so yummy. I kind of burnt the garlic and didn’t have chives, but it didn’t matter. it was good by itself ,but I used it to dunk my fish into it. The cauliflower I bought was kind of small and others were asking for more. Thank you so much for your amazing recipes!

    1. Absolutely! I am excited to hear that this recipe is such a hit, Gabrielle. Thank you for your review + star rating, I really appreciate it!

  2. 5 stars
    Wow! I was initially intimidated because healthy food almost always equals “hassle”. This was super simple and straightforward and most of all, delicious! So impressed with how close the texture comes to real potatoes. I used a dash of heavy cream since I had it on hand, but even without it I’m sure it would’ve been just as yummy.

    I know tastebuds vary but I would recommend doubling the garlic and salt (had to add a bunch salt it afterwards) if you’re used to rich potatoes like I am. I also subbed parsley with chives and it was still fabulous.

    Definitely making this again!

    1. Woo! I am so glad to hear this recipe was a hit, Tyler! I love the swap of parsley with chives, I bet that was delicious! Thanks for making this and coming back to leave a review, I really appreciate it.

  3. 5 stars
    DELICIOUS!! And easy to make! I made these for thanksgiving and did a vegan version. I didn’t even add the butter-flavored coconut oil that was suggested and they still tasted great! Very flavorful! I just simply added the vegan parmesan (I used the Eating Birdfood recipe for this as well) and minced garlic to the food processor without sautéing anything. It’s nice to have a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes.