Did you know that when prepared correctly, mashed cauliflower has a very similar texture to mashed potatoes, not to mention a sweet and buttery taste?
I happen to love potatoes, but most of us in the U.S. are getting way too many starchy white foods in our diet anyway. (Fries anyone?)
This cauliflower mashed potatoes recipe (or “fauxtatoes” as I like to call it) is a great side dish for Thanksgiving or other holidays, or for a healthy family dinner any night of the week.
Why Eat Mashed Cauliflower (Instead of Mashed Potatoes)?
Absolutely, a potato has some nutritional benefits and a baked potato beats processed Frankenstein “foods” every time. Still, it can’t top cauliflower from a health perspective.
Here’s why cauliflower rules:
- Lower Carbohydrate Load – According to the USDA website, one small potato contains over 20 grams of carbohydrates. Cauliflower, in comparison? A mere 5.3 grams. We absolutely need carbohydrates for energy, but consuming too many can work against us. These Paleo “potatoes” protect blood sugar levels and prevent insulin spikes that take a toll on health.
- Fewer Pesticides – Potatoes rank high on the list of foods heavily sprayed with pesticides. In fairness, non-organic cauliflower is on the list as well but ranks much lower (better). When organic isn’t available, cauliflower is a better choice.
- Balanced Protein and Fiber – A white potato appears to win this one, with a few tenths of a gram more protein than cauliflower and about the same amount of fiber (if you eat the skin). On the other hand, cauliflower does offer a more balanced amino acid profile.
- Nutrient Dense – It’s true potatoes pack a lot of vitamin C and a good amount of B6, potassium, and iron. Still, just a cup of cauliflower contains almost 30 mg more vitamin C than a potato, comparable levels of B6 and folate, and an extra dose of vitamin K. (To give potatoes their due, they are higher in potassium than cauliflower … again, only if you eat the skin.)
So how to win your family over to this better-for-you mashed potato alternative?
How to Make Perfect Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes (Kids Will Eat!)
This is one substitute that I think actually tastes better than the original recipe! In fact, a friend made these for her husband and he even didn’t realize it was actually cauliflower. Veggies for the win!
Most kids won’t flinch at the difference, and you can rest happy knowing you are squeezing in extra nutrients. Top with melted cheese and even the most adamant of veggie haters will give it a try.
Incidentally, we love to use cauliflower to make Paleo “rice” also.
Here’s how to make cauliflower mashed potatoes that are truly guest (and kid) worthy:
Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes Recipe
A more nutritious version of mashed potatoes made with buttery cauliflower instead!
- 1-2 heads of fresh cauliflower, roughly chopped into uniform, large pieces (or 1-2 bags of frozen)
- 4 TBSP butter
- 2 TBSP cream cheese or sour cream (optional)
- 2 TBSP or more parmesan, grated (optional)
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and other spices to taste
- Bring a couple quarts of water to a boil in a large pot or pan.
- Add cauliflower and cook until tender. (I suppose you could also use a microwave, but I've never tried since we don't have one and don't use them!)
- Drain well. Transfer cooked cauliflower to large bowl and add butter and optional sour cream (or cream cheese) and parmesan.
- Use immersion blender or hand mixer to blend until smooth and creamy. This is the most important step ... chunks of cauliflower are a giveaway!
- Sprinkle with extra cheese (if desired) and serve warm. Top with fresh chopped parsley or chives for a nice garnish!
Option for Instant Pot:
- Wash and quarter cauliflower, remove leaves and stem.
- Add steamer/trivet basket to Instant Pot along with 1 cup water. Add cauliflower pieces.
- Set to manual high pressure for 4 minutes.
- Manually vent/release pressure. Open, drain, and remove inner basket.
- Gently squeeze any remaining liquid out of cauliflower and return to pot.
- Add other ingredients and whip until creamy!
Serving Size 3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.3 g
Saturated Fat 4.8 g
Cholesterol 19 mg
Sodium 48 mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g
Sugars 1.6 g
Protein 2 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
More of a visual person? Check out my 90-second video tutorial here:
Tips for Success
If you’ve tried making mashed cauliflower potatoes before and didn’t love the result, don’t be afraid to try again using the following tips:
- Be sure to drain the cooked cauliflower well and squeeze out any additional liquid before the mashing and whipping step
- Don’t just mash, whip! My preferred method is an immersion blender right in the pot to get the “potatoes” nice and airy.
- Dress it up! Top with grass-fed butter, crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, and/or fresh or dried herbs.
Mashed Cauliflower Variations
Dairy Free Mashed Cauliflower
I haven’t personally made this recipe dairy-free (here’s my take on that), but reputable brands of butter-flavored coconut oil along with a little coconut milk to lighten up the texture would probably work well. (p.s. If you’re suspicious about “flavored” coconut oil here’s one explanation.)
Instant Pot and Other Cooking Options
When I first posted this recipe I got a few questions about why I boil the cauliflower instead of steaming to preserve nutrients. I get the best texture results preparing the cauliflower this way, but as long as you start with tender (but not overcooked and mushy) cauliflower, pretty much any cooking method will work. (I take it back … no microwaving!)
p.s. The Instant Pot is a great solution to this debate and actually does a great job of preserving nutrients. If you’re new to it, here’s where I weigh in on my favorite Instant Pot model and cooking tips!
Will you try this mashed cauliflower recipe instead of mashed potatoes? If you’re a mashed cauliflower believer, have any tips to share? Please let me know in the comments!