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
- 1-2 heads fresh cauliflower roughly chopped into uniform, large pieces OR 1-2 bags 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
- Add cauliflower and cook until tender.
- Drain well.
- Transfer cooked cauliflower to large bowl and add butter and optional cream cheese or sour cream 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!
- Wash and quarter cauliflower, removing 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!
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!)
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!
Discussion (57 Comments)
Excellent recipe here again Katie! Thank you for all you do! We had an awesome island style Thanksgiving feast with a great side of mashed cauli! Aloha!
I am wondering if one could roast the cauliflower rather than boiling? I love the flavor that comes from roasting it, but I’m not sure if the texture would be correct for this dish. Anyone tried this cooking method?
Yes, worked great!
Tried this last night and we loved it! I used one head but added more of somethings: cream cheese – about 4 oz (half of a foil package), half a cup of shredded Parmesan and I also added half a tsp of powdered garlic. We loved it! Thanks for a great idea.
I’ve finally found another person without a microwave! People seriously think I’m crazy. But as you know, you don’t really miss it once you get used to not having it around. In my last house it was out on the counter and I would use every few weeks to melt butter or something, but haven’t had it plugged in in over a year. Last week I actually missed a potluck I was supposed to go to as my grass fed ground beef hadn’t thawed in time to bake the meatloaf I had planned. I realized I was officially never going to use my microwave again when the thought of finding it in my basement and plugging it in to thaw my meat crossed my mind – but I immediately dismissed it because I just couldn’t do that to food I would eat or serve someone else! Time to post it on freecycle 🙂 .
Exactly 🙂 At first I was desperate without it when it broke. But the time without it made me realise I didn’t really miss it at all. And the oven is so much simpler and lovelier 😉 I also managed to get away with making good eggs in the fryer which was first for me. So I know I can change my daily habits simply because I know the no matter what I eat I enjoy it and no matter how it’s made I can enjoy it. So long as it is nutritious and safe for my body. Or as a cheat taste really delicious and suddenly take aways can even steer me away. Lol but I know now I can make my own firm meals of substitute grains and still eat my korma just in a healthy assured way. Anyway I don’t think I want the microwave my friend and I was going to get one when kitchen was finished. But nah lol I rather invest that cash if I had it into buying a food processor. Making cauliflower rice and all kinds of veggies. I can make do with hand held too though 😉
I am looking for a low carb AND low fat sub. for mashed potatoes. But with 4 tbsp. butter, 2 tsp. cream cheese and 2 tsp. parmesan cheese….I know you can sub the cream cheese with low fat cream cheese. Anyone have any lower cal. recipe.
Just omit the fats and mash with salt if you are concerned…
Just omit the fats and mash with salt if you are concerned…
I have also made with 1 head cauliflower, chicken stock (or broth if you don’t have stock around), and spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder). A bit of butter really adds to it, but you can do without if you want.
I like to serve this with heavier dishes, such as liver and onions because it just doesn’t feel as stodgy as potatoes!
Looks great! Liver and onions is on my list to cook next week!
We love caulitators at our house and eat them all the time!!
My family loves this – just be sure not to add too much liquid -I did the last time I made it – it was too soupy.
I made this last month for cottage pie and while my son wasn’t thrilled (he adores mashed potatoes!), he never imagined it was …. cauliflower!! My husband, super duper picky, said I could absolutely make it again. WHOOHOO! And I had been so dreading trying this. Love your blog, btw.
Finally someone has explained a little better to me about why potatoes are on the no list.