The Best Mashed Cauliflower

Wanting to switch up your starchy mashed potatoes for something more healthy? Try this cheesy mashed cauliflower recipe to reinvent this classic recipe.


The best Mashed Cauliflower recipe for anyone looking for a low carb alternative that is creamy, garlicky, and delicious.

I have been making mashed cauliflower for years and honestly I love it pretty much any way you make it. However my family doesn't feel the same way. They normally will tolerate mashed cauliflower only if I mix in a few potatoes and its still not their favorite. That all changed with this recipe. The secret? Drying off the cauliflower before its mashed. Its such a small step but it makes all the difference. This ensures a fluffy, thick mash like you would get with traditional potatoes. Then to make sure it really tastes amazing, it is mixed with a quick garlic butter, cream cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Seriously delicious.

Speaking of delicious low carb alternatives, what are your favorites? We eat a ton of cauliflower rice, especially this cilantro lime and coconut version. I also am obsessed with this Cauliflower and Carrot Rice with Browned Butter and love this creamy ricotta spaghetti squash.

I never thought anything could be as warm, comforting, and delicious as mashed potatoes. Growing up they seemed like a staple to any dinner mom made. As I get older I realize however, that I cannot eat mashed potatoes at every meal. So I started looking for healthier options and came across a blog post with recipes for cauliflower mash but never thought they could truly replace my coveted mashed potatoes…but they have. Add a little cream, garlic, and salty pungent Parmesan cheese and you have a wonderful alternative to mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes are a common side dish that many people have enjoyed for centuries. It is one of the most common side dishes to comfort food plates that can be found around the world. Although, many of us have learned how to make this dish from our mothers or even grandmothers, this mashed potato substitute recipe can help boost your meal with vitamins and minerals that potatoes can’t provide. Pair this cheesy mashed cauliflower recipe with a side of baked chicken breast, ground turkey meatloaf or even grilled chicken. Whatever you choose, know that learning how to make this alternative recipe can give you a more nutrient dense meal by replacing those starchy potatoes with cauliflower.

It is always nice to know how to make a healthy alternative versions of any dish, especially when it comes to a low carb mashed potato substitute that your family will love. Using cauliflower instead of potatoes is not only a good low carb trick, it also adds certain health benefits that we might not think about when we are indulging in this cheesy mashed cauliflower recipe. Cauliflower is known to help with our bones and joints health by producing a collagen that protects our bones and joints from inflammation. Cauliflower also can also promote detoxification. So while this cheesy goodness is digesting in our bodies, the cauliflower is also working to promote healthy digestion.

Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, K and certain B vitamins. It also contains adequate amounts of potassium, fiber, and even protein. Like cauliflower, the garlic in this recipe also provides many beneficial properties. Garlic is well known for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, and it is well known that due to these properties it can also boost the immune system. Just like cauliflower, garlic also has detoxing properties as well and has been used for many years for its cardioprotective benefits. So enjoy this recipe knowing that this cheesy, garlicky, mashed cauliflower side dish is giving you a health boost.

Now that you are fully convinced and on board to try this recipe you are probably asking how to make cauliflower mash. Knowing the steps to this recipe is important to producing the best quality cheesy mashed cauliflower for your guests. So here is how to make cauliflower mash: wash and cut your cauliflower into florets, add florets and garlic to a pot of boiling water and boil for about seven minutes or until they are soft, drain the cauliflower being sure to reserve a half a cup of the broth, blend cauliflower with Parmesan cheese, half and half, 1/2 cup broth, salt, and pepper until desired consistency is reached.

Keep it Light:

  • Use skim milk or almond milk in place of half and half.
  • To pump up the protein and keep it creamy consider using cottage cheese in place of half and half.
  • Too make the meal even healthier, use a milk alternative such as almond or cashew milk. Both are excellent and provide healthy beneficial fats and are easy on the gut for those who are sensitive to lactose.

Change it Up:

  • Cauliflower comes in a variety of colors. The flavors remain very similar, but you can find this vegetable in purple, green, yellow and the traditional white color. If you are feeling creative and daring try purple or yellow to add color to your presentation.
  • Add a whole bulb of roasted garlic for extra flavor and a more aromatic dish. To roast garlic bulb, keep bulb intact and cut off the top tip of the whole bulb. Place bulb in tin foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the bulb up tight and place in a preheated 425 degree oven. Your kitchen will smell amazing and you know it is done when it is easy to squeeze the garlic out of the bulb. Squeeze it into the potatoes and mix well.
  • These potatoes can easily be made vegan by not adding in the cheese or half and half. Instead try using extra virgin olive oil. It has a bold taste like butter but without being from an animal source. You can add nutritional yeast to mimic the cheese flavor.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, you can add cream cheese to the mixture to give it an extra creamy texture and taste.
The Recipe
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The Best Mashed Cauliflower

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  • 1 cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook for 6-8 minutes until tender. Drain and use a dish towel or paper towels to pat the cauliflower dry. This will ensure the mash is fluffy and thick.


While the cauliflower is cooking, melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Add the garlic and cook for 2-4 minutes until very fragrant and tender. Remove from heat.


Add the cauliflower, garlic butter, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth and fluffy.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2/3 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 126
Calories from Fat 77
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 22mg
Sodium 471mg
Total Carbohydrate 9g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 3g
Protein 6g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On The Best Mashed Cauliflower
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Kellie Salinas
February 12, 2019 - 13:34
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I steam the cauliflower instead and then let it cool down. This side dish is absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
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September 13, 2018 - 16:07
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Instead of drying the cauliflower off with paper towels or whatever, I just added a bit of coconut flour to the cauliflower after I drained it. Mashed up fine and nice mashed potato consistency. Easy peasy.
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Ray Tizdale
January 18, 2022 - 17:21
Great idea!! Thank you
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September 14, 2018 - 08:35
That is genius!! Sometimes it can take a long time to dry the cauliflower. I love this trick!
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July 5, 2018 - 16:27
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This is a great recipe. I served it to guests and they couldn’t believe they weren’t real mashed potatoes. My family loves this recipe. Thank you!!!
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Paige Camp
June 25, 2018 - 17:18
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I've tried many recipes for mashed cauliflower, and this recipe is beyond the best, they are awesome!! Thanks for sharing!
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Freda Potter
January 17, 2017 - 15:56
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These were outstanding.
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Carol Green
January 7, 2017 - 04:04
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I think I love this more than mashed potatoes. I substituted cream cheese with Greek yogurt. Yummy!
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