In this post: Mashed cauliflower is a great alternative to mashed potatoes when you are craving comfort food, or you are eating low-carb. Here are step-by-step instructions for making this easy side dish.

Mashed potatoes are an extremely popular side dish, especially around the holidays. And this easy, dairy-free cauliflower side dish is the perfect replacement for mashed potatoes! It’s absolutely delicious and perfect for anyone who can’t or doesn’t eat potatoes. Learn how to make it for yourself with these step-by-step instructions!

mashed cauliflower in a red and blue patterned bowl

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This mashed cauliflower recipe:

  • is quick and easy to make
  • doesn’t require fancy equipment or hard-to-find ingredients
  • is totally adaptable to any dietary restrictions or allergies

The #1 Mistake When Making Mashed Cauliflower

The #1 mistake made when making mashed cauliflower is not draining the cauliflower for long enough! All that extra water is what leaves your mashed cauliflower watery and bland. I suggest you let your cauliflower drain for a few minutes to get all that water out! You can even go a step further and pat your cauliflower dry after draining it to really make sure all the water is gone.

mashed cauliflower in bowl with fork beside it

Mashed Cauliflower Ingredients

  • Cauliflower: when mashed, cauliflower is a – dare I say surprisingly – good substitution for potatoes!
  • Garlic: adds an extra tangy bite that keeps you refilling your plate.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: is considered the “healthiest oil” because it has the lowest monounsaturated fat and acidity levels of all oils. 
  • Butter substitute: you could use real butter if you want, but my house is (mostly) vegan so we use a substitute.
  • Salt and pepper: these basic spices go a long way in this recipe! However, you can try adding other spices too (see below for ideas).
  • Basil leaf: this herb makes a beautiful (and delicious!) garnish to put on your mashed cauliflower.


This mashed cauliflower recipe is fantastic on its own, but you can make it even better with these variations:

  • Beans: try adding canned/soaked beans to your mashed cauliflower before you mash them for a starchy, more potato-like texture (and extra protein).
  • Cheese: mix some nutritional yeast and (dairy-free) cheddar cheese into the mashed cauliflower for an extra cheesy flavor!
  • Seasonings: top with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage.

The Best Mashed Cauliflower Toppings

Adding toppings to mashed cauliflower is one of the best parts of making this dish! You can add:

  • parmesan cheese
  • a chunk of butter
  • chives
  • sliced green onions
  • bacon bits
  • sour cream
  • mushroom gravy
  • homemade gravy
  • cream cheese
  • parsley (and other fresh herbs)

How to Make Mashed Cauliflower

1 . Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.


2. Trim about ¼ inch off the top of your garlic bulb. Pour olive oil on top of the garlic and wrap with aluminum foil. Set the bundle on a small pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

3. Put a large pot of water on to boil. While the water is heating, chop cauliflower into florets. Add the cauliflower florets to the boiling water and turn the stove down to medium. Once the cauliflower is fork-tender, drain it in a colander.

mashed cauliflower-process4

4. Using a food processor, blend half the cauliflower and garlic on high. Once the ingredients have reached a creamy consistency, transfer them into a bowl and do the same for the next half. (I suggest doing this in case your food processor is not large enough to fit all of the ingredients).

5. Add salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you want to taste. Melt the butter substitute and add it to the mashed cauliflower. Mix well.

mashed cauliflower

6. Serve in individual bowls and top with fresh basil.

Mashed Cauliflower Serving Suggestions

This mashed cauliflower recipe pairs well with main dishes like:

And mashed cauliflower is wonderful with other side dishes like:

Tips for the Creamiest Mashed Cauliflower

I don’t know about you but creamy mashed cauliflower is definitely my goal! Here are some ideas to help you as you follow this recipe:

  • Barely cover your cauliflower with water for boiling
  • Boil the cauliflower until fork-tender
  • Drain your cooked cauliflower for a few minutes and pat it dry
  • Don’t skimp on the butter substitute, it makes all the difference!
  • If you can, try adding sour cream or greek yogurt.

Blender, Food Processor, or Potato Masher: Which One Should You Use?

Blenders (including the immersion blender) and food processors are the best options for this mashed cauliflower recipe! They really get the job done, making the mashed cauliflower smooth and creamy.

Now, the handheld potato masher is a wonderful option when making classic mashed potatoes! However, using a potato masher to make mashed cauliflower will not go as well as using a blender. You would end up with some little chunks of cauliflower in your mix. If that doesn’t bother you, then go ahead and mash away! But I personally enjoy my mashed cauliflower most when it has that smooth, creamy texture you can see in my pictures.

mashed cauliflower in a red and blue patterned bowl with basil on top


What do I do if my mashed cauliflower is watery?

How to fix watery mashed cauliflower:

  • Add extra cooked cauliflower to the mash and blend; or
  • Cook the mashed cauliflower in a pot on medium to steam off the excess water

You can prevent watery mashed cauliflower by draining your cooked cauliflower for a few minutes and patting it dry afterward.

Can you make mashed cauliflower from frozen riced cauliflower?

You can absolutely make this mashed cauliflower recipe from frozen riced cauliflower! Cook the riced cauliflower like you normally would and make sure it’s well-drained. When using frozen riced cauliflower, you will definitely need to use a blender or food processor to get the desired creamy texture!

Is cauliflower keto-friendly?

A keto-friendly ingredient is one that goes along with the keto diet: low-carb and/or high-fat. So, cauliflower is considered keto-friendly because it has 5 grams of carbs for every 100 grams, which is low in comparison to potatoes’ 17 grams of carbs per 100 grams.

Can you freeze cauliflower mash?

Yes, you can freeze this mashed cauliflower recipe! I suggest freezing it in an airtight container or a ziplock bag (flat). 

How do I reheat mashed cauliflower?

You can either reheat the leftovers in a pot at medium-low heat, stirring frequently (just like a can of soup!) or you can bake them in a dish in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Does mashed cauliflower taste like mashed potatoes?

Mashed cauliflower and mashed potatoes are made from two different vegetables so naturally, they don’t taste the same. However, that doesn’t mean mashed cauliflower isn’t absolutely delicious and a wonderful option for anyone following a low-carb or no-nightshade diet! This mashed cauliflower recipe (and other recipes) prove that vegetables can be super delicious and lots of fun.

Is mashed cauliflower good for you?

This mashed cauliflower recipe contains healthy fats (in the olive oil and butter substitute) and minerals like folate and potassium and vitamins like vitamins C, K, and B6 (in the cauliflower). Not only is mashed cauliflower an adequate source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, it is absolutely delicious, which is always good for your soul!

mashed cauliflower in a red and blue patterned bowl

How to Store

You can store your mashed cauliflower in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To store it in the freezer, put the leftovers in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 2 months.

Dietary Considerations

This mashed cauliflower recipe is already:

  • Gluten-free: all my gluten-free buddies, this mashed cauliflower recipe is safe for you! It uses only 7 ingredients, none of which contain gluten of any kind.
  • Keto: the keto diet focuses on eating fewer carbohydrates and more fat. This mashed cauliflower recipe is keto-friendly because the olive oil and butter (substitute) are high in fat and using cauliflower instead of potatoes reduces the carbs.
  • Vegetarian: this recipe is vegetarian because it uses absolutely no meat products!
  • Dairy-free: as long as you use a dairy-free butter substitute, this mashed cauliflower recipe is dairy-free.
  • Vegan: this recipe is vegetarian, dairy-free, and contains no eggs, so it is vegan!

More Yummy Side Dishes

mashed cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Make this easy, dairy-free mashed cauliflower recipe! Made with garlic, this recipe makes a nice mashed potato substitute.


  • 1 whole garlic head (bulb)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup butter substitute, melted
  • 1 basil leaf, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim off about ¼ inch off the top of your garlic. Pour olive oil on top and wrap with aluminum foil. Set on a small pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Chop cauliflower into florets and boil on medium until fork tender. Drain in a colander.
  3. Using a food processor, blend half the cauliflower and garlic on high. Once ingredients have reached a creamy consistency, transfer into a bowl and do the same for the next half. (I suggest doing this in case your food processor is not large enough to fit all of the ingredients).
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, followed by melted butter substitute. 
  5. Serve in individual bowls and top with fresh basil. Bon appetit!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 175Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 187mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily via Nutrifox.

Did you make this recipe?

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Have you tried mashing some cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes yet?

shannon photo and sig oct 2022