Mashed Cauliflower


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This mashed cauliflower is a fabulous side dish for weeknight dinners. And while it may be a low-carb alternative to classic mashed potatoes, it’s just as delicious, creamy, and flavorful – plus, it’s quicker to make!

A bowl of mashed cauliflower
Photo by: Gayle McLeod

Mashed cauliflower is a great way to sneak more veggies into your diet, no matter the time of year. But if you’re looking for healthier alternatives during the holidays, especially for Thanksgiving or Christmas, this mashed cauliflower reigns supreme. Here’s why: 

  • It’s the perfect low-carb alternative. For the record, I’m not a low-carb girl and I don’t think carbs are bad, especially those from potatoes. But, swapping mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes (or even mashed sweet potatoes) is a great way to replace a starchy vegetable with a low-carb vegetable. 
  • It tastes equally amazing. As you’ll see, this version has plenty of garlic and fresh herbs, so it’s quite flavorful. And even though it’s not as starchy as potatoes, it’s still very creamy with a similar thick texture (if you make it my way).
Ingredients for mashed cauliflower.

Mashed Cauliflower Ingredients

The great thing about this recipe is there’s only a handful of ingredients, including:

  • Cauliflower: Look for a fresh, unblemished head of cauliflower.
  • Garlic Cloves: Because cauliflower has such a mild, neutral flavor, minced garlic gives it a kick of flavor. Especially when it’s sauteed in a pan with olive oil to make it fragrant.
  • Fresh Herbs & Seasoning: I love fresh thyme, but you could also use rosemary, sage, chives or parsley. Plus, a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper is always welcome.
  • If you can tolerate dairy: Feel free to add some butter, ghee, or soft cheese (Chevre is a personal favorite).

How To Make Mashed Cauliflower

Steam the cauliflower. Heat 1 inch of water in a pot on medium heat and bring to a boil. Place a steamer insert, add the cauliflower florets, and steam for 6 to 8 minutes. The florets should soften but still be nice and crisp.

Boiling cauliflower in a pot.

Cook the garlic. While the cauliflower is steaming, heat the olive oil in a small pan and cook the garlic for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Then, remove the pan from the heat. 

Cooking garlic in a pan.

Add everything to the pot. Remove the steamed cauliflower from the pot, drain the water, and add the cauliflower back in. Then, add the olive oil, cooked garlic, chopped herbs, and optional ingredients here. 

Making mashed cauliflower in a pot.

Mash it up! You can use a potato masher or handheld stick blender. But today, I’m opting for the potato masher for a slightly chunkier texture. Once done, season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Mashing cauliflower in a pot.

Common Questions

Because I’ve made mashed cauliflower numerous times (with a few fails along the way), here are a few things to keep in mind and avoid.

Can you boil the cauliflower?

I know it’s easy to toss the cauliflower florets into a pot of water (and many recipes say to do this), but this introduces too much water into the vegetable and you’ll end up with cauliflower puree rather than mashed cauliflower.

What about roasting the cauliflower?

Yes, you could do this! And it imparts a lovely flavor, but it does take 2 to 3 times the amount of time, so I don’t do it often.

Can you use a food processor or blender?

Yes, you can, but the texture will be more like a puree than mashed. I’d recommend using a potato masher or immersion blender for a fine balance between smooth and chunky.

Can you skip the garlic and herbs?

When I’ve heard from folks who cringe at mashed cauliflower, it’s because they’ve had it plain. And let’s be honest, cauliflower is a fairly bland vegetable, so it’s no surprise the result would be bland. Fresh herbs are best (though dried work as well) along with a little butter, ghee, or olive oil. Herb compound butter is a great addition as well!

A bowl of mashed cauliflower with a spoon.

Storage Tips

  • To store for the week: Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. It’s also a great side dish to prep on a Sunday and enjoy throughout the week.
  • For freezing: You can freeze this in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat: Give it a good stir before reheating in the microwave. The reheat in 30 second intervals, until warmed through.

More Healthy Cauliflower Recipes

If you love cauliflower recipes (as I do), make sure to check out some of these reader favorites.

I hope you enjoy this mashed cauliflower as much as I do! If you make it, I’d love to hear how it turned out in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community. 

Mashed cauliflower with butter.

Mashed Cauliflower

5 from 22 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Mashed cauliflower is a healthy, low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes. It's similarly creamy, and the sauteed garlic and fresh herbs in this recipe make it seriously tasty. Watch the video below to see how I make it in my kitchen!




  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, chives, etc)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Prep the cauliflower. Trim the leaves off the cauliflower and cut off the florets. Rinse the florets under water.
    Slicing cauliflower on a wooden board.
  • Steam the cauliflower. Heat 1 inch of water in a pot on medium heat and bring to a boil. Place a steamer insert in the pot and add the cauliflower florets. Steam for 6 to 8 minutes.
    A pot of cauliflower.
  • Cook the garlic. While the cauliflower is steaming, heat the olive oil in a small pan on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.
    Cooked garlic in a pan.
  • Add everything to the pot. Remove the steamed cauliflower from the pot, drain the water, and add the cauliflower back in. Then, add the olive oil, garlic, chopped herbs, and any optional ingredients.
    Mixing cauliflower and herbs in a pot.
  • Mash. Use a potato masher or stick blender to mash the cauliflower.
    Mashed cauliflower in a pot.
  • Serve. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately.
    A white bowl of mashed cauliflower.

Lisa’s Tips

  • Be careful not to overcook the cauliflower or else your cauliflower mash might end up more of a cauliflower puree. The same can be said if you use a food processor instead of using a potato masher or handheld stick blender. The goal is to gently mash, not to puree.
  • Also, if you’re not concerned about this recipe being low-carb, remember that you can also do 50/50 mix with traditional potatoes and mashed cauliflower for a happy medium.


Calories: 70kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 43mg | Potassium: 439mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 24IU | Vitamin C: 71mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: How to Make Mashed Cauliflower, Mashed Cauliflower, Mashed Cauliflower Recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally published Oct 2017, but updated to include new photos and information. 

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. This was so easy to make and tasted amazing! It was creamy, light and packed with so much flavour. My kiddos didn’t even miss the potato. I’ll definitely have this recipe on rotation.

  2. I tried this recipe last night. Whoa! Exceeded my expectations! It’s so delicious and filling. My one slight tweak – I was at the grocery and happened to see roasted garlic gloves at the olive bar, so I purchased 6 cloves and added those (versus saute-ing my own). I used fresh minced rosemary and thyme as suggested, and I finally had a reason to use my wand emulsifier blender thingy. :-) This recipe came together fast and was super yummy. I’m going to use this recipe the next time I make shepherd’s pie. Thumbs up!!5 stars

  3. I love this recipe and have used a half recipe with a bag of frozen cauliflower. I have even sauteed my garlic and oil in the pan from my Cajun shrimp. All delicious. Thank you!5 stars

  4. In the past I have been lazy and boiled or cooked my cauliflower in the Instant Pot. This method of steaming was perfect and the mash was creamy but not watery. Thank you so much!

  5. This is a great recipe and use of hidden veggies (you’ve never know!) I’m going to use less garlic next time. Thanks!5 stars

  6. I guess I prefer puréed cauliflower. I conked it in a littl chicken stock until tender and purée in a Cuisinart along with Parmesan cheese, a dollop of whipped cream cheese and Greek yogurt. I also cook what little bit of chicken stick down to about a tablespoon and add it to the purée. It is so delicious. 

  7. This looks wonderful. I found you when I was shopping for my Vitamix and you convinced me it’s the best thing … And it is.  Thank you.  Love all your recipes.  So easy and delicious.

    Next I want to try the mashed Cauliflower.  Could I use my Vitamix to make make this?

    1. I haven’t tried making this in a Vitamix, but I’m thinking it might not be the best choice. Otherwise it can easily turn into cauliflower soup!

  8. What I appreciate most about your recipes are the tips. I can’t imagine how much trial and error you went through coming up with them. With food prices being so high these days trial and error must be minimized and you’ve done all the work for us! Your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed!5 stars

    1. It can get costly depending on the recipe, but I’m happy to do it for this community as I don’t want you all experiencing failed recipes!

  9. When you are looking at calories, it says 84.6 calories, is that per serving? This recipe says it’s 4 servings.

  10. Why on earth, would you not also use the stem of the cauliflower. Such waste.
    It’s getting mashed, so cook and mash the stem too. Should also recommend using the leaves somehow as well, because they’re edible too.

  11. This was so good!!! that I ate a whole bowl by myself so did my daughter. I followed every step by steaming the cauliflower heads vs boiling or roasting them and Lisa was right about that. Thank you Lisa!!
    I could see that this will become a staple dish in my family. 5 stars

  12. How many grams are you accounting for in a head of cauliflower for this? They can range anything from 300-900grams here.

  13. Hi, Lisa!
    I’m still waiting for my steamer insert to arrive.
    Would it turn out well if I boiled the cauliflower instead?

    1. Hi Dawn – you can boil the cauliflower, though I find the texture turns out much softer (more like a puree) than when it’s steamed.

  14. This recipe is the best cauli mash I have tried! Most turn out mushy but this one is the one that makes it seems like I’m eating potatoes!!! Served this at a party and it was a hit! 5 stars

  15. Hi, this may be a dumb question but the macros you show here, are they per serving or the value of the content of the recipe?  Also if this is for the entire content , I guess I would divide the macros by how many  servings ? Like I said I’m dense lol.

    1. Hi Paul – The calories are per serving, and there are about 4 servings in this recipe :) Hope that helps!

  16. We dont eat many vegetables, but are trying to eat healthier. We decided to try a new vegetable each week. Tonight, I made this smash cauliflower and was very pleased, especially when hubby went for seconds.5 stars

    1. Hi Jan – So happy to hear you are challenging yourself to hop onto a more healthier lifestyle! I’m glad you and the hubby loved this mashed cauliflower :) Can’t wait for you to make more of my recipes!!

  17. Yum!! Do you mix all of those herbs in there? Or just pick a select few? What’s your favorite combination of herbs together for this? 

    1. Hi Madalyn – My favorite combo would probably have to be rosemary, thyme, and parsley :) But any combination works!

  18. I just made this for friday night dinner! With roasted carrots and celeriac chickpea patties to go with it. Crazy delicious!!!5 stars

    1. Yay – so happy you loved it! And celeriac chickpea patties….umm, those sound amazing!! xo

      1. Thanks <3. And I sprinkled some roasted pine nuts on top for a little extra crunch. You must try it!!!

      2. Thank you!!! It means a lot when you say it!!!<3 I really really want to… but it seems I'm a bit of a coward… ;) But some day I will!

  19. Okay, this is easily the most beautiful cauliflower I’ve ever seen. Your photos are amazing! I’ve had cauliflower rice, but not mashed cauliflower and I need to give this a try soon! Love the addition of the herbs!

    1. Thanks so much Amy! There’s so much you can do with cauliflower (for sure), but this method is so easy and fast! :)

  20. I love all the cauliflower everywhere these days. It’s absolutely my favorite veggie and it’s so versatile. This cauliflower mash looks beautiful!

    1. It truly is a versatile veggie – as you can mash it, rice it, boil it and even turn it into pizza dough (that one is coming). ;) x

  21. I usually do mixed parsnip, carrot and potato mash at Christmas, this looks like a great variation. I love your tip to steam it, there’s nothing worse than soggy mash.

    1. I love a carrot parsnip mash as well! And yes, steaming is definitely the way to go to prevent mush. ;) x

  22. Mashed cauliflower > potatoes always, in my opinion. So much tastier when prepared right, just like this recipe. Yum!5 stars

      1. Thanks for the recipe. I’m eating this mashed cauliflower right now. Absolutely superb!5 stars