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I’m excited to show you my tips and secrets to help you make the best keto mashed cauliflower recipe (a.k.a. cauliflower mash). It’s unbelievably smooth and creamy and delicious.
Since I have been low carb or keto in some form for over a decade, I’ve used cauliflower to replace carbs — every which way — for years, from cauliflower rice to loaded cauliflower, and so many other cauliflower recipes in between. And that has been lots of time to experiment with perfecting the best cauliflower mash, too.
Originally, this was one of those low carb cauliflower recipes that came out of my kitchen when we needed a dinner side. And this garlic mashed cauliflower was already so, SO good the first time, but I’ve tweaked it a few times since then to make it even better. Let me show you how to make mashed cauliflower that has the perfect creamy texture and buttery flavor.
What Is Mashed Cauliflower?
Mashed cauliflower is simply cauliflower that has been cooked until very tender and mashed (or pureed) to resemble mashed potatoes. They are often used as a low carb mashed potato substitute.
How to cook cauliflower like mashed potatoes?
The secret to cooking cauliflower like mashed potatoes is to cook the cauliflower first until it’s SUPER soft, then blend it with your favorite mashed potato add-ins.
Why You’ll Love This Mashed Cauliflower Recipe
- Garlicky, buttery flavor
- Smooth texture like mashed potatoes
- Easy to make, with just 4 ingredients (plus salt)
- Ready in only 15 minutes, with minimal prep work
- Just 6.1g net carbs per 1-cup serving (or 3g per 1/2-cup serving)
- Healthy and keto friendly
Garlic Mashed Cauliflower Ingredients
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for cauliflower mash, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Cauliflower – To get 4 cups of mashed cauliflower from this recipe, use a large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds for the whole head, which is equivalent to 6 cups or 1.5 pounds of cauliflower florets). If you have a small to medium head (4 cups of florets), use 2/3 of the other ingredient amounts.
- Butter – The best buttery mashed cauliflower needs butter! I prefer to use unsalted grass-fed butter and add salt separately to taste. However, if you need a paleo or dairy-free option, you can swap in ghee, olive oil, or butter flavored coconut oil.
- Cream cheese – Adds a silky texture and also makes the cauliflower flavor more neutral. Cut it into chunks before using. I typically use plain cream cheese, but you can also use flavored, such as garlic and herb. For a dairy-free option, use almond milk cream cheese.
- Garlic – Fresh minced garlic has the best flavor, but the kind from a jar is also fine to save time.
- Sea Salt – I prefer sea salt, but kosher salt works in the same amount. Feel free to also add some black pepper if you like.
- Garnishes – This is optional, but I like to add some fresh chives or fresh parsley. Some extra butter to melt on top is also delicious.
Ways To Cook Cauliflower For Mashing
Like any mashed cauliflower recipe, start by cutting the cauliflower into florets.
TIP: Use more florets and less stems for the creamiest cauliflower mash. The stems don’t get as smooth as the florets.
Next, we’re going to cook our cauliflower. You can steam it on the stovetop or in the microwave, boil it, or roast it.
If you love the flavor of roasted cauliflower, you can roast it before mashing. However, I find that steaming or microwaving makes for softer, creamier mashed cauliflower. Up to you!
- How long to boil cauliflower for mash? Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add the cauliflower, cover with a lid, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until very soft. Drain well.
- How long to steam cauliflower for mash? Bring water to a boil in a pot fitted with a steamer basket, then add the cauliflower, cover with a lid, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until very soft.
- How long to microwave cauliflower for mash? Place the cauliflower florets into a large bowl with 1/2 cup water. Cover the top with plastic wrap and microwave with 10-15 minutes, until very soft.
- How long to roast cauliflower for mash? Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and arrange on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees F, tossing halfway through, until very soft.
TIP: Make sure the cauliflower is cooked super soft before making the mash – this is a key tip for how to make mashed cauliflower super smooth. You want it much softer than you’d normally cook cauliflower (beyond fork-tender), which is why you may notice that the times above are longer than normal. Think fall-apart soft!
Can you make mashed cauliflower from frozen riced cauliflower?
Yes, you can use cauliflower rice to make cauliflower mash. You can cook cauliflower rice like this, but cook for a few extra minutes to make it mushy enough for a mash. You’ll need 1.5 pounds of cauliflower rice if you want to use it in this garlic mashed cauliflower recipe.
How To Make Cauliflower Mash
This section shows how to make mashed cauliflower with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, see the recipe card below.
Once the cauliflower is cooked until it’s nice and soft, here is how to make a mash with it…
- Saute garlic. Pan fry the garlic with a little oil in a small skillet, for just a minute or two. I skipped this step in older versions of this cauliflower mash recipe, but now highly recommend that you do this. (You can see some of the older reviews mention that the garlic flavor is too strong, which was from raw garlic in the older version. Sauteing gets rid of this issue.)
- Puree. Add the cauliflower, garlic, butter, cream cheese, and salt to a food processor. Puree until completely smooth, scraping the sides as needed.
TIP: I don’t recommend a potato masher if you really want this to resemble potatoes. The food processor creates a silky consistency that mashing by hand simply won’t achieve. If you don’t have a food processor, an immersion blender should work aswell, but will take longer.
- Garnish. Transfer the cauliflower puree to a plate and any toppings you like. I like a little pat of butter, a few cranks of fresh cracked pepper, and some fresh chives… but I have lots of variations and toppings ideas for you below.
Mashed Cauliflower Nutrition
Cauliflower is one of my favorite low carb vegetables, partly because it makes such an easy replacement for traditional carb-filled dishes (like cauliflower rice, cauliflower hummus, cauliflower pizza crust, and this mashed cauliflower, of course!), but also because it’s a nutritional powerhouse! It’s a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, and potassium [*].
Is cauliflower keto friendly?
Yes, cauliflower is keto friendly. And it’s a staple in our low carb house.
There are so many ways to make cauliflower delicious. I am a big fan of roasting it, but this creamy mashed cauliflower is the perfect low carb alternative to mashed potatoes.
How many carbs in mashed cauliflower?
This mashed cauliflower recipe has just 6.1 grams net carbs per serving (1 cup). Compared to the 30 grams net carbohydrates in regular mashed potatoes, this low carb cauliflower mash is a much healthier option.
If you’re looking for how to make mashed cauliflower keto, you can use this recipe, or any other as long as it does not add any actual potatoes.
How many mashed cauliflower calories?
This cauliflower mash recipe has 132 calories per cup. The number in other recipes can vary depending on the ingredients.
Mashed Cauliflower Variations
The version on the recipe card below is one of the most basic mashed cauliflower recipes (perfect as a versatile side dish for any meal), but there are many ways you can upgrade it if you like:
- Loaded Cauliflower Mash – Swap half of the cream cheese in the recipe with sour cream. Once the mash is ready, stir in (or just sprinkle with) chopped cooked bacon (I make bacon in the oven most of the time, but air fryer bacon or microwave bacon are great for making it quickly), shredded cheddar, and sliced green onions.
- Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower – Add your favorite cheese (check out the keto cheese list for ideas!) to the food processor. I love cheddar, gruyere, gouda, or parmesan cheese. Keep in mind that the processor will melt the cheese smoothly into the cauliflower, so if you don’t want that, you can stir it in instead. Alternatively, if you prefer melted cheese on top, you can transfer the mash to a baking dish, top with shredded cheese(s), and bake to melt.
- Dairy Free Cauliflower Mash – I mentioned some swaps in the ingredient section above, but you can also try my paleo cauliflower mashed potatoes.
- Sour Cream & Chives – Top with a dollop of sour cream and fresh chives.
- Lemon Herb – Stir in a teaspoon of lemon zest and a tablespoon of either rosemary or thyme (or 1/2 tablespoon of each). I don’t recommend lemon juice because it will water down the mashed cauliflower.
- Pesto – Add 2 tablespoons of basil pesto to the food processor.
- Add Veggies – Fold in sauteed mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes.
You can make keto mashed cauliflower ahead of time! It keeps well in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Can you freeze cauliflower mash?
Yes, you can freeze mashed cauliflower after letting it cool. I recommend freezing flat in zip lock bags, then move around in your freezer as needed once solid.
Even though dairy often does not freeze well, it’s fine to freeze this garlic cauliflower mash with cream cheese, since it’s all mixed together. If you find any separation after thawing, you can puree in the food processor again.
You can reheat mashed cauliflower in the microwave, on the stovetop over low heat, or in the oven at 350 degrees F, until hot.
What To Serve With Mashed Cauliflower
Any recipe that goes well with mashed potatoes will go well with this garlic mashed cauliflower. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Chicken – Mash goes with any chicken recipe, but especially those that have a sauce, such as pan seared chicken breast, coq au vin, pesto chicken, or chicken marsala.
- Beef – Garlic mashed cauliflower is the perfect pairing for a steak, such as sirloin, filet mignon, or New York strip. It’s also great with braised or slow cooked meats, such as keto pot roast or Instant Pot beef short ribs.
- Pork – My favorite pairing is smothered pork chops, because the mash soaks up the sauce, but you can also serve it with baked pork chops or pulled pork.
- Fish – Try it with pan seared halibut, baked salmon, or baked cod.
- Swap Mashed Potatoes In A Meal – Some recipes call for mashed potato as an ingredient, and you can easily swap in this mashed cauliflower instead! Keto shepherd’s pie is a great one to start with.
More Easy Cauliflower Recipes
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The Best Keto Mashed Cauliflower Recipe
Learn how to make mashed cauliflower that’s smooth, creamy, and low carb! The BEST keto mashed cauliflower recipe (cauliflower mash) needs just 4 ingredients.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Option 1 – Microwave Method:
Place the cauliflower florets into a large bowl with 1/2 cup (118 mL) water. Cover the top with plastic wrap.
Microwave for 10 to 15 minutes, until very soft and mushy. Drain and pat dry.
Option 2 – Steam Method:
Fill a large saucepan or pot with enough salted water to come right below a steamer basket fitted over it. Bring the water to a boil.
Place the cauliflower florets into the steamer basket and fit on top of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid.
Reduce water to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until cauliflower is very soft and mushy.
Make the Mashed Cauliflower:
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for about a minute, until fragrant.
Place the cooked cauliflower, sauteed garlic, butter, cream cheese, and salt into a food processor. Puree for 1-2 minutes, until completely smooth.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with chives if desired. You can also drizzle some melted butter on top if you’d like.
Serving size: 1/2 cup
Makes 2 cups.
Video Showing How To Make Mashed Cauliflower:
Tap here to jump to the video for this recipe — it’s located directly above the ingredients list. It’s the easiest way to learn how to make Mashed Cauliflower!
Amount per serving. Serving size in recipe notes above.
Total Carbs 9.9g
Net Carbs 6.1g
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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