Garlic Cauliflower Mash

I wanted a mashed cauliflower side that could rival the comfort food experience of mashed potatoes. With excess water removed, this cauliflower mash is like a thick puree with rich flavor and creaminess from slightly tangy cream cheese.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

Craving something creamy and comforting but still want to keep it light? Try this simple and delicious garlic cauliflower mash! All you need is five ingredients and 20 minutes to enjoy this guilt free meal.

garlic cauliflower mash side dish

Mashed cauliflower can easily replace mashed potatoes in terms of flavor and function–as a side to some Thanksgiving turkey, for example. It’s simply cauliflower that has been boiled until tender and pureed with wholesome ingredients like garlic, butter or ghee, and cheese for creaminess.

Since it’s lighter than mashed potatoes, it works fabulously even in spring and summer.

cauliflower mash as mashed potatoes with chives and butter

Ok, I know what you’re thinking.

Q: How good can cauliflower really be?

A: You might want to double this recipe if you want leftovers. Just sayin.

Fact. My husband and I polished off an entire head of cauliflower when we were testing this recipe (and we weren’t exactly hungry at that point). That’s the thing with mashed cauliflower–it seems like a big portion, but it doesn’t fill your belly in the same way as mashed potatoes.

Cauliflower as Mashed Potatoes

If you are avoiding potatoes because of nutrition concerns, pureed cauliflower is a sensational substitute for mashed potatoes, especially when you serve it up with all the fix-ins. You could try:

  • texture: toasted nuts or bits of crumbled up bacon add crunch
  • spices: smoked paprika would add a little red color and a smoky flavor
  • herbs: chopped chives, green onion, or rosemary for freshness

Technique Tip: While a ricer is a fabulous tool for perfect mashed potatoes, cauliflower contains too much fiber so you should opt to puree it instead. You will need a standard size food processor for this recipe to get the ultimate creamy dreamy texture and flavor.

How to Make Cauliflower Mash: Step-by-Step

Gather your ingredients: Garlic cloves, cauliflower head, butter (salted or unsalted), salt, pepper, chives, cream cheese, and grana Padano cheese (or parmesan).

cauliflower florets, butter, garlic cloves, chives, cream cheese, and grana Padano

Since we will be boiling the cauliflower for a good while and then pureeing, you can just roughly chop the cauliflower. If you want to practice your knife skills though, by all means check out my tutorial on how to break down a head of broccoli.

After you break it down into florets, I recommend boiling the cauliflower and garlic in a small amount of water until completely tender. For the best flavor though, I love to add salt and butter to the water because it gives the ingredient time to absorb more flavor.

Use a spoon to transfer the boiled cauliflower and garlic into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree until you reach a smooth or slightly chunky consistency, whichever you prefer. When you are ready to serve, simply reheat the puree and season with cheese and salt and pepper.

cauliflower mash with garlic and chives

Serving Ideas for Mashed Cauliflower

I hope you love the taste and texture of this cauliflower puree. It’s easily one of my favorite side dishes on The Frayed Apron. I’m so proud to bring you this simplified, tested recipe. Enjoy!

garlic cauliflower mash


I wanted a mashed cauliflower side that could rival the comfort food experience of mashed potatoes. With excess water removed, this cauliflower mash is like a thick puree with rich flavor and creaminess from slightly tangy cream cheese.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cauliflower
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 176kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


  • 1 large head cauliflower roughly cut into florets (about 3 pounds)
  • 6 garlic cloves smashed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
  • cup Grana Padano cheese or Parmesan finely shredded
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly chopped chives for serving


  • Boil the cauliflower and garlic. Place the cauliflower and garlic cloves in a Dutch oven or large pot with ½ cup water, two pinches of salt, and butter (or ghee). Cover and poach over medium-high heat until very tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Puree the cooked cauliflower. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade (or with a ricer), work in batches to “mash” the cooked cauliflower and garlic cloves to reach your desired texture (somewhat chunky or completely smooth).
  • Season and serve. Discarding excess water, return the mashed cauliflower-garlic puree to the Dutch oven or pot to rewarm over low heat. Stir in the shredded cheese, cream cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with chives.


Ingredients substitution: In place of cream cheese, you may use 3 tablespoons of sour cream or plain yogurt.
May serve with melted butter, ghee, or olive oil.
This entire recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Simply reheat, adding a tablespoon of water. Stir and serve.


Serving: 1scoop | Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 468mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 425IU | Vitamin C: 71mg | Calcium: 148mg | Iron: 1mg

Photography by Adam Rahman

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