Cauliflower Mash for Dummies

by Mara @ What's For Dinner? on January 23, 2012

in simple recipe, South Beach Diet, vegetables, vegetarian

I’m not calling you a dummy, I swear!

Over the last few months, Adam and I have thoroughly embraced the delicious South Beach Diet side dish that is mashed cauliflower. One of the things that I’ve really missed in these months (with a couple of gaps for the holidays) following South Beach have been potato-based side dishes. Sweet potatoes are fantastic, but sometimes, bland white potatoes cooked in a fun way is what I want.

Mashed cauliflower to the rescue!

Many of you have emailed asking for my process in making mashed cauliflower since it always comes out looking so much like “real” mashed potatoes. So, on this busy Monday, I bring you a step-by-step tutorial to make your very own delicious side dish.

Just a caveat: this is NOT mashed potatoes. Anyone who tells you this tastes “just like” mashed potatoes is crazy. However, the texture is close, and the flavor is close enough that it makes a great substitute.

Start with a head of cauliflower.


Now, I know that not everyone has cauliflower for $0.59 per pound like we do. Feel free to use a bag (or two!) of frozen cauliflower florets in place of the fresh. Everything else will stay the same.

Cut the cauliflower into florets, discarding only the core and external leaves.


Place the florets in a large microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water.


Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and then…


In the mean time, assemble your other ingredients:



Be careful when you remove the bowl from the microwave; that steam is ridiculously hot and abundant!

Now, make sure you have everything:


I used asiago cheese, but cheddar is amazing, parmesan is fantastic, and mozzarella is beautifully gooey. But the point is, use 1 cup of shredded cheese.

Pour the milk over the hot cauliflower and then puree the heck out of it with either a stick blender or food processor. Add the salt, pepper, and butter, then puree more. Last, add the cheese, puree again, and allow to sit a few minutes before serving to let all the cheese melt.


Not very impressive-looking, right? This looks better as a side dish:

cauliflower mash

That’s brisket that cooked all day. No, you can’t have the recipe… I promised my mom! But you can have the cauliflower mash! And trust me, you’ll like it!



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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren January 23, 2012 at 7:51 PM

I LOVE mashed cauliflower. Even more than potatoes I think!
Lauren´s last blog post ..Recipe Monday!


Debbi Does Dinner Healthy January 23, 2012 at 8:12 PM

I love cauliflower mash, I love asiago too but have never tried it in this. The family prefers half potatoes and half cauliflower. Weenies. :-)

I’ve never understood people keeping family recipes to themselves. If something is THAT good, then I would think that you would be thrilled to share it. I have never made brisket and would LOVE the recipe. You’ll have to work on mom. :-)
Debbi Does Dinner Healthy´s last blog post ..Southwest Wild Rice


Rebecca January 23, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Mimi’s brisket recipe is a secret? It must be really good…


Amanda January 23, 2012 at 9:26 PM

I keep forgetting to pick up a head of cauliflower at the store. I need to try this sooner than later. Especially with some good cheese. YUM!
Amanda´s last blog post ..Weigh-in Day WOMP WOMP


Melissa @TryingtoHeal January 23, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Yummy! I made them at Christmas, but half cauliflower half potatoes. A bit of earth balance and salt and pepper and I was set! :) I like yours better though!
Melissa @TryingtoHeal´s last blog post ..Comment on 20 Things by Tessa @ Amazing Asset


Jenn January 24, 2012 at 7:46 AM

I actually made mashed cauliflower for the first time a couple of weeks and it was a total hit! I didn’t use any cheese though but I’m sure it’s even more delicious.
Jenn´s last blog post ..Rocking out, my exercise playlist


Jenn@slim-shoppin January 24, 2012 at 8:18 AM

That does look great Mara! And I agree when I was in weight watchers a long time ago, people would say “It’s just like mashed potatoes” and I was like – no its not!

But I wasn’t a huge fan of cauliflower back then – but now I love it, so I have to try this again!
Jenn@slim-shoppin´s last blog post ..Turkey Kielbasa Kabobs


Roz@weightingfor50 January 24, 2012 at 1:40 PM

I love that your Mom’s recipe is a secret! That is so fun. I REALLY like cauliflower mash. You put cheese in yours? Be still my heart! :) I make mine with steamed cauliflower, a couple of tbsp light ricotta to bind, and then “whatever” I have in the fridge if I want to deviate from the “plain”. I’ve whirled in spinach, sun dried tomatos, pesto, and one time I had some leftover roasted beets….the beets gave it QUITE the color! Have a great Tuesday.


Robin Love January 25, 2012 at 12:27 AM

I am a long time SB’er too and I adore cauliflower mash. I eat it at breakfast with a couple eggs (like grits & eggs). Heck even my kids will eat the cauliflower mock potato salad. Don’t miss potatoes a bit!


Dana @ Cooking at cafe D January 25, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Oh, that looks delicious!
I’ve made mashed cauliflower. But, I boiled it. Steaming in the microwave sounds much easier! While it’s not the *same* as mashed potatoes, would call them “mashed potato inspired.” Definitely good eats.

Have you tried mashed rutabaga made the same way? Sincerely good. I think they taste just a little bit cauliflower-y. I sometimes mash them with butter, salt and pepper. Sometimes I leave them cubed about 1/2 inch – very nice. My husband loves them cubed.

I did an interesting comparison (at least *I* thought it was interesting – might have bored my readers to sleep…) comparing the nutrition of russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and rutabaga. Each had completely different nutrients! (Lots of pretty colored charts of which nutrients each had.) So, we try to get a variety of each.

Can’t wait to try your steaming method.
~ Dana
Dana @ Cooking at cafe D´s last blog post ..10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Perfect Paint Color (Our Jimmy John’s Kitchen Redesign – Part 2)


Samantha January 31, 2012 at 12:59 PM

I just bought califlower to make a new recipe with…and I’m so happy that I came across your blog. Now I know exactly what I will create. I even bought a new
steamer recently that I have wanted to use. I’m excited. Thanks for the post!


Alisha January 31, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Do you thinking this recipe would freeze and reheat well?
Alisha´s last blog post ..saturday morning


Mara @ What's For Dinner? January 31, 2012 at 6:52 PM

I think it would, but you may want to reduce the milk in it a bit, then add it in when thawed and reheated. Let me know how it goes if you try it out!


Beth @kitchen minions February 1, 2012 at 9:11 AM

Thank you for being honest that it doesn’t taste like mashed potatoes! I’m realizing more and more that exact replacements aren’t possible and I’m always disappointed. Since I’m starting a modified South Beach, I may have to add this to our dinner rotation.
Beth @kitchen minions´s last blog post ..Clever Uses for Whey?


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