Vegan Mashed Cauliflower (Keto | Low-Carb)

BY : PUBLISHED : November 24th, 2021 UPDATED: August 31st, 2022

Creamy, fluffy vegan mashed cauliflower is a low-carb, keto, dairy-free light alternative to mashed potatoes and an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving and mid-week meals! This cauliflower mashed potatoes is also quick, easy, and requires just 4 ingredients as its 'base' (with plenty of chance for experimentation)!

completed mashed cauliflower in a white dish against white background

4-Ingredient Light and Creamy Vegan Mashed Cauliflower

Having recently updated our post for creamy vegan mashed potatoes (with tons of optional add-ins!), we knew we had to do the same for this light and creamy vegan mashed cauliflower recipe, aka the BEST light, low-carb potato alternative! Not only does it mash well and taste great, but cauliflower mashed potatoes are low calorie and packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients. For a healthy addition to your dinner table any time of the year!

Honestly, if you like mashed potatoes and are a fan of cauliflower, then easy cauliflower mashed potatoes are the low-carb side of your dreams. There's no potato peeling involved, less prep, and you can enjoy it slightly chunky or super smooth without worrying about over-processing it until gummy (one point to cauliflower over potatoes!). Enjoy it simple and (dairy-free) buttery, or dress it up with the addition of extra herbs and flavorings (tons of suggestions below). Either way, if you haven't tried this low-carb cauliflower mash before, prepare to fall in love!

It may not taste exactly like mashed potatoes, but in our (humble) opinion, sometimes it can taste even better. With a little experimentation, you'll find that these can taste incredibly similar to regular potatoes (especially when using similar add-ins/seasonings) or become a delicious dish of its own merit!

Best of all, thanks to the frugality of cauliflower, this creamy cauliflower mash is a great low-budget side dish. We've even included multiple cooking methods to prepare this healthy cauliflower mash, including steamed, roasted, boiled, and even Instant Pot cauliflower mash!

Looking for more interesting ways to enjoy cauliflower? You may also enjoy this cauliflower rice bowl, cauliflower tacos, cauliflower steaks, or BBQ cauliflower wings!

The Ingredients

  • Cauliflower: You'll need one head of cauliflower, roughly chopped into florets. You could also use cauliflower from frozen (check FAQs for method) or use pre-prepared 'riced' cauliflower (fresh or frozen).
  • Vegetable broth: This (along with additional water) will be used to cook the cauliflower and infuse it with extra flavor. We recommend using a rich vegetable broth; use reduced-sodium if preferred.
  • Vegan butter: Use your favorite unsalted dairy-free butter to add creamy richness to the whipped cauliflower.
  • Thyme: It's best to use fresh thyme for the best flavor in this vegan mashed cauliflower recipe–rosemary would also work. In a pinch, you can use dried herbs instead.
  • Salt & Pepper: Adjust the amount to taste.
  • To garnish (optional): You can top the creamy cauliflower mash with extra vegan butter and some fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, parsley, green onions (scallions), chives, etc.
mashed cauliflower ingredients against white background

Other simple add-ins & Recipe Variations

  • Garlic: One of our favorite variations is garlic mashed cauliflower. You can lightly sauté it or roast it for the vegan buttery, lightly caramelized flavor, then mix it into the mash. We recommend 2-3 cloves (more if roasted) or adjust to personal taste.
  • Vegan cream cheese: Add a few tablespoons of your favorite vegan cream cheese for thick and creamy cauliflower mashed potatoes.
  • Cheesy cauliflower mash: For a subtle cheesy flavor, add in some nutritional yeast. Alternatively, use a vegan parmesan or melty vegan cheese.
  • Creamier dairy-free cauliflower mash: You can add a dairy-free cream, Greek yogurt, or sour cream (2+tbsp) to increase the creaminess.
  • Potatoes: If you want to ease into enjoying low-carb cauliflower mash, you could make a mashed cauliflower and potatoes blend (then decrease the potatoes over time) or use another root veg like parsnips. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes are best for mashing.
  • Vegetables: Peas, broccoli, carrots, shredded spinach/kale/cabbage, leek, and shredded zucchini are all welcome additions to the vegan mashed cauliflower.
  • Other seasonings: Experiment with seasonings in this healthy cauliflower mash: like garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg, paprika, cumin, etc.
  • Mustard: Just a small amount of mustard will add depth to the flavor of the vegan cauliflower mashed potatoes.

How to Make Vegan Mashed Cauliflower?

Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.

  1. First, prepare the cauliflower by removing the outer leaves (if it has any) and roughly chopping it into equal-sized florets (they'll be mashed, so no need to be too 'perfect' about not breaking the florets).
  2. Then, in a large pot, bring the broth, water, and salt, to a boil. Add the chopped cauliflower, bring it back to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is very tender.

If you're using cauliflower rice, this will take only around 10 minutes. However, for frozen cauliflower, it may take a few minutes extra.

  1. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked cauliflower to a food processor along with 3 tablespoons of the veg broth mixture and the vegan butter. Then process until smooth and creamy (or the consistency you'd prefer).
process showing cauliflower in container
completed mashed cauliflower in a white dish against white background

Alternatively, you can drain the liquid from the pan into another bowl. Then, use an immersion blender to blend the cauliflower puree, adding a tablespoon of the vegetable broth at a time until you achieve your desired consistency.

  1. Finally, taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and add the chopped thyme, processing for just a few seconds until combined. Enjoy!

Alternative Cooking Methods

To steam the cauliflower: The time will vary. 7-10 minutes should work well for cauliflower florets over medium-high heat.

Microwave the cauliflower: Add the cauliflower florets to a large microwave-safe Pyrex container (or container with lid) with a splash of water and microwave, covered, for 6-9 minutes (the time will vary based on the microwave and size of florets, so check after 5 minutes and continue in 1-minute intervals). You can do the same with cauliflower rice for 4-6 minutes.

Roasted mashed cauliflower: Chop into florets, then roast drizzled with a bit of oil at 450F/230C for 30-40 minutes, or until tender. For cauliflower rice, reduce the time to 10-15 minutes. Flip/stir halfway.

Instant Pot mashed cauliflower: Place the vegetable broth at the bottom of your IP (no additional water necessary) and the cauliflower heat above. Cook on high pressure at 7 minutes, then quick release. Remove some of the broth and blend until smooth, seasoning as you go. Add some of the removed stock as needed for smooth and creamy Instant Pot cauliflower mash.

How to Store Vegan Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes?

Cut down on on-the-day prep by pre chopping your cauliflower and storing it in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. That way, you can just cook and blend to creamy cauliflower mash perfection!

Once cooled, you can store the leftover vegan mashed cauliflower in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. You may also be able to freeze it for up to three months (though we haven't tried- yet).

To reheat the creamy cauliflower mash, use a microwave or the stovetop. Add a splash of extra liquid or vegan butter and mix well before serving.

completed mashed cauliflower in a white dish against white background

How to Serve Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes?

You can enjoy this vegan mashed cauliflower in all the same ways that you would regular mashed potatoes, including:

  • During the holidays - proudly on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table
  • As part of a 'Sunday Roast'/ roast dinner
  • Enjoy with vegan sausages and meatballs
  • Pour over vegan meatloaf
  • Enjoy alongside stews
  • Serve with pies
  • In place of regular mash over shepherds' pies and other mash topped dishes.
  • Drenched in vegan gravy

FAQs

  • Can I make mashed cauliflower from frozen? The process is almost identical, except it will take longer for the florets to cook until tender. I've also noticed that pre-frozen cauliflower makes mash that isn't as smooth and creamy (but still delicious!)
  • Can I make mashed cauliflower without a food processor? Yes, you can use an immersion blender or blender, too. Or, for a machine-free method, you could even use a potato masher (though it won't be really smooth this way). If you plan to use the latter, we recommend grating the cauliflower into cauliflower rice before cooking it, so it's easier to mash the smaller pieces.
  • How to thicken mashed cauliflower? There are a couple of ways to do so. You can cook the mashed cauliflower on the stovetop to help remove some of the excess water. You can also drain it through a cheesecloth. Finally, you could add more vegan cream cheese OR a cornstarch slurry (1 teaspoon starch to 1 tablespoon water), heating until the mixture thickens. To avoid watery vegan mashed potatoes in the first place, drain the cauliflower well. Alternatively, you could steam or roast the cauliflower (so it absorbs less water).
  • How long to boil cauliflower for mash? This will depend on the size of the florets. We've found 15-20 minutes for regular florets or around 10 minutes for cauliflower rice.
completed mashed cauliflower in a white dish with a spoon in the mashed cauliflower against white background

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Adjust the texture: Simply blend it more or less based on how smooth you want the vegan cauliflower mashed potatoes to be. We used an immersion blender for a smooth (but slightly textured) mashed cauliflower. For the smoothest results, use a food processor.
  • Don't throw out the veg broth: You can use it while blending the dairy-free cauliflower mash until you achieve your desired consistency. You could even use the leftover within sauces and soups.
  • For the smoothest cauliflower puree: We recommend steaming the cauliflower and using a food processor to blend it until creamy and smooth. This combination makes perfectly smooth vegan mashed cauliflower every time!
  • Save time and prep: By using pre-packed riced cauliflower. Adjust the cooking time accordingly (around 10 minutes boiling).
  • Avoid colored cauliflower: We've tried with purple cauliflower, and the texture/consistency was just 'off.'
  • To boost the favor: You can lightly sauté the broccoli in a little vegan butter before boiling it (or roast it).
  • Don't undercook the cauliflower: you want it super tender (almost mushy) to become smooth and creamy vegan mashed cauliflower.

More Vegan Thanksgiving Sides

You might also enjoy browsing through our collection of 45 vegan thanksgiving dishes!

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed mashed cauliflower in a white dish with a spoon in the mashed cauliflower against white background

Vegan Mashed Cauliflower (Keto| Low-Carb)

Toni Okamoto
This delicious cauliflower mash tastes so good you won’t believe it’s healthy. Serve with thyme for an earthy zest and for a low calorie side dish that will fill you up!
5 from 29 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 3 servings
Calories 119 kcal
METHOD Stovetop
DIET Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup of vegetable broth + 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into ½-inch pieces (don't worry about keeping florets intact)
  • 2 Tablespoons of vegan butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, bring the broth, water and salt to a boil. Add the cauliflower; bring back to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low and steam for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is very tender.
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower to a food processor. Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth/water from the pot, along with the vegan butter. Process until smooth.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add thyme and process until just combined.

Video

Notes

Try these additions:
  • Garlic: One of our favorite variations is garlic mashed cauliflower. You can lightly sauté it or roast it for the vegan buttery, lightly caramelized flavor, then mix it into the mash. We recommend 2-3 cloves (more if roasted) or adjust to personal taste.
  • Vegan cream cheese: Add a few tablespoons of your favorite vegan cream cheese for thick and creamy cauliflower mashed potatoes.
  • Cheesy cauliflower mash: For a subtle cheesy flavor, add in some nutritional yeast. Alternatively, use a vegan parmesan or melty vegan cheese.
  • Creamier dairy-free cauliflower mash: You can add a dairy-free cream, Greek yogurt, or sour cream (2+tbsp) to increase the creaminess.
  • Potatoes: If you want to ease into enjoying low-carb cauliflower mash, you could make a mashed cauliflower and potatoes blend (then decrease the potatoes over time) or use another root veg like parsnips. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes are best for mashing.
  • Vegetables: Peas, broccoli, carrots, shredded spinach/kale/cabbage, leek, and shredded zucchini are all welcome additions to the vegan mashed cauliflower.
  • Other seasonings: Experiment with seasonings in this healthy cauliflower mash: like garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg, paprika, cumin, etc.
  • Mustard: Just a small amount of mustard will add depth to the flavor of the vegan cauliflower mashed potatoes.

Nutrition

Calories: 119kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 4gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 1207mgPotassium: 579mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 199IUVitamin C: 93mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

About Toni Okamoto

"They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
'Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways...
we got to start taking better care of ourselves " - Dead Prez

View all posts by Toni Okamoto

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Natalie says

    5 stars
    My kids loved your mashed cauliflower as a side dish. I just couldn't believe my picky eaters ate it all! Thanks!

    • Andrea White says

      Love this! You know it's a good one when the kiddos enjoy it too 🙂

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