This Garlic Cauliflower Mash is a quick, easy, and low-carb vegetable side dish that mimics a bowl of classic mashed potatoes.
First of all, I should be clear-- I love carbs, and I adore classic mashed potatoes.
But-- I love lighter, less starchy vegetables even more, and any opportunity to include more cruciferous vegetables in my life is a good opportunity.
This garlic cauliflower mash mimics a classic bowl of creamy, filling, and satisfying mashed potatoes-- and it mimics it well.
Want to make this in an Instant Pot? Try this version: Instant Pot Mashed Cauliflower
Does this Really Taste Like Mashed Potatoes?
Shockingly-- yes. Yes, it really does.
Could you tell the difference if you were eating this garlic cauliflower mash back-to-back with a classic mashed potato? Maybe, but only if you were really paying attention.
To me, there is a faint taste of-- an unknown flavor. The "unknown flavor" is cauliflower-- of course-- but if I didn't know it was cauliflower, I think I would suspect that a root vegetable had been mashed into the potatoes.
For the record, I like the extra flavor element, and it's not a negative at all.
Can I Use More Garlic? Can I Swap Minced Garlic?
Of course you can!
But as you adjust the garlic, keep the following in mind.
This recipe has you add ½ a head of garlic, or about 6 cloves. I tried with fewer cloves, and I couldn't taste the garlic as well. I also tried with more garlic, and I found it a little too bitter.
If you don't like peeling garlic, try smashing the cloves with the flat side of a chef's knife.
In other words, turn the blade to the side, and smash the cloves with the flat piece of metal.
The peels should come off easily.
This recipe has you steam the garlic cloves. Steaming mellows the bitter flavor, and also softens the cloves so that they blend easily.
If you'd prefer to use minced garlic or garlic paste, do not put it into the steamer with the cauliflower! Instead, add about 2 tsp of the garlic into the food processor or blender with the cauliflower when it's ready to be puréed.
Then add more to taste.
If you go this route, you'll be working with raw garlic, which is stronger, so add it in gradually.
Can I Get Rid of the Dairy in this Recipe?
Yes, but the flavor will be a little different. The cheese is here to give the garlic cauliflower mash a mildly nutty flavor. You can substitute the cheese for nutritional yeast or a small handful of soaked cashews.
Substitute the milk for a milk substitute (I recommend coconut milk), and the butter for vegan butter or coconut oil. Be aware that your mash will taste faintly like coconut.
Can I Swap Frozen Cauliflower for Fresh?
Yes! You could even buy "steam in the bag" cauliflower.
Keep in mind that you'll still need to steam the garlic, or make one of the garlic substitutes suggested above.
Can I Make this Garlic Cauliflower Mash Ahead of Time?
Yes! Make these faux mashed potatoes up to 2 days ahead of time, and then reheat in the microwave or oven.
How to Make Garlic Cauliflower Mash
Start by steaming the garlic and cauliflower.
I just use an inexpensive vegetable steamer basket for this step.
While they steam, heat the milk in a small saucepan, and then stir in a little butter and cheese. Blend it all together in a food processor, season to taste, and serve!
Want more LOW-CARB SIDES? Try these:
- Braised Kale with Apple Cider Vinegar
- Oven-Roasted Asparagus with Charred Lemon
- Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apple Cider Vinegar
Want a LOW-CARB MAIN DISH to go with this side? Try these:
Garlic Cauliflower Mash
- 1 cauliflower head (medium sized)
- ½ head of garlic (~6 cloves), peeled
- 1 ¼ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup Asiago or Parmesan cheese (or use a mixture of both)
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt, to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, to taste
- diced chives or green onion, to garnish (optional)
- Bring 1" water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add a steamer basket.
- Add garlic cloves to steamer basket, cover pan. Steam 5 minutes.
- While the garlic is steaming, break the cauliflower into florets.
- Add cauliflower to the steamer basket with the garlic. Steam 7 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender. Remove cauliflower and garlic from pan and set aside.
- While cauliflower steams, add milk to a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until the milk begins to simmer. Stir in the cheese and half the butter, stir until incorporated.
- Add the cauliflower, garlic, and ⅔ of the milk mixture to the basin of a large food processor or high-powered blender. Blend until it's as creamy as you prefer, and add the remaining milk gradually until the cauliflower reaches the desired consistency. (Smaller cauliflower will need less milk, and larger ones will need more.) Add salt and pepper to taste, blend again.No food processor or blender? You can also mash everything together with a potato masher, but the resulting mash may not be as creamy.
- Serve the remaining butter on top of the mash, and garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
- Make Ahead: To make the mash up to 2 days ahead, store in an air-tight container in the fridge. This mash reheats well in the microwave, or add to casserole dish, cover, and place in a warm oven (350ºF) for 20-30 minutes.