Mashed Cauliflower (Low-Carb Mashed “Potatoes”)

What does it take to create nearly the same mouthfeel and flavor of traditional mashed potatoes, except low-calorie and low-carb? Ditching the potatoes! For anyone looking for a low-cal and low-carb substitute for potatoes, try mashing cooked cauliflower and turnips with the usual butter and milk plus a splash of Tabasco which – do not ask me how or why, it stumps me – makes all the difference in the taste.

Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Naturally Gluten Free. Vegetarian. Great for Meal Prep.
Mashed Cauliflower (Low Carb Mashed 'Potatoes') ♥, a substitute for light and creamy mashed potatoes. Weeknight Easy. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep.

Your Mouth Might Do a Double Take

Turns out, there are two ways to concoct a steaming bowl of light ‘n’ fluffy mashed potatoes. The first calls for potatoes plus a dairy’s worth of butter and cream. The second calls for – get this! – ditching the spuds entirely!

These "potatoes" are really cauliflower and turnips, cooked together and mashed together.

head of cauliflower

So what should you expect after mashing cauliflower and turnips together? What are they like?

  • Texture-wise, the mouthfeel is like traditional mashed potatoes except lighter.
  • Taste-wise, once the feel of mashed potatoes is present, the two vegetables are subtle enough that you just might not notice!

Now before Mr. Potato Head accuses me of potato-ism, please know that I love potatoes! In fact, you just might say that only a potato fiend fan would collect this many potato recipes.

But not everyone eats potatoes, either by choice or by prescription. There are the dieters, the whole low carb craze and all. And there are those with diabetes, whose blood glucose skyrockets when confronted with too many carbs.

The great news is that this recipe for "low-carb mashed potatoes" (aka Mashed Cauliflower) is delicious for everyone. I recommend serving it with something, say under a bowl of stew, rather than on its own.

Now to be honest, when my dad first tried my new low-carb "potatoes", he sniffed, "There is NO substitute for the Irish potato."

But another taste-tester with certified culinary credentials thought otherwise, "This could pass for potatoes, no question." (Ha! No wonder I married him!)

Which camp is yours? Decide for yourself!

But Do Know, Cauliflower Is Such a Chameleon!

Cauliflower Risotto ♥, an easy risotto with cauliflower, bacon, fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese.

Cauliflower is a low-carb substitute for potatoes but also for rice and dried beans, even things like chicken wings. (Ever heard of buffalo cauliflower? Total take-off on buffalo chicken wings!)

Here are some of my recipes which use cauliflower in creative ways that lifts cauliflower to mimic other higher-carb foods. You'll find these and more all in a "Cauliflower the Chameleon" section here with the cauliflower recipes.

But There's No Forsaking Real Potatoes

Some times, it's just potatoes that call, you know what I mean? So cook up your best potatoes and love 'em every bite. Here are some favorites, you'll find these and many more here in the potato recipes.

Three Secrets for Rich & Creamy Mashed Potatoes ♥, showcasing three techniques from Cook's Illustrated. The good news? The techniques can be applied to your own favorite mashed potato concoction!

Just updated! First published way back in 2009 as "Lighter Mashed Potatoes".


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes about 4 cups
  • Salted water to cover
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 3lb/1350g), trimmed, core removed, cut into large florets
  • 1/2 pound (225g) turnips, trimmed and cubed
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or milk or half & half or really any dairy)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or sage
  • Tabasco to taste (don’t skip)
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

COOK & PURÉE Bring the salted water to a boil; add the cauliflower and turnips as they’re prepped. Reduce the heat to maintain a fast simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through. Drain well and transfer to a food processor (see TIPS) and process until smooth.

TO SERVE IMMEDIATELY Return the puréed mixture to the hot pan on medium high heat. Stirring often, cook off the excess liquid, about 5 – 10 minutes. (Do take the time to cook off the liquid, otherwise, the wateriness will mar the final product.) Stir in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to serving bowl. Serve and enjoy!

MEAL PREP Mashed Cauliflower is just as good made ahead of time, refrigerated and then just used a serving at a time for four or five days.

TO MAKE AHEAD FOR THE OVEN After puréeing, stir in about 4oz/112g low-fat cream cheese along with the milk, butter, herbs and Tabasco. Transfer into a well-greased baking dish. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh herbs. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Return to room temperature. Bake for about 30 minutes at 300F or until hot clear through.

ALANNA’s TIPS Aim for about 2-1/2 pounds (1100g) edible (after trimming) cauliflower and turnip. If you're short on cauliflower, add extra turnip. For an ultra-smooth and ultra-silky mixture that will pool like loose polenta, overcook the cauliflower and turnips, cooking for about 40 minutes versus 20 minutes. I’ve tried hand mashing, an immersion blender and a hand mixer. Sorry, none really work. It takes the power of a food processor to get closest to the texture of mashed potatoes. There's some irony there, because you can't mash actual potatoes in a food processor, unless, that is, you want a mucky mess of glue-like potatoes. If you like, "doctor" the mashed cauliflower and turnips however you do mashed potatoes. The familiarity may help your family adjust!

CELERIAC MASHED "POTATOES" If you like, substitute celery root (also called celeriac) for the cauliflower. It adds a subtle touch of celery flavor that’s quite lovely. Celeriac is expensive, however, so use a small head plus one to two pounds of turnips, whatever it takes to get to 2-1/2 pounds edible vegetable. The celeriac takes longer to cook so cook them alone for about 15 minutes before adding the turnips.

CAULIFLOWER & POTATO MASHED POTATOES So call me crazy but my next version, I want to mix a head of cauliflower and one or two peeled russet potatoes. It wouldn't be as low carb obviously but I think would be a magical combo.

VEGAN MASHED CAULIFLOWER This is super-easy to convert! Just use vegan butter or olive oil instead of butter. Then use a plant-based "milk" such as almond, oat, etc.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 68 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 8mg Cholesterol; 93mg Sodium; 9g Carb; 4g Fiber; 5g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 1 & myWW green 1 & blue 1 & purple 1
Adapted from Greene on Greens (affiliate link) by Bert Greene.

A Menu To Experiment with Mashed Cauliflower

Fresh Vegetables with Easy Radish Spread

Beef & Mushroom Stew
Mashed Cauliflower
(recipe above)
Chopped Vegetable Salad with
My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing

Lemon Pots

More Ways To Serve Lighter Mashed 'Potatoes'

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Cast Iron Meatloaf Chicken with Creamy Cider Gravy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
from Kitchen Parade

~ more cauliflower recipes ~
~ more turnip recipes ~
~ more actual potato recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2009, 2012 & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous1/22/2009

    I've become totally converted to using a ricer for my mashed potatoes. I wonder how these would work in that...

  2. A ricer may well work, since you can exert hard pressure to push the vegetables through. It sure is worth a good try, Ellen!

  3. I used to make these when we were doing Adkins, and they really are very, very good. Tip: cauliflower can also be turned into a great Spanish rice!

  4. While I still drool at the thought of REAL mashed potatoes, I've discovered the joy of mashed cauliflower and another favorite is a mash of turnips, carrots and parsnips. They may not be the same as potatoes, but they are truly tasty none the less and perfect for low-carb dieting.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna