Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Brown Butter

Side DishCauliflowerBrown Butter

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes are mock mashed potatoes made with cauliflower! They're low carb and absolutely delicious with brown butter.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I had to laugh at our last holiday meal when my sister proclaimed, “these are the best mashed potatoes ever!” only to be informed that she was eating mashed cauliflower.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes have been around for a while, and if you have yet to get on the bandwagon, I encourage you to try them!

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Cauliflower makes an excellent low carb substitute for starchy potatoes. Though we like mashed cauliflower so much that we usually serve both—cauliflower and mashed potatoes—at our holiday meals.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

In this version we are steam boiling the cauliflower first in salted water, then draining and mashing. While the cauliflower is cooking, we brown some butter on the side to get mashed with the cauliflower. Do you ever make brown butter? It’s easy to make and brings a warm, nutty, deeply buttery flavor to everything it touches.

The addition of sour cream provides some tang and helps smooth out the mashed cauliflower.

The result? Amazing! Seriously good. Like, I’ll pass on the potatoes, just give me some more of the mashed cauliflower good.

Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Brown Butter Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Cauliflowers vary in size. If you are working with a cauliflower that is larger or smaller than 1 1/4 pounds, increase or decrease the amount of butter and sour cream to add.


  • 1 large cauliflower (about 1 1/4 pound or 565 g), core removed, cut into large florets (see How to Cut and Core Cauliflower)
  • 1 cup (235 ml) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) sour cream
  • Chopped chives, green onions, and/or parsley for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1 Steam/boil the cauliflower: Place 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the cauliflower florets.

Bring to a boil on high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer.

Cover and let the cauliflower cook for 10-14 minutes, until very tender.

2 Brown the butter: While the cauliflower is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan (easier to use a stainless steel pan so that you can see the browning occur) on medium heat.

Once the butter melts, it will begin to foam up a bit. When the foam subsides, look for amber colored bits forming at the bottom of the pan.

When the butter begins to brown, smell it. It will have a lovely nutty aroma.

When you can see lots of flecks of browned bits, and the melted butter smells wonderful, remove it from the heat and pour into a bowl (glass or metal).

Butter can quickly go from browned to burnt, so keep an eye on it and work quickly when the butter starts to brown! (See our more detailed instructions on How to Brown Butter.)

3 Strain the cooked cauliflower: When the cauliflower is cooked through and tender enough to mash with a fork, strain out all but a tablespoon or two of the remaining water.

4 Mash with a potato masher and stir in the brown butter and sour cream. (Make sure to scrape in all the browned bits from the butter; that's where the flavor is!)

5 Purée to desired consistency: Use an immersion blender or a standing blender and blend the mashed potatoes to as smooth a consistency as you would like. Or just mash more with a potato masher if you like a chunky consistency.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with chopped chives, green onions, or parsley to serve.


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Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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14 Comments / Reviews

No ImageCauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Brown Butter

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Kim

    Have you had any experience making this dairy-free? My son is allergic to dairy.

    Show Replies (2)
  2. Keith Sabin

    The recipe is lovely–took the result down to a silken texture potatoes can’t rival (maybe Yukons?)–and suggestions like broth and parmesan are supersmart. I used The Kitchn’s microwave-brown-butter hack.

  3. LD Meyer

    I’ve done this with cauliflower only I cheated and mixed it with instant potatoes, I add a dash or two of garlic salt, not bad, nice n’ easy !

  4. Michael Fox-Martin

    Hi Elise, thanks for the great recipe. We sometimes add some grated parmesan to add some richness. Love what you do!

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Judy B.

    We eat mashed cauliflower quite often…not because we don’t like mashed potatoes, but the cauliflower is lighter and goes so well with a variety of main dishes. One of our favorite ways to fix mashed cauliflower is to steam it, then lightly mash with s&p and drizzle with lemon butter. It’s especially tasty with seafood or chicken dishes. We’ll have to try your browned butter version soon. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Elise. Thanks so much for all you do for us. I know everyone else agrees that your delicious recipes continue to amaze and inspire us to be better cooks. Hope you have the best Christmas ever.

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