Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Browned Butter

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.

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


  • 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 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp (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.

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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 browned butter and sour cream. (Make sure to scrape in all the browned bits from the butter; that's where the flavor is!)

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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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  • 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.

  • 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 !

  • Michael Fox-Martin

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

    • Elise Bauer

      Thanks Michael, and thanks for the idea to add a bit of parm!

  • 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.

  • Ian

    Tim Ferriss has a version of mashed cauliflower where he recommends boiling the cauliflower in coconut milk, then adding curry powder and ground cashews. The texture and taste are very good. Mashed cauli all the way!

  • Sara @ Last Night's Feast

    Yum! I can’t wait to try these!

  • Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

    I simply love cauliflower puree

  • MHR

    I boil mine in chicken stock instead of water. Adds more depth to flavor

  • Kathy Nski

    This sounds terrific, Elise. I have actually been adding your delicious cauliflower puree (with low-fat sour cream) to my potatoes when I mash them and they’re great. Family members who weren’t fond of cauliflower have embraced this mix. I can’t wait to try this new version out on them. Thanks for the wonderful recipes!

  • jack

    i love it