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Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Makes 6 servings20 minutes hands on time30 minutes total time

By Catherine Newman

Makes: 6 servings

Total carbohydrates: 9 grams per serving

Hands-on time: 20 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Mashed cauliflower recipes float around the internet, and commenters say things like, “My husband thought they were just regular mashed potatoes, and I didn’t tell him otherwise!” and a little part of me is like, really? Because these are incredible – don’t get me wrong. Densely creamy, rich, and smooth. As comforting as comfort food gets, and just as happy under a ladleful of gravy as their carbier cousins. But I wouldn’t go with deception here, because I worry that folks will only end up confused and disappointed. Instead, boast about their cauliflowerness and let your dinner guests (i.e. family) be pleasantly shocked. I, for one, would much rather someone say, “I can’t believe these are cauliflower!” than, “These are weird-tasting mashed potatoes.” Feel free to add another kind of cheese here: grated cheddar or parmesan, stirred into the mash and sprinkled on top, adds yet another element of deliciousness. A clove of garlic, steamed and pureed with the cauliflower, is another flavorful addition.


1 large head cauliflower

4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces, divided use

½ cup (full-fat) sour cream

4 ounces (full-fat) cream cheese, cut into pieces

½ teaspoon (+) salt

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Grease a shallow ovenproof casserole and set it aside.

2. Cut or break the head of cauliflower into florets. I do this by cutting the head in half, then cutting off all the tough outer leaves and cutting out the hard, middle core. The rest of the stem I slice into small chunks, and the rest of the cauliflower I break with my hands into pieces. It’s fine to do this all with a sharp knife.

3. Put an inch or so of water in a large pot, then put in a steamer basket, if you have one (if you don’t, you’ll follow these exact instructions anyways). Add the cauliflower, put the lid on, put it on the stove, and turn the heat to high. Once the water is boiling, set a timer for 8 minutes. At 8 minutes, stick a sharp knife into the toughest-looking piece of cauliflower in the pot. If it’s not completely tender, cover and cook another minute or two. (Make sure there’s still water in the pot; add some if it threatens to dry up.)

4. Drain the cauliflower and shake it really well, then put it back in the hot, empty pot and shake it around, uncovered, over low heat for a minute or so, until it dries out a bit.

5. Put the cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade (a blender works fine too), then add 3 tablespoons of the butter, all of the sour cream and cream cheese, and the salt and pepper. Whir the cauliflower until it is absolutely smooth and kind of fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula, if you need to. Taste the cauliflower, and add more salt and/or pepper if it needs it.

6. Scrape the cauliflower into the casserole, dot it with the remaining tablespoon of butter, and pop it under the broiler for a minute or two to heat it up a bit and brown the top.

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. She also helped develop Sprout, a WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as Seasoned, their senior version. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health, happiness, and real food at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]