Everybody loves a holiday dinner full of all those favorite indulgent dishes— and everybody hates the feeling the next morning, when you start to regret everything you enjoyed and that scale in the bathroom seems to be mocking you. Still, we all deserve to treat ourselves, and days like Thanksgiving or Christmas aren’t the time for total deprivation. So how can we still enjoy the festive meal without ruining our hard, healthy work? With some smart substitutions, and for that we’re turning to our number-one veggie hero: cauliflower!

In the grand tradition of dishes like our Cauliflower Chowder, Cauliflower Biscuit Bites, and Cauliflower Casserole, we’re using the vegetable in place of a dish usually full of carbs and starch. That’s right: Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes! This dish is so good, and since you’re going healthy here, you can indulge elsewhere without totally going overboard. Check out how simple of a swap it is to make, then read on for the full recipe to make every holiday a little bit healthier.


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Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 large (about 2 pounds) head cauliflower
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 4 to 5 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs


  1. Wash the head of cauliflower, and allow the excess water to drain.
  2. Peel the leaves from the cauliflower, separate the florets from the stem, and cut the florets into medium, generally evenly-and-uniformly-sized pieces.
  3. Place the cut cauliflower pieces in a large pot, and top with the chopped garlic, vegetable stock or broth, salt, and enough water to just cover the cauliflower.
  4. Cover the pot with a lid, and bring the cauliflower mixture to a boil over high heat.
  5. Once the mixture is boiling, remove the lid, reduce the heat to a simmer, and allow it to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is very tender and can be easily smashed with a spoon.
  6. Drain the cauliflower well, reserving the cooking liquid in case you need to adjust the consistency of the cauliflower mash.
  7. Add the butter, and then use a potato masher to bring the cauliflower to a mashed potato consistency. If needed, cook the cauliflower over medium low heat, while stirring often, to remove any excess cooking liquid.
  8. Mix in the finely-chopped herbs and, if needed, season with more salt to your taste. Serve warm.

Chef’s Tips

  • The large, approximately 2-pound head of cauliflower should yield about 4 to 5 cups of florets.
  • For herbs, we recommend parsley and thyme, but you may also use your favorite herbs!
  • The amount of water used will vary between 4 to 5 cups, and depends on how much you need to cover the cauliflower after you add the vegetable stock.
  • The leftover and reserved cauliflower cooking liquid can be frozen and used to make another batch of cauliflower mash or soup at a later time.
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Ultimately pretty easy, right?! It looks just like regular old mashed potatoes, it has the same consistency, and with that garlic and butter taste added in, you won’t miss the potatoes at all. How great is it that you can enjoy mashed “potatoes,” and still enjoy all those other carb-and-starch-laden special holiday dishes with much less guilt?! We’re definitely calling this one a win!

But now we want to hear from you— what do you think? Have you ever used cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes before? Have you ever made Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes? How else would you like to dress up this recipe and make it extra special for the holidays? Tell us if you give it a try, and be sure to let us know how it turns out for you!

Recipe inspired by Wicked Spatula