This scrumptious loaded cauliflower mash is filled with sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, butter, and bacon! Even the potato lovers will be obsessed with this low carb and keto-friendly side dish!
This past year, one of my goals has been to reduce the amount of carbs I eat. Ugh, I know. Every time I think about low carb all I can hear is sad Hallmark music playing in the background. Trust me, it hasn’t been easy for this pasta and potato loving girl.
The thing is, I feel so much better when I keep carbs under control. Not to mention, it’s easier to manage my weight. So, even though I’d love to have mashed potatoes and spaghetti without any worries, it’s just not my reality.
Thank goodness I’ve discovered low carb and keto recipes that are so delicious I don’t even miss the carbs. For example, this spaghetti squash alfredo is amazing! You’d swear that it was made with pasta.
Or, this loaded cauliflower mash recipe I’m sharing today. If you didn’t eat cauliflower before, you certainly will now. Honestly, even the picky eaters will come back for seconds.
This baked cauliflower mash is filled with all the flavors of a loaded baked potato – but without the potato. The sour cream and butter create a creamy rich texture while the sharp shredded cheese and bacon add delicious flavors.
You don’t even need to follow a low carb or keto diet to appreciate this loaded mashed cauliflower recipe.
My husband, who doesn’t eat keto, was blown away by the flavor and texture of this dish. He said he’d never know it was made with cauliflower unless I told him.
Reasons you’ll love this loaded cauliflower mash recipe
- All the flavors of loaded twice baked potatoes, but without all of the carbs. Truthfully, this might be the only reason you need to eat this cauliflower casserole.
- Naturally low carb, keto, and gluten-free. If you’re searching for an easy recipe that checks all 3 of those boxes then this loaded cauliflower mash is it.
- Super easy to make. Cauliflower recipes can be a little intimidating, they were to me too. But if you can boil water, and mash-up food, then I promise this will be an easy recipe for you to prepare.
- Can be made ahead of time. Whether you want to serve this for a holiday dinner or make it during the busy work week, you can save time by preparing it ahead. I’ll give more meal prep tips below.
Cauliflower – a medium-size cauliflower will work great in this recipe. Remove the stem and cut it into big chunks before steaming it. You can also use pre-cut bagged cauliflower. I haven’t used frozen cauliflower with this recipe so I’m not sure if that would work.
Chicken broth – this gives the cauliflower another layer of flavor – it’s my favorite way to prepare this recipe. However, if you don’t have chicken broth then steaming the cauliflower in water will work fine. Vegetable broth can also be used.
Sour cream – I use full-fat sour cream in this recipe but you could use lite sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to reduce the amount of saturated fat.
Salted butter – This recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of salted butter, which is all that’s needed for that creamy texture and rich flavor.
Sharp Cheddar Cheese – In my opinion, the BEST cheese to use on loaded potatoes is sharp cheddar cheese. It gives an amazing tangy sharp cheese flavor that you really can’t get with another cheese. So, when I was preparing this loaded cauliflower mash I decided to stick with sharp cheddar because I know it works. Of course, use whatever cheese you want.
Shredded Parmesan cheese – Adding in a little shredded parmesan cheese is a great way to easily include another layer of flavor. Grated Romano cheese will work too.
Cooked bacon – Can you even create a loaded cauliflower mash without bacon? I’m going to say no. I only used 4 cooked crumbled slices in this recipe and this gave the perfect amount of flavor without a lot of extra fat and calories.
Green onions or chives – This cauliflower loaded mashed potato recipe uses green onions because that’s what I had on hand. Chives also taste great in this recipe.
Anything that you’d put on your loaded baked potato will taste delicious stirred and baked into cauliflower mashed potatoes.
How to Make Loaded Cauliflower Mash
Step 1: Remove and discard the stem from the cauliflower and then break, or cut, the cauliflower into chunks. The pieces just need to be cut small enough to fit comfortably into the pot. So, it’s okay to keep in larger chunks if they fit. Set the cauliflower aside for a minute or so.
Pour the chicken broth into a 5 ½ quart pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then add in the cauliflower. Cover and steam until tender but not soft. This takes around 10 minutes. You should be able to poke a fork through the cauliflower without it falling apart.
Step 2: Drain the cauliflower and place it into a bowl.
Step 3: Using a potato masher and mash the cauliflower until you get the desired texture. If you prefer a smooth creamy mash then use a hand mixer or food processor to process the cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Step 4: Mix the butter, sour cream, grated parmesan cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, cooked bacon, salt, and pepper into the mashed cauliflower. Save some of the bacon to sprinkle on top. Give it another taste for salt.
Step 5: Place the mixed ingredients into a 8 x8 casserole dish, sprayed with cooking spray.
Step 6: Bake for 20 -25 minutes until hot and bubbly on the sides.
Steaming the cauliflower in chicken broth adds more flavor. – If you don’t have chicken broth available then using salted water will work. However, for the most flavor, I recommend using chicken broth or even vegetable broth.
Don’t overcook the cauliflower. The cauliflower should be tender but still a little firm. You should be able to stick a fork through it without the cauliflower falling apart. Overcooking the cauliflower will result in a mushy instead of a hearty texture.
Remember, for this recipe the cauliflower is being cooked twice.
Use a potato masher or hand mixer to get the consistency you want. If you prefer a chunkier “cheesy potato” consistency then use a potato masher to process the cauliflower. If you want a creamier mash then use a hand mixer to whip the cauliflower until smooth.
Add cream cheese to make the loaded cauliflower mash creamier and cheesier. If you’re dreaming of a super cheesy and creamy mash then blend in 4 ounces of softened cream cheese before baking it. Of course, this will increase the fat and calories so just be aware of that.
Make this recipe dairy-free. If you want to make this cauliflower mash recipe dairy-free then substitute dairy-free cheese and sour cream.
Shred your sharp cheddar cheese. I know this takes a little more work but it adds more flavor and melts extra creamy. Of course, pre-packaged shredded cheese will work but nothing beats shredding your own.
How to Make Ahead Loaded Cauliflower Mash
This loaded cauliflower mash recipe is easy to prep ahead of time making it perfect for the holidays or the busy workweek.
Simply cook and assemble the ingredients into the casserole dish 1-2 days ahead of time, cover, and refrigerate.
When you’re ready to cook the cauliflower mash then continue with the recipe.
This recipe also reheats well so you could even cook the loaded cauliflower mash completely ahead of time and then refrigerate. Reheat in the microwave when you’re ready to eat.
Le Creuset 5 ½ quart pot – I love my Le Creuset pot, I use it just about every single day. It’s on the pricier side but is worth the investment.
Mixing Bowls – I’ve got this cheap Pyrex set years ago and it’s never failed me.
Potato Masher – I have this simple potato masher by Oxo. It’s cheap and works great to get that chunky cheesy potato texture.
Hand Mixer – If you want a smoother, less lumpy consistency, then I recommend using a hand mixer. I have this basic one by Cuisinart.
Food Processor – A food processor will also work great to get that creamy smooth texture. I have this one by Cuisinart.
8 x8 Ceramic Casserole Dish – This white ceramic casserole dish works nicely for smaller casserole recipes or side dishes.
Loaded Cauliflower Mash Recipe
- 1 medium head cauliflower 1lb after trimmed
- 32 ounces chicken broth or stock 4 cups
- 2 tbsps salted butter
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon save a little bit to go on top after it's done
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsps sliced green onions
- Remove the stem of the cauliflower and discard. Then break, or cut, the cauliflower into chunks. Set it aside for a minute or so.
- Pour the chicken broth or stock into a 5 1/2 quart pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then add in the cauliflower. Cover and steam until tender but not soft. This step takes about 10 minutes.
- Drain the cauliflower and place it into a bowl. Using a potato masher, mash the cauliflower until you get the desired consistency. If you prefer a smooth mash then either use a hand mixer or food processor to process until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix the butter, sour cream, grated parmesan cheese, shredded cheese, cooked bacon crumbles, salt, and pepper into the cauliflower mash. Give it another taste for salt.
- Spread the cauliflower mash into an 8 x 8 casserole dish, sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until hot and bubble on the sides. Top with extra bacon and green onions. Serve hot.