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Instant Pot Mashed Cauliflower (3 ways!)

With three different flavour options (herb & garlic, sour cream & chive, garlic parmesan), this Instant Pot Mashed Cauliflower is an easy and delicious way to enjoy cauliflower. Perfect as a make-ahead side dish!

Check out the similar flavour combinations of our easy no-drain Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes!

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Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Cauliflower on a white plate next to two plates with other flavours.

Move over, potatoes! Whether you’re following a low carb or keto diet, or are just looking for a delicious alternative to potatoes, this mashed cauliflower is it! I’m not even sure it’s fair to compare this cauliflower mash to potatoes; they’re just so tasty in their own right!

This Instant Pot Mashed Cauliflower is fast enough to make on a weeknight, but it’s also a great addition to a holiday meal. Make them ahead of time to save time and kitchen space at your next holiday gathering!

Ingredients

Be sure to check out the recipe card below for exact quantities with detailed instructions and tips!

For every flavour

  • Cauliflower – cut into really large florets.
  • Garlic – whole cloves; I like to use it in every flavour, but you can skip it and still get a tasty result.
  • Butter – for creaminess. You can also add a pat on top when serving for a nice presentation.
  • Salt and pepper

For herb and garlic

Add a teaspoon of your fresh herb of choice, finely chopped. I used thyme for mine. Keep a bit extra for garnish.

For sour cream and chive

  • Chives – finely chopped. Prepare a little extra for sprinkling on top.
  • Sour cream – you can also use Greek yogurt as a lower fat option.

For garlic parmesan

This one is easy – just add some freshly grated parmesan!

How to make it

First, pressure cook the cauliflower and garlic.

Pour the water into the insert and place the steamer basket inside. Add the cauliflower and place the garlic on top. Close the lid, set the vent to sealing and pressure cook on Manual High pressure for 3 minutes. Quick release the pressure.

Holding a large cauliflower floret over a wooden cutting board.
Cut the cauliflower into large florets.

Second, add some flavour.

Carefully transfer the cooked cauliflower and garlic to the food processor (kitchen tongs help to do this safely). Add the butter, salt and pepper, along with the ingredients for your chosen flavour.

Cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor viewed from overhead.

Third, process!

Process all the ingredients together for about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, and pulse the food processor a few more times until you reach your desired texture and all ingredients are well combined.

A white spatula holding a scoop of sour cream and chive mashed cauliflower over a food processor.

Finally, serve!

Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately, garnished with additional butter and herbs, if desired.

Two hands placing a third plate of mashed cauliflower next to two plates with different flavours.

Can I make mashed cauliflower ahead of time?

Yes! This recipe is perfect for meal prep or if you need to save time and space for a holiday meal. I like to store it in the serving dish in the fridge (covered tightly) and reheat in the microwave. Wait until the day of serving to top it with extra butter or garnish.

Herb and Garlic Mashed Cauliflower on a white plate.
Herb & Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

How do I reheat mashed cauliflower?

It reheats really well in the microwave! I like to use the reheat function and keep it covered. Give it a stir part way through to make sure it’s heating evenly. It’s always a good idea to make sure it reheats to an internal temperature of at least 165 °F.

If you’d like to avoid the microwave, you can reheat it over medium/low heat on the stove top in a sauce pan. Stir it frequently to ensure it is heated evenly.

Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Cauliflower on a white plate with handles.
Sour Cream & Chive Mashed Cauliflower

Can I freeze it?

Yes! Cool completely and store it in an airtight container in the freezer. Eat it within 3 months. To thaw, leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

Do I need to use a food processor?

For the smoothest results, I do recommend using a food processor. If you don’t have one, you can use a potato masher to mash the cauliflower, but it will have a more rustic texture with some larger pieces.

Tips for success

Use a steamer basket. You want to keep the cauliflower out of the water so that it doesn’t get water logged. This will help ensure it has a nice thick texture after it is processed. I used a mesh-style steamer basket (a similar one is linked below in the recipe card), but any steamer basket (stainless steel or silicone) will work.

You could also use just the trivet that comes with your Instant Pot, but make sure your cauliflower is in really large pieces so they don’t fall into the water. Try to keep your garlic on top too.

Cut the cauliflower into large pieces before cooking. You could technically cook the head of cauliflower whole, but then I find it more awkward to transfer the whole head of cauliflower to the food processor (it would be hot and falling apart). It’s also easier to clean florets vs. the whole head before cooking.

Season to taste. I suggest a fairly small amount of salt in the recipe as everyone has different tastes. I typically add a bit more to mine once all the ingredients are processed together. If it feels like it’s missing something, it’s probably salt!

Be careful if using fresh rosemary. For most herbs, about a teaspoon or so will work (like thyme or basil), but rosemary can be very overpowering. Start with a little bit (1/4-1/2 teaspoon) and taste before adding more.

Garlic Parmesan Mashed Cauliflower on a white plate.
Garlic Parmesan Mashed Cauliflower

More side dish recipes

Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Cauliflower on a white plate next to two plates with other flavours.

Instant Pot Mashed Cauliflower (3 ways!)

Laura Lawless, BASc
With three different flavour options (herb & garlic, garlic parmesan, sour cream & chive), this Instant Pot Mashed Cauliflower is fast, easy and delicious way to enjoy cauliflower. Perfect as a make-ahead side dish! Make a double batch if you have an 8-quart Instant Pot!
Servings 4
Calories 135
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Inactive time 17 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Ingredients

For all flavours

  • 1 cup water (see note 1)
  • 1 large head cauliflower, roughly chopped into large florets
  • 5 cloves garlic, whole
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • a few turns of freshly ground black pepper

For herb and garlic

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme) (plus more for garnish; see note 2)

For sour cream and chive

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

For garlic parmesan

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Pour the water into the Instant Pot insert and place the steamer basket inside.
  • Place the large florets of cauliflower in the steamer basket. Add whole garlic cloves on top.
  • Close the lid and set the vent to sealing. Pressure cook on Manual High pressure for 3 minutes. At the end of cooking time, quick release the pressure.
  • Carefully transfer the cooked cauliflower and garlic to a food processor. Add the butter, salt and pepper, as well as the ingredients for your chosen flavour.
  • Process for about 10 seconds, scrape down the sides, then pulse a few more times until the cauliflower reaches your desired texture. Taste and season with additional salt, if necessary.
  • Serve immediately with additional butter and herbs for garnish, if desired. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within 4 days.

Notes

  1. If using an 8-quart Instant Pot, use 1.5 cups water. 
  2. If using fresh rosemary, start with 1/4-1/2 teaspoon as it has a very strong flavour.
  3. This recipe can be doubled in an 8-quart Instant Pot. Double all ingredients, except the water.
  4. Nutrition estimate reflects herb and garlic flavour, without additional garnish.
  5. Inactive time indicates the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and release pressure.
  6. This recipe was tested in both 6-quart and 8-quart Instant Pot models.

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Equipment

Instant Pot (8 qt)
Steamer Basket
Food Processor
Silicone Tongs

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 433mg | Potassium: 651mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 286IU | Vitamin C: 104mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg
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head shot of Laura

Hey, I’m Laura!

Creator of The Recipe Well


I love food and cooking, but hate doing the dishes. I use my nutrition degree to create easy, approachable recipes that will help you find your happy place in the kitchen.

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