The Best Microwave Mashed Cauliflower Recipe

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Sneak Peek: Try the best microwave mashed cauliflower recipe that makes a thicker mashed cauliflower than traditional recipes. This post includes seven tips for making your mashed cauliflower taste better than you ever imagined.

Mashed cauliflower made in the microwave.Pin

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I don’t want soggy cauliflower on my dinner plate. My secret to non-soggy mashed cauliflower starts with a microwave but does not involve the grueling task of squeezing out moisture. If you want to make mashed cauliflower thicker and less watery, check out this marvelous side dish with fresh cauliflower.

Are you a cauliflower lover?

When I first started making and eating mashed cauliflower, I wondered how Khloé Kardashian could eat what she calls “Magic Mash-up” daily. But after experimenting with a Keto (low-carb) diet some time back, I finally figured out the best way to make it.

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Why mashed cauliflower is usually soggy

In my search for thicker mashed cauliflower, I’ve tried several methods and many recipes, including my Instant Pot, steaming on the stovetop, and cooking in the microwave with a cover.

All these methods have one thing in common. They cause the cauliflower to retain too much moisture. The cauliflower is water-logged even when I try to press out excess water.

Some recipes call for adding additional liquid when mashing. This only makes matters worse.

How to make mashed cauliflower thicker:

Cook the cauliflower in a microwave WITHOUT a cover (like plastic wrap) or any liquid added to the microwave-safe bowl.

  • No cover means the moisture can evaporate as the cauliflower cooks.
  • No need for an extra step to squeeze out excess water.
  • No need to drain the cauliflower.
  • No steamer basket is required.

Conveniently, cauliflower cooked this way does not need to be “riced” or finely chopped. Large 1-inch chunks will suffice.

Non-Soggy Mashed Cauliflower in a serving dish with lots of butter and pepperPin

Seven ways to make your mashed cauliflower more delicious:

1. Don’t overcook your cauliflower.

Poke a knife into the cauliflower. If it pulls out easily, you should be good. Overcooking can cause mushiness and intensify the “cabbage family” flavor.

2. Use a food processor to make the cauliflower puree.

A food processor works fastest and leaves no lumps when mashing cauliflower. I tried a blender and was utterly frustrated. Same with an immersion blender. A stand mixer will work, but it’s hard to eliminate all lumps. It’s the same with a potato masher.

3. Use good butter or other fat you enjoy.

Adding fat helps the flavor and makes the final product creamy. I like Kerrygold butter, but any good butter will work. Bacon grease is fabulous, but my conscience rarely allows it.

4. Try adding cheese instead of butter.

An intensely flavored cheese such as aged Cheddar, Parmesan, or smoked Gouda will help cover the strong-ish cauliflower flavor. I’ve tried adding sour cream, but it thins the cauliflower too much for my taste. I want my cauliflower to be thick!!

This next one is important for people who aren’t crazy about the taste of cauliflower

 5. Serve it with gravy.


You won’t taste the cauliflower if the gravy or sauce has enough flavor. If you think gravy would defeat the purpose of eating more healthfully, check out this grain-free gravy and this “instant” gravy.

6. Use mashed cauliflower instead of rice in spicy soups.

When eating spicy soups, especially those with a thick consistency (e.g., gumbo and chili) I will often place a big scoop of mashed cauliflower into the bowl. Then, I pour the soup on top like I used to with rice.

I promise you won’t taste the cauliflower, but you will fill up faster and get your veggies simultaneously.

This last idea is just my opinion.

7. Don’t trick adults or kids into eating mashed cauliflower.

I label the mashed cauliflower on a buffet or tell everybody that what looks like mashed potatoes is mashed cauliflower. Giving a heads-up is appreciated by all.

Can I make this mashed cauliflower ahead of time?

Yes. The mashed cauliflower will keep covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

I don’t recommend putting this dish in the freezer. When I tried it, the texture changed slightly, and the cauliflower flavor intensified, so I’m not a fan.

How to make thick mashed cauliflower in the microwave:

washed cauliflowerPin
Wash and trim the whole cauliflower.
cauliflower cut in chunksPin
Cut out the core and cut the cauliflower into large chunks.
cauliflower in microwave (uncovered)Pin
Place cauliflower into a microwave-safe pyrex dish UNCOVERED. Cook for 12 minutes on HIGH. Stir and continue cooking until tender. Time will vary according to your microwave and how big your cauliflower is. 5-8 additional minutes is a good guess.
cauliflower in food processorPin
Pour cooked cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor. Don’t worry about a few brown pieces. They will disappear when you are processing.
Adding salt to cauliflowerPin
After pureeing cauliflower, add seasonings.
Adding butter and freshly ground pepperPin
Add pepper and butter.
finished cauliflower in food processorPin
Look how thick it is! More like mashed potatoes.

FAQ about Microwaved Mashed Cauliflower:

1. How do you make mashed cauliflower not watery?

Microwave it uncovered and with no added water. See the directions in the recipe below.

2. Can you microwave cauliflower without water?

Yes. If you want your cauliflower to be “steamed,” cover it with plastic wrap when microwaving. For the dryest cauliflower, leave the cauliflower uncovered.

4. Why is my cauliflower mash watery?

If you cook cauliflower in water, steam it, or cook it covered, it will absorb excess moisture. Uncover it and cook it in a microwave for the best results.

5. How long should I microwave cauliflower to mash it?

Cook on HIGH power for 15-20 minutes, depending on the cauliflower size and your microwave’s power and age. Check it with a paring knife. The knife should easily pierce the surface and slide in and out of the cauliflower.

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately for a quick answer: Paula at Hope to see you again soon! 


Mashed Cauliflower Recipe

Paula Rhodes
Make your mashed cauliflower more appealing and non-soggy by cooking in the microwave–uncovered.
4.64 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Vegetables and Side Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 86 kcal



  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons butter - or strongly-flavored cheese, unflavored Greek yogurt or cream cheese
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Remove cauliflower florets from tough core. Place in microwave-safe glass dish. I always use my two-qt Pyrex glass measuring bowl. Do not add water. Do not cover.
  • Microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes. Stir and continue on HIGH for 8-10 more minutes until cauliflower is soft throughout. Microwave ovens and cauliflower size vary hugely and will affect cooking times. If you have an older oven it may take several minutes more. A larger than average cauliflower will also take longer. Check often if you are new to this method. A few scorched spots on the cauliflower is not a big deal.
  • Pour steaming cauliflower pieces into a food processor and allow it to sit until the steaming stops. Puree until smooth. Add butter, salt and lots of pepper.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 86kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 384mg | Potassium: 432mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 175IU | Vitamin C: 69mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword cauliflower, keto cauliflower, mashed cauliflower, microwave
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating


  1. I’ve tried mashed cauliflower in the past and have had the problem of it being too watery. I’m going to try it with your suggestions though- your mashed cauliflower looks fabulous! 🙂

    1. Thanks Betty. I think the butter and pepper on top just like my mom used to serve mashed potatoes helps, too.

  2. Paula,
    How nice to see a post from you! I, too, have tried to eat mashed cauliflower with mixed results, and my husband wouldn’t touch it. I will certainly be trying your method. I hope you and yours have a wonderful 2017! Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Becky. Good luck with the cauliflower….and your husband. Maybe my husband just felt sorry for me when he realized I wasn’t going to eat mashed potatoes so every time he ate them at home, I was fixing them special for him. Now, when I give him the choice, he says, “I’ll eat whatever you are having.” It took several months for him to come around.

      1. I made the cauliflower last night, Paula, and while I loved it, my husband tolerated it. That’s good! He’ll come around. I think this is a genuis recipe. So simple, and yet it produces a great result. Thanks again!

        1. Very good. Maybe you noticed my title says, “How I Got my Husband to Eat Mashed Cauliflower” not “How I Got Him to Love it.” That may take a little more time and familiarity. Have a great day.

  3. I have made this in the past but it’s been a while. Thank you for the recipe. I might try sauteing in a skillet because I don’t use a microwave anymore. By the way, it looks like you have a Cuisinart with a blade that has been recalled since I see the little rivets. You might want to check here:

    1. Hi Donna,

      THANK YOU SO MUCH! I knew nothing about the recall. Since I use this lovely little machine nearly everyday, I acted immediately and already have a new one coming. I got my machine in the early 80’s and it still runs faithfully as good as the day I got it.

      I have not tried sauteing. Hope it works for you. I have considered roasting but it takes too long and since I make this at least every other day, I feel a need for speed.

      Thanks again for taking the time to write and let me know about the recalled blade.

  4. Cheryl McASkill says:

    Hello Paula! Good to see your posts again! Love this recipe for the cauliflower!
    I too tried it in the past and failed…I resorted to buying the frozen…I AM going to try your version. My husband liked the frozen…so now I will cook it and see if he likes it! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. Hi Cheryl, Thanks for writing. Good to be posting again.
      I’ve never seen frozen mashed cauliflower. I’ve heard of the frozen cauliflower “rice” but have not seen it in stock. Interesting…

  5. eliz a buf says:

    it’s taken me a while to come around to cauli in general, but i recently made a cauliflower soup with roasted garlic….. the leftovers thickened to point of mashed potatoes, what a surprise! i found that the roasted garlic covered the cauli-flavor enough for us.

    love your blog, Paula! xoxo, buf

  6. To moderate the cauliflower taste I slightly overcook it. From experimenting just a few minutes past normal cooking lightens the taste.

    1. Interesting observation Rob. Maybe that’s why I prefer mashed cauliflower over cauliflower rice.–a LOT! The mashed cauliflower needs to be well cooked while the cauliflower rice is a better texture if not cooked to death.

  7. Love your site! You turnned me onto sauercraut and yogurt years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. And now these genuis ideas for cauliflower!
    I looked for the gravey recipe you mentioned in #5 above but couldn’t find it. Can you point me in the right direction?
    TIA (my new buzz phrase–in case you didn’t know it means thanks in advance…lol)

    1. Thanks Tere,
      I fixed the link for the gravy. But here it is again.

  8. Ellie Brandon says:

    I just tried your recipe. I’ve been cooking for almost 55 years but always like to find better ways to make foods I enjoy. I had to microwave the cauliflower closer to 15+ mins and did find after processing the cauliflower that it was still more crumbly than I would have liked. I added butter as you stated and about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese plus about 1/4 cup of some homemade chicken broth I had on hand. The broth smoothed it out but it still had a thick consistency which I like. I will use this idea again as I too do not like runny mashed cauliflower. Thank you for sharing. This will taste great with the stuffed peppers I have in the oven.

    1. Glad you liked it, Ellie. Regarding the time it took to cook the cauliflower, microwave ovens with lower wattage will take several minutes longer. Another huge variable is the size of your cauliflower. Also, how much of the core did you include? And one more variable, how good is your food processor? I find that I don’t have to cook my cauliflower quite as much as I used to because my food processor does such a good job of mixing it into a completely smooth pureé.

      By the way, your additions sound delicious. Thanks for writing.

  9. 4 stars
    The texture and creaminess of this recipe far surpassed other recipes I have tried which tend to be soupy. I used a flavored cream cheese (chive) instead of butter and couldn’t be more pleased with the results. This recipe is a keeper.

  10. Best cauli mash ever.

    1. Thank you, Winnie.

      Not soggy and has a smooth-as-silk texture. Glad you liked it.

  11. Made mashed cauliflower just now. I used 2 10oz packages of fresh riced cauliflower from the store to save time. I did as you suggested and did not use water and left off the cling wrap I’d planned on. 12 minutes in microwave and then used the food pro. I added ~ 4t of butter and 4oz of onion & chive cream cheese (no almond milk which I’d also planned as milk was always a go-to for mashed potatoes) s&p and when I tasted it I said OMG (several times!) I could eat this whole bowl! This is a keeper! Thanks for the inspiration and the tips for non-watery keto “mashed potatoes”

    1. I’m so glad it worked for you, Donna. Thanks for coming back to say so.

  12. Sharon Hills says:

    Thanks for the advice, I’d been steaming my cauliflower in my instant pot and it was always too wet, even after a quick sauté. Will definitely be using your method going forward.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Let me know what you think after you try it.

  13. 4 stars
    I tried your method for the first time and followed the instructions totally but mine still came out a little too moist and kind of yellow as opposed to white. I may have cooked it a bit too long in the microwave which might account for the moist mushiness – what can I add to it to firm it up a little (I actually thought of adding a wee bit of actual flour but trying not to go that route).

    1. Hi Linda,

      I’m sorry your cauliflower was too moist. Just checking that you didn’t cover the cauliflower when cooking it. That’s crucial. When cauliflower turns yellow, it can mean that it was harvested past its prime. Not much you can do about that unless you are the farmer. I don’t blame you for not wanting to add flour. I’ve never needed to add anything to mine except butter or sour cream, so I can’t advise you there. Thanks for writing.

  14. Christopher Schulz says:

    5 stars
    I processed in a 1/2 pkg cream cheese topped with chaddar & bacon bits. Delish

    1. There’s no way your version can’t be delicious. Those three things would make anything better. 😜