Brown butter mashed cauliflower is a tasty alternative to mashed potatoes. It's roasted cauliflower puréed with garlic and thyme-infused brown butter. It's perfect for holiday dinners, simple to make, and ready in just 40 minutes!

For more delicious mashed cauliflower recipes, try our Boursin mashed cauliflower!

Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower with a spoon in a bowl

This brown butter mashed cauliflower is buttery, smooth, and very delicious. It's an easy weeknight or holiday side dish to serve with roasts, stews, and other hearty mains.

We love mashed cauliflower because it's everything we love about mashed potatoes, but without all the peeling and prep. It's also much lighter than mashed potatoes, leaving more room for our other favorite foods like stuffing and pumpkin pie!

There are two simple things we do that make this recipe extra flavorful. First, we roast the cauliflower in gentle heat (so we don't brown it) which removes a lot the moisture so it will mash like potatoes.

Then, we make a simple brown butter and infuse it with garlic and thyme. It all gets puréed in the food processor (or a blender) until it's nice and smooth. To serve, drizzle it with brown butter, and garnish with fresh thyme. Yum!

Why you'll love this brown butter mashed cauliflower

  • It's buttery and garlicky
  • It's creamy and smooth, like mashed potatoes
  • It's easy to make – there's no peeling required
  • It uses just 5 simple ingredients
  • It's a healthier alternative that is full of fiber
Three pictures showing Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower

Brown butter mashed cauliflower ingredients

You only need 5 simple ingredients to make this delicious cauliflower side dish. Here's what you need:

  • Cauliflower – we used two large heads, chopped into small florets for roasting.
  • Butter – the real deal is what we're after, for that rich butter flavor that browns so nicely.
  • Garlic – a couple of cloves finely grated for infusing the butter with lots of garlicky flavor.
  • Fresh thyme – this delicate herb is slightly minty, slightly lemony, and super fresh.
  • Sea salt

How to make brown butter mashed cauliflower

This brown butter mashed cauliflower is a quick and easy side for weeknights or holiday dinners. Here's how we make it in a few simple steps:

  1. Place the chopped cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and then gently roast them in the oven until they turn soft (you don't want them to brown too much).
  2. To make the garlic brown butter, place it in a small frying pan on the stove and let it melt (without stirring it). You'll notice it will froth then settle and this is a good thing! Once it's a nice brown color, remove it from the heat and stir in the garlic and thyme.
  3. When the cauliflower is tender, add it to your food processor or blender and blend until it's smooth. Add the brown butter (we always reserve a tablespoon for serving) and blend again, adding salt to taste.

Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.

someone serving cauliflower mash with brown butter

FAQS

Can I make it dairy-free?

Not all dairy-free butter will brown. Dairy-free butter alternatives have varying ingredients so it will depend on the one you buy. If you're up for a little experimenting, try the recipe using the dairy-free butter you have in your fridge. Even if it doesn't brown, it will still be delicious when you infuse it with garlic and thyme.

Can I make them ahead of time?

Mashed cauliflower is best eaten shortly after it's cooked as the flavor of the cauliflower becomes stronger when it's reheated. If you're ok with that, then go ahead and make this dish up to 3 days ahead of time. Store it in the fridge in a sealed container until you're ready to serve it. Warm it up gently on the stove with a few splashes of vegetable or chicken stock.

It seems too thick. What should I do?

If your mashed cauliflower seems too thick, add a few splashes of vegetable or chicken stock to thin it out.

What is mashed cauliflower?

Mashed cauliflower is simply cauliflower that has been cooked until tender, then puréed until smooth and seasoned. It resembles mashed potatoes (although it tastes a little different), and is often used as a low-carb alternative.

Can I use different herbs?

Sure! Other herbs like rosemary, marjoram, tarragon, or sage work, too.

What goes with brown butter mashed cauliflower

Brown butter mashed cauliflower is a savory side dish that's perfect for the fall and winter months. Serve it with a Sunday roast, at Thanksgiving or Christmas, or anytime you would serve mashed potatoes. It's wdelicious, light-tasting, and everyone will enjoy it!

Mains that pair well with brown butter mashed potatoes:

a close up of Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower in a bowl

More cauliflower sides

Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower with a spoon in a bowl

Garlic Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower

Brown butter mashed cauliflower is a tasty alternative to mashed potatoes. It's roasted cauliflower puréed with garlic and thyme-infused brown butter. It's perfect for holiday dinners, simple to make, and ready in just 40 minutes!

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4.91 stars (11 ratings)
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Ingredients

  • 2 large heads of cauliflower, chopped into large pieces
  • cup salted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated with a Microplane or very finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Sea salt, to taste

Instructions 

  • Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chopped cauliflower on a baking sheet and pop it into your oven. No need to wait for the oven to preheat. Let the cauliflower roast for about a half hour, turning once, until it is soft and starting to brown.
    2 large heads of cauliflower
    image for recipe instruction
  • While the cauliflower is roasting, make the garlic brown butter. Place the butter in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Let it melt then reduce the heat to medium and keep it on the heat, without stirring it, for about 5 minutes. The butter will froth then settle down. Once you start seeing a few brown specks on the froth you can stir it to see how brown it is. You want quite a few specks of brown. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the garlic and thyme. The residual heat from the butter will cook the garlic.
    ⅓ cup salted butter, 2 cloves garlic, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
    image for recipe instruction
  • When the cauliflower is soft, remove it from the oven and transfer it to your food processor. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides of your food processor as needed. See notes. Add the brown butter and blend again. Salt to taste. (Note: just like with regular mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower also needs a good amount of salt.)
    image for recipe instruction

Notes

We often reserve a tablespoon of brown butter to drizzle on top before serving. 
If your food processor is having a hard time mashing the cauliflower so it becomes creamy, add a splash of chicken or vegetable stock. 
Serving: 1 serving = ⅛ of the recipe, Calories: 122kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 421mg, Potassium: 636mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 260IU, Vitamin C: 102mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 1mg
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