Enjoy loaded mashed cauliflower with bacon and cheese and you won't miss the potatoes! It's scrumptious, delicious, and very filling. It's the perfect low-carb and keto substitute for loaded mashed potatoes.
It's no wonder I have so many cauliflower recipes on this blog! It's such a tasty and versatile vegetable. Mashed cauliflower is especially delicious and surprisingly similar to mashed potatoes. This makes it an ideal low-carb and keto substitute.
Topping the mashed cauliflower with bacon and cheese makes it even better. But hey, bacon and cheese make everything better! 🥓🧀
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make loaded mashed cauliflower. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Butter: I use unsalted butter. I especially like creamy European butter, but any butter will be great.
Minced garlic: Mince it yourself, or use the stuff that comes in a jar. Both work equally well. Garlic powder works too - I would use ½ teaspoon in this recipe.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use or the mash could end up too salty.
Bacon: You can cook it yourself or use precooked bacon or even bacon bits (I like the ones by Wellshire farms). And if you'd rather avoid processed meats, you can simply omit the bacon.
Cauliflower: It's probably best to use fresh cauliflower in this recipe. I don't think frozen will be as good.
Shredded cheddar: Sharp cheddar is so flavorful. Sometimes I even use extra-sharp cheddar.
Chives or parsley for garnish: Not mandatory, but without it, the dish looks kind of brownish… so while I mostly use these herbs for garnish, I do recommend including them. The chives do enhance the flavor as well.
It's easy to make loaded mashed cauliflower, although this recipe does have a few steps. The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Cook the bacon. First, you need to cook and crumble the bacon. You can cook it on the stovetop, or you can make oven bacon or microwave bacon. When I'm feeling especially lazy, I use precooked bacon by Wellshire farms.
Cook and mash the cauliflower. Microwave the cauliflower and mash it with butter and spices. You can also steam the microwave if you wish. But the microwave is fast and convenient.
Assemble the dish and bake. Layer everything in a casserole dish - cauliflower, bacon, and cheese- and bake until hot and bubbly. This should take a mere 5 minutes in a 400°F oven.
Expert tip: thickening the mash
Mashed cauliflower lacks starch, so it's not as thick as mashed potatoes, although it's definitely rich and creamy. One way to thicken it is to add ¼ cup of dry-grated parmesan cheese with the other ingredients that you place in the food processor. The parmesan acts as a pretty powerful thickener.
Frequently asked questions
There are several ways, and all of them are excellent. You can steam it, saute it, boil it, bake it, or microwave it. For this particular recipe, my preferred method is to microwave the cauliflower, simply because it's fast and convenient.
It's true that cauliflower mash is not as thick as mashed potatoes. This is because it lacks starch. But I find that as long as you drain the florets well, avoid overcooking them, and add plenty of butter, the mash is nice and thick.
Another trick is to add ¼ cup of dry-grated parmesan cheese to the mash itself. Add it to the food processor with the butter, garlic, and salt & pepper.
Yes! If you eat dairy products, all you need to do is omit the bacon. It will still be delicious. If you don't eat dairy products, you can replace the butter and cheese with store-bought non-dairy replacements. The texture, flavor, and nutritional information will be affected, obviously.
Recommended main dishes
While this is a very versatile side dish that can be served with pretty much anything, this is a very rich one. So to balance it out, I usually serve it with simple, lean main courses such as:
Leftovers keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. The bacon does lose its crispiness, but the dish is still very rich and flavorful. Reheat the leftovers in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
More cauliflower recipes
It's no wonder cauliflower is such a hit in the low-carb world. It's extremely versatile, and it makes a wonderful substitute for potatoes and even for bread. A few great examples in addition to this tasty recipe:
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Loaded Mashed Cauliflower with Cheddar and Bacon
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 medium head cauliflower (1 lb. when trimmed)
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives or parsley for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the butter, garlic, kosher salt and black pepper in your food processor bowl.
- Cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then crumble. Set aside.
- Trim the cauliflower and cut it into chunks. Place the chunks in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add ¼ cup water. Cover and microwave on high until very tender, about 10 minutes. The bowl will be hot - careful when removing it from the microwave. Drain and transfer the cooked cauliflower to the food processor.
- Process the cauliflower on high speed until very smooth, 1-2 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides with a spatula.
- Transfer the cauliflower puree to a small 1-quart casserole dish. Top with the shredded cheddar and the crumbled bacon. Bake just until the cheese is melted, 3-5 minutes. Top with the parsley and serve.