How To Thicken Mashed Cauliflower – 6 Methods

A great substitute for mashed potatoes is mashed cauliflower – especially if you are trying to minimize your intake of those naughty carbs. Unless you’re into cauliflower slop with gravy as a side, I’m pretty certain you’ll want to know how to thicken your cauliflower mash to a delicious, creamy consistency. So exactly how does one thicken mashed cauliflower?

mashed cauliflower

You can avoid creating watery mashed cauliflower by adhering to a few useful tips to cook it in as little water as possible or by adding thickening ingredients to the cauliflower mash. Raw cauliflower naturally contains a lot of water and is prone to becoming waterlogged if boiled for too long.

The great news is that we don’t need to throw out the soggy mess we have created. Below are some fine tips and suggestions to help avoid and, if necessary, rescue the mashed cauliflower that is not doing what we want it to do.

Tips For Thickening Mashed Cauliflower

If you have found yourself with a watery cauliflower mess that is not fit for fine eating, fear not…all is not lost. You have a few choices to help you fix the watery faux pas, and you might even want to try them again because “Your (resuscitated) cauliflower mash tasted so delicious!”

Thank you very much. It’s a secret recipe, you know.

mashed cauliflower

Tip #1: Don’t Boil Your Cauliflower – Steam Or Pressure Cook It

Cauliflower contains a lot of water in its uncooked state, so boiling it until it is soft is likely to cause the cauliflower to become waterlogged. Then, to make matters worse, when you throw out the water, all the goodness that boiled out of the water goes down the drain.

A better option for cooking your cauliflower to a mashable state is to steam it or pressure cook it, ensuring the cauliflower is not immersed in the water. You can cut or break the florets into small to medium chunks so that the cooking process will be faster and cook the florets evenly.

Tip #2: Strain Out As Much Water As Possible

If you haven’t got a steamer or a pressure cooker, you can boil the cauliflower and then strain it by squeezing out excess water. Remember to be cautious when handling steaming hot cauliflower to prevent burning yourself with the steam.

You can strain the excess water from boiled cauliflower by putting it in a colander or sieve and pressing it down with a mashing device. Another option is to use a clean kitchen towel: you can bind up the cooked cauliflower, ensuring the towel won’t open and press out the excess water. This option isn’t entirely practical, though, as it’s messy and time-consuming.

Tip #3: Add Other Thickening Ingredients

You can add other thickening ingredients to watery cauliflower mash to improve the consistency. Baking Kneads suggests these options:

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes

Add cream cheese, almond flour, or other vegetables to help thicken your mash to keep the carbs down. Once you have added the extra thickening ingredient, you might need to mash it again to form a homogenous – and hopefully less watery – texture.

Tip #4: Avoid Adding Too Many Liquid Ingredients

Your cooked cauliflower may not seem watery initially, but it could become a liquid mess if you add too many liquid ingredients. Examples include adding milk, cream, or sour cream to your cauliflower mash. Even though it is hard at room temperature, butter melts with heat and can create too much liquid in the mash.

Tip #5: Sauté The Cauliflower After Mashing

If you have boiled or steamed your cauliflower too long or want to be certain that all the excess water is out, you can sauté the cauliflower after mashing it. If you do this step, it is wise but not necessary to do so before adding any other ingredients.

By gently sautéing the mashed cauliflower without the lid on the pot, you can assist the excess water in evaporating. Keep an eye on it while it’s sautéing, as you don’t want the mash to brown or burn.

Tip #6: Use A Blender For Fine, Homogenous Mash

I grew up mashing potatoes manually in the cooking pot after draining the cooking water (it creates fewer dishes). However, cauliflower has a different consistency to potatoes, and those little mini-florets might get through the masher. A blender is your friend to get your mash to a homogenous consistency, with all the ingredients and flavors evenly spread.

There are many sorts of blenders on the market, but a handheld immersion blender might be the best option for creating the perfect mashed cauliflower. By blending cooked cauliflower in the pot (water drained, obviously), you can assess its consistency and sauté it without transferring from one dish to the next, without damaging your pot either.

The benefit of an immersion blender is that you can assess the consistency of your mash as you add your ingredients. By adding the ingredients little by little, you can see when you need more thickener or if you can add another dollop of cream.

You can watch Salted Pepper’s video or follow this link for two delicious cauliflower mash recipes.

More Questions About How To Thicken Mashed Cauliflower

What vegetables can I use to thicken cauliflower mash?

Examples include cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and green beans. If you use other vegetables to thicken your cauliflower mash, remember to choose a vegetable that can mash up easily or be blended into a pureed state. You don’t want to choose a vegetable that will add excess water or overpower the cauliflower flavor.

Something to note is that your mash will be green if you add broccoli or orange if you add carrots – in case you would like to avoid that. In the absence of vegetables, you can use cooked and pureed drained beans or other legumes.

What flour can I use to thicken cauliflower mash?

If you wish to add flour, make a slurry using white flour, almond flour, or cornstarch, and add it bit by bit while gently reheating until you get to the desired consistency. The risk of using too much flour for thickening is that your mash might have a pasty texture, so use it sparingly.

What else can I do with watery cauliflower?

If you have given up on making mashed cauliflower but don’t want to throw away your watery cauliflower, you can add it to a stew or make a hearty soup with it. The watery cauliflower can be frozen, refrigerated, or used straight away when making either of these dishes.

For a stew, your watery cauliflower (mashed or not) will add some substance and, ironically, thicken it a bit. For a soup, you can add your not-good-enough-for-mash cauliflower to a bone broth or vegetable soup for extra substance, flavor, and nutritional value.

Does mashed cauliflower freeze well?

Mashed cauliflower freezes well as long as it does not contain sour cream and there is no air in the container. The mash must be completely cooled before being put into an airtight container or plastic bag. Mashed cauliflower freezes best when vacuum-sealed, preventing ice formation on the mash.

How do I thicken keto mashed cauliflower?

Low-carb thickeners include vegetables, almond flour, mashed legumes such as beans or peas, or cream cheese. Xanthan gum and guar gum are also options for thickening watery cauliflower mash. For a keto mashed cauliflower recipe, you can watch this video.


Mashed cauliflower can be a delicious side dish for pot roast and lots of other meals! But no one likes watery mashed cauliflower. If yours is starting to take a turn for the worse, try out one of these 6 tips and you’ll be on the mend in no time!

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for this, I have been trying to make cauliflower mash and it’s so runny…I always put way to much butter or oil…now I have bought a steamer…X

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