With cheddar cheese, bacon, and green onions this loaded cauliflower mash is low-carb friendly without sacrificing any of the taste. Make enough for seconds!
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Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables in the kitchen these days. While I may have grown up eating it covered in American cheese straight from the microwave, these days the options for getting cauliflower into your diet are much more numerous.
In my kitchen I’ve used cauliflower for pizza crust, as a stand in for rice, in soup and sauces, even blended with polenta. While some of those have been more successful than others, one of my favorites is this loaded cauliflower mash.
Now, I won’t sit here and tell you that it tastes like loaded mashed potatoes because we all know that it doesn’t. What it does taste like is a delicious side dish that has grown up and come into it’s own, with a side of bacon. It may or may not pass the test when you’re craving mashed potatoes, but I will happily serve it up as a dish all it’s own.
When it comes to eating cauliflower, it’s never been one of my favorite cooked vegetables. I’ll happily eat it off a crudite tray or on a salad, but once it’s been steamed or boiled I just don’t care for it.
It could be the way it absorbs so much moisture that it tastes like mush while still looking like a vegetable. It may also be the way the flavor changes when cooked – I swear I’m not making this up, it does taste different!
Regardless, I’ve found that when I transform cauliflower into something that doesn’t resemble cauliflower, it makes me enjoy it. Weird? Maybe, but it’s also why I could eat this loaded cauliflower mash any day of the week. Instead of fighting the mush, I embrace the mush, and add bacon. Afterall, bacon makes everything better.
Making this cauliflower mash is fairly simple and straightforward. It can be on the table in less than 20 minutes, which makes it a great option for a weeknight dinner. I’ve put together the following video and covered the basics below.
This dish can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a family or feed a crowd. At my house it’s just the two of us, so it’s my habit to cook for two. Allow for 1/4 of a large, American, cauliflower per person.
The one I used here weighed 2lbs with the stalk and a few leaves still in place. I have seen cauliflower in the rest of the world to be about 1/2 the size of ours, so adjust accordingly. Chop it up into large chunks, peel the garlic and add it all to a medium sized pot.
I recommend cooking the cauliflower in chicken stock instead of water. The flavor of the stock is absorbed into the cauliflower, leaving you with a rich, buttery, mash. After I made the switch from water, I was able to omit the butter from the mash all together without even missing it. It’s a delicious way to save on fat without sacrificing flavor.
I recommend 3 cups, but if you are increasing the dish, the stock doesn’t always have to be doubled. The stock just needs to cover the cauliflower and garlic in the pan.
Once the cauliflower boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain it using a fine mesh sieve which will help to catch all the little granules. The drained cauliflower and garlic go back into the pot, where they are mashed with a hand masher. If you need one, this one is my favorite. If you prefer really a smooth mash you can also use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender.
Once mashed, the residual heat should be enough to melt the cheese. If not, put it back on the burner. Remember, if you use cheese that has been grated and bagged for you it’s not going to melt as nicely as the stuff you grate yourself.
Add the bacon, half & half, salt, pepper, and green onions as well. Mix thoroughly to combine and serve. If you like, top each serving with a bit more cheese and a little more green onion.
Enjoy! Don’t forget to pin this recipe for later and to share with your friends! If you are looking to make it into a dinner, try pairing it with my Panko Crusted Rockfish and Easy Oven Asparagus. It’s makes for a delicious weeknight meal.
Have you ever tried cauliflower mash? What are your favorite mix-ins to make it a great side dish? See the full recipe below:
Loaded Cauliflower Mash
Loaded Cauliflower Mash
- 1/2 half of a 2lb head of cauliflower
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 ounce cheddar cheese aprox. 1/4 cup
- 2 strips thick cut bacon
- 2 green onions - green part only
- 2 TBSP half & half
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
Cut cauliflower in half, reserving second half for another recipe.
Trim stalk and remove leaves from the half you are using, then chop into large chunks.
Peel the garlic.
Place cauliflower and garlic in a medium pot. Add chicken stock, then cover with the lid. Place on a burner on high heat and bring to a boil.
Once it boils reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until fork tender.
While the cauliflower cooks, fry bacon in a skillet over medium heat flipping as needed. Once it's done, place on paper towels to absorb excess grease.
Grate cheese, slice green onions, and chop bacon once it has cooled to the touch.
When the cauliflower is done, drain it with a fine mesh sieve and return to the pot.
Use a hand masher to mash the cauliflower to desired consistency.
Stir in cheese, bacon, green onion, half & half, salt and pepper, mixing to combine thoroughly.