Cauliflower Parsnip Mash w/ Roasted Garlic

A spin on Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, this healthier dish is made of cauliflower, parsnips, roasted garlic and olive oil. Vegan, Gluten Free. Make-ahead.

Cauliflower-Parsnip Mash with Roasted Garlic

A few years ago, we made a cauliflower mashed potato recipe that was a huge hit for the holidays. Well, we’re hosting Thanksgiving this year and I decided I wanted to try something even crazier and completely take the potatoes out of the mashed potatoes. Jack considers himself a mashed potato purist, and he loved this, so I’m sure you will too.

To start, it’s simple! Its only has 6 main ingredients (plus salt and pepper which aren’t pictured but are no less important):

Cauliflower-Parsnip Mash with Roasted Garlic

I love the nutty and complex flavors that parsnips bring. Roasted garlic and a little olive oil are all you need to give this the extra richness that will make this decidedly healthy dish taste the right amount of unhealthy. You might not fool people into thinking that they’re eating potatoes, but they’ll appreciate (or at least you’ll appreciate) that they (you) didn’t just eat a side dish with a pound of butter and a pile of sour cream.

As I made this, Jack and I couldn’t stop eating by the spoonful before it made it to the table. Mashed-potato-purist approved.

Cauliflower-Parsnip Mash with Roasted Garlic

I should add that there’s no mashing involved – this gets made entirely in the blender, so technically it’s a puree and not a mash. It’s easier to make than mashed potatoes because there’s no vigorous mashing (or ricing) or worrying that your potatoes will be gummy or lumpy. This is best made in a powerful blender and the texture is lighter and more airy than regular potatoes (more like whipped potatoes), which I love.

Cauliflower-Parsnip Mash with Roasted Garlic

It reheats perfectly. Just blend it, store it in the fridge, (give it a stir) and reheat it when you’re ready to serve! Make it up to two days in advance.

Cauliflower-Parsnip Mash with Roasted Garlic

5.0 from 8 reviews

Cauliflower-Parsnip Mash with Roasted Garlic

A non-traditional spin on mashed potatoes. In this recipe, the parsnip flavor is pretty prominent (in other words, it's not hidden!). For this reason, be sure not to skimp on the olive oil and sea salt, it helps balance the earthiness of the parsnips. If you're looking for a more traditional mashed potato recipe with hidden cauliflower try this Cauliflower Mashed Potato) recipe
Serves: serves 6 to 8 as a side
  • 5 medium parsnips (1 lb) peeled & chopped into 1-inch chunks*
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (~2 lbs), broken into pieces (w/cores)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (I used 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon minced rosemary
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Roasted garlic (use 4 to 5 cloves in the mash; save the remainder for another use)
  • 1 head garlic
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Roast the garlic: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut a ¼ to ½-inch slice off the top of the whole head of garlic to expose the cloves and place cut-side up on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper and wrap in the foil. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden and tender. Ideally, keep the garlic cut-side-up in the oven. I like this tip for using a muffin pan on Simply Recipes).
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the parsnips for 10 to 12 minutes or until fork tender. Scoop into a blender. In the same water, boil the cauliflower for 10 to 12 minutes, or until fork tender, and scoop it into the blender.
  3. Add 4 to 5 cloves of the roasted garlic to the blender along with the olive oil, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Blend, using the blender baton to push down the contents, and blend to a smooth consistency. If necessary, add a bit of water or broth to get the blender moving, but do so sparingly so the puree doesn’t become too thin. Taste and add the additional ½ teaspoon of salt, if desired (I did).
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the rosemary while the mash is still warm. Add a drizzle of olive oil, more pepper, if desired, and serve hot. See make-ahead/reheating instructions in the notes below.
*Once the garlic is roasted it has a sweeter, more mellow flavor than fresh raw garlic. If you use fresh raw garlic, use 2 cloves in this recipe (not 4 to 5) and let it boil in the water for a few minutes with the cauliflower to take out the raw bitter taste. I highly recommend sticking with the roasted garlic for this recipe.

This recipe reheats very well - the flavors become more integrated and delicious the next day. Store for up to 3 days in the fridge. Reheat in the oven or microwave and stir before transferring to a serving dish.


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. dana from

    Looks gorgeous, friend!

  2. This sounds divine! I almost bought a cauliflower at the market today..should have! I have two bags of parsnips in my fridge and rosemary covered in snow on its last leg in the garden…

    I will make this soon!

  3. These look fantastic! I always love using cauliflower as a disguise for a rich sauce. The addition of parsnips is really clever. Can’t wait to try these out!

  4. Maria

    Great side dish for the holidays!

  5. I’ve tried a version like this too. But with carrot/parsnip/potoato. It’s amazing, I agree. Glad Jack approved, that purist haha!

  6. gerry speirs

    Yummy! I love parsnips and I know these taste amazing!!

  7. Rakib

    wow!! It looks so Good and Easy to make! I will try this but one thing is can I use carrot without using parsnips! Maybe parsnips are not available here. Let me know!!

  8. Erin

    Loving this mashed potatoes alternative!

  9. Is it possible that this dish is too pretty to eat?!

  10. Lexi from

    This is so going on my table this year!

  11. Karen Levin

    This looks so delicious, Jeanine. What do you think re. roasting the cauliflower and the parnips along with the garlic? Those are my two favorite vegs to roast. I’d love your input.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Thanks Karen! I’ve tried that and it didn’t work well for me. Since much of the moisture roasts out, more liquid in the blender is required – which works great for soups but I couldn’t get (specifically the cauliflower) to whip into an airy texture that I think is necessary for the mashed-potato-like texture. I’ve just had much more luck lightly boiling it for this type of recipe. Hope that helps!

  12. Karen Levin

    Ah…that makes sense. I had a feeling you might have tried it. Many thanks for the speedy reply!

  13. Nick Monaco

    Would a food processor work for this recipe or do you need a blender to get the correct consistency?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I don’t think a food processor would whip it into as creamy of a texture. Although I haven’t tried – I’d just be worried that the parsnips might end up a bit chunky.

    • Micaela

      Food processor works great! 🙂 Took a little while…but keep committed and you’ll get there!

  14. laurel

    This is delcious! Tastes very similar to mashed potatoes and the texture is spot on! I brought it to a friendsgiving and everyone loved it!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Laurel – I’m so glad everyone loved it!

  15. Stephanie G

    Just got done making this for ourTthanksgiving meal. I could not stop eating it by the spoonful before it hit the table. This recipe is so easy and delicious, I will definitely be making this time and time again!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Stephanie – I’m so happy to hear that! (that’s how I felt, spoonful after spoonful). Glad this one was a hit!

  16. Chloe from

    This was fantastic! Just made it with a side of crispy roasted Brussels sprouts and it tasted amazing and just like mashed potatoes – maybe even better!

  17. Emma

    Can you freeze this?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Emma, I think the texture might change, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

  18. Olga

    Wow! I made this second time around and steamed veggies instead of boiling and it turned out even better! One of my most favorite recipes! Thank you so much for sharing! It’s light, fluffy, so flavorful and seriously addicting!!!

    • Olga

      I’d give it 10 stars if I could! 🙂

  19. Mary Frangie

    This recipe is delicious, the mash is so flavorful. I love it and it was very easy to make.
    Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Mary, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  20. Sonia from

    I have to add my praise for this recipe. My son will not eat any carbs and I was cooking short ribs which just cry out for mashed potatoes. So I tried this recipe as s substitute and was amazed how two vegetables which I tolerate but definitely do not love, could combine to make such a wonderful dish. The only bad part is there were no leftovers.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Sonia, I’m so glad everyone loved it!!

  21. Gil

    A culinary epiphany !
    This mash is one of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever tasted.
    Served with your roasted beet with citrus salad.
    All prepared as noted except the mash topped with a drizzle of black truffle oil.
    Thank you <3

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Haha, I’m so glad you loved this one 🙂

  22. Susannah

    Just wondering why you boil the parsnips and cauliflower separately when they both need 12 minutes and are going to end up together.
    I think I’ll try steaming in my instant pot though

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Susannah, sometimes they’re not done at exactly the same time, even though the time is similar. I like to do them separately so I can check each. You could probably cook them all together and it would turn out the same.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.