cauliflower mash in brown bowl with black pepper in small white dish
cauliflower mash in brown bowl and copper pt

I put a fun twist on basic cauliflower mash inspired by my favorite pasta dish ever, and I am never looking back! A super creamy, perfectly savory side dish of my dreams!

Plus, it’s a great non-starch addition to the holiday table. I’m all about those carbs, but it doesn’t hurt to have another option while we’re enjoying all the potatoes, stuffing, and desserts 🙂 Key word: enjoying!!

What is cacio e pepe?

In Italian, it translates to cheese and pepper. And it is exactly that! Cacio e pepe pasta is a really straightforward pasta dish, which is why I love it. Such an explosion of flavor for something so simple.

The ingredients for this cacio e pepe cauliflower mash are incredibly simple. This is all you need:

  • Cauliflower
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Heavy cream
  • Grated parmesan
  • Black pepper 
  • Sea salt
bowl of cauliflower florets, bowl of parmesan, stick of butter, black pepper in small dish, cream in measuring cup

How easy!? I am hooked. I will 100% be making this frequently, even beyond the holidays. This one is coming with me to my family’s thanksgiving, along with my pumpkin cornbread. I can’t wait to share both of these delicious recipes with my loved ones. This is the first year I’ve been in charge of a dish for our family party- feeling #adult.

Tips for making this dish:

You’ll need a large pot for the cauliflower. If you’re cauliflower doesn’t all fit in one pot, you can totally cook it in 2 separate pots! You just want the cauliflower to have enough space to boil in the water and get tender.

Don’t skip the step of allowing the cauliflower to drain for 2 minutes. You want that excess water to drip off to avoid watery mashed cauliflower!

Next, to get this cauliflower mash to its creamiest potential, I love to use an immersion blender. The one I have is linked here; it’s such a kitchen staple for me! Alternatively, you can use a food processor, though you will likely have to do it in batches. Still super simple, either way!

Lastly, how much black pepper you use will depend on how much of a peppery kick you want. Start with 1/2 tbsp, then slowly work up from there. It’s just as delicious if you want to stop at 1/2 tbsp!

cauliflower mash in brown bowl with black pepper in small white dish with striped dish towel
cauliflower mash in brown bowl
cauliflower mash in brown bowl

I just love a side dish that’s this easy to make, but still such a crowd pleaser. It gives you the extra energy you may need to put into other dishes you’re making.

I know I’m all about the holiday gatherings right now, but I can totally see this being a go-to weeknight side dish for us too. It’s satisfying, cozy, and a yummy way to pack in an extra veggie!

I always recommend that, when you can, opt for organic dairy. It’s much healthier for us and our environment. I do this even when I’m feeding a crowd; luckily there are a lot more organic options in the stores now!

I can’t wait to see if you guys add this to your holiday menus. Be sure to tag me on Instagram or comment below if you do 🙂 Enjoy! xx

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Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower Mash

  • Author: Mia Zarlengo
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish


Super simple, extra creamy cacio e pepe cauliflower mash!


  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped into florets
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/21 tbsp black pepper 
  • Sea salt, to taste


  1. In a large stockpot, cover the cauliflower florets with water. Bring water to a boil and allow to boil until cauliflower is fork tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain cauliflower and let drain for 2 minutes.
  2. Return the same pot the cauliflower was cooked in and heat on medium-low. Add butter. Once melted, add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in cream and cauliflower, then stir in parmesan, 1/2 tbsp black pepper, and sea salt. 
  3. Use an immersion blender to blend the ingredients until very smooth (alternatively you can blend in batches in a food processor). 
  4. Taste, adjust sea salt and add more black pepper if you want more of a peppery kick (up to 1/2 tbsp more).

Appetizers + Sides, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegetarian


Nov 20, 2019

Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower Mash

Did you make this recipe? Be sure to tag @gatherednutrition on INstagram so I can see what you made! Leaving a rating and review on the site is a huge help too!

  1. Colleen says:

    Cacio is used with pecorino not Parmesan.

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Simple. Attainable. Gathered Nutrition.