- 1 medium head of cauliflower cut into bite sized florets (about 7 cups or 1.5 lbs of florets)
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 oz cream cheese
- salt to taste
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs (see note)
- cooking oil spray
- 2 eggs whisked
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- Steam cauliflower until very soft. Add cauliflower to a colander and shake a few times to drain out excess water. Place a few paper towels on top of the cauliflower and apply pressure to squeeze out water. Also use paper towels to pat dry the cauliflower. You do not need to squeeze out all the moisture but the more water you squeeze out, the less watery your mashed cauliflower will be. You should be left with slightly crushed florets that are no longer wet to the touch.
- Add cauliflower to a food processor. Pulse on high speed until smooth. Add in parmesan cheese and cream cheese. Pulse until smooth. Taste and add salt if needed.
Using a 1.5 tbsp cookie ball scoop, scoop packed balls of mashed cauliflower and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Shape balls slightly so that they are mostly smooth and round. You should be able to make approximately 24 balls. Freeze balls for several hours until solid.
- When ready to make the crispy mashed cauliflower balls, preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large (three-quarter) baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread out panko bread crumbs onto baking sheet in a very thin and even layer. You want all of the panko to bake evenly so you don't want your layer to be too thick. If your baking sheet is too small, you can use two baking sheets. Spray panko lightly and evenly with canola oil spray. Bake about 5 minutes until crumbs are a light golden brown. Allow crumbs to cool.
- Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove half of the mashed cauliflower balls from the freezer. Working quickly, coat mashed cauliflower ball in egg, making sure to shake off any excess egg drippings before adding it to the panko bread crumbs (if the egg drippings get onto the panko, the panko will not stick to the ball). Place ball onto sheet of panko crumbs. Scoop some panko on top until it covers ball and press crumbs onto ball. Remove ball and place prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining balls. When finished with first set of balls, remove second half from freezer and coat the same way.
- Place coated balls into the oven. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until balls are crispy, golden and warmed all the way through. Garnish with chopped parsley. You can also sprinkle some additional parmesan cheese. Serve warm.
- Because these are baked, they will not stay crispy as long as the fried version. If you plan on making them a few hours ahead of time for a party, consider pan-frying them instead of baking because they will stay crispy longer or you can also reheat them in the oven to crisp them up again.
- I prefer Kikkoman panko breadcrumbs* which you can buy on Amazon. You can also find my favorite OXO cookie scoop* on Amazon, too.
*Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. Much like referral codes, this means I earn a small commission if you purchase a product I referred (at no extra charge to you).