A low carb version of smashed potatoes, cauliflower is lightly smashed and then topped with cheese and breading for a crispy cheesy finish. It’s an easy and fun side dish to make.
I love using cauliflower as a potato substitute. This is my latest cauliflower side dish creation.
What is Smashed Cauliflower?
This is my low carb version of the popular smashed potatoes. Crispy smashed potatoes is a dish where potatoes are cooked until soft, then lightly smashed, and then roasted until crispy. The interior of the potatoes are soft and creamy with a mashed potato-like texture and the exterior is crispy from being baked.
For this cauliflower version, the cauliflower is cooked until soft. It’s then gently smashed, creating a mashed cauliflower texture. Since cauliflower doesn’t crisp up in the oven, I topped the cauliflower with breading and cheese that crisps up when it bakes. Just like the potato version, the cauliflower is soft on the inside and then crispy on the outside.
It’s not quite as obvious that the cauliflower is smashed from the photos because unlike potatoes, there is no broken skin to signal it’s been smashed. However, the cauliflower does taste like mashed cauliflower. Because the cauliflower is first steamed until soft, it retains it’s moisture and stays soft and creamy, which is different than if you were to simply roast the cauliflower.
Low Carb Breading
To achieve the crispy exterior, I topped the cauliflower with pork rind breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Both turn crispy when baked, creating a flavorful and crispy topping over the cauliflower.
Pork Rind Breadcrumbs
You can make your own. Just pulse pork rinds in a food processor until they resemble the size of breadcrumbs. You can also buy pork rind breadcrumbs (which is what I did because I use them so much).
When parmesan cheese is cooked at high heat it will turn brown and crispy. Other cheeses will not crisp up because they have too much moisture. You can definitely use other cheeses for flavor, but I recommend using parmesan to make the exterior extra crispy.
I used shredded Parmesan cheese and ran it through the food processor until it resembled breadcrumbs because it’s hard to find pre-grated parmesan cheese.
More Cauliflower Side Dishes
Crispy Smashed Cauliflower
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- 2-3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 3-4 tbsp pork rind breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp parsley finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut cauliflower into florets. Steam until soft and fork tender. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel once cooled.
- Place cauliflower onto prepared baking sheet. Using a potato masher or similar tool to lightly smash each floret a few times.
- Brush surface of cauliflower with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Generously sprinkle cheese and pork rind breadcrumbs over surface of florets.
- Place into oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the breadcrumbs and cheese turn crispy. Garnish with parsley if desired. Serve while warm.
- I used Pork King Good unseasoned pork rind crumbs*.
- I used pre-shredded Parmesan cheese which I ran through my food processor until they resembled the size of crumbs.
- Make sure to pat dry the cauliflower before adding the breading, otherwise moisture on the cauliflower will make the breading too soft.
- To add more flavor, you can add other cheeses, ground black pepper or minced garlic.
- If you are not on a keto or low carb diet, you can use panko breadcrumbs instead of pork rind crumbs.
- *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).
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.