This easy vegan cauliflower “potato” salad is a delicious low-carb alternative to classic potato salad. 

Wooden spoon scooping cauliflower mock potato salad from a large serving bowl of salad. There are some green onions in the background.

Why Make this Recipe

This no potato “potato” salad is made with steamed cauliflower florets and a rich, creamy vegan dressing. With fewer carbs and calories, this dish is a healthy way to enjoy an irresistible summertime staple. 

You’ll be surprised at how similar this mock potato salad is to the real thing. It has a similar colour, texture and dressing thanks to the combination of steamed cauliflower and tangy mayo. Not only is it just as delicious as traditional potato salad, but also just as easy to make.

You’ll love this recipe for every occasion. It makes a lovely addition to a holiday meal like Easter, is great for picnics and BBQs and it’s super easy to whip up any night of the week for a veggie-packed side dish.

Though this salad happens to be vegan, keto-friendly and low carb, it’s a tasty recipe anyone can enjoy and also just a great way to include more nutritious cauliflower in your diet.

Recipe Highlights

  • Easy to make in just 30 minutes
  • Incredibly creamy and full of flavor.
  • Keto, low carb, gluten-free and vegan (dairy-free & egg-free), but everyone will enjoy it!
  • Option to make your own tofu mayo to use in the salad dressing.
  • Great for potlucks, barbecues, and get-togethers.
  • Can easily be prepped ahead of time – actually, it’s better if you do!

Ingredients & Substitutions

All the ingredients gathered in bowls for making a cauliflower "potato" salad with dill pickled, red onion, celery and spices. Each ingredient is labelled with text.

A complete list of ingredients with amounts and full instructions is located in the printable recipe card below. This section covers ingredient and substitution considerations.

  • Cauliflower: You’ll need 1 large head of cauliflower or about 8 cups for this recipe. Cauliflower is a great healthy, low-carb alternative to potatoes and makes for a fantastic mock potato salad.
  • Celery: Finely diced fresh celery adds a nice crunch.
  • Chives or Green onions: Use chives or green onions (scallion) for extra flavor and texture in this salad.
  • Red onion: Red onion or shallot works.
  • Dill Pickle & Juice: The diced dill pickle and pickle juice provide just the right amount of crunch and tang to this cauliflower “potato” salad. Feel free to add more pickle juice for extra tang!
  • Dill: If you don’t have any fresh dill on hand, you can easily swap it out for 1 tsp dried dill but fresh dill is best in this recipe.
  • Vegan Mayonnaise: Vegan mayonnaise is the base of the creamy dressing. You can use any store-bought mayo. An oil-free tofu-based dressing is included below as an alternative.
  • Dijon Mustard: This adds flavour, colour, and a hint of spice to the salad. You can use any variety of dijon mustard (grainy, hot, etc).
  • Seasonings: You’ll need garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. If you don’t have smoked paprika, regular paprika will work as well.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Steam the Cauliflower

Place a steamer basket in a large pot, then add enough water to cover the bottom, not rising above the basket. Add the chopped cauliflower to the basket. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.

Cover the cauliflower and steam for 5-7 min, until just fork-tender. Carefully remove the cauliflower. Set it aside to cool.

Don’t have a steaming basket?  You can boil the cauliflower. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add cauliflower. Cook for 5 mins, until you can pierce florets with a knife. Drain.

Steamed cauliflower florets in a steamer pot. There are 3 small bowls beside the pot, one with dill pickled, one with red onion and one with chopped green onion.

Step 2: Make the Dressing

To make the dressing, add the vegan mayo, dijon, dill pickle juice, garlic powder, and smoked paprika to a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine until smooth then season with a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste.

Quick Tip: I mixed up the dressing in the bowl I planned to make the salad in so if you do the same, make sure you use a large enough bowl!

Potato salad dressing mixed together in a glass mixing bowl with some small bowls placed around it containing chopped celery, dill pickle, scallion and green onion.

Step 3: Toss the Salad

When the cauliflower is cool to the touch, add it to the bowl with the dressing and mix well to coat then add the celery, chives, red onion, pickle, and dill.

Steamed cauliflower, diced red onion, celery, dill pickle, fresh dill and scallions in a glass mixing bowl on a marble countertop.

Mix everything up until everything is well-coated in the dressing. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

At this point, you can enjoy the salad right away but it’s even better after it chills in the fridge for an hour!

No potato "potato" salad made with cauliflower mixed up in a glass mixing bowl.

Step 4: Garnish and Serve

Garnish cauliflower “potato” salad with extra chives or scallions and a sprinkle of smoked paprika, if desired.

Mock potato salad made with cauliflower florets, dill pickle and celery in a bowl topped with chives and smoked paprika. There are some green onions and fresh dill beside the bowl.

Recipe Tips

  • Cut cauliflower into equal-sized florets. This will help them cook in the same amount of time rather than having some undercooked pieces and some mushy pieces.
  • Chill before serving. This isn’t required but the flavour and texture really develop after an hour or so in the fridge.
Close up of a bowl of mock potato salad made with steamed cauliflower. There are pieces of celery, green onion and dill pickle in the salad.

Oil-Free Tofu Dressing

For an oil-free salad dressing, try this oil-free tofu mayo recipe to use in the dressing:

  • 250 g medium-firm tofu
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tbsp water (add enough water to blend easily and achieve a creamy consistency)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Process it for 1 min, until smooth and creamy. Season it with additional salt to taste. For the best flavor, allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using in the recipe.

If you’re making the oil-free tofu mayo, it’s best to make it at least 30 minutes ahead of time or the day before. Once prepared, use 1/2 cup of it to replace the vegan mayo in the dressing – so you’re still mixing it with the rest of the dressing ingredients.

Overhead view of a bowl of cauliflower potato salad with dill pickle bits, celery, red onion and scallions. It's sprinkled with smoked paprika and there is some fresh dill and scallions resting beside the bowl.

FAQs

Is cauliflower “potato” salad keto-friendly?

Yes! This potato salad with cauliflower is a fantastic low-carb and keto-friendly dish.

Should this salad be served warm or cold?

This dish is most commonly served cold or at room temperature to keep all the vegetables crisp and fresh.

Can I use frozen cauliflower in this mock potato salad?

Yes. Allow the cauliflower to thaw in the refrigerator then drain off any excess water before proceeding with the recipe. I would, however, recommend fresh cauliflower for this recipe.

Can I make this salad without mayo?

You can absolutely make this potato cauliflower salad without mayo. Plain vegan greek yogurt or the tofu-based mayo recipe can be used as a substitute.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a burger like my quinoa beet burgers or chickpea burgers.
  • Great as a side salad for grilling.
  • Pairs well with entrees like this marinated baked tempeh or any other protein.
  • Serve with other light sides like roasted asparagus.
  • Serve with fresh chopped carrots and celery and some dip for a light meal.
Fork with a forkful of cauliflower "potato" salad held over a bowl of the salad. There are pieces of celery, red onion, green onion and dill pickle in the salad.

Making Ahead & Storing

  • Mock potato salad can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.
  • If you choose to make your own tofu mayo, you can prepare it in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
  • Store any leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • There are no raw eggs in this recipe so it travels well making it a great option for potlucks and picnics.

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Wooden spoon scooping cauliflower mock potato salad from a large serving bowl of salad. There are some green onions in the background.

Cauliflower Potato Salad

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
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Description

Vegan mock potato salad made with cauliflower, dill pickle, celery and red onion for a healthy, tasty side dish everyone will love!


Ingredients

Scale

For the Cauliflower Salad

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces. (about 8 cups worth)
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced (1 cup, 112 g)
  • ¼ cup chopped chives or green onions, plus more for garnish 
  • ¼ cup diced red onion (35 g)
  • ¼ cup diced dill pickle (37 g)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried dill)

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup vegan mayonnaise (115 g)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp dill pickle juice (ie: liquid from the jar), or more for more tang
  • ¾ tsp garlic powder 
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika, plus more for garnish 
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Steam Cauliflower: Place a steamer basket in a large pot, then add enough water to cover the bottom, not rising above the basket. Add the chopped cauliflower to the basket. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.  Cover and steam for 5-7 min, until just fork-tender. Carefully remove the cauliflower. Set aside to cool.
  2. Make the Dressing: To a large bowl, add the vegan mayo (see notes for oil-free tofu mayo option), Dijon, dill pickle juice, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk to combine. 
  3. Toss Salad: When the cauliflower is cool to the touch, add to the bowl with the dressing. Season cauliflower with salt and pepper. Add the celery, chives, red onion, pickle and dill. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
  4. Chill: Refrigerate for at least an hour or until ready to serve.
  5. Serve: Garnish the “potato” salad with extra chives and a sprinkle of smoked paprika, if desired. 

Notes

  • If making your own tofu or other homemade mayo, do that before cooking the cauliflower, or make it a day ahead so the flavours have time to develop.
  • Oil-Free Tofu Mayo: 250g  medium-firm tofu, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1-2 Tbsp water (add enough water to blend easily and achieve a creamy consistency), 1 tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp salt. Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Process for 1 min, until smooth and creamy. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the best flavour before using 1/2 cup of it in the recipe to replace the vegan mayo.
  • Don’t have a steaming basket?  You can boil the cauliflower. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add cauliflower. Cook for 5 mins, until you can pierce florets with a knife.  Drain. 
  • Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
  • Calories: 166
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Sodium: 550 mg
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 15 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 7 g

Keywords: cauliflower potato salad