Frozen potato products absolutely rule. From oven fries to tots to those greasy little hash brown patties that make Saturday breakfasts extra special, frozen potato products are easy to make and frequently just as good as what you’d get at a restaurant. But hear me out: Potato alternatives are really good, too. When I say “potato alternatives,” I’m talking about the products that come in shapes and preparations we typically associate with potatoes but are made predominantly with other, less-starchy vegetables. Think: broccoli tots, cauliflower mashes, and zucchini fries.
Whether you’re watching your carbs or you’re looking for crafty ways to sneak more vegetables into your kid’s diet (or your own), these alternatives to frozen potato products were our favorites during an in-office taste test. Here are the best potato alternatives you’ll find at the grocery store.
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- Trader Joe’s Mashed Cauliflower
You know the meme with Adam Driver as Kylo Ren saying and then screaming “MORE!” That’s me when it comes to putting butter in homemade mashed potatoes. If I’m in charge of the mashers on Thanksgiving, seriously, just stay out of the kitchen—you don’t even want to know about that one-to-one potato-to-butter ratio. Anyway, if you also enjoy especially buttery mashed potatoes, this cauliflower mash from Trader Joe’s—which comes in the form of pellets you can toss in a bowl and heat in the microwave—is an excellent alternative. Sporked editor-in-chief Justine Sterling actually thought these were a little too buttery tasting, but I think it works because it’s actual butter rather than margarine or some other oil-based food lube. This mash also contains half-and-half, which makes it super smooth and creamy. I’m comfortable saying this is the best potato alternative for butter lovers.
Credit: Merc / Trader Joe’s
- Alexia Mashed Cauliflower with Sea Salt
Some people eat mashed cauliflower not because they’re avoiding carbs or depriving themselves of potatoes as a form of self-flagellation, but because they actually really like cauliflower. I’m a genuine fan o’ cauliflower myself, and I love that this mashed cauliflower from Alexia has a flavor that’s very vegetable forward. It reminded Justine of sunchokes; I couldn’t quite put a finger on what it reminded me of, but I jotted down “loose artichoke dip?” Either way, it’s delicious. If you’re a veggie lover, you’ll love. If your family is weird about vegetables, there are probably better potato alternatives on this list for you and yours.
Credit: Merc / Instacart
- Green Giant Veggie Tots Cauliflower, Cheese & Bacon
I love Green Giant’s line of veggie tots, but I actually hadn’t tried the plain cauliflower version. Sadly, I didn’t think they were delicious enough to include on this list. Less sadly (unless you’re vegetarian), these cauliflower bacon tots are bangers. If you like a tot that’s creamy in the center, you’ll like these. Some might even describe them as a little gloopy (it’s me; I described them as a little gloopy). I don’t think the consistency is for everyone, but the smoky bacon flavor and pleasant saltiness of the cheese make up for any structural shortcomings.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
- Birds Eye Mashed Cauliflower Sour Cream & Chive
Most cauliflower mashes cook up great in the microwave, but Birds Eye’s regular ol’ cauliflower mash was so watery I took one tiny bite and moved on. If you’ve tried the plain version and swore off mashed cauliflower, I can’t blame you, but I also encourage you to give this sour cream and chive variety a shot. The consistency is totally different and much, much better. This mash is thick and substantial, and the flavor is really excellent. If I didn’t know what I was eating and someone asked me about the flavor, I would have guessed parmesan cheese rather than sour cream and chive, but if that lack of accuracy won’t bug you, this is an extremely delicious potato alternative.
Credit: Merc / Target
- Green Giant Veggie Tots Broccoli & Cheese
Do you like broccoli cheddar soup? What if someone figured out how to fry up little morsels of broccoli cheddar soup so you could eat it alongside your dinner without even dirtying a spoon. Well, Green Giant did that shit. These tots are salty and cheesy but still super vegetable forward. Justine loved the big hunks of broccoli inside. I always have a bag of these in my freezer at home because I believe in my heart that they’re a healthier snack than regular ol’ tater tots. I truly can’t recommend them enough.
Credit: Merc / Vons
- Bob Evans Roasted Garlic & Herb Mashed Cauliflower
We tried two Bob Evans microwaveable mashed cauliflower side dishes, and they were extremely different. The Parmesan & Chive variety had big chunks of cauliflower and was way more like creamed cauliflower than a cauliflower mash. Garlic & Herb, on the other hand, is what you’d serve your kid if you wanted to trick them into eating more vegetables. This is the best cauliflower mash for people who really just wish they were eating potatoes. It’s creamy, deliciously salty, and it comes in a microwaveable tray rather than in a bag of pellets, which is arguably more convenient. This mash has such a bold and savory flavor that my colleague Jordan Myrick suggested it would be perfect with something kind of bland, like baked chicken.
Credit: Merc / Kroger
- Strong Roots Cauliflower Hash Browns
Strong Roots, if you’re ever looking for a spokesperson, call me. I’ll do it for free. That’s how much I love these cauliflower hash brown patties. I wrote in my notes: “This is the best cauliflower product I’ve ever had. Like, ever. Hands down.” I really can’t stress enough how good these are. The thing that keeps most cauliflower products from effectively emulating potatoes? Moisture. Strong Roots managed to get so much moisture out of the cauliflower in these hash browns, so they really come so close to being the texture of potato hash browns. They’re crispy, substantial, and the oil they were fried in tastes nice and fresh. I cooked these in the toaster oven and left them in for about five minutes longer than the packaging suggested, and I think it was a good move. Full disclosure: These do include potato in the ingredients, but if you’re looking for ways to sneak more vegetables into your diet, these are a sneaky (and tasty) way to do that.
Credit: Merc / Instacart
Best for Cauliflower Lovers
Best Tot (Runner-Up)
Best Seasoned Mash
Best Mashed Potato Dupe
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: Green Giant Veggie Tots Zucchini Pizza, Green Giant Veggie Tots Zucchini Parmesan, Green Giant Veggie Tots Cauliflower, Birds Eye Zucchini Fries, Birds Eye Mashed Cauliflower Original, Bob Evans Parmesan & Chive Mashed Cauliflower, Sprouts Mashed Cauliflower
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