If you have been reading my food posts at all, you know by now that I love cauliflower rice. It’s such a perfect and versatile side for so many dishes, and it takes so little time to get it going. There are a few different methods out there for making cauliflower rice, but after quite a bit of experimentation, I have some strong opinions about how it should be done!Before we get started, I just want to tell you that pre-prepping cauliflower rice is a great idea, and one of the major time-savers that I use each week. I typically take two or three heads of cauliflower after we bring home our weeks-worth of groceries, and then get them all chopped and ready to use during the week. The recipe below will be for one head of cauliflower, but I recommend a bigger batch, just for the sake of saving time and energy!
Making Cauliflower Rice
What You’ll Need
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut roughly into floretts
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into quarters
- 1 T cooking fat– coconut oil, beef tallow, ghee, bacon grease– you choose!
- 1 t sea salt
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
- a food processor (seriously recommended, although you could do this with a knife and cutting board)
What to Do
- Put your onion into the food processor and chop it finely.
- Add your roughly chopped cauliflower to the food processor. Process only until uniformly chopped– you don’t want to get it too fine, and may have to remove that one last chunk that doesn’t seem to want to submit to the blades. (Once you have it chopped evenly, you can store it in a glass container or a ziplock bag (these are an eco-friendly option) to use through the week.)
- Heat some oil in a medium pot or cast iron skillet. I like to use coconut oil or beef drippings. Add the cauliflower/ onion mixture, and stir it up. Keep the pan HOT. Make it kind of like a stirfry. (A lot of people steam their cauliflower rice, and this makes me nuts because it gets soggy, and no one likes soggy rice.) Squeeze in some lemon juice and add salt and pepper, stir it around let it keep cooking until it’s tender but still just a little “toothsome.” You can put a lid on it briefly if it doesn’t seem to be getting tender, but keep an eye on it.
- Taste and season. Enjoy!
Here is the plain cauliflower rice, served with my Easy Moroccan Beef Stew.
3 Flavor Options
Cauliflower rice is great just plain, but often I like to add even more presence to my cauliflower rice, and choose a flavor profile that will compliment my main dish.
1. Adding cumin works really well for Indian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Mediterranean food. Add 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds to the oil in the pan as it heats and let them sizzle for a minute. When it becomes fragrant, add the rice mixture and cook as usual. I make it this way to go with Chelo Kebab.
2. For extra color, add turmeric. You will get a neon-yellow rice with a slightly earthy flavor. Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric to the oil in the pan as it heats and let it sizzle for a minute. When it becomes fragrant, add the rice mixture and cook as usual.
3. For Mexican Cauliflower Rice, add the cumin seeds as described in step one, and then add 1/3 C tomato puree with the cauliflower mixture. You probably won’t need to add more acid, but a little lime juice would taste great. Topping with chopped fresh cilantro at the end is perfect.
There are a hundred and one ways that you can customize your cauliflower rice. This is what I love about it– you can make a big bag to keep in your fridge each week, then tweak each batch a little to go with your main dish. And if you need extra reasons to get more cauliflower into your life, check these out. Enjoy!
Melinda B says
Looks great! Thanks for the ideas. I’ve only ever chopped it and stir-fried it with onion. You’ve really got me thinking outside the box.
Oh, good! It’s nice to do different things with it, and of course having it pre-prepped makes customizing it really easy.
Lori Sorrells says
I love the idea of prepping in advance, and have yet to try cauliflower rice. This looks easy! At what stage to you place it in the ziploc bag… after shredding the onion and cauliflower together? Or just the shredded cauliflower… and then add the minced onion at cooking time? Or is that storing the finished rice dish leftovers? I am a little confused. I would think the cauliflower would start to turn brown if it was shredded and stored before cooking. How long does it last?
Hi Lori, I updated the instructions to explain that you can store it after you have the onions and cauliflower chopped together. It will last in the fridge for up to five days, in my opinion. Nothing turns brown– it might just begin to get a little soggy after five days.
Susan Gaines says
I thought for sure it was cauliflower & rice but after re-reading and re-checking the photos it appears it is cauliflower. I think I’ll try this. I just finished Climbing The Mango Trees and loved it. Thank you for the recommendation.
Susan Gaines says
Correction: I just finished reading Climbing the Mango Trees. I can’t climb anything larger than a step stool.
Ha! Thanks for clarifying, Susan– and I’m glad you enjoyed the book! Let me know how you like all-cauliflower rice.
Susan Gaines says
Okay… the cauliflower rice is prepped and waiting in the refrigerator for tonight!
Elisa (@ElisaGIH) says
Thank you for the tips! I don’t have a food processor anymore because my kitchen is only slightly larger than a broom closet – have you tried grating the cauliflower in the mandolin?
Hi Elisa, yes I have made this without a food processor. It’s totally doable, just takes more time and mess. I think a grater might be better, because you will get long slices of cauliflower stems with a mandoline. You could use that first, for the florets, but then you would need to do a lot of chopping afterward. I have also done it with just a chef’s knife.
My preference is to actually grate it in a food processor. You get no chunks left and a very consistent texture. As such a grater blade for a mandolin would be perfect.
Is there any way you can make your recipes printable? It would be very helpful to just get a one page copy. Thanks for sharing the cauliflower rice. I want to try this.
Hi Ariana, can the pre-prepped cauliflower rice be tossed in the freezer?
I’ve successfully frozen the pre-chopped raw cauliflower in individual bags; I just break it up inside the baggie to loosen up the pieces and cook it from frozen over pretty high heat. I’ve never had an issue with it being soggy (as long as I don’t let it thaw completely before cooking) and it’s such a time-saver to be able to grab a bag and cook it quickly at dinnertime.
Susan Gaines says
I thought you enjoy knowing I am on board with cauliflower rice. I processed it raw with 1 shallot & lightly steamed it in the smallest amount of chicken broth and then added the chard liquid off my chard. It was done in less than 2 minutes. I seasoned it with Kosher salt, black pepper and 2 generous Tbls. of butter. I finally love it! The butter really brought out the sweet nuttiness. You see, I am not a cauliflower lover. I’m doing Paleo and will now pay more attention to your paleo recipes. Thanks!
I was wondering what you think if I’m going to try cauliower rice in a classic bake recipe like chicken/broccoli/cheese and rice, should I cook it first or just put in food processor and use it in the recipe like rice? Thanks for your ideas!
Hi Beth! Although I haven’t made a bake like this before, I feel fairy certain that not cooking it first would be best. Cauliflower cooks so quickly compared to rice, and if it’s cooking for 10 minutes or more, I think it will be done. Let me know how it comes out!
I made this tonight and I can’t tell you how much I loved it! I cooked the whole head and saved the leftovers instead of saving the uncooked chopped cauliflower for cooking later. I sautéed it in batches in a non-stick skillet in butter, and the only additional seasonings were salt and lemon juice. It was fantastic. It had a slight crunch to it which was reminiscent of quinoa, which I love, but too much carbs for now. What a great alternative, thank you for posting this recipe!
So happy to hear this, Nancy! Thanks for taking the time to let me know.
Have you ever tried freezing this? I usually blanch veggies before it goes in the freezer but I’m worried it’ll get soggy.
Carrie, I think it will get soggy in the freezer, unfortunately. Maybe you could wring it out once you thawed the cauliflower, before cooking? It’s still kind of doubtful.
AMAZING RECIPE! Didn’t have any onions or lemons so just followed all directions and added salt and pepper only. Fried it in coconut oil. Yummm!
So glad it was a hit for you! And thank you for taking the time to let me know, Erin.
Thank you so much for this recipe..You are the greatest. I just finished having this for my lunch and I was so pleased that it is as good as it sounds. I haven’t been grain free very long and this is absolutely fabulous! It is going to be a staple in my frig. I have a new love for cauliflower. Thank you for giving me this rice substitute. My hats off to you.
I love your glowing report, and am so glad that this is helpful for you as you make the transition to grain free. Thank you, Teresa!
Ariana, I do not have a food processor. Could I use a blender or magic bullet? Thanks. This sounds delicious!
I have never made it with a blender, but I have a couple of readers who have told me that they did. You can try adding water with the florets and then just straining it out after whizzing long enough to chop them up. I think it’s a brilliant idea!
I recently discovered the wonderful world of zoodles, so of course cauliflower rice was my next stop. Unfortunately it was a total failure. I used the blender method, drained well in a colander, the attempted to saute in a wok with some garlic and soy sauce. I had cauliflower soup. I kept trying to boil off the liquid and wound up with mushy cauliflower soup (LOL) and to add insult to injury it was so watery that my seasonings didn’t do much either. Do you think it was the water/blender method? The wok? I used it because I figured it would be easier to stir without winding up with it everywhere (it was still everywhere) but perhaps I need a larger surface area of heat? I would greatly appreciate advice, I miss rice terribly and would love to have a substitute.
Oh, dear! That sounds awful! I think it could have been the blender method– perhaps really dry the cauliflower off with a tea towel before you start cooking, because all of that moisture counts. I don’t know how big your wok was, but if you have a pan/ pot with more surface are, use that. Also, get it really hot before adding the cauliflower rice, and keep it on high heat. I hope you have some success next time– we love cauliflower rice!
I just tried the indian version of this rice and in my husband’s words “it is brilliant and delicious”. Thank you so much for sharing.
I just finish making the cauliflower rice and served it with chilli. It was awesome!!!
I used a blender because i don’t have a food processor, it came out great. I used the chop option on the blender and chop a few batches at a time just to avoid the watery texture.
I just tried this last night with the basic seasoning and just a little bit of Siracha powder and I got my carb-loving boyfriend to admit he liked it!! Thanks so much for this!!
Found this cauliflower recipe while looking for diabetic recipes. what a great sub for rice for diabetics. I have done cauliflower pizza crust and mashed like potatoes. So many uses for this low calorie veg.
I already had dinner in the oven – an enchilada casserole and I came across this recipe. I zipped into the kitchen and made this and had it ready by the time dinner came out of the oven. It is a hit! My 10 year old loves it! This is definitely going into my tried and true recipes! Thank you!
I’m addicted to cauliflower rice! My family and I switched over to Paleo two weeks ago and this is a great alternative to rice. They don’t even know the difference.
I only have frozen cauliflower, but you discourage steaming prior to chopping. How can I make rice with frozen cauliflower?
i love this recipe. it is great in a pork fried rice recipe, as well as sauteed cabbage served over it.
Joan O says
I make mine the easy way. Steam the cauliflower chunks until soft. Mash them up with a potato masher. My cauliflower never touches a food processor.
Made this rice today. Love the idea of stir frying it. It was delicious! And the lime made it so rich tasting, so different, special. Thanks for sharing this recipe.