This cauliflower fried rice is low-carb and paleo and gluten-free but you’d never know by tasting it. And it can be made with chicken, shrimp, or pork—or whatever leftovers are in your fridge.
If you’ve got any doubts that this cauliflower fried rice recipe is darn near indistinguishable from the real thing (we understand, we had them, too…BEFORE we tried this recipe), read what our recipe testers had to say after trying it at home. (You’ll find their comments just beneath the recipe.) Then try the recipe yourself and let us know just how convinced you are.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Cauliflower Fried Rice
For the sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari (opt for gluten-free tamari if desired)
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Shao Hsing Chinese cooking wine (if substitute mirin and reduce the sugar or honey a touch)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
For the cauliflower fried rice
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil or peanut oil
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 1/2 medium onion finely chopped (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic minced (1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 pound leftover cooked chicken, shrimp, or pork cut into bite-size pieces (optional)
- 2 medium carrots diced 1/4-inch (6-mm) dice (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 cups Chinese cabbage (bok choy, choy sum, or won bok) chopped (or substitute 1 cup shredded green cabbage)
- 1 cup frozen peas rinsed in cool water and drained
- 1 batch cooked and cooled Cauliflower Rice (from 1 head cauliflower)
- Sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Make the sauce
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
Make the cauliflower fried rice
- In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and fry, stirring, until scrambled and mostly dry, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the wok, still over medium-high heat, and heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the onion and stir-fry until softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and stir-fry until aromatic, about 20 seconds.
- Add the chicken, shrimp, or pork, if using, and stir-fry until the meat is warm, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Increase the heat to high and add the cabbage, peas, cauliflower rice, and sauce, tossing to combine. Stir-fry until the cabbage wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Finally, add the eggs back in. Taste and add salt if needed. Drizzle with the sesame oil, toss, and remove from the heat. Serve as soon as possible. Add the chicken, shrimp, or pork, if using. Stir-fry until the meat is warm, 1 to 2 minutes.
Cauliflower Fried Rice VariationSeafood Cauliflower Fried Rice Use cut-up raw shrimp, scallops, and/or squid instead of meat and add a few minutes cooking time. Breakfast Cauliflower Fried Rice Use cooked bacon, sausage, and/or ham. Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice Add some chopped, drained kimchi at the end and cook just until warmed through. Vietnamese Cauliflower Fried Rice Use shallots instead of the onion and pork for the meat. Thai Cauliflower Fried Rice Use shallots instead of the onion and add 1 tablespoon full-fat coconut milk and 1 teaspoon curry paste. Rich Cauliflower Fried Rice For added richness, substitute 1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter for 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil. Meatless Monday Cauliflower Fried Rice Omit the meat. (Kindly note there is a seafood element in the recipe due to the fish sauce and egg so it’s still not vegetarian.)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
What a great, guilt-free recipe! I love traditional fried rice. Like, LOVE. But more often than not I am sitting down to dinner at 9 pm and feel apprehensive about eating so much rice so close to bedtime. This is a fantastic alternative.
Being no different than other stir-fry recipes, prepping the ingredients is the key. This recipe moves fast, so get your ingredients chopped and portioned before you heat the pan. I’m not a fan of bok choy, so I subbed 1 cup shredded green cabbage. The final assembly of cabbage, “rice,” peas, and sauce went super fast. Once the cabbage was wilted after 2 minutes, the dish was ready to serve.
Total yield based on a large head of cauliflower was about 6 cups, enough for leftovers to take to lunch the next day. Delicious!
You’re in for an interesting and fun culinary experience and a surprisingly delicious meal. Oh c’mon, don’t be skeptical—it’s the fluffiest “fried rice” you’ll ever have!
The cauliflower rice is already tasty unadorned (it’s much more flavorful than I ever imagined) and the quick and easy sauce and aromatics make it even more enjoyable. There’s a lot of room for flexibility here—a common thread among most fried rice recipes. Maybe a little Sriracha or red pepper flakes in the sauce for some heat, chopped cilantro or Thai basil over the finished dish, a drizzle of sesame oil at the end, etc. Don’t have leftover meat? Skip it. I did and the fried rice was quite satisfying without it.
Let your creative juices flow or try some of the variations suggested with the recipe. I have no doubt they’d be fabulous. (The Breakfast Fried Rice is calling my name.)
The look of this cauliflower fried rice definitely mimicked real fried rice, and the flavor was delicious. The texture was quite a bit more moist than when one uses actual rice, though it’s still a keeper of a recipe. If you don’t have cauliflower rice around, then you need to allow at least 10 minutes (if not more) to make it. I used honey, sake, baby bok choy, and char sui. I also only used a pinch of salt and 4 cups cauliflower rice in this recipe. We’d guess that the number of servings is actually closer to 6 and probably 8 if you’re using it as a side dish.
If I made this again, I would add some oyster sauce (maybe watered down or keep the honey and sake). I think it has a more authentic flavor/smell with oyster sauce, but that’s just how my mother made it. I also felt constrained by the recipe because I generally just cook everything, make a well, cook the eggs in that well, chop them with my spatula, and then mix them into the rice/veggie mixture. This works fairly well and is a lot faster than cooking, removing, and adding back in.
Once we discovered cauliflower “rice,” it became part of our vegetable routine. It’s so versatile. Using it as the “rice” in fried rice is a natural, and it makes for a very satisfying main dish, side dish, or even breakfast. This is a perfect way to get more vegetables with the mouthfeel of rice but with less starch. This easily serves 4 (not counting seconds!) and for us, the leftovers got a quick refried treatment the next morning as a breakfast bowl with more egg and some kimchi. It would have been just as nice for a cold packed lunch if there had been any more left.
I’ve made this cauliflower fried rice recipe several times, playing with the ingredients. I can argue either way on whether you should precook the cauliflower, which you would fluff and let cool while you prep the rest of your ingredients, or just putting the raw “rice” straight into the wok. I tried raw first—I liked the texture, and I think using a golden cauliflower made the dish look a little more cooked, retaining the texture of the cauliflower and not requiring the amount of oil used in traditional fried rice. Surprisingly, the batches where I cooked the cauliflower first were just as nice, just slightly different. With raw cauliflower, you need an extra 2 to 3 minutes, continuously stirring, as you now have a pretty hot wok. You probably will want to add an extra tablespoon cooking oil during this time. In my wok, I found that either avocado oil or a wok oil blend, which are both meant for high heat, worked better. I don’t like to use coconut oil in my woks, especially the cast-iron one, which can get hot very quickly.
Version 1: Uncooked cauliflower rice, Chinese Lap Cheong (Chinese sausage) for the meat, and chopped fresh snap peas in place of frozen peas, thinly sliced Napa cabbage, only 1/2 teaspoon sugar as Lap Cheong is already somewhat sweet, Shao Hsing rice wine, golden cauliflower.
Version 2: Cooked cauliflower rice, young broccoli (stems, leaves & flowers, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces, thinly sliced Napa cabbage. I used purple cauliflower—do this only if your family doesn’t laugh at slightly blueish foods. It tasted good.
Version 3: Cooked cauliflower rice, fried tofu, mushrooms, twice the amount of ginger, 1 teaspoon sambal oelek). This was nice, though I will choose a firm, braised tofu next time in place of the traditional spongy fried tofu.
Overall, I wanted more ginger and was getting more liberal with the white pepper. There will be plenty more iterations of this on our table.
This recipe was a hit. The taste was amazing, fresh, and much better than any take-out Asian fried rice I’ve ever had—and, of course, much healthier.
Timewise, what took the longest was the prep. I had to have everything 100% ready before I started cooking. The final result was amazing, and no one missed the rice. Actually we liked this version much better, as it was so much lighter. Totally a recipe to make again but with more sauce. (I tripled the amount of sauce at the last minute. Was it perhaps that my batch of cauliflower rice was too large? I had 7 cups cauliflower rice, though from the photo, the proportions seemed to be correct.) In terms of servings, this fried rice was perfect for 6 people as a main meal.
Originally published February 25, 2020