This cauliflower rice recipe is a simple trick that tastes almost sorta like actual cooked rice. Consider it a stealthy healthy approach to eating one’s veggies.

Cauliflower rice. Now, let us just say, in our defense, that we know the difference between cauliflower and rice. And we know that you do, too. But if you’re seeking a simple, subtle, perhaps even sneaky way to get the folks in your life to eat more veggies, this “cauliflower rice” recipe is your ticket. It has only the slightest glimmer of caulifloweriness which is easily obfuscated when you slather it with sauce or toss in some spices or aromatics. And it’s especially difficult to discern any vegetal-ness when you incorporate this cauliflower rice into this amazing  cauliflower fried rice.Renee Schettler Rossi


A food processor bowl with riced cauliflower.

Cauliflower Rice

5 / 2 votes
This cauliflower rice recipe is a simple trick that tastes almost sorta like actual cooked rice. Consider it a stealthy healthy approach to eating one’s veggies.
Servings4 servings
Calories66 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes


  • 1 head cauliflower coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Sea salt


  • Toss the coarsely chopped cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it forms cauliflower bits the size of rice or couscous. (If using a large head of cauliflower, it’s best to do this in 2 batches.)
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the butter or coconut oil for 1 minute, then stir in the cauliflower. Sauté until sizzling, then add the water, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the rice—er, cauliflower—has softened, about 7 minutes. Season with salt to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.


Cauliflower Rice Variation

Cauliflower Brown Rice
Our very own David Leite came up with his own nifty variation on cauliflower rice. It’s basically cauliflower rice made over higher heat so that the finished cauliflower resembles brown rice. Heat a large skillet over medium-high until it’s wicked hot. (David prefers his 12-inch cast iron skillet.) Drizzle in some olive oil and dump in the cauliflower. Stir the mixture continually until it begins to brown and resembles brown rice, 5 to 8 minutes, depending upon the amount of cauliflower you use. Season with salt and a fresh grind or two of black pepper. It was so good even The One asked for seconds.
The Ancestral Table Cookbook

Adapted From

The Ancestral Table

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 66 kcalCarbohydrates: 7 gProtein: 3 gFat: 4 gSaturated Fat: 3 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 43 mgPotassium: 430 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 3 gVitamin C: 69 mgCalcium: 32 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2013 Russ Crandall. Photo © 2013 Russ Crandall. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’m usually skeptical of recipes that purport to make a food something it is not. Zucchini is presented as noodles, cauliflower stands in for mashed potatoes, and so forth. Well, this cauliflower rice recipe totally won me over. I had cauliflower I had bought and not used that needed to be prepared somehow, some way, soon. There had been heads of cauliflower I’d mashed, roasted, and steamed in recent days, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with this one. This cauliflower rice has a wonderful texture. It makes a puffy pillow of white on a plate. It’s more like couscous than rice in texture, or, as my husband suggested, grits.The timing was spot-on. We enjoyed the cauliflower rice plain, but it won’t fool cauliflower haters that way. There is still a distinct but faint cauliflower flavor to the bits. A curry sauce would be wonderful with it, though, and would mask the taste, as would any strong seasoning. We served this in lieu of rice with bean and pork burritos.

We’ve made a lot of versions of cauliflower rice, but this one may be our fave. It’s so simple and easy to throw together. Cauliflower is easy to overcook, but this cauliflower rice recipe turned out perfectly with the directions given. Normally we make “fried rice” with cauliflower. That would be easy to do with this as the base, but it was wonderful as a simple side dish to go along with Thanksgiving leftovers now that we’re out of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Good, healthy recipe.

Quite surprised by this cauliflower rice recipe. I made this with chopped turkey, diced carrots, and celery [all leftover from Thanksgiving] and I added a little coconut milk and curry. I liked the texture of this because there was still just a bit of a crunch to it. Will try this in other dishes that call for rice, including some salads.

I didn’t know that cauliflower could be chopped up to look like rice. The technique works and produces a nice, low-carb substitute for rice. If you follow the cauliflower recipe as it is written, you will get a fairly flat, bland dish. If you’re not planning to add other spices, fry it, or serve it with something that has a lot of sauce, then I would add about 2 more tablespoons butter or coconut oil and a nice amount of sea salt and pepper. I used a little more than 1 tablespoon water to keep the dish moist while it was steaming. A head of cauliflower prepared this was will easily serve 4 to 6.

This cauliflower rice recipe is genius. Grinding raw cauliflower into rice-size consistency and then cooking it in a touch of butter or oil for flavor is a delicious and unique alternative to rice or couscous. It was not only easy to do, but also spurred interesting dinner conversation about what exactly the dish was made from. I used butter instead of coconut oil to cook the cauliflower and served it alongside a roast chicken and some braised broccoli. A quick and easy side dish idea that (surprise!) is also very healthy.

This cauliflower rice recipe completely exceeded my modest expectations and prompted an entire conversation about where it might work in place of other starches. If you have a good size head of cauliflower, you might want to do this in 2 batches so the pulsing of the food processor can chop everything evenly—it still only takes 5 minutes. I measured 6 cups raw “riced” cauliflower before cooking, though of course as soon as it heats up the volume drops a little. It never loses the fluffiness as it cooks, though, and even any leftovers will hold nicely for a salad the next day. I served it with under a quick pan sauce of tomato, shallots, olives, and capers with pan-grilled sausage, so my sauce was a little thicker than a curry or scampi sauce (other possibilities we think would work great with this cauliflower rice). I see this more as a substitute for coucous than a stand-in for rice, though in salads it would hold its own with roasted vegetables or dried fruit and nuts. I think this idea has great possibilities for healthy vegetarian meals as well as meaty ones where you still want more vegetable than starch. It also completely utilizes even the core of the cauliflower, something that might get discarded in other preparations. How can something so simple be so pleasing? And while cauliflower rice might replace couscous, I will keep quinoa in the arsenal and maybe introduce them to each other!

Turning cauliflower into “rice” is one of those genius culinary triumphs! This cauliflower rice recipe is super easy to make, as the Cuisinart does all the work of transforming the cauliflower into “rice.” Sautéing the cauliflower with a little coconut oil or butter or olive oil and then steaming it turns it into a quick side dish. I added curry powder, cumin, and S&P, and this “rice” dish held its own as a delicious side dish. Put the cauliflower rice under a sauce and no one will ever know it isn’t rice. So up your nutritional intake and sub cauliflower for your rice. You’ll be glad you did!

This cauliflower rice recipe makes an easy, delicious side dish. It can be made very quickly and easily and can be adapted with whatever you have on hand. I added some chopped herbs (cilantro and parsley) and scallion at the end.

For anyone following one of the trendy diets—low carb or Paleo—or if you just want to eat a little healthier at some meals, this is a great recipe to go with a variety of your favorite dishes. Since we all just overindulged a little at the holidays, I tried this recipe several different ways over the past few days, following the basic cauliflower rice idea and then letting my imagination and taste buds take over. As the recipe states, I cut my cauliflower into large chunks and put them in the food processor—pulse it if you want rice and make sure you don’t just turn it on, or you will quickly end up with cauliflower couscous. I marinated some thin strips of pork (about 3 cups of pork strips) in a little sesame oil, fresh grated ginger, and fresh chopped garlic for about 30 minutes. While this was marinating, I cooked about a cup of frozen peas and then drained off any excess liquid. I also chopped an onion and a carrot (cut very tiny) and sliced some shiitake mushrooms. I cooked the pork strips and onion in peanut oil just until it started to look done. I threw in the rest of the vegetables, including the cauliflower at this point, tossing in my wok for about 3 to 4 minutes. Instead of adding water, as the recipe called for, I added a few tablespoons soy sauce and continued to toss and cook for several more minutes. Voila, cauliflower fried rice! Even my husband, who does not like cauliflower, thought this was great. I did not put an egg in this but think that would have been a great addition. I decided to try this recipe again for a jambalaya dish. I made my regular recipe—onion, garlic, bell pepper, and celery cooked in a little oil, add andouille sausage, a little cayenne pepper, bay leaf, Creole seasoning, and oregano. I then usually add some tomato sauce and and undrained diced tomatoes (a lot of this tomato liquid is absorbed when I add the rice). This time, I drained the tomatoes and added some tomato paste in place of 1/2 the can tomato sauce. I was afraid adding the uncooked cauliflower rice at this point would just make it soggy, so I sautéed it in a pan as the original recipe states and tossed it with the sauce as the final step before serving. It turned out great. Both dishes have enough flavor that the cauliflower rice is a perfect low calorie, low carbohydrate substitution. I look forward to continue playing with this simple base recipe.

Originally published December 31, 2017

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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