If you ditched white rice for a lower carb, grain-free diet, add cauliflower rice to your menu rotation. It's a terrific alternative to rice. Make it by hand or with a food processor. And leftovers are great for lunch. Bonus! See ideas for how to dress up your cauliflower rice at the end of the post. It's really versatile!
Making cauliflower rice is easy. You need either a food processor or hand box grater. Because it's become so popular, you can buy it already "riced" at the store, but doing it yourself is fresher. If your time starved, buy the package and cook it like my recipe notes to add flavor, and try the fun options.
Food Processor or Hand Grater
To make cauliflower rice you need either a food processor with a grating blade or a box grater. If your box grater looks like it belonged to your grandmother, rusty and well used, upgrade to a new one.
Raw, grated cauliflower will keep for a few days in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container, so you can make it ahead, then cook for a quick and healthy side dish when needed.
Box Grater Instructions
Break off the green outer leaves and wash the head of cauliflower. Using a sharp knife, trim out the core. If using a box grater, cut the head into halves or quarters. Large pieces are easier to handle when grating by hand. Grate using the large hole side of the grater. Do this on a cutting board or inside a rimmed baking sheet to catch all of the "rice".
Food Processor Instructions
Insert the grating disk with the large holes. Place trimmed florets into the feed tube and grate. You can use either the large feed tube or the smaller for more control. Next, replace the grating blade with the steel knife and pulse the grated cauliflower into a finer rice. Just a few pulses will do.
How to Cook
Cauliflower rice cooks quickly. Heat either olive oil or coconut oil in a 3-4 quart sauté pan or 12" fry pan. I like to add aromatics like sliced shallot or chopped leek, cook until softened, add some garlic for more flavor, then lastly add the cauliflower rice. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes.
How to Dress it Up
You can eat it plain or dress it up. At the end, add freshly chopped herbs for color and flavor and try these variations:
- Cilantro cauliflower rice is a great as a Mexican side dish
- For Mediterranean cauliflower rice, add chopped basil, oregano, rosemary or chives
- For Indian cauliflower rice, add a little curry powder and saffron to the hot oil
- Other good options are finely chopped and cooked mushrooms or peas and carrots for color
Dress cauliflower rice up in a multitude of ways to keep it fun for your family. For this version, I added a little chopped Italian parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. If you eat dairy-free or are vegetarian or vegan, skip the cheese. A handful of pine nuts, walnuts or cashews add crunch and a little more healthy fat and protein.
Cauliflower is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. It's packed with nutrition like its cousins, cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Cauliflower is high in vitamins C and K, and high in phytonutrients, important plant-based chemicals. It also offers a healthy dose of potassium, fiber and folic acid.
And be sure to try the orange, purple and green varieties. The colors are fun, plus it's a satisfying and smart way to reduce higher-glycemic carbs in your diet.
I made a big batch of this for shooting the post and had more than we could eat and discovered the leftovers were super. The cauliflower rice heated up quickly and tasted great for days. Leftovers made a nice lunch one day, along with a little extra roast chicken. Cooked shrimp works too, turning this into more of a main than a side.
More Cauliflower Recipes
- Creamy cauliflower soup
- Cauliflower puree (instead of mashed potatoes)
- Roasted cauliflower florets
- Cauliflower colcannon (with kale)
How to Make Cauliflower Rice (two ways)
- Food processor or box grater
Simple Cauliflower Rice
- 1 large head cauliflower about 1 ¾ pounds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 cup chopped leek
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves or other herbs
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup pine nuts or other nuts 2 ounces
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cauliflower rice with box grater
- Start by preparing your cauliflower. Snap off the green leaves from the head, then cut out the core with a sharp knife. If using a box grater, cut the head into quarters and grate on the large holes to create the rice.
Cauliflower rice with food processor
- If using a food processor, break the head into florets. Fit a food processor with the grating blade with large holes. Push the florets though the feed tube with the processor running. After grating, replace the grating blade with the steel knife and pulse the grated cauliflower a few times to create rice.
To cook cauliflower rice
- Heat the oil in medium (3-4 quart) sauté pan or 12″ fry pan over medium heat. When the oil it hot, add the leek and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook leek until softened, about 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring.
- Turn the heat back up to medium and add the cauliflower to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook cauliflower, stirring, until heated through, about 5-7 minutes.
Ways to dress up cauliflower rice
- To dress it up and add flavors and color, stir in the Parmesan and herbs, add some pine nuts or other chopped nuts, be creative!