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Are you wondering how to make cauliflower rice (a.k.a. riced cauliflower) — and the best methods for cooking it? After making this staple hundreds of times and using it in many recipes, I’ve put together this guide with all you need to know! Bookmark it to use it (again and again… and again) for everything from ricing options to cooking instructions to the best cauliflower rice recipes.
Cauliflower is one of my fave alternatives to rice, potatoes and other starches to create tasty, healthy side dishes. I use it as a substitute to make mashed potatoes (my family can barely tell when it’s mashed cauliflower instead!), homemade cauliflower mac and cheese (even my kids love it), Thanksgiving cauliflower stuffing, and so much more! Find even more cauliflower recipes here.
What Is Cauliflower Rice?
Cauliflower rice is a healthier, grain-free, low carb alternative to rice. It’s simply cauliflower that is cut into a rice consistency and cooked until tender. Due to its neutral flavor and slightly starchy texture, it works surprisingly well to replace rice in recipes.
Why You’ll Love This Cauliflower Rice Recipe
- Light and fluffy texture
- Neutral flavor makes a great side or addition to anything
- NO “steamed cauliflower” smell!
- Super easy to make
- Ready in just 15 minutes
- Low carb, gluten-free, grain-free, and keto friendly
- Healthy way to eat veggies
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for rice cauliflower, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Cauliflower – You can buy a whole head of cauliflower from your local grocery store, pre-packaged florets with added seasonings, or fresh cauliflower already cut into small pieces. If you’re short on time or looking for a shortcut, you can also buy it pre-made from most grocery stores in the United States, either fresh or frozen, and both options work well. If you’re are buying the pre-riced kind, make sure that it is very fresh and doesn’t have any brown spotting on it. It goes bad quickly.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- Olive Oil – I used olive oil, but you can also use avocado oil or ghee to fry with. Butter is not great for high-heat cooking (some recipes suggest medium heat, but I prefer medium high), but you can add some at the end for flavor.
That’s all you need for a simple cauliflower rice recipe, but if you want to know how to season it in other ways, see the Additions & Variations section below.
How To Make Cauliflower Rice
There are three main ways to make riced cauliflower: a food processor, a box grater, or a knife.
Cutting The Cauliflower:
Before you make it into rice pieces, you’ll need to cut it into florets first. Here is the easiest way to do this…
- Cut cauliflower head into quarters. Cut it in half, then in half again to make quarters.
- Slice off the core. Hold a quarter of the cauliflower head vertically and use a knife to slice off the woody center so the florets fall off. See below!
- Cut into florets. If the florets are still too big, you can cut them a bit smaller as needed. (You can also use the same cutting method when making roasted cauliflower, or roasted broccoli and cauliflower!)
TIP: Make florets small enough.
You don’t have to make tiny florets, but cut the cauliflower into pieces that will fit into the feed tube your food processor. If you’ll be using a box grater, you can get away with larger florets.
Food Processor Method:
I think the best way to make cauliflower rice is with a food processor, because it’s so fast! You can easily process an entire head in minutes.
To do this, attach the grater disc and feed tube to your food processor. Start the food processor and feed cauliflower through the feed tube. If it’s an extra large head of cauliflower, you may need to process in batches.
While the food processor may be easiest method, here is how to rice cauliflower without a food processor in case you don’t have one:
- Knife method: Simply chop, chop, chop that cauliflower into grain-sized pieces. A bit of work, but it does get the job done.
- Box grater method: If you’ll be using a box grater (sometimes called a cheese grater), cut the cauliflower into medium pieces and grate against the medium or large side of the grater to get pieces about the size of rice.
How To Cook Cauliflower Rice
This section shows how to cook cauliflower rice on the stove, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Season the cauliflower. Add sea salt and black pepper to raw riced cauliflower. (You could also season it after adding to the skillet instead.)
- Heat the oil. Heat olive oil in a large wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Cook the cauliflower rice. Stir fry, uncovered, until soft but not mushy. (Frozen rice may take a couple minutes longer.) Adjust salt and pepper to taste if needed.
Tips For The Best Cauliflower Rice Recipes
I have a few tips for this foolproof and easy rice using cauliflower! From the right sized grains to the right texture, these are the keys to perfect low carb rice (both fresh and frozen):
- Use the right food processor attachment. If you are using a food processor, use the grate attachment, not the S blade. You’ll get more uniform cauli rice and longer “grains.” However, if all you have is an S blade, or you prefer finer pieces, you can pulse using the S blade instead.
- Use more florets and fewer stems. You can still use the stems if you like, but the flavor and texture is better if you use mostly florets. Also, with stems you sometimes get pieces that are too long, but with florets you won’t. Bags of cauliflower florets also work well.
- Cook uncovered over medium-high heat. Cooking over low heat or covering with a lid will cause the cauliflower to steam, which increases that cauliflower smell and can make the rice mushy or even watery.
- Don’t overcook. Make sure to watch your riced cauliflower when you are cooking it to avoid it becoming mushy. It cooks in just a few minutes!
- Don’t use water. Do not cook in water like you would normal rice. It will just get soggy.
- Tip for cauliflower rice in soups: If you are adding it to soup, add it at the end, so that it only cooks for a few minutes.
- Pre-cook riced cauliflower for casseroles. If you are using cauliflower in a casserole, such as cheeseburger casserole, it’s best to cook it first. Otherwise, your casserole can get watery. The only exception is if your casserole has ingredients that can absorb excess moisture, then it can be okay to add raw.
- If using sauce, adjust the amount. This rice does not soak up extra moisture as much as regular rice does, so you may need less sauce if you use it as a replacement in a recipe.
Additions & Variations
This recipe is super basic — just cauliflower, oil, salt, and pepper. But, here are common additions that make cooking it even more flavorful:
- Garlic – Saute a few cloves of garlic in the oil first, before adding the cauliflower.
- Fresh herbs – Add these at the end. Parsley, cilantro, basil, or chives all work great, depending on what you are serving with it.
- Dried seasonings – Try Italian or Cajun seasoning.
- Lemons – Some fresh lemon zest or even a spash of lemon juice make mouthwatering additions.
- Coconut aminos – A great addition for Asian flavors (I use this for cauliflower fried rice!). It’s similar to soy sauce (which you could use instead, if you tolerate soy).
How Much Cauliflower Rice In A Head Of Cauliflower?
One medium head of cauliflower makes about 4 cups of rice. Here is a good chart to use when you’re trying to determine how much to make based on the size of your cauliflower:
|Cauliflower Head Size||Total Weight (With Leaves & Stems)||Volume Of Cauliflower Rice||Weight Of Riced Cauliflower|
|Medium||1.5 pounds||4 cups||1 pound|
|Large||2 pounds||6 cups||1.5 pounds|
|Extra Large||3 pounds||8 cups||2 pounds|
Note that cauliflower heads will vary in size, so this is an estimate!
- Store: Both cooked and uncooked cauliflower rice should be stored in the refrigerator. Fresh (homemade or from the store) will last about 2-3 days in the fridge, while cooked can last 4-5 days.
- Freeze: You can freeze fresh or cooked cauliflower rice for up to 3-4 months. To freeze it fresh, you need to blanch it first to reduce enzyme activity, which can affect both flavor and texture. (This has been done for you with frozen cauli rice from the store.) To blanch riced cauliflower, briefly submerge it in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then transfer to an ice bath. Drain, pat dry, and freeze in a freezer bag or airtight container.
10 Easy Riced Cauliflower Recipes
Now that you know how to cook cauliflower rice, here are some ideas for how to use it and what to make with it! It’s a great side dish, but can also be used to make meals. There are so many delicious dishes that incorporate this nutritious vegetable:
So tangy and fresh! This makes a perfect side for a variety of Mexican dishes.
This version is sturdy, not soggy, and can stand up to holding with your hands! Plus, you need only a few common ingredients.
Riced cauliflower makes the perfect swap for creamy risotto. A reader fan favorite vegetarian meal!
This dish combines rich, cheesy “grits” (a.k.a. cauliflower rice) with crisp bacon and tender shrimp. It’s one of my fave Southern-inspired healthy dishes!
An easy 20-minute meal with ground beef, flavorful Asian sauce, cauliflower rice, cucumbers & green onions.
This delectable rice cauliflower salad combines zesty lemon juice dressing, fresh parsley, and mix of vegetables. You won’t miss the grains!
What To Serve With Cauliflower Rice Recipes
This naturally low carb rice makes the perfect side dish for any meal! Pair it with chicken, vegetables, or seafood to create a balanced and flavorful dinner. It works well with many different cuisines:
- Asian – Rice is always a classic with Asian cuisine. Pair this healthier version with coconut curry chicken, a healthy Korean beef bowl, quick beef and broccoli stir fry, or chicken stir fry (as a low carb option, it’s used in my keto chicken stir fry).
- Mediterranean – Add some fresh mint and parsley to this rice, and pair it with lamb kofta, loaded Mediterranean chicken, or chicken kabobs for a full Mediterranean meal.
- Mexican – Try marinated carne asada, bright cilantro lime chicken (with cilantro lime cauli rice), or use it in your burrito bowl.
- Italian – This rice is perfect topped with creamy Italian meals like chicken marsala, savory marry me chicken, or creamy Tuscan salmon.
- Box Grater – Make your cauli rice by hand with a box grater.
- Food Processor – My favorite tool for making riced cauliflower, because it’s the fastest.
- Wok – The best pan for cooking the rice — no cauliflower lost over the sides!
- Vacuum Sealer – Using a vacuum sealer will make frozen cauliflower rice last up to 6 months.
How To Make Cauliflower Rice
How To Make Cauliflower Rice (Best Method!)
An EASY tutorial for how to make cauliflower rice (the best way) in 15 minutes! Plus, get the best cauliflower rice recipes & serving ideas.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Season the raw cauliflower rice with sea salt and black pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large wok or skillet with tall sides over medium-high heat, for 1-2 minutes.
Add the cauliflower rice. Stir fry 3-5 minutes, uncovered, until cauliflower rice is soft but not mushy. (Think al dente!) Do not cover. It may take a couple minutes longer if your cauliflower rice was frozen.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste if desired.
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Serving size: 1 cup
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