Welcome to the wonderful world of cauliflower rice! In this post, I share everything you need to know about this new low-carb rice alternative, plus how to make my delicious cilantro lime cauliflower rice recipe.
“Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I didn’t know you could make a good-tasting rice out of cauliflower?!”
That’s the typical reaction I get when I talk about how good cauliflower rice is. Before I learned how to make it, when I used rice for a recipe, my go-to favorite is usually basmati rice. I would use Basmati rice because it’s low glycemic and my doctor said that is better for my blood sugar. It helped me a little bit when I wanted to work on losing some weight around the middle.
But when I started switching out basmati rice for cauliflower rice I really saw the difference. Replacing other high-carb foods as well helped me lose 19 pounds! Cauliflower rice is one recipe that fills me up with my favorite meals whether it’s Chinese, Thai, India, or just some good ole rice and butter.
What is Cauliflower Rice?
Cauliflower rice is a popular low-carb substitute for regular rice that’s made by shredding or grating fresh cauliflower. Our readers at southernplate.com are also asking for more low-carb recipes and how many carbs something has in it as well.
Enter cauliflower rice. Ok Y’all, you might think I am as crazy as a Bessie Bug for using cauliflower or broccoli or any type of vegetable for rice instead of well… rice! But I tell you what this low-carb alternative to regular white or brown rice has allowed me to eat more of the foods I love without worrying about how many calories I am eating. If you are looking for it in the stores it’s in the freezer section usually by the frozen vegetables.
Where in the heck did it come from? Unfortunately, the South can’t claim this culinary discovery. But if you are interested, this article talks about the famous actor Harrison Ford’s son who is a chef and how he seems to be the first one to talk about ricing cauliflower. So Indiana Jones had a son who is a chef? Well “shut the front door” as my good friend’s mama says.
Cauliflower Rice vs White Rice
- LOW in calories. At about 30-40 calories per cup — both raw and cooked — cauliflower rice provides just 10–20% of the calories you’d expect from the same quantity of cooked rice.
- Healthy alternative. It is packed with vitamins and minerals but also has the look and feel of rice, with a much lower level of calories and carbs. Research links low-calorie, water-dense foods like cauliflower to weight loss, as they may reduce hunger and boost feelings of fullness. Both of these factors may reduce your calorie intake according to this study. In addition, cauliflower rice is low in carbs. It provides 18 times fewer carbs than the same quantity of rice.
Net carbs is a way for people following a keto diet or paleo to measure the number of carbs your body ends up digesting from food that you are eating. You can figure out a food or dish’s net carbs by subtracting grams of fiber from its total carbs. While carbs are an important source of energy, many people follow low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet to try to lose weight. So, cauliflower rice could be particularly helpful for people looking to reduce their carb intake and lose weight.
So switching to cauliflower rice versus white rice can decrease calories and decrease carbs but you still feel full.
What You Might Notice When You Switch
Cauliflower in general has a high amount of fiber which can be a very big pro for those trying to improve their digestive health but if you aren’t used to eating fiber in your diet you may experience some minor gas or bloating when you eat lots of it raw, sort of like someone who isn’t used to eating beans. You can always blame it on the dog!
But if you can slowly increase the fiber in your diet it can be very good for you. Cauliflower rice is a bit easier to digest than regular cauliflower so most people don’t have any problems. And the fiber in cauliflower rice helps feed the healthy bacteria in your gut promoting good digestive health.
People with thyroid issues may not be able to eat the cauliflower rice uncooked (but who would want to eat rice uncooked anyway?) Just because ya can doesn’t mean ya should. When you cook or steam cauliflower or other cruciferous vegetables it is supposed to break down the substances that can irritate your thyroid.
Store-bought Cauliflower Rice
Now you know us here at Southernplate.com enjoy preparing foods from scratch or if it’s easier to buy it already prepared that’s fine too. Do whatever cranks your tractor.
Store-bought cauliflower rice is just that. It’s a quick substitute for homemade BUT it’s usually best to thaw the frozen cauliflower rice overnight and then squeeze the moisture out of it so it may even be quicker to do fresh.
Enough babbling, it’s time to learn how to make my fabulous cilantro lime cauliflower rice! Get excited, because this is a Chipotle copycat rice recipe. But don’t worry if you’re one of those people who don’t like cilantro, as I’ve included some great substitutes below.
- Medium head cauliflower or 16 ounces store-bought cauliflower rice
- Butter or substitute like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- Minced garlic
- Black pepper
- Fresh herbs (I recommend cilantro, but you could also use parsley, dill, or basil).
- Lemon or lime juice
How To Make Cauliflower Rice
To turn a head of cauliflower into rice, there are two options. Use a food processor or use a box grater. If using a food processor like this one, cut the head of cauliflower into medium chunks and remove the core.
Pulse until the cauliflower is broken down into very small rice-like bits. Just like the photo above. And there you have it, riced cauliflower.
If you have a box grater and want to use that then cut the head of cauliflower into quarters and remove the core. Use the medium-sized holes to grate each quarter into small bits resembling rice.
Remove the Moisture
Some say this step is optional, but I do notice a difference if I don’t remove the moisture by squeezing it out with some cheesecloth or thin dish towel. The rice doesn’t seem to pick up as much flavor and it tends to be soggier than I like when I skip this step.
Now let’s get to seasoning this rice.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
Heat skillet and add the butter.
When the butter is melted and bubbling, stir in the garlic. Cook the garlic, stirring it around the pan, until fragrant, about 20-30 seconds.
Add the cauliflower rice, salt, and a few bits of black pepper.
Cook, stirring every once and awhile, until the cauliflower rice is crisp-tender and starts to turn light brown in places, about 7 to 12 minutes.
Take the skillet off of the heat, and then stir in the lemon or lime juice.
Add the chopped fresh herbs, whether that’s fresh cilantro or parsley if you’re not a fan.
Add more salt, pepper, or lemon or lime juice to taste and stir it up!
Sometimes I add toasted nuts to give it a good ole crunch. Cauliflower rice often has a nutty taste to it when cooked but if you like things a little crunchy like I do, then go on, add those toasted nuts.
makes a great low-carb side dish or add some chicken and make it a main meal.
- Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freezing cauliflower rice: I strongly recommend freezing the rice after preparing it if you aren’t going to cook it right away. But make sure you press out the moisture before freezing and let thaw before cooking for best results. It can keep for up to a month when frozen.
- For more lime flavor, juice a whole lime and add the lime zest to the rice as well.
- If you want to add a little more kick, add 1 seeded and chopped jalapeno to this rice recipe. You could also add a pinch of chipotle powder, crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or chili powder.
- As mentioned, you can use fresh cauliflower or frozen cauliflower florets in this recipe. You could also use pre-riced cauliflower rice if you’re in a hurry.
- Here are some fun variations to try with my cilantro lime cauliflower rice:
- Serve it with my slow-cooker pulled pork, salsa, green onions, and sliced avocados.
- Enjoy it as a side with chicken fajitas.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin to transform it into cauliflower rice and then serve it as a burrito bowl with chicken, pico de gallo, and guacamole.
Here are some other recipes with rice that you may want to try cauliflower rice with:
Red Beans and Rice Recipe Louisiana Style from Hello Fresh
Cheesy Chicken And Rice Crock Pot Version
Simply Delicious Chicken & Rice Soup
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Rice Casserole
- 1 medium cauliflower medium
- 2 tbsp butter or sub with olive oil or coconut oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp Black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs parsley, dill, cilantro, or basil
- 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
To Rice the Cauliflower:
- If using a food processor, cut the head of cauliflower into medium size chunks and place those chunks in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is broken down into very small pieces that look just like rice. Leave the core out.
- If using a box grater, cut the head of cauliflower into quarters and remove the core. Use the medium-sized holes to grate each quarter into small tiny pieces that will look like rice.
- To make sure your cauliflower rice isn't soggy,, before cooking, squeeze out moisture with cheese cloth or dish towel. This is true for fresh and frozen. (If frozen thaw and then squeeze out moisture.)
Cauliflower Rice with Herbs
- Heat skillet and add the butter. When the butter is melted add the garlic. Stir that garlic around the pan until it's fragrant, 20-30 seconds.
- Add the cauliflower rice, salt, and the black pepper (more or less depending on your taste). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower rice starts to crisp up and turns light brown in some bits, approx 7 to 10 minutes.
- Take it off the heat, and then stir in the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Give it a taste then add more of the lemon juice or salt and pepper, if you like. Optional: Add toasted nuts for extra crunch
Goodness Gracious, this is better than the pre-frozen packets. I can’t eat Cilantro but a friend suggested the leaves of Celery instead. I chop and freeze the leaves in ice cube trays (1 TBSP leaves per cube) with water and transfer them to freezer bags. I just thaw them on the counter top and drain and squeeze out the water before using.
thanks for the suggestion Barbara!
Cauliflower rice is absolutely delicious! I have been making it for the last two years. Another thing I love about it is that you can add a plant based or real meat product and turn it into an entire meal!
Completely agree Pam. I have found it to be very versatile but also very tasty!
Glad you find it delicious too