When it comes to my favorite comforting meals, rice often takes a supporting role. Stuffed peppers, Chinese dishes and easy meals in a bowl are all rice-laden regulars in my dinner lineup, but sometimes I like to make these dishes a little lighter and healthier. That’s where cauliflower rice comes in! While it’s not an exact match for the taste and texture of traditional rice, it boasts a ton of health benefits! With far fewer calories than white rice (not to mention high levels of vitamins C, K and B6), cauliflower is a low-calorie, low-carb rice substitute. Best of all, it’s super simple to make.
To come up with this better-than-rice alternative, our Test Kitchen team embraced the natural goodness of cauliflower and developed a foolproof cooking method to ensure you get it right every time. Follow along as we prepare this easy recipe step by step.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice
1 medium head cauliflower, finely grated
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ teaspoons garlic-herb seasoning blend
1 cup Asiago cheese, finely grated
Step 1: Prep the Cauliflower
Begin by cutting a head of cauliflower into quarters. Trim away any leaves as well as the centermost part of the core. The core can be pretty tough, and you don’t want it mucking up this otherwise fluffy dish.
Step 2: Pulse
Taste of Home
Using your hands, break the quartered cauliflower into large florets and load into a food processor. Pulse with the standard blade (not the grating disk) until the cauliflower is broken up into grain-sized bits.
Test Kitchen tip: If you don’t have a food processor on hand, use the side of a box grater with the largest slots to get a similar result.
You may also find pre-grated cauliflower at your local grocer, and this is a fine time-saving option. For this recipe, be sure to purchase at least 6 cups’ worth. (This amount will shrink down to about 4 cups).
Step 3: Heat Things Up
Taste of Home
Though cauliflower rice is perfectly good raw, the Taste of Home Test Kitchen recommends sauteeing it for a richer, more flavorful dish. In a large skillet, combine the oil, butter and seasonings over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the cauliflower, stirring occasionally. Cook uncovered until tender, 10-15 minutes. Be sure not to overmix, or the cauliflower granules will turn to mush. Once tender, add the Asiago cheese and mix until combined.
Test Kitchen tip: Skip the saute pan and roast your cauliflower rice instead. Crank the oven up to 400 degrees and cook for 10-15 minutes. Another method is to add a splash of water and pop it into the microwave, covered, for a few minutes.
How to Make It Your Own
The recipe above is a great starting point for incorporating cauliflower rice into your meal routine, but there are variations to suit all tastes. Here are a few:
- Go raw. The simplest modification of all is to forego cooking the rice. The fresh crunch of cauliflower adds a wonderful texture to raw salads of all kinds.
- Experiment with different cheeses. Parmesan and Romano are great alternatives to Asiago, and they’re a wonderful foundation for Italian-inspired meals.
- Skip the cheese entirely. Cauliflower rice is rich and delicious even without the cheese, thanks to the addition of olive oil and butter. This modification serves as the perfect backdrop for Asian-inspired dishes like our chicken rice curry.
- Swap seasonings. A garlic-herb seasoning mix is the great standard, but if you’re looking for some variation, a sprinkle of cumin and cayenne plays well with Mexican-influenced dishes. Try mixing in fresh herbs and spices, too! Here’s our list of homegrown essentials.
For more good-for-you favorites, check out 30 healthy dinner recipes (and try slipping cauliflower rice into one or two dishes).