No, you don’t need to give up rice! Low carb Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice is the perfect alternative to white rice while on a Whole30, observing a paleo lifestyle, or if you’re just looking to add more vegetables to your plate. Cauliflower rice is nutty and sweet, and easily absorbs the fresh, vibrant flavors of lime and cilantro.
Cauliflower rice is a staple when we’re on a Whole30 or looking to sneak extra vegetables onto our plates. Cilantro lime cauliflower rice is quick and easy, seasoned with lime juice and cilantro for a fresh and vibrant side dish. It’s the perfect alternative to rice if you want to cut back on carbs without sacrificing flavor.
How to make cilantro lime cauliflower rice
They key to making perfect cauliflower rice is to rice the cauliflower from scratch. There are a few methods for doing so, but my go-to method is use the pulse feature on a standard food processor. Be sure to saute the rice until it’s bite tender (taste small bites for texture tests as you cook) and season liberally (cauliflower happily absorbs seasoning). Store leftovers in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to three days.
- Divide a head of cauliflower into bite sized florets (smaller ones will process more easily).
- Fit the bowl of a food processor with a standard s-blade and fill no more than halfway with the cauliflower florets. Use the pulse feature to finely process the cauliflower into a rice-like mince. You’ll need to process the cauliflower in at least 2 batches depending on the size of the head of cauliflower and the size of your machine.
- Heat olive or avocado oil in a 12″ skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the rice, season with salt, and toss to coat in the fat. Saute the rice for 5-8 minutes, until the pan is dry (the cauliflower will release some moisture) and the rice is cooked through, but not completely soft. Stir frequently so the cauliflower cooks evenly.
- Remove the pan from heat and stir in lime zest, lime juice and fresh cilantro. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary until the flavor sings.
A note about texture – depending on how large you rice the cauliflower (or if you use store-bought), the cooking time will vary. The best way to know the rice is cooked is to taste it. Fully cooked cauliflower rice will be chewy, but still a bit firm with a light bite. Overcooked cauliflower rice can be soggy, so pay attention to the pan and start tasting for texture around the 5-minute mark.
Can I use frozen cauliflower rice?
Yes, but with notes and caution. Frozen cauliflower rice should first be defrosted and then thoroughly dried – simply place into a cotton kitchen towel and wring it out. Frozen cauliflower rice will cook more quickly, so be sure to pay attention to the pan. Then season as directed with lime and cilantro.
Can I use store-bought cauliflower rice?
Again yes, but with notes. Look for bright white cauliflower rice, without a hint of a green tint – if it’s slightly green, it’s more likely the cauliflower was under-ripe, or parts of the stem and/or leaves were riced. The packaging can cause the rice to sweat and release moisture, so be sure to wring it out before using. To be honest, pre-riced cauliflower isn’t nearly as good as fresh, but sometimes convenience tastes pretty darn good.
What do you serve cauliflower rice with?
Serve this cilantro lime cauliflower rice with any dish that you would normally serve with white rice. We love it with Mexican cuisine for obvious reasons:
- In our Whole30 Burrito Bowls
- As a side dish with Avocado Salsa over Grilled Chicken, Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken, Instant Pot Carnitas, or Whole30 Chicken Tacos
Can you make cauliflower rice ahead of time?
Yes, it’s terrific for meal prep. Store the cooked cilantro lime cauliflower rice for up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat in 30-second intervals in the microwave or in a skillet on the stovetop until warmed through. If you cook this recipe with the intention of making it for meal prep, store the fresh cilantro separately and add just after reheating.
What does it taste like?
Cauliflower rice has more flavor than white rice, but it’s still mild in flavor with a slightly nutty taste. Like traditional rice, cauliflower rice easily absorbs seasoning, so whatever you flavor it with (here, lime and cilantro) will really shine.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Process the cauliflower florets in batches so that it rices evenly. Fill the bowl of the food processor no more than halfway for each batch.
- Pulse the cauliflower rather than blending it on the continuous mode; scrape down the sides once halfway through if needed (I rarely find this necessary if the florets are smaller in size).
- If you find that your fresh cauliflower is particularly moist, wring it out in a cotton kitchen towel.
- Pay attention the pan and do not overcook the rice.
- Use a 12″ skillet. A larger skillet provides plenty of room to cook the cauliflower rice properly (a combination of sautéing and steaming for best flavor).
- Cooking time may vary, so it’s important to taste for texture starting around the 5-minute mark.
More healthy side dish recipes
- Mexican Cauliflower Rice
- Cauliflower Tabbouleh
- White Bean Salad with Tomato and Parsley
- Southwestern Quinoa Salad
Did you make this this cilantro lime cauliflower rice? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below
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Cilantro Lime Cauliflower RicePrint Recipe Rate This Recipe
- Food Processor
- 1 medium head cauliflower, about 4 cups riced
- 1 tbsp olive oil, or avocado oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- ¼ c chopped cilantro
- Divide the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Fit a food processor with the standard s-blade. Place the florets into the bowl of the food processor in batches (fill no more than halfway) then use the pulse feature to evenly rice the cauliflower, scraping the sides down halfway though if necessary; do not run the motor continuously. Remove the riced cauliflower and repeat with the remaining florets. Optional: wring out the cauliflower in a cotton kitchen towel to remove excess moisture (if the riced cauliflower feels "wet", you should do this. I don't find this to be an issue most of the time).
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the cauliflower rice and salt. Saute, stirring frequently, until the rice is cooked through, but not overly soft, 5-8 minutes depending on rice size. Taste around the five-minute mark - the rice will taste chewy, but firm, with a soft bite. Be careful not to overcook.
- Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice, lime zest, and minced cilantro. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt, lime juice, or cilantro until the flavor pops. Serve immediately.
- Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the rice and size/type of pan, so it's important to taste for texture starting around the 5-minute mark. The cooked rice should be firm and chewy with a light bite.
- To use frozen cauliflower rice:
- Defrost in the fridge overnight or in a fine mesh sieve under cool running water.
- Shake the rice to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Transfer the cauliflower rice to a cotton kitchen towel and wring out excess moisture.
- Frozen cauliflower rice will cook more quickly.
- To use store-bought cauliflower rice:
- Look for bright white cauliflower rice, without a hint of a green tint
- Store packaging may cause the rice to sweat and release moisture, so be sure to wring it out before using.
- Storage instructions:
- Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat in the microwave in 30-second intervals or in a skillet over a medium high flame.
- If making for meal prep, reserve fresh cilantro and add just after reheating.