With one pan and 25 minutes, low carb Mexican Cauliflower Rice can be on your table. This tasty side dish is the perfect addition to a festive Taco Tuesday spread and an easy way to squeeze just a little more nutrition onto your plate without sacrificing one bit of flavor! Naturally Whole30, paleo, grain free, and keto friendly.
It’s no secret that Cameron and I love Mexican food. And it’s no secret that I love to sneak extra veggies onto our plates whenever possible.
Enter Mexican Cauliflower Rice.
To be honest, I received major side eye when I told Cameron I was making a cauliflower rice version of his beloved side dish. He was not amused.
That is, until I presented him with a bowl of this low carb flavor bomb, first smothered with my slow cooker cilantro lime chicken, and later served with a runny egg and avocado.
Instant convert! And you will be too.
This low carb and keto friendly side dish will become a staple in your kitchen. It’s packed with all of the flavor of traditional Mexican rice, but with loads more nutrients (and less guilt if that’s your thing).
How to Make Mexican Cauliflower Rice
Properly prepared, cauliflower rice is chewy, nutty, and deliciously addictive. For best flavor and texture, make the rice from scratch using a fresh head of cauliflower. Cauliflower happily absorbs seasonings, so be generous – jalapeno, garlic, tomato paste, lime juice, and cilantro are each prominent but balanced in our Mexican cauliflower rice. This dish is both easy and flexible, make in one skillet, and ready in under 30 minutes.
- Divide a head of cauliflower into bite sized florets; smaller pieces will process more evenly.
- Place the cauliflower florets into a food processor fitted with a standard s-blade; for best results, don’t fill the bowl more than halfway full or the cauliflower won’t evenly process. You’ll need to do this in 2, maybe 3, batches depending on the size of the cauliflower.
- Press the “pulse” feature 20-30 times, or until the florets have been processed into a fine, rice-like texture. It’s okay if there are some slightly larger pieces. Just be sure to pulse, not blend, so that you don’t end up with mush.
- This recipe moves pretty quickly, so get your mis en place (aka “prep”) in order before you start.
- You’ll need a chopped white onion, minced garlic, minced jalapeno, tomato paste, cumin, paprika, salt, some fresh lime juice, and lots of chopped cilantro.
- Heat oil in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and sautee until soft and starting to brown around the edges. Then add the minced garlic and jalapeno and sautee until very fragrant.
- Add the tomato paste, cumin, paprika, and salt. Work the tomato paste and spices into the vegetables until evenly distributed.
- Add the riced cauliflower to the skillet. Stir, stir, stir until the rice is worked into the skillet ingredients. Continue sautéing, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower releases its moisture and is cooked through, but not completely soft. Be sure to stir frequently so the cauliflower cooks evenly.
- Once cooked through, remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed with salt, lime juice, or cilantro.
A note about texture – depending on the size of the cauliflower rice and how much moistures it contains, 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.
Can I use Store-Bought Cauliflower Rice?
Again yes, but with notes. Most grocery stores carry bagged, pre-rice cauliflower in the produce section, and it sure is convenient. Look for bright white cauliflower rice, without a hint of a green tint (the latter is a signal that 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.
Is Mexican Cauliflower Rice Spicy?
Not overly so! There is some spice from the jalapeno, but it’s more flavor and less heat. To make it spicier, keep some of the seeds from the jalapeno, and/or add up to a teaspoon of chili powder.
Is Cauliflower Rice Healthy?
Healthy is subjective, so – that’s up to you! I can tell you that this recipe is Whole30, paleo, and keto friendly, and naturally vegan and grain free. In our house, it’s a great way to sneak extra vegetables onto our plates without feel deprived.
What to Serve with Mexican Cauliflower Rice
You can use this Mexican cauliflower rice anywhere you’d use regular cauliflower rice:
- As a side dish for low carb tacos or fajitas
- Topped with cilantro lime chicken or seasoned black beans
- Stuffed into burritos
But my favorite way is for breakfast – yes, breakfast! I whipped up a keto bowl and it was OMG delicious. Layer the mexican cauliflower rice into a bowl with a bit of shredded cabbage for crunch; top with half an avocado, a poached egg, and a little queso fresco if you’re feeling frisky. Easy, nutritious, and filling.
Tips for Making This Recipe Perfectly
- Process the cauliflower florets in batches for even ricing. Don’t fill the bowl more than halfway full, and be sure to use the pulse feature, rather than blending it on the continuous mode.
- 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).
- Pay attention the pan and do not overcook the rice. Cooking time may vary, so it’s important to taste for texture starting around the 5-minute mark.
More Easy Side Dish Recipes
- Cauliflower Tabbouleh
- Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
- Crunchy Kale Slaw
- Grilled Corn Salad with Peppers and Basil
Did you make Mexican Cauliflower Rice? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- Food Processor
- Rice the cauliflower. Slice the florets from the head of the cauliflower. Fit a food processor with the s-blade. Place half the florets into the bowl of the food processor and pulse until riced, scraping down the sides once halfway through to catch any larger pieces. Scrape out the riced cauliflower and repeat with the remaining florets.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and sautee until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, 5-6 minutes.
- Add the garlic and jalapeno and sautee until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, salt, cumin, and paprika and stir into the vegetables.
- Add the cauliflower rice and stir continuously until all ingredients are incorporated. Continue sautéing, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower releases its liquid and is dry and fluffy.
- Remove the Mexican cauliflower rice from heat. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Serve immediately.
- Make a Mexican Keto Bowl: combine ¼ of the cauliflower rice with half an avocado, 1 poached egg, ¼ c shredded red cabbage, and 2 tbsp queso fresco.
- Nutritional Information: 460 calories / 31g fat / 24 g protein / 13 net carb.
- 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 for 2-3 minutes.
- If making for meal prep, reserve fresh cilantro and add just after reheating.