If you’re like me, burrito bowls are your take-out jam. If you’re also like me and rocking a Whole30, a classic version is totally off limits. Enter this epic paleo burrito bowl with cilantro lime cauliflower rice! It’s the perfect balance of textures with crisp romaine and bell peppers, tangy cauliflower rice, spicy pulled pork, sweet fried plantains, and creamy avocado.
It’s about darn time I put a burrito bowl onto this site. Can I get a yes? YES.
Burrito bowls get a bad rap and honestly, it’s probably for good reason. Not because they’re not tasty, but because you can easily go from “healthy choices” to “deviant lifestyle” with the flick of a wrist. Rice! Sour cream! Cheese!
I mean, it’s not even a little bit paleo, but I’d be lying my face off if I said it wasn’t freaking delicious.
But we’re about healthy choices most of the time ’round these parts, so I put together this recipe for a Whole30 and paleo burrito bowl that will satisfy your craving like whoah without compromising an ounce of flavor. You too, my friend, can get in on this action.
It all starts with a bed of tangy cilantro lime cauliflower rice and romaine lettuce. Then we add some blistered peppers and onions, fried plantains, and crispy pulled pork. Top it off with creamy chunks of avocado and a paleo compliant salsa and you’ve got yourself a healthy, delicious burrito bowl that’s 100% guilt free.
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Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
A burrito bowl isn’t a burrito bowl without rice – that’s called a taco salad. So, rice, or cilantro lime cauliflower rice in the case of this epic paleo burrito bowl, is a must.
I’ve got three simple tips for perfect cauliflower rice, every single time:
Nail the right texture. You want small, uniform pieces. I make my cauliflower rice using a food processor. Super easy. The key to uniform rice is not overcrowding the bowl of the food processor. Do it in two batches, use the pulse setting, and scrape down the side as needed.
Don’t overcook it. Overcooked cauliflower rice is soft and soggy. That’s a hot bucket o’ nope. You’re aiming for a quick saute here, not a steam session. Use a large skillet (10″-12″), a generous dollop of oil, and stir frequently for tender cauliflower rice that retains a bite and snap.
Don’t under-season it. Under-seasoned cauliflower rice is bland and lifeless. Also a nope. Salt, pepper, lime juice, and zest will get the job done beautifully.
Paleo Burrito Bowl Recipe Notes
Let’s put this beauty together.
A balance of crunchy, tangy, sweet, creamy, and spicy is our final destination. Here’s our roadmap:
- Crunchy, crisp romaine lettuce and quick blistered bell peppers.
- Tangy cilantro lime cauliflower rice.
- Sweet pan fried plantains. Need I say more?
- Creamy diced avocado. Woot!
- Spicy pulled pork carnitas, and a dollop of salsa.
I use two pans to get these paleo burrito bowls composed and into my belly as quickly as possible. First I start the carnitas.
The base for these carnitas is my dutch oven braised pulled pork. I make a large batch of pulled pork with a versatile spice blend every 6 or 8 weeks. I freeze the cooked pork into 1-pound portions, and use it to make a variety of easy and fast weeknight dinners, like this paleo burrito bowl.
To make quick, crispy carnitas, you’ll need some cooking fat with a high smoke point (I like avocado oil or reserved bacon fat), an orange, a lime, and some spices. Get your cast iron skillet super hot, add the fat, and then add the cooked pulled pork in an even layer. Juice the citrus, whisk in the spices, and then pour the juice over the pulled pork. Allow it to sizzle and saute undisturbed until all of the liquid is absorbed and the pork is crispy on the underside. You’re done. Wasn’t that easy?
While those are cooking, I sear the plantains in separate skillet (they only take about 5 minutes) and then transfer those to my burrito bowls. Then, using the same skillet and leftover fat, I saute onions and peppers. By the time those are done, the pork is also finished. Add the onions and pepper to the burrito bowls, and top it all off with the crispy carnitas, avocado, and your salsa of your choice.
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- Food Processor
- 2 Cast Iron Skillets
Cilantro Lime Rice
Paleo Burrito Bowls
- 1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
- 3 tbp avocado oil, divided
- 1 orange, juiced (or 1/3 c. fresh orange juice)
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tsp cumin
- pinch red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 2 c cooked, shredded pulled pork
- 2 plantains, sliced to 1/2"
- 1 yellow onion, thinly slicedd
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 8 tbsp salsa, divided
- 2 avocado, pitted and diced
- Prep your burrito bowl ingredients. Shave the lettuce and set aside, or divide immediately into 4 bowls. Slice the plantains, onions, and peppers and set each aside. Juice the orange and the lime into a small bowl, whisk the cumin and red pepper into the citrus juice, then set aside. Dice the avocado, and set aside.
- Rice the cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Add half the cauliflower florets to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse the florets until they are uniformly riced. Scrape out the riced cauliflower into a bowl and set aside. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower florets.
Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the avocado oil, and heat until it shimmers. Add the cauliflower rice and salt. Saute, stirring frequently, until translucent, but not overly soft, 5-6 minutes. Add the lime juice and saute 1 minute longer, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and stir in the lime zest and minced cilantro.
Paleo Burrito Bowls
- Divide the cauliflower rice evenly between four bowls, then add the shaved romaine lettuce to each burrito bowl.
- Wipe out the skillet, return it to medium high heat, and add one tablespoon of avocado oil. Add the pulled pork to the pan, the pour the citrus juice mixed with the spices over the pork. Allow the pork to sear undisturbed until it's crispy, and all of the liquid has been absorbed, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and divide the pork between the burrito bowls.
- While the pork is cooking, heat a second skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tbsp avocado oil, or enough to coat the bottom of the skillet in an even later. Heat until the oil shimmers. Working in batches, add the plantain slices in a single layer and fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Flip, and fry on the other side until golden brown, an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove the plantain slices and set them onto a paper towel lined plate, then sprinkle with salt.
- Increase the heat to medium high. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, then toss to coat in the remaining fat. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the edges start to brown, 7 minutes. Add the bell pepper to the pan and saute, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are slightly charred, but still retain a soft crunch, 5 minutes.
- Place ¼ of the onions and peppers into each burrito bowl on top of the lettuce and cauliflower rice.
- Finish each burrito bowl with ¼ of the plantains, half a diced avocado, and two tablespoons salsa. Serve immediately.
- The base for these quick crispy carnitas in my dutch oven pulled pork.
- Please note that prep time does not include the time to cook the pulled pork from scratch.
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