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Cooking Tips

How to Make Better Cauliflower Rice

Get pillowy, flavorful cauliflower rice that isn’t just “healthy”—but a comfort food too.

Published Jan. 3, 2024.

Cauliflower rice has become popular in recent years, especially for those wanting to pack a few more veggies into their daily diet. In fact, it’s become one of my favorite bases for a burrito bowl, and it can add a pleasantly creamy, vegetal flavor to many dishes.

My one issue with cauliflower rice is that it can taste too much . . . like cauliflower. That’s not a bad thing, but if you’ve ever roasted cauliflower in the oven or boiled it in a pan, you know the aroma can be quite strong. 

What if I want my cauliflower rice to taste more like rice than cauliflower?

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How to Make Better Cauliflower Rice

Here are some ways to kick cauliflower rice dishes up several notches.

  1. Cook your cauliflower rice in broth and aromatics. When you cook your riced cauliflower, cook some aromatics such as minced shallots or garlic in olive oil and then add your cauliflower rice and ½ cup of chicken or vegetable broth. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 3 more minutes, and you’ll have flavorful and fluffy rice.
  2. Season with different spice blends. In addition to seasoning with salt and pepper, using other spice blends in your pantry such as ras el hanout or garam masala can help take plain rice to the next level.
  3. Mix in some mix-ins. Mix in dried fruit, nuts, or herbs into the rice. These could be dried cranberries, almonds, mint, or whatever you’re in the mood for. You can also add some heat with chopped jalapeños, which we use in our Mexican Cauliflower Rice from our book Easy Everyday Keto.
  4. Add some acidity. Stirring in fresh lime or lemon juice can add a new dimension to your cauliflower rice. Try adding lime juice and cilantro to make cilantro-lime rice, which works great as a base or a side.
  5. Drizzle on sauce. A spoonful of sauce such as chimichurri can mask any cauliflower-iness in the rice.

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What About Frozen Cauliflower Rice?

There’s another reason why cauliflower rice may have that pungent smell. After asking a few more colleagues, I may have found my culprit: frozen cauliflower rice. There’s nothing wrong with frozen prepackaged cauliflower rice, but after talking to some test cooks, I’m convinced that freshly riced cauliflower is the way to go.

Here are a few opinions from ATK’s food experts:

“Prepackaged cauliflower rice can have a bunch of preservatives, which people may have an aversion to. Creating your own rice also allows you to pick the final size of the kernels.” —Dan Zuccarello, executive food editor, Books

“Frozen rice defrosts as it cooks, which causes it to steam. This defrost stage makes it harder to brown, which often leaves you with mushy rice. Fresh rice has a cleaner cauliflower flavor, and since it doesn’t start off wet like frozen it is easier to brown and easier to maintain a bit of its toothsome texture.” —Bryan Roof, editorial director, Cooks Country

“Frozen never gave us the consistency we liked; it always felt mushier than we preferred and lacked any flavor. However, I think frozen is a great addition if you want to incorporate a vegetable, especially hidden, into something else. I sneak it into things all the time and my kids do not notice (e.g., meatloaf).” —Russell Selander, former senior editor, Books


Paleo Cauliflower Rice

In paleo cooking, cauliflower is often used in place of rice, since it’s easy to process the florets into rice-size granules and it cooks up pleasantly fluffy. To make our cauliflower rice foolproof, we first needed to figure out the best way to chop the florets to the right size.
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How to Freshly Rice Cauliflower

Fresh, not frozen, cauliflower rice is the best. And it’s hardly more work. Here’s how to make it.

  1. Core and cut your head of cauliflower into 1-inch florets. (You can use scissors to cut the cauliflower if you like!)
  2. Working in batches, pulse the florets in a food processor until you achieve your desired “grain” size.

It really is that easy!

Photo: Darya Arnautova / Getty Images

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