Mexican Cauliflower Rice

4.73 from 22 votes
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Mexican cauliflower rice is low carb and a tasty grain-free side dish! Chopped florets mimic the texture and look of rice. Then for authentic south of the border flavor, the cauliflower gets sauteed with garlic, onions, jalapenos, cumin, and tomatoes.

white bowl with mexican cauliflower rice topped with tomatoes

If you’re looking for a healthy low carb side dish ready in under 25 minutes, then cauliflower florets are the answer! The neutral vegetable flavor and coarse texture create a wonderful grain substitute. It takes less than a minute to transform this cruciferous ingredient into rice using a food processor or blender.

This Mexican cauliflower rice recipe infuses savory and spicy flavors all together in one steaming hot pan. Garlic, onions, jalapenos, cumin, and tomatoes sizzle in oil to provide an irresistible blend of seasonings. The cauliflower cooks fast and only needs a short simmering time in chicken stock, unlike traditional rice recipes.

pre-portioned ingredients to make mexican cauliflower rice

Mexican cauliflower rice ingredients

  • Cauliflower florets (8 cups chopped)
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped white onions
  • Minced jalapenos
  • Tomato paste
  • Diced Roma tomatoes
  • Ground cumin
  • Chicken or vegetable stock

Cauliflower is very neutral in flavor and holds its shape when cooked. It provides just the right amount of robust texture to mimic grains of rice.

chopped cauliflower in a food processor

The quickest way to make the cauliflower rice is to use a food processor, but be careful not to make the pieces too tiny. Excessive chopping will lead to a watery dish because of the plant cell walls releases trapped moisture. You want to keep the florets small in size, but not wholly minced to give a rice-like texture.

saute pan with tomatoes and onions being cooked

How to make Mexican cauliflower rice

  1. Cut the florets into 1-inch pieces to make it easier to chop in a blender or food processor, and work in batches.
  2. A chef’s knife can be used for mincing as another option.
  3. Saute the aromatics like onion, garlic, cumin, and jalapeno to promote Maillard browning for enhanced flavor.
  4. Steam the cauliflower rice until tender, then saute to drive off excess moisture.

No matter if you have simple or fancy tools in the kitchen, you can make cauliflower rice.

mexican cauliflower rice served in a white bowl

As the cauliflower simmers with the sauce ingredients, the flavors infuse into the vegetable, turning the rice the characteristic orange hue.

Fluff the pieces with a fork and garnish with extra diced tomatoes and cilantro. When you’re craving Mexican food, this healthy recipe will hit the spot! I serve it as a side dish with chicken enchiladas or blackened mahi mahi tacos.

More low carb side dishes

Use two techniques for fluffy cauliflower rice

Using cauliflower florets as a substitute for grains creates a nutrient-dense meal that can be packed with flavor. To ensure the cauliflower rice has the perfect rice-like texture make sure to cut them in batches, consistent in size. Cover and steam the vegetables first to soften the cell walls, then saute to quickly remove excess moisture from the pan.

Mexican Cauliflower Rice

Seasoned and spiced Mexican cauliflower rice is low carb and a grain-free side dish where chopped florets mimic the texture and look of rice.
4.73 from 22 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Side
Cuisine Mexican

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 pounds cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ cup diced white onions, ¼-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons minced jalapenos
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup diced tomatoes, ¼-inch dice
  • ½ cup unsalted chicken stock, or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Instructions 

  • Cut cauliflower into 1-inch florets, this should yield about 8 cups.
  • Working in batches, add half of the florets to a food processor, or blender.
  • Process or pulse until small rice-sized pieces are made, about 6 to 8 pulses. Transfer to a bowl and process the remaining florets into cauliflower rice.
  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, once shimmering add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the garlic and onion and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add the jalapenos and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the cumin and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomato paste and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add the cauliflower rice, chicken stock, and salt, stir to combine.
  • Cover and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • Uncover and continue to cook the cauliflower rice until almost dry, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and taste the cauliflower rice. Season more salt as desired.
  • Stir in chopped cilantro, fluff the rice with a fork and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 70kcal (4%)Carbohydrates 7g (2%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 4g (6%)Sodium 347mg (14%)Potassium 419mg (12%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 50IU (1%)Vitamin C 57.3mg (69%)Calcium 34mg (3%)Iron 0.9mg (5%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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10 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Stephanie says

    This cauliflower rice is my new favorite way to have cauliflower! Also, it’s tomato season, so those fresh tomatoes added another layer of flavor complexity to the dish. It was a perfect compliment to our Mahi Mahi tacos.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m sure the vine-ripened tomatoes were amazing in the dish! So happy to hear that you enjoyed the Mexican rice recipe, cauliflower is amazing.

  2. Stacy Bleiweis says

    Sooo good and goes perfectly with the black bean burgers. Vegan meal and you don’t miss any dairy or meat. Definitely keeping in my permanent recipe file.

  3. Darla says

    Hello – I am wondering how much actual cauliflower rice is needed for this recipe? I have frozen several bags of “rice” recently, so I won’t be starting with fresh, uncut cauliflower. Thank you – this recipe sounds delicious.

  4. Tee Vines says

    Last night I cooked this meal. I enjoyed preparing and cooking this recipe. The delightful smell of onions, garlic and cumin filled my place. As I tasted the dish I was very please because I could taste the spices and vegetables. It tasted delicious and was very fulfilling. I paired the rice with romaine lettuce taco boats and seasoned fries. I will make this dish again in the next upcoming weeks.

  5. rick says

    Just made this and it is soooooooo good. We just started a weight loss diet and this is a welcome change. Thanks so much.

  6. Brenda says

    I tried this recipe with most of the ingredients call for. Had to sub red pepper for jalapeño. It was very good and filling. I served with a Cajun cod. Thank you!