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Mexican Cauliflower Rice

  • Prep 10min
  • Total25min
  • Servings4

A few days ago, I decided to try something different: Mexican cauliflower rice. So, this inspired me to try my mom’s recipe when looking for a delicious alternative to the traditional Mexican rice.And what a surprise! Cauliflower rice is light and crunchy, and when combined with the traditional Mexican flavors, it creates a side dish as good as any other.Cauliflower rice has become popular because it’s good for you, it’s really versatile and it only takes a few minutes to prepare it. Give it a try!MORE+LESS-



medium-sized cauliflower


garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped


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  • 1

    Remove cauliflower’s base and divide it into medium-sized florets.

  • 2

    Place a layer of florets in a food processor and pulse a few times until you have the “rice”. Repeat until you’ve used all the cauliflower. Don’t put all the florets in at the same time because the sizes won’t be uniform. It usually takes 3-4 batches.

  • 3

    Melt the butter in a big pan.

  • 4

    Fry the garlic in the butter until it’s golden brown. This will only take a few seconds.

  • 5

    Add the pico de gallo and cook until the tomato changes from a vibrant red to an orange color.

  • 6

    Pour the cauliflower “rice” over the sauce, season to taste and cook for 3-5 minutes until you get the desired consistency. Cook it for 3 minutes if you want a crunchy rice and 5 if you want it softer.

Expert Tips

  • Save some time by buying clean and chopped cauliflower. You can find the bags at your supermarket’s fruit and vegetable aisle since they’re usually next to salads.
  • If you want, you can add cooked carrots and peas, as it’s usually done in typical Mexican rice.

Nutrition Information

No nutrition information available for this recipe

Mexican Cauliflower Rice (Dairy-Free | Paleo | Low Carb)

What is not to love about Mexican Cauliflower Rice? It is a great side dish to accompany any Mexican dish and it is incredibly quick to make!

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, then you might already know that I love developing recipes with cauliflower rice. Even though, I wasn’t the biggest fan of cauliflower rice before going keto, I now adore the stuff (as long as it is made with the right spices and seasonings!) PLUS, it only has around 5g of carbohydrates per cup, which is drastically less than real rice, which has 53g per cup.

Ingredients Needed For Cauliflower Mexican Rice

I always love using fresh produce in my recipes. However, using pre-made ingredients is just so convenient and nice.

I&rsquove included directions to make this recipe from either canned tomatoes or fresh produce, so you can choose what best suits you!


For this rice recipe, you can use freshly grated cauliflower or the frozen kind. I prefer to grate my own. To do so, you&rsquoll need one whole head of cauliflower.

If you use the frozen cauliflower rice, make sure to squeeze all the water out before using it.


You have the option to use pre-canned diced tomatoes with green chilis or to make your own produce mix. In either case, the green chilis, garlic, onion, and lime add amazing flavor.


Once it&rsquos cooked, I prefer to add cilantro and red pepper flakes for an extra bit of kick. If you enjoy spicy Mexican food, I recommend giving it a try!

Please note: Check out the recipe card at the bottom for a full list of ingredients used to make this low-carb recipe.

Quick Tips:

  • Add a splash of hot sauce to give it an extra spicy kick.
  • Use a food processor to chop the florets into rice. This will make clean-up a lot easier too.
  • If you prefer not to use the canned tomato blend, you can sub with a fresh mix of about 1 cup diced tomatoes, ½ small onion (or equivalent dried flakes), 2 green chili peppers chopped, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Then, add additional salt if needed.

The base is cauliflower rice, which gets steamed slightly on the stovetop and then packed with flavor thanks to salsa, cilantro, lime juice, and spices. I could eat that for lunch on its own, but wait, there’s more.

Guacamole is optional, but the black beans and sautéed peppers and onions are not.

This pairing adds plenty of plant-based protein and fiber, vitamins and minerals, and not to mention tons of flavor. Yes, please.

I hope you guys love this 30-minute, vegan, GF dinner! It’s:

Protein- and fiber-rich
Super healthy
& Delicious

This would make the perfect meal when you want something substantial but healthy on the table fast (story of my life). It’s delicious on its own, but is only elevated when served with fresh corn tortillas or all the chips. It’s your life and I’m not going to tell you what to do, but this + chips = life.

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see! We love seeing our recipes come to life in your kitchens. Cheers, friends!

Note: We are hosting an event at Watermark Books in Wichita, KS this Thursday, July 7th at 6pm! Swing by, sample some cookbook recipes, let us sign your book, and give us a hug. It’ll be so much fun. Also, be sure to check out all of our upcoming events here!

The ingredients in traditional Arroz Rojo can vary greatly depending upon the region and family tradition. Most traditional recipes use the same basic ingredients as a base, such as rice, tomatoes, onions and chicken broth or stock. This healthy, modern take on Mexican rice substitutes the white rice with cauliflower rice and also utilizes more vegetables for a boost of nutritional goodness!

Ingredients you need to make healthy Mexican rice at home

  • Cauliflower: You will need one large head of cauliflower to transform into rice. If you want to save time and energy on prepping, you can purchase cauliflower rice in the produce section of most major grocery stores.
  • Onion: One small yellow onion adds a touch of mild onion flavor.
  • Peppers: Fresh chili peppers provide a little heat! I like to use mild jalapeño peppers, slightly spicy serrano peppers or a mix of the two. If you prefer a very mild pepper flavor, make sure you remove most (or all) of the ribs and seeds from your peppers before dicing.
  • Garlic: Two to three cloves of garlic provide a subtle, yet distinctive punchy taste. Make sure you use fresh garlic, not the minced variety sold in a jar!
  • Spices and Seasonings: A combination of ground cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, kosher salt and ground black pepper all provide a tons of flavor!
  • Tomato Paste: Two tablespoons of thick tomato paste give the rice that traditional red color while also adding a highly concentrated tomato flavor.
  • Corn: Corn adds plenty of sweet flavor and juicy texture! You can use fresh, frozen or canned corn depending upon your preference and if corn is in season! (See below for types of corn you can use)
  • Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes add delicious, juicy pops of tangy, garden-fresh flavor!
  • Stock: 6 tablespoons of stock help soften and cook the cauliflower rice. You can use chicken or vegetable stock depending upon your personal preference or what you have on hand.
  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds a ton of earthy flavor! If you aren&rsquot a fan of cilantro you can substitute parsley or scallions!
  • Lime Juice: Fresh lime juice adds a bit of acidity. Make sure you purchase limes and squeeze them yourself for the best flavor!

Substitutions, variations and toppings

Looking to make a few changes or additions to this rice? No problem! This recipe is super flexible and incredibly easy to customize! Get creative in the kitchen &ndash eliminate any ingredients that you don&rsquot have on hand or simply don&rsquot like and replace them with ones you love! Below are a few ideas to help get you started!


  • Corn: You can use any type of corn you have readily available! Fresh, frozen or canned corn all work great in this recipe. I like to use leftover grilled corn (cut off the cob) when fresh corn is in season during the summer. If you use frozen corn, make sure you defrost it before proceeding with the recipe. If using a can of corn, make sure you drain it thoroughly first. Looking to keep things low-carb? You can omit the corn completely or substitute it with your favorite fresh vegetable (see below for ideas)!
  • Tomatoes: Are fresh tomatoes not in season? No worries &ndash substitute a can of diced tomatoes instead, just make sure you drain the tomatoes first! Or try using your favorite salsa instead of tomatoes!
  • Peppers: Not a fan of spicy chili peppers? Try substituting bell peppers instead! I love sweet red or yellow bell peppers in this recipe, but green bell peppers work fabulously as well!
  • Vegan-option: Looking to make this vegan? Simply substitute the stock with vegetable broth!

Optional additions

  • Beans: Want to add some plant-based protein? Toss in a can of your favorite beans along with the corn in step 2 of the recipe. Make sure you thoroughly drain and rinse the beans prior to using!
  • Chicken: Prefer a lean, complete protein? Stir in some shredded rotisserie chicken before serving!
  • Carrots: Give your rice a boost of &beta-carotene by adding carrots to the mix! Finely dice your carrots and add them to the pan when you add the peppers!
  • Peas: Love sweet peas? Try adding a few handfuls when you add in the corn!
  • Zucchini: Need to use up all that summer-fresh zucchini? Shred your zucchini and gently squeeze out all excess moisture before stirring it into the rice in step five!


  • Dairy: A generous dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt is the perfect creamy compliment to this rice!
  • Avocado: Buttery slices of avocado are a wonderful way to add healthy fats!
  • Cheese: I&rsquove never met a dish that didn&rsquot benefit from a generous sprinkling of cheese! To keep things authentic, try using Cotija or Queso Fresco!
  • Salsa or Pico de Gallo: Topping your rice with your favorite salsa or fresh pico de gallo is a great way to enhance that juicy, fresh tomato flavor!
  • Hot Sauce: I like to bring the heat, so a few dashes of Mexican hot sauce is a must for me!

You can do so much with this recipe!

  • serve as a side dish for Taco night
  • use it as a base for a &ldquoburrito&rdquo bowl
  • place on top of a taco salad for extra flavor
  • put in homemade burritos to bulk up the veggies
  • the options are endless!

  1. Heat the oil in a 10″ or larger cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add in the onion and garlic, cooking 1 minute just until starting to soften. Add in the spices and cook, stirring, another 15-30 seconds until fragrant.
  2. Add in the cauliflower rice, stir to combine and cook another 3-5 minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated.
  3. Add in the Rotel and stir, cook another minute or so. Season with salt to taste and top with any desired toppings before serving.

If you don’t have already riced cauliflower on hand you can easily make your own. While it may be a bit of a mess, you’ll have fluffy cauliflower rice in no time. There are a few ways to make cauliflower rice at home:

Blender – did you see my mention of using a blender above and how I made mashed cauliflower instead of cauliflower rice? Yeah, don’t do what I did the first time I tried this method many moons ago and set the blender on high and walk away. No, you’ll want to work a little at a time, about 2 cups of florets and pulse the blender in short bursts until you have what resembles rice. Dump that out into a bowl and repeat with your remaining cauliflower.

Food Processor – same idea as above with the blender. If you have a fancy food processor it may have even come with a ricer attachment. If so, use that!

Box Grater – this is my personal favorite way to make cauliflower rice at home when I’m out of my trusty frozen cauliflower rice. Using a box grate is simple, just use the large hole side and grate the cauliflower over a bowl.

Removing excess moisture – to remove the excess moisture from the “rice” simply give it a squeeze with your hands or wrap it up in a clean tea towel and squeeze.

What is the nutritional information?

This recipe has about 35 calories per cup! I recommend pairing this with other food as it’s not enough calories for a meal. It is important to have this with a protein like beans in addition to healthy fats like avocado. It also has about 4-5 grams of fiber per cup as well! Cauliflower has a lot of great nutritional benefits as well. It’s great for digestion, it has disease fighting antioxidants, supports heart health, great for skin health, prevents cancer, prevents bone loss and more!

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.

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

Serve With

Step 1: In a large, non-stick skillet cook cauliflower rice in hot oil until tender and lightly toasted. Transfer to a clean bowl.

Step 2: To same skillet add oil and swirl to coat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeños and salt and cook until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin and chipotle chili powder and cook and until tomatoes are softened. Stir in tomato paste.

Step 3: Return cauliflower rice to skillet cook and stir until cauliflower is fluffy, tender and heated through. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and fresh lime juice. Season to taste with salt, garnish with more cilantro and serve with lime wedges if desired.