How to make cauliflower rice, a low-carb staple of the keto diet

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How to make cauliflower rice, a low-carb staple of the keto diet
Use cauliflower rice anywhere you'd use regular rice. merc67/Getty Images

  • Cauliflower is a grain-free, low-carb substitution for rice that's easy to make at home.
  • The quickest way to make cauliflower rice is with a food processor, but a box grater works too.
  • Cauliflower rice is a versatile foundation for curries, soups, salads, burritos, bowls, and more.

Cauliflower rice is simply cauliflower chopped up into rice-sized pieces. It has become a popular substitution for white rice at fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle and a staple ingredient for those on the keto diet. Not only is it grain-free and low-carb, it's also high in fiber and vitamin C.

You can find it pre-made on the shelves of most grocery stores, but it's also really easy to make at home. And there's only one ingredient: cauliflower!

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Chef Seizan Dreux Ellis loves using cauliflower rice in his plant-based menu at Café Gratitude because it is such a versatile ingredient. "It's a great neutral base to show off flavors of the other ingredients," he says. Below, he gives his tips for making great cauliflower rice at home.

How to make cauliflower rice

How to make cauliflower rice, a low-carb staple of the keto diet
Process in small batches to better control the consistency. fermate/Getty Images

  1. Prep your cauliflower. Remove any green leaves, and chop the head into big florets or chunks. Include the stems.
  2. Process in batches. Add several florets to the bowl of your food processor fitted with the regular S blade, but don't overload it. You'll have more control over the consistency if you work in small batches.
  3. Pulse slowly. Give it three or four quick pulses, then pause and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Move larger chunks towards the blade to keep things processing evenly. Continue pulsing until it reaches the consistency of grains of rice.
  4. Repeat. Empty the processed cauliflower into a bowl, and start again with the remaining cauliflower pieces.

Quick tip: If you don't have a food processor, a box grater works fine too. It just takes a little longer. You can leave the head of cauliflower largely intact while grating. Just remove any leaves. Larger or smaller holes can both work depending on the size of cauliflower grains desired.

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How to cook cauliflower rice

How to make cauliflower rice, a low-carb staple of the keto diet
Sub in cauliflower rice in fried rice dishes. Ravsky/Getty Images

"You can really do anything with cauliflower rice that you would do with regular rice, and you can also eat it raw," Ellis says. But you definitely don't need to boil it or cook it in a rice cooker like regular rice.

If you don't want to eat it raw, give it a quick saute until golden brown, lightly steam it, or blanch it in hot water to soften it up.

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From there, use it to make a rice pilaf, add it to soups or stews, use it as the base for a curry, or make a risotto with it. Anywhere you use rice, you can sub in cauliflower rice.

Note: There are 25 calories in a cup of cauliflower rice compared to 200 calories in a cup of long-grain white rice, making it a great substitute if you're trying to keep things light.

How long is cauliflower rice good for

Ellis recommends keeping raw cauliflower rice in an airtight container and storing it in the refrigerator for up to three or four days. "It will smell like cauliflower, so keep in mind that after a day or two it will give off a cabbage odor in the fridge," he says.

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If you choose to freeze cauliflower rice, the water molecules and cell structure will change, resulting in a softer texture once it's thawed even without cooking it. Ellis doesn't recommend freezing cauliflower rice, but it's up to your personal texture preference.

Insider's takeaway

Cauliflower rice is easy to make at home with either a food processor or a box grater. All you need is one ingredient - cauliflower. It's easy to cook cauliflower rice with a quick sauté and you can enjoy it raw too. Raw cauliflower rice lasts for several days in the refrigerator and is a great foundation for a variety of dishes.

A full beginner's guide to the keto diet - and what research says about its health benefits and risks How to cook rice on the stove or in the microwave The best food processors The nutritional differences for brown rice vs. white rice - and which is better for your health
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