The easiest way to make perfect, chewy cauliflower rice every time! It can be made ahead for meal prep and it freezes and defrosts perfectly without losing flavor and texture.
It’s almost impossible to be on a low carb diet without hearing about all the wonders of cauliflower rice.
I grew up eating rice several times a week and up until a few years ago, it was literally my primary diet. I struggled so much with starting a low carb diet because the thought of giving up rice was too much for me to bear!
My earlier attempts at making cauliflower rice were a total failure. It came out too soft and not crunchy and my brain was actively resisting the switch from rice to cauliflower rice because the texture was too different.
I tried buying it from the grocery store, but between cauliflower rice, riced cauliflower, cauli bits, and other fancy versions, I never knew what I was getting. Sometimes it was a hit, sometimes a miss but oftentimes too expensive.
So, I decided to be in charge of my rice destiny and started experimenting with different ways to make my perfect, crunchy cauliflower rice, and after several variations, I eventually got it!
This cauliflower rice recipe is crunchy, freezes (and defrosts) well and substitutes for rice very nicely in any dish. Best of all, it is the cheapest cauliflower rice, I’ve ever eaten.
One head of cauliflower costs less than $2.50 here in Austin and I can get 4 comfortable servings. Woo hoo!
What do I need to make cauliflower rice?
You need very few tools and ingredients to make cauliflower rice. You will need a sharp knife and a cutting board to cut the cauliflower, a food processor to chop it, and a little olive oil, salt, and pepper to make the most basic cauliflower rice.
You can add more spices and other vegetables of your choice to turn it into a delicious, savory meal or eat as a side dish.
How to make cauliflower rice with a food processor
Peel off the outer stem leaves from the cauliflower. Wash the cauliflower, then squeeze with a cloth or paper towel to dry.
This part is crucial since you want to squeeze out as much water as possible. Cauliflower is over 90% water and we need to expel as much water as we can, not add to it.
Cut the cauliflower in half right through the stem ends, then cut the cauliflower florets away from the core in the middle.
Chop the cauliflower into smaller pieces using a sharp knife. It doesn’t have to be perfect because it will be run through the food processor.
Place the cauliflower pieces in a food processor and press the chop button 5 times in short pulses. This comes out just the right size.
Make sure you only fill the food processor halfway. If you prefer smaller pieces and a more couscous-like texture, chop a bit more to your desired size.
Pour the cauliflower rice in a dry pan and stir fry for about 3 minutes on medium heat. I dry stir fry it BEFORE adding any oil or spices.
Since cauliflower contains so much water, dry stir-frying will help get rid of much of the water and make the pieces stay firm and crunchy.
After about 3 minutes, the water will be greatly reduced. To make plain cauliflower rice, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of black pepper, and stir fry for 2 more minutes. You can always add more herbs or spices or eat as a side dish.
How to store cauliflower rice
When cooked, cauliflower rice stays fresh for about 5 days in the fridge. I do like to freeze it raw because it stores so well in the freezer and drastically shortens my cooking time.
To freeze it, pour on a tray and spread into a thin layer so that the individual pieces can freeze without clumping together.
Put in the freezer for 1-2 hours, but not longer than 2 hours, if not, it will begin to stick to the tray. Pour into a Ziploc or sealable bag, let out as much air as possible, then freeze.
This freezes well for about 3 months and possibly longer, though I have never tried longer than that.
How to cook frozen cauliflower rice
To cook frozen cauliflower rice, do not defrost in the microwave. It will become too soft and mushy (except that’s what you’re going for).
Also, if you put it directly on the stove, it might not defrost evenly and if you’ve ever tried to whack frozen cauliflower rice in a pan, you’ll know that the pieces fly everywhere!
The best way I found to defrost it and still retain the firmness of the cauliflower rice, is to leave it in the Ziploc or whatever wrapper it’s on, and slap it on my kitchen counter! I do it on one side, turn to the other side and do it again.
Sometimes I do twice on each side if it’s proving stubborn. What happens is that the cauliflower breaks apart into smaller frozen pieces and because it’s still in its wrapper, the mess is contained and it does not splash everywhere.
And also since it is contained, you don't have to worry about germs and all that getting into your food.
Pour the cauliflower rice into a skillet on high heat and let it defrost quickly while stirring for 4-5 minutes, and it's ready to go.
The cauliflower pieces stay nice and firm and do not turn mushy and it looks and tastes just like it was freshly made. I eat a lot of cauliflower rice and this has never failed me.
How to make cauliflower rice without a food processor
There is another way to make cauliflower rice if you don’t have a food processor. You can use the large hole of a grater and grate the cauliflower in large chunks.
I personally don’t use this method because the cauliflower rice ends up with a finer texture and is more couscous-like when you make it.
If you like this, you can certainly do it. I prefer my cauliflower rice more al dente with a nice firm bite.
Tips for making perfect cauliflower rice every time
When chopping the cauliflower in the food processor, only fill the cauliflower halfway or else, the pieces at the bottom will begin to turn mushy.
Always freeze the chopped cauliflower raw because you will still have to dry stir fry it to get rid of the excess moisture. If it is already cooked, you will lose the flavor by doing this and it will be like starting all over again.
Always dry stir fry the cauliflower rice before you add oil or spices.
When making cauliflower rice using fresh cauliflower, dry stir fry on medium heat but when defrosting, dry stir fry on HIGH heat. This is very important because unless you used a sealing machine and let out all the air, some water might get into the frozen cauliflower and ice crystals might form in it.
If you stir fry the frozen cauliflower on medium heat, as the water dissolves, it will begin to cook the cauliflower rice and turn mushy.
Check out these other delicious cauliflower rice dishes!
Looking for delicious recipes to eat with your cauliflower rice? Try these mouthwatering dishes:
How to Cook Cauliflower Rice
- Peel off the outer stem leaves from the cauliflower.
- Wash the cauliflower, then squeeze with a cloth or paper towel to dry.
- Cut the cauliflower in half right through the stem ends, then cut the cauliflower florets away from the core in the middle.
- Chop the cauliflower into smaller pieces using a sharp knife.
- Place the cauliflower pieces in a food processor and press the chop button 5 times in short pulses.
- Pour the cauliflower rice in a dry pan and stir fry for 3 minutes on medium heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of black pepper, and stir fry for 2 more minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Fill the cauliflower halfway in the food processor to prevent the pieces at the bottom from turning mushy.
- Always freeze the chopped cauliflower raw since you will still have to dry stir fry it to get rid of the excess moisture.
- Always dry stir fry the cauliflower rice BEFORE you add oil or spices.
- When making cauliflower rice using fresh cauliflower, dry stir fry on medium heat but when defrosting, dry stir fry on HIGH heat. This is very important because unless you used a sealing machine and let out all the air, some water might get into the frozen cauliflower and ice crystals might form in it. If you stir fry the frozen cauliflower on medium heat, as the water dissolves, it will begin to cook the cauliflower rice and turn mushy.