Italian Cauliflower Rice – 20 Minutes, Low Carb

Italian cauliflower rice is a quick and easy side dish that is ready in about 20 minutes! This Tuscan cauliflower rice is packed with flavor and goes well with any Italian inspired meal! It’s great for breakfast too!

Italian cauliflower rice in cast iron skillet.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Quick and easy – this recipe Is ready in about 20 minutes and so easy to throw together. Most of the ingredients are right from the package, the only chopping is an onion! Cook everything in a single large skillet for a flavor packed side dish.
  • Simple ingredients – this recipe uses easy to find store-bought ingredients you likely already have in your pantry/fridge. This recipe uses simple, healthy ingredients and is vegan, gluten free, dairy free, Whole30, paleo and low carb friendly. Great for any diet!
  • Versatile – make this a full meal by adding in cooked ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken (you can cook it in the skillet before cooking the onions. You can also add white beans or chickpeas to make this a quick and easy meatless meal that will feed a crowd.
  • Leftovers are great! Use any leftover Italian cauliflower rice the next morning with eggs or serve it as part of a grain bowl with your favorite Italian or balsamic dressing.
Ingredients to make Italian cauliflower rice in bowls and ramekins.
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Ingredients

  • Onions – onions help provide the base flavor for this italian cauliflower rice dish. They add a depth of flavor and when caramelized slightly add a slight sweetness to the dish.
  • Canned diced tomatoes, drained – you can use regular tomatoes or fire roasted tomatoes in this recipe. It’s important to drain off as much of the liquid in the can as possible to ensure that the end dish is not soggy. Usually I just drain them by holding my hand over the can but you can also use a mesh strainer or colander.
  • Spices: Salt, italian seasoning, garlic powder – these spices help to brighten the flavors, give a depth of flavor and provide that base Italian profile to the dish. Use your favorite italian seasoning or make your own Italian seasoning blend!
  • Sundried tomatoes in oil – the sundried tomatoes pack so much flavor and a rich umami flavor that help to elevate the dish. The oil the sundried tomatoes are packed in is full of flavor and I highly recommend you grab some of that oil as you are scooping out the tomatoes from the jar to use in this dish.
  • Frozen cauliflower rice – frozen cauliflower rice has much less of a cauliflower flavor than fresh. I prefer to use frozen whenever I can because it’s less time consuming and makes much less of a mess than making cauliflower rice from fresh.
  • Frozen spinach (or frozen kale) – you can also use fresh spinach /kale but you will need much more because of how much it wilts down when cooking. The spinach provides a pop of color to this dish and also helps to add more veggies!

How to make Italian cauliflower rice

Frozen spinach added to a skillet full of cauliflower rice and tomatoes.

Top tips

  • Use the largest skillet you’ve got. The larger the surface area, the faster the cauliflower rice will defrost and start cooking. I used a 12 inch cast iron skillet.
  • To get the best texture, cook the cauliflower rice over medium-high heat. You want as much of the liquid that is coming off the cauliflower rice to evaporate as possible or your dish will be soggy.
  • Be sure to drain off as much liquid as possible from the tomatoes before adding them to the dish. This helps ensure the cauliflower rice won’t get soggy as there isn’t any extra liquid from the tomatoes.
  • When you are spooning out the sundried tomatoes, use a bit of the oil they are packed in too. It’s full of flavor and will add a depth of richness to the dish.
Spoon in bowl filled with Italian cauliflower rice.

Other additions

  • Add a pop of freshness with chopped fresh basil
  • Make this more of a Mediterranean cauliflower rice by adding kalamata olives or capers
  • Add spice with crushed red pepper flakes
  • Add some creaminess with cashew cream (1/2 cup soaked cashews + ½ cup water + ½ teaspoon salt) or your favorite cheese (feta, goats milk, mozzarella, parmesan).

What to serve with Italian cauliflower rice

Make it a one skillet meal: Brown some ground chicken, ground turkey, lean ground beef or heat up your favorite italian or sundried tomato chicken sausages in the pan before you add the rest of the ingredients. 

Serve along side balsamic chicken or Italian Chicken and a simple side salad with creamy balsamic dressing

Use as the base for a low carb grain bowl with air fryer greek chicken, 5 minute tomato salad and cubed avocado

Make a vegan meal by adding cooked white beans, chickpeas or balsamic tofu.

Serve it with perfectly cooked eggs for a healthy breakfast

Common questions

Is cauliflower rice like real rice?

Cauliflower rice has a pretty neutral taste but does not have the exact same texture as rice. It can also need just a little more salt and seasonings to overcome the slight cauliflower flavor.

Frozen cauliflower rice tends to have less of a cauliflower flavor than fresh so if you have picky eaters, use the frozen kind. You can also use half rice, half cauliflower rice if you are trying to get picky eaters to enjoy this meal more often. 

Italian cauliflower rice skillet with wooden spoon in the cast iron skillet.

Can you use fresh cauliflower rice

Yes, you can use fresh cauliflower rice instead of frozen to make Italian cauliflower rice. You will want to cover the skillet for the first 4 minutes of cooking the fresh cauliflower rice to help it steam to soften before cooking the rest of the way uncovered.  

How to make cauliflower rice

The easiest way to make cauliflower rice at home is to cut the cauliflower into smaller pieces (or use bagged cauliflower florets) and blitz them in the food processor. You can also use a hand grater to grate the cauliflower into smaller pieces.

To make cauliflower rice in the food processor

  • Cut the cauliflower into small enough pieces to fit in the food processor. Don’t use the stalk (it has a very strong flavor).
  • Pulse the cauliflower 10-15 times until it resembles rice. The finer you pulse it the faster it cooks.
  • Repeat this as many times as needed to rice all the cauliflower.
Steps on how to make cauliflower rice in the food processor.

To make cauliflower rice using a hand grater.

  • Grate the cauliflower on one side until you reach the stem in the center. Then turn the cauliflower to the next side.

Where can you find frozen cauliflower rice

Most grocery stores now carry frozen cauliflower rice. I usually pick some up at Aldi or Trader Joe’s but just about every grocery store now has this available. If you can’t find frozen but don’t want to go through the trouble of making fresh, you can also buy these shelf-stable cauliflower rice packets that are air dried that work great too!

What are other recipes that use cauliflower rice

White bowl filled with Italian cauliflower rice.

Storing leftovers

Fridge: Store leftover Tuscan cauliflower rice in the fridge up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave 1-1:30 or on the stove over medium low heat 5-6 minutes. 

Freezer: Freeze leftover Italian cauliflower rice in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat in a skillet over medium heat 5-8 minutes to help any added liquid evaporate off.

Substitutions

  • Onion – onions help to provide the base flavor for the dish. If you are short on time, skip the onion and use 1 tablespoon of onion flakes along with the rest of the spices. If you cannot tolerate onions, simply skip this step.
  • Canned diced tomatoes (drained) – substitute the canned diced tomatoes with canned whole tomatoes that you dice yourself or even crushed tomatoes that you pour into a colander to drain off some of the excess liquid. You could also use fresh tomatoes (seeded) if needed.
  • Sundried tomatoes in oil – the oil the sundried tomatoes are packed in is full of flavor and I encourage you to use some of this in the dish as well. If you cannot find sundried tomatoes in oil, you can use sundried tomato pesto or sundried tomatoes in the package, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes before chopping and adding to the dish.
  • Cauliflower rice – you could also use riced broccoli in place of the cauliflower rice or even regular rice (about 3 cups cooked).
  • Frozen spinach (or kale) – you can also use fresh spinach, just know that you will need 3-4 cups of fresh spinach or kale to wilt down into this much frozen spinach. You could also use artichoke hearts (canned or jarred) in place of the spinach.

If you love this recipe, you should try

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Kale

Tuscan White Bean Rice Skillet

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Tuscan Shrimp

Italian White Bean Salad

Minestrone Soup or Gnocchi Soup

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  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.

  • Chop and onion. When the skillet is hot, spray with non-stick (olive oil or avocado oil) and add the onion. Cook 3-4 minutes.

  • Drain the tomatoes. Add the drained tomatoes, spices and sundried tomatoes to the onions after they are done cooking. Cook 2 minutes to evaporate any leftover liquid.

  • Turn up the heat to medium high. Add cauliflower rice and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Add frozen spinach to the cooked cauliflower rice. Cook 2 minutes until spinach is hot.

Top tips:

  • Use the largest skillet you’ve got. I used a 12 inch cast iron skillet.
  • To get the best texture, cook the cauliflower rice over medium-high heat. You want as much of the liquid that is coming off the cauliflower rice to evaporate as possible or your dish will be soggy.
  • Be sure to drain off as much liquid as possible from the tomatoes before adding them to the dish.
  • When you are spooning out the sundried tomatoes, use a bit of the oil they are packed in too. It’s full of flavor and will add a depth of richness to the dish.

Storing leftovers: 

  • Fridge: Store leftover Tuscan cauliflower rice in the fridge up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave 1-1:30 or on the stove over medium low heat 5-6 minutes. 
  • Freezer: Freeze leftover Italian cauliflower rice in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat in a skillet over medium heat 5-8 minutes to help any added liquid evaporate off.

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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts

Amount per Serving

Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.

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