Don’t get me wrong; plump grains of perfectly steamed rice are a glorious thing, but more often than not, I’ll take a skillet full of its cauliflower cousin over the real deal. When done right, cauliflower rice is quite tasty in its own right; it’s much lighter and provides tons of fiber, making it an excellent accompaniment to everything from carnitas to garlic-ginger kale. The secret to success when cooking this quasi-grain is simple, and not much different than with traditional rice: Either pair the mild vegetable with a boldly flavored main or, as in this case, dress up the cauliflower rice itself.

Cumin Cilantro Cauliflower Rice Recipe

This version, a Chipotle-esque take made with plenty of garlic, onions, lime, and cumin, is my current favorite way to enjoy the Paleo-friendly side. It, and many other easy, crazy good Paleo recipes like Cantonese crispy chicken thighs, roasted Catalan shrimp with romesco sauce, and garam masala vegetable soup, can be found in Nom Nom Paleo’s newish cookbook Ready or Not ($35). If you’re looking for doable Paleo (and in many cases, Whole30-compliant) recipes that are actually exciting (read: drawing on an international pantry), I’d highly recommend picking up a copy.


Adapted from Ready or Not: 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong, copyright © 2017. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.

(Makes 6 servings)

Recipe Notes:

  • Grating peeled garlic cloves on a microplane is quicker and more thorough than mincing garlic the traditional way.
  • You can use either whole or ground cumin seeds; I like the texture that the seeds add, but use whatever you have on hand.
  • The cauliflower rice is at its best freshly cooked, but leftovers can be refrigerated for up to four days.
  • Heavy on cumin, cilantro, and lime, this cauliflower rice might seem wholly Mexican in flavor, but it also pairs well with Indian fare.


  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as refined coconut or avocado oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 medium cauliflower head, riced (or 20 ounces fresh or frozen riced cauliflower)
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • zest and juice from 2 limes


  1. Add the oil to a large skillet set over medium heat.
  2. Once the oil is shimmering, add the diced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Add the garlic, salt, and cumin, stir, and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant with garlic and spice.
  4. Add the riced cauliflower, stir well.
  5. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender but not mushy.
  6. Add the cilantro, lime zest, and juice. Season to taste with additional salt, if needed.
  7. Serve hot.

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(Photo via Nicole Perry / Brit + Co)