Dirty cauliflower rice is the perfect low carb side dish for any meal. Packed with flavor, this quick and easy recipe is great for weeknight meals and ready in about 15 minutes! This recipe is vegan, low carb, Whole30 and so flavorful.
Why you will love this recipe
- Cauliflower dirty rice is a low carb version of the traditional Creole dish, dirty rice. The seasonings make this cauliflower rice so flavorful, even kids will want seconds of this!
- Use frozen cauliflower rice to make this a super simple weeknight meal. Great for parties too. This dish is vegan, gluten free, dairy free, Whole30 and low carb friendly so it’s great to serve almost all diets!
- Great for meal prep too! This dirty cauliflower rice is just as good the next day, so make a big batch and serve with an egg on top for breakfast or with your favorite protein for a quick and easy lunch!
- Red onion – I love using red onion anytime I use smoky flavors, but you could also use a white or yellow onion or even green onions.
- Celery – traditional in Cajun and Creole cooking, celery adds a crunch and ton of flavor to the dish.
- Roasted red peppers – using roasted red peppers helps to add that smoky flavor, elevating this dish quickly since it doesn’t spend much time cooking.
- Spices and salt – Dried thyme, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin
- Cauliflower rice – I prefer frozen cauliflower rice over fresh, but use whatever you have on hand.
- Coconut aminos – this helps to add a depth of flavor to the dish without having to cook it all day. You could also use soy sauce or gluten free tamari.
How to make dirty cauliflower rice
Start by finely chopping the red onion and celery. Take the bags of cauliflower rice out of the freezer to start to defrost a bit while the veggies cook.
Preheat a large skillet (cast iron or stainless steel) over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, add avocado oil spray or olive oil spray (or about 1 tbsp. avocado oil or olive oil) to the pan. Add the onions and celery and cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes, allowing the onions to turn translucent and the celery to start to break down.
While the onions and celery are cooking, chop up the roasted red peppers. Take them out of the jar (discard the liquid they are soaking in) and finely chop them. Add the chopped red bell pepper along with the salt and spices to the veggies. Stir well.
Break apart any large chunks of the cauliflower rice in the bag before opening the bags and pouring them over the hot veggies. Add the coconut aminos on top of the cauliflower rice. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Using a spoon or spatula, move all the ingredients to the outside rim of the pan, letting all the excess liquid to pool up in the center. Turn the heat to medium high and allow this excess water to boil off 3-4 minutes.
Once most of the water is gone, stir the veggies in the pan and cook 1 more minute over medium high heat.
Serve with your favorite protein for a simple, filling meal.
- Take the time to break up any large clumps of frozen cauliflower rice in the bag before adding it to the pan to help cut down on cooking time.
- When working with frozen cauliflower rice, you will notice that it often sweats off excess liquid, making the cauliflower rice mushy. This is why I advise moving all the veggies to the outside rim of the large skillet and cooking off the excess liquid to help ensure the cauliflower rice doesn’t get soggy.
- I like to use frozen cauliflower because I find it has a milder flavor vs. fresh cauliflower rice (especially store bought). If you do use fresh cauliflower rice, you may need to cover the pan and allow it to steam for 3-4 minutes ensuring it gets cooked through before serving.
- Traditional Creole dishes use the holy trinity – a combination of onion, celery and green pepper. I prefer the flavor from red bell pepper instead, as it’s sweeter and when it’s roasted it adds a smoky flavor to the dish. If you want this to be more traditional, use green pepper and white onion in place the roasted red pepper and red onion.
What is dirty rice
Traditional dirty rice is a dish famous in Cajun or Creole cooking. Typically the rice is “made dirty” by cooking it with ground sausage, meat or chicken livers. The rice is cooked with the holy trinity of veggies – onions, celery and green peppers along with traditional cajun spices.
To allow this to be more of a side dish and to be vegan friendly, I decided to not add any sausage, ground meat or chicken livers. To make it more of a meal, add your favorite protein (ground sausage, turkey, beef, red kidney beans) for a more filling dish.
What to add to creole spiced cauliflower rice
- Protein: Ground sausage, ground turkey, ground beef, shrimp, tofu, smoked oysters, smoked sardines, red kidney beans, black beans, lentils.
- Spice: Red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, jalapeno peppers (fresh or pickled)
- Veggies: Zucchini, summer squash, cilantro, green onions
What to serve with cajun cauliflower rice
- Slow Cooker Cajun Chicken
- 10 Minute Skillet Taco
- Bang Bang Shrimp
- Mexican Black Bean and Lentil Patties
- Cajun Salmon
- Instant Pot Mexican Shredded Chicken
How to make cauliflower rice
Use the food processor
- Cut the green leaves and thick bottom stalk away from the cauliflower. Chop the cauliflower into small enough pieces that they will easily fit into your food processor (you don’t need to worry about the shape of these pieces).
- Add about ½ of the cauliflower to the food processor and process on high for about 20 seconds, until the cauliflower resembles rice. Note: Some people like to use the larger grater attachment of their food processor for this since it creates a more uniform consistency.
- Process all the cauliflower and you can use it immediately, store it in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze it for up to 2 months in a well-sealed freezer safe bag or container.
Use box grater
- Cut the green leaves and thick bottom stalk away from the cauliflower.
- Grate the cauliflower using the large holes on the box grater. Grate around the stem of the cauliflower.
- Store in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze it for up to 2 months in a well-sealed freezer safe bag or container.
How to store leftovers
Fridge: Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
Freezer: Stove leftover cauliflower dirty rice in the freezer for up to 2 months in a freezer safe bag or container.
To reheat after defrosting, it’s best to use a skillet to reheat the dirty cauliflower rice as the cauliflower rice, celery and peppers can get watery when defrosting.
Red onion: you could use white onion, yellow onion, the tops from a green onion or shallots in place of the red onion.
Celery: Celery adds crunch and is very common in Cajun cooking. You could omit the celery or use thinly sliced carrots in place of the celery but the flavor would be different.
Roasted red peppers: Any bell pepper (red, yellow, orange, green) could be used in place of the roasted red pepper. You will want to add this along with the red onion and celery to soften as the roasted red peppers are already soft when they are added to the pan.
Spices and salt: You could also use about 1-2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning instead of measuring out the individual spices and salt. You may still need a pinch of salt depending on how salty your pre-mixed seasoning is.
Cauliflower Rice: you could also make this with cooked white or brown jasmine rice or basmati rice. To keep it low carb you could try this with heart of palm rice as well, but you will want to squeeze out any excess water from the hearts of palm rice before adding it to the pan.
Coconut aminos: Coconut aminos are a soy free and gluten free substitute for soy sauce. They help add depth of flavor that is missing from this dish. You could also use soy sauce or tamari if you do not have coconut aminos on hand.
If you love this recipe, you should try
- Mexican Style Cauliflower Rice
- Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
- Chimichurri Cauliflower Rice
- Italian Cauliflower Rice
- Cauliflower Rice Stuffing
- Pesto Cauliflower Rice
Easy Grain-Free Whole30 Cauliflower Dirty Rice$8.05 Recipe/$2.01 Serving
Guided Recipe Video
- 5 stalks celery, chopped - $0.50
- 1 medium red onion, chopped - $0.33
- 1 jar roasted red pepper - $1.99
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika - $0.20
- 2 tsp dried thyme - $0.20
- 2 tsp garlic granules (or garlic powder) - $0.20
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos - $0.70
- 1.5 tsp. sea salt - $0.07
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin - $0.05
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper - $0.03
- 2 bags frozen riced cauliflower - $3.98
- Preheat a large cast iron or stainless steel pan over medium heat. Take the frozen cauliflower rice out of the freezer now too.
- Finely chop the celery and onion.
- Spray with avocado oil, olive oil or add 1 tbsp. avocado oil or olive oil. Add the chopped celery and red onion to the avocado oil and sauté 3-4 minutes.
- Drain and chop the roasted red pepper.
- Add the chopped roasted red pepper along with the spices and salt to the celery and onion mixture. Cook 1 minute to let the spices cook and bloom in flavor.
- Pour in the frozen riced cauliflower and coconut aminos and stir well. Make sure to break up any large clumps.
- After cooking for 3-4 minutes, move the cauliflower rice mixture to the sides of the large pan, allowing the excess liquid to pool up in the center. Turn the heat to medium high and allow this to boil/cook off. After 3-4 minutes most of the liquid should be gone. Stir well and cook 1 more minute over medium high heat to ensure as much excess liquid has cooked off before serving.
- Fridge: Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- Freezer: Stove leftover cauliflower dirty rice in the freezer for up to 2 months in a freezer safe bag or container.
- To reheat after defrosting, it’s best to use a skillet to reheat the dirty cauliflower rice as the cauliflower rice, celery and peppers can get watery when defrosting.