The Best Ways to Use Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Rice

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Trader Joe’s cauliflower rice has a cult following to rival The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Even though cauliflower rice is not really rice at all, it’s just leftover cauliflower stems chopped up into little rice-sized flecks, people are so obsessed with it that Trader Joe’s has at times had to institute rations, limiting customers to two bags a day, lest one person come in and take all the cauliflower rice for themselves.

I was deeply skeptical. Most rice replacements are decent enough as their own things, but don’t really compare to rice when you try to substitute them. When I finally tried Trader Joe’s cauliflower rice, I was pleasantly surprised. I would never confuse it for actual rice, because while it looks like rice from far enough away, it doesn’t smell or taste like rice. It smells and tastes like cauliflower because, you know, it’s cauliflower. But cauliflower is great, and a person doesn’t always want a big bowl of rice. Sometimes people are cutting back on carbs or calories, or just want to eat more vegetables. And cauliflower rice works great as a nice, starchy-seeming side in a lot of places where one might normally expect to see rice.

Cauliflower rice is excellent under a thick, flavorful sauce, like the one on Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken, for example. But it’s also being used in a ton of other creative ways. An Instagram search of #Cauliflowerrice delivers over 181,000 photos of people doing wonderful things with cauliflower rice. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Make a rice bowl.

Using cauliflower rice in a rice or grain bowl is one of the fastest ways to transform it into a dish, and it’s one of the most popular. There are 460 results on Instagram just for #cauliflowerricebowl alone.

2. Stir-fry it.

I don’t really know whether this counts as fried rice or stir-fried vegetables, but tossing cauliflower rice in a hot pan is a great way to keep its texture on the firm side. Once you toss in other vegetables and some sauce, you get a flavorful, filling dish that’s almost entirely vegetables.

3. Mix it up with beans and vegetables, and maybe meat too.

Cauliflower rice does not have to be served plain. In fact, mixing it with beans, ground meat, and tofu is a great way to add protein. This sort of thing reheats beautifully, too.

4. Serve it with eggs.

You can mix any kind of eggs with cauliflower rice. Scrambled eggs and fried eggs go well with rice, especially with hot sauce. Slice a hard-boiled egg on top, or serve a poached egg with vegetables on top of a cauliflower rice bowl and let the yolk mix in with the rice. You can even crack an egg in the pan while sautéing the cauliflower rice for a great take on fried rice.

5. Keep it plain, as a side for meat and vegetables.

This is what most people think of when they think of cauliflower rice. It makes a lovely side for any kind of meat or vegetable, and it’s especially good with something cooked in a rich sauce, like butter chicken.

6. Soak it to give it color.

Cauliflower rice does not have to be white. It will absorb color and flavor from any spices you mix in with it, like turmeric, cumin, or curry powder.

7. Use it in place of rice in other recipes.

What recipes do you love to make with rice? Stuffed peppers? Arancini? In many cases, you can just switch it out directly for cauliflower rice and come out with something entirely new.

8. Use it in sushi.

Want sushi but don’t want the rice? A lot of cauliflower rice lovers on Instagram have built their own fandom around cauliflower rice sushi.

What’s your favorite thing to do with cauliflower rice?