Curried Cauliflower “Rice” Pilaf

A bowl of curried cauliflower "rice" pilaf.

If I told you that you could have a savory rice pilaf with no carbs, would you be interested?  If you could have all the flavor and none of the guilt, would you want to know more?  My curried cauliflower “rice” pilaf is easy to make with so much flavor, you’ll forget it’s good for you.

Curried Cauliflower "Rice" Pilaf | Garlic + Zest

There are at least a few family members and friends who would lean in for that secret.  If you’re one of them, listen up — this is the holy grail of healthy rice pilaf!  Curried Cauliflower “Rice” Pilaf.

Curried Cauliflower "Rice" Pilaf | Garlic + Zest

The “rice” in this case, is actually cauliflower.   Yep, a vegetable!  It’s  super-easy to make and it’s full of flavor!  Pinky promise!  All you need to achieve these rice-like grains is a box grater — or if you’re lazy, like me, use the grater attachment on your food processor.   Avoid putting it directly into bowl of the processor to chop, because it can get too fine – and you want a little texture.   {Update: I’ve recently found cauliflower rice at Trader Joe’s!}

Curried Cauliflower "Rice" Pilaf | Garlic + Zest

If the raisins seem dry, plump them in a little warm broth or water. When I cook a regular rice pilaf, I add the raisins in with the liquid and they automatically plump.

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Curried Cauliflower "Rice" Pilaf | Garlic + Zest

But if you add liquid to the cauliflower, it will turn to mush very quickly (and we don’t like mush).  To avoid that, and still have juicy raisins,  I plump them before adding them into the dish.

Curried Cauliflower "Rice" Pilaf | Garlic + Zest

Saute the onions in olive oil and add the curry and turmeric.  Stir over the heat until it takes on that yellow hue and becomes fragrant,  then add the grated cauliflower.  Pay attention, stirring frequently and moderate your heat if you start to get hot spots or crustiness.  If you have to add a little extra olive oil (1-2 teaspoons)  for a little more moisture while your cooking, that’s ok.  Also, if  you cover the pan for a minute or so, it will help to lightly steam the vegetable without making it too soft.  The cauliflower will take on that gorgeous golden color and the curry smells phenomenal.

Adding toasted almonds and golden raisins to the curried cauliflower.

Add the raisins, almonds and chopped cilantro and serve!  It’s great with grilled chicken, fish, or pork!

A bowl of curried cauliflower rice.

When I brought  this to the table the first time, both Scott and Emily helped themselves without even doing a double take.  They assumed it was rice.

When I shared the secret, they were surprised and impressed.  Scott kept saying, “if you hadn’t told me this was cauliflower, I would have sworn it was rice!”  And he helped himself to seconds…

Serving the cauliflower rice on a black plate.

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Curried Cauliflower "Rice" Pilaf
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4.31 from 13 votes

Curried Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

Fool your family and friends with this cauliflower fake-out!  A delicious side dish, without the carbs!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword cauliflower, vegan side dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4


  • Food Processor with shredder attachment


  • ½ head cauliflower
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup homemade vegetable broth or water
  • cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons almonds toasted sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro freshly chopped


  • Cut the cauliflower into florets and transfer them into the grater tube of your food processor or use the large holes on a box grater to shred the florets. Set aside.
  • Add the broth (or water) to a small bowl and heat for 30-45 seconds in the microwave. Add the raisins to the broth and set aside to plump.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, curry powder and salt. Add the cauliflower rice and remaining olive oil and stir until well coated. Turn the heat down to a medium low and cover tightly with a lid. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring every minute or so to prevent browning or sticking. Remove from heat.
  • Drain the raisins and add them into the cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle on the toasted almonds and cilantro and serve.


Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 373mg | Potassium: 365mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 45IU | Vitamin C: 36.3mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 0.9mg

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Curried Cauliflower "Rice" Pilaf is an easy, delicious, healthy side dish! Make it easier with Trader Joe's cauliflower rice. Paleo & Vegan too!

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  1. 5 stars
    Made this a few weeks ago and both my boyfriend and I absolutely loved it! I even used the grater attachment on my food processor for the first time. Now I’m making it again tonight 🙂

    1. It’s a favorite here too! Glad you and your boyfriend enjoyed it, Kristin!

  2. 5 stars
    This is seriously one of my favorite all time recipes. Its easy, healthy, perfection. I through in some roasted veggies and chicken and it’s a great meal! Thanks for the recipe, its one for the books!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy it, Mindy! Great idea to augment it with more veg and chicken, too! It’s not an exaggeration to say we have it at least several times a month…

  3. This looks delicious. I like cauliflower and have been making it in different formats. I will have to try this one to add to my collection.

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve been wanting to try cauliflower rice and your Curried Cauliflower Rice Pilaf looks like a great recipe to start with! Love all the wonderful flavours and textures in this. Also please to know that you can make the ‘rice’ with a box grater. I really like that idea!

    1. Please let me know how you like it April – I make this at least twice a month and everyone enjoys it.

  5. I love the flavors of turmeric and curry. I have used ‘riced’ cauliflower for pizza crust but this looks like a better method to grate, instead of mince. I also love your addition of almonds and raisins. The curries take on whole new flavor dimension with the addition of the sweet raisins and the crunchiness of the almonds! Nice one!

    1. Well, I’ll have to try your method for the pizza crust!

  6. 5 stars
    Such a fun dish! I love your tip on plumping the raisins before adding them to the cauliflower. So beautiful with the color and garnishes!

  7. Really enjoyed this. My husband who doesn’t like cooked cauliflower, enjoyed this!

    1. Thanks, Maggie! My husband loves it too — especially when we’re watching our carbs — he feels like it’s a cheat, but it’s not!

  8. This must be delicious! Must be delicious with a nice piece of fish! I think it would have worked well with the trout I made today!

  9. BRB….heading to the store for fresh cauliflower! ? This looks sooo good!

  10. I love cauliflower rice but never tried it like this….sounds amazing!

  11. I can’t believe that this is actually cauliflower not real rice, as in the first picture it really does look like rice. Love pilaffs and this looks very tasty

    1. My husband was fooled by the looks and the taste! Though I wasn’t trying to pull a fast one – LOL!

  12. I love the addition of fruit, like raisins and dried plums, to savory dishes. This pilaf looks fabulous!

    1. I know – little pops of sweet in a savory dish are my favorite too!

  13. I keep saying I want to try Cauliflower rice at home… this recipe is going to get me to do it! Love the raisins in it!

  14. coralgableslove says:

    5 stars
    I used to have a curry chicken sandwich with raisins that I loved so much! I think this recipe is going to be really close to theirs. Can wait to try it! Thank you for sharing it 🙂

    1. Oh, yes, curried chicken with raisins is the bomb, too! Let me know how you like this, Paola!

  15. Love the curry addition. This looks really really good.

  16. Oh my Lisa you had me at Cauliflower rice! It’s absolutely my favorite! And you’ve made it so exotic and flavorful–LOVE this!!

    1. I mean, if you gonna go pilaf — go for it, right?

  17. This is a great recipe for people like my who need to avoid carbs & love curry! Thanks so much for this tasty, new, healthy dish. I’m in!

  18. After a weekend of indulgence (your lobster mac n’cheese) I’m making this tonight! Looks healthy and satisfying for curry-loving me!