Southwestern Cauliflower Rice Bowls

Southwestern Cauliflower Rice Bowls are a lighter, grain-free version of the Mexican burrito bowl. Try them for your next vegan meal!

Cauliflower rice bowl = Healthy burrito bowl

This cauliflower rice bowl is much like a burrito bowl, but grain-free and dairy-free. You can customize it however you like, using different kinds of salsa, proteins, and vegetables. The most important thing is learning how to make the cauliflower rice, which is actually super easy! Make sure to check out my video below the recipe for extra tips on making the cauliflower rice.

Southwestern Cauliflower Rice Bowls closeup • Cook Love Heal by Rachel Zierzow

How to make cauliflower rice

The first couple of times I made cauliflower rice I used a food processor. It worked pretty well, but you have to work in batches, putting about 1/4 of a cauliflower in at a time. Then I tried using a box grater, and it was much easier! And when you consider the set-up and clean-up time involved with a food processor, using a grater is much less hassle.

So I recommend getting a really sharp box grater (I like Oxo brand). You’ll need to cut your cauliflower in half, then in half again, and slice out the core. Next, remove any leaves that are still hanging on and then start grating, holding onto the stems. If the quarter pieces start falling apart, just take the smaller florets and grate them separately. It will only take you about 5 minutes or so to grate the entire cauliflower, as long as you have a good grater.

Next, sauté the cauliflower in a little olive oil in a large skillet. You may need to cook the rice in batches depending on how much cauliflower rice you have and the size of your pan. As you are cooking the cauliflower rice, season with a little sea salt, which helps draw moisture out of the vegetable. Cook until cauliflower is tender but not mushy. Other seasonings that work well with cauliflower rice are garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili powder, or taco seasoning.

If you’d like to store some of the raw cauliflower rice to cook later, freeze it in ziplock freezer bags. Don’t store raw cauliflower rice in the fridge, as it is rich in sulfur compounds and starts to smell bad pretty quickly.

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Cauliflower, olive oil, garlic
  • Black beans or pinto beans (or other protein) – see my recipe for Homemade Beans
  • Onion, bell peppers (or sub other veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, etc.)
  • Seasonings: sea salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder or taco seasoning
  • Garnishes: avocado, salsa, lime, cilantro
Southwestern Cauliflower Rice Bowls
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Southwestern Cauliflower Rice Bowls closeup • Cook Love Heal by Rachel Zierzow

Southwestern Cauliflower Rice Bowls

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  • Author: Rachel Zierzow
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings 1x



Cauliflower Rice

1 head cauliflower

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon chili powder or taco seasoning

sea salt and black pepper, to taste


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup onion, diced

1 can or 2 cups cooked black beans (or pinto beans)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon sea salt


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, fajita cut (crescent moons)

2 bell peppers (red, orange, and/or yellow), deseeded and sliced

a few pinches sea salt and black pepper

a few pinches chili powder or taco seasoning


1 cup of your favorite green or red salsa

1 large avocado, diced

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges


Cauliflower Rice

Cut cauliflower into quarters and cut off leaves and tough part of core. Grate each quarter of the cauliflower into tiny pieces using the big holes of a box grater. Alternatively, you can chop the cauliflower into smaller chunks and pulse in a food processor. You’ll want to do this in small batches to avoid overblending. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, cauliflower, and pinch of sea salt. Sauté a few minutes, then add garlic and chili powder. Sauté until cauliflower is tender but not mushy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove cauliflower to a bowl and keep covered until serving.


Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, and pinch sea salt. Add beans (if using canned, drain first), cumin, and a little more sea salt. Cover and simmer on low until onions are soft. 


Heat up large sauté pan again over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onion, and pinch salt. Sauté 1-2 minutes, then add bell pepper and zucchini (if using) and another pinch salt. Sauté until vegetables start to soften and brown a little on the edges. 

Assembling the Bowls

Put a generous serving of cauliflower rice in each bowl, followed by some beans and veggies. Garnish each bowl with salsa, avocado, cilantro, and lime wedges. Enjoy as is, or with tortilla chips or warm corn tortillas.


Add thinly sliced steak, shredded chicken, or grilled shrimp for a higher-protein meal.

Pin it!

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