Cauliflower Risotto

Cauliflower Risotto gets a thumbs up from everyone! It's easier to make (and more delicious!) than you might think. Plus, while no risotto is "diet food", this is as close to a "low carb" and "diet risotto" as we'll get. The creamy but low-calorie cauliflower makes up so much of the volume. This is my go-to recipe for risotto! Every fall, it calls to me!

~recipe updated 2017 for a little weekend cooking inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

Cauliflower Risotto ♥, traditional risotto lightened up with creamy cauliflower. Rave reviews!

Not Weird, Not Complicated, Just Unfamiliar

Even adventurous home cooks return repeatedly to favorite recipes, bypassing new ones that at first seem appealing but then get dismissed as too something: insert "weird" or "complicated" or "exotic" though what we really mean is "too unfamiliar".

For years, so it’s been for risotto and me. I saved it for special occasions when someone else could man the spoon and somehow never once made it myself.

Cauliflower Risotto ♥, traditional risotto lightened up with creamy cauliflower. Rave reviews!

Have Arborio, Will Travel

No more! Since last spring, I’ve made risotto two or three times a month in four different kitchens. On trips, I tuck Arborio rice into my suitcase, just in case I get a turn at the stove.

This creamy leek and cauliflower risotto gets thumbs ups from everyone, men, women, even kids. Served with a big salad, it’s an easy and inexpensive main dish but I like to serve it on the side with grilled shrimp or steak. Risotto does take nearly constant attention, although between stirs, there’s plenty of time to make the salad, set the table and sip a glass of wine.

Cauliflower Risotto ♥, traditional risotto lightened up with creamy cauliflower. Rave reviews!

A Perfect Balance Rice:Cauliflower

I'm always tempted to double the cauliflower. But a word to the wise, just don't! Cauliflower Risotto's proportion of rice:cauliflower and even rice:cauliflower:cheese is just right!

You'll Like My Cauliflower Risotto If ...

... if you hanker for risotto but blanch when the usual rice and butter and cheese calories add up
... you love cauliflower but are less than impressed by "faux" cauliflower dishes like cauliflower rice
... and who're we kidding? bacon! bacon! bacon!


"... soooo delicious. ... I had to keep myself from gobbling the ENTIRE DISH in one sitting! " ~ ShinyLightDesigns
"... yum yum yum!" ~ Mia
"I actually made it twice this week! It is my first experience making risotto." ~ Jessica


Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 4 cups, easy to double

  • Big pot of salted water
  • 1 large leek, trimmed & cleaned (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
  • 1/2 head cauliflower (about 1 pound) cored, cut in florets
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken stock (see TIPS)
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped (or 2 tablespoons bacon grease or butter)
  • 1/2 cup (90g) Arborio rice
  • Salt to taste (be generous)

  • 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan or gruyere (from about 2 square inches)
  • Fresh herbs chopped fine - dill, oregano, rosemary, other herbs
  • Cauliflower slices, for garnish, optional

PAR-COOK (PARTIALLY COOK) THE LEEK AND CAULIFLOWER Bring the water to a boil. Drop the leek and cauliflower into the boiling water for 2 – 3 minutes, then drain. Cut the leek into half rings, the big cauliflower florets into smaller cauliflower florets.

BRING THE STOCK TO A BOIL Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring the stock to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer. You want the stock to stay hot!

COOK THE BACON Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet large enough to be your risotto-cooking skillet, cook the bacon until crisp on medium heat. Lift the bacon onto a plate to cool, leaving the bacon fat in skillet.

FINALLY, LET'S MAKE RISOTTO! Stir the leek and cauliflower into the bacon fat, let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the rice, turning it several times to coat with fat.

STIR.STIR.STIR. First trick! From here on, you'll need to stir almost continuously, that means "without interruption" so no leaving the stove, okay? Use a wooden spoon or a spatula, it's fine to stir slowly, you just don't want the rice or cauliflower to stick to the bottom of the skillet.

SLOWLY.SLOWLY.SLOWLY. Second trick! Add the hot stock to the rice, but slowly, only a half cup at a time. Stir in each half cup, letting the rice absorb that liquid, before adding another half cup. As the mixture cooks, use the spoon to break the cauliflower into smaller and smaller pieces, it'll become almost invisible. Take your time during this step, relax, sip a little wine, just enjoy the moment in the kitchen. But stir!

SALT.SALT.SALT. Third trick! Before adding each new half cup of stock, take a little taste, add a little salt to taste. Especially if you use homemade chicken stock, you'll add quite a bit. Remember, you're seasoning the rice, the cauliflower and the stock, it's okay to be generous!

WHEN IS THE RISOTTO DONE? The risotto is done when the rice is tender and creamy looking. And of course? When it tastes good, to YOU, when the texture is right for YOU.

FINISH, SEASON, GARNISH, SERVE & SAVOR Stir in the cheese, cooked bacon and herbs, then taste and adjust the seasoning one last time. Garnish and serve while hot!

VARIATIONS This is my go-to recipe for risotto! I've made it with all kinds of vegetables but cauliflower remains the favorite. For a vegetarian version, use olive oil or butter instead of bacon, then for broth, use vegetable stock or Homemade Vegetable Bouillon.

LEFTOVERS Cauliflower Risotto reheats just beautifully. My sister has taught me to tuck spoonfuls of warm leftover risotto into spinach leaves for small lunch-time wraps. So good!

ALANNA's TIPS To clean and trim a leek, wash well, then slice off the root and dark green leaves. Halve bulb lengthwise, then separate the layers slightly and rinse under running water. Inside the remaining dark leaves, find a slender piece of additional light-green leek, so cook this too. (Need more information? See the photo illustrations, how to clean leeks.) No leeks? No problem. Just use half an onion cut into large pieces. When it's available, I'll choose pancetta over bacon, just leave the bits in the pan while the risotto cooks. I'm quite happy with Trader Joe's pancetta. Risotto traditionalists insist on rich homemade chicken stock (around here that nearly always means my No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock) and yes, risotto’s extra delicious that way. But I’m also quite happy when the stock starts with a good condensed base such as Better Than Bouillon or even a good powdered bouillon.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 249 Calories; 10g Tot Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 20mg Cholesterol; 464mg Sodium; 29g Carb; 4g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 11g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 6 & PointsPlus 6 & SmartPoints 8 CALORIE COUNTERS 6 tablespoons = 100-calorie serving (4g protein).

More Cauliflower Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Quick Cauliflower (or Broccoli) Soup Cauliflower Salad with Fresh Herbs Stuffed Mushrooms with Cauliflower & Smoked Gouda
Savory Cauliflower Cake Spiced Chicken with Cauliflower Tagine Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole
from Kitchen Parade

Cauliflower Spanish Rice
Whole Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce
Cauliflower Mac 'n' Cheese
~ more cauliflower recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables

More Rice Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Julia Child's Soubise (Onion & Rice Casserole) Red Rice with Tomatoes Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole (Kabeli Palau)
~ more rice recipes ~

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