Vegetarian, low-carb and keto-friendly Cauliflower Risotto recipe combines fresh mushrooms, cauliflower rice, and a flavorful broth that’s ready in under 15 minutes! With only 9 ingredients, it’s perfect for a low-carb dinner and has 1/3rd (or less) the calories of traditional risotto and just 11g net carbs.
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When thinking about risotto, words like “creamy”, rich, and decadent” come to mind thanks to the overload of carb-y rice and dairy like cream and cheese. We absolutely love this Instant Pot mushroom risotto but unfortunately that means it’s also accompanied by high calories, fat, and carbs.
Luckily, when we crave something lighter, this cauliflower risotto with mushrooms hits the spot! The same way I use cauliflower in this cauliflower potato salad, to make a cauliflower crust pizza, or for shepherd’s pie with cauliflower!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Creamy, cheesy, and flavorful: Cauliflower risotto recipe makes for a light meal or make for healthy dinner sides!
- Quick and easy: Cauliflower risotto takes just 15 minutes to prepare from scratch, or 10 minutes with pre-riced cauliflower!
- Lower calorie and nutritious: Contains just a fraction of the calories, fat, and carbs in regular mushroom risotto! Also, contains a ton more nutrients, thanks to the cauliflower!
- Easy on the wallet: Pantry staples, fresh mushrooms, cheese and a single small head of cauliflower!
- Alternative diet friendly: Grain-free, gluten-free, Keto, low-carb, and low-calorie! Plus, it can even be made dairy-free!
Cauliflower rice has become a favorite ‘light’ side dish in this house including Mexican cauliflower rice and cheesy cauliflower rice. Any time I want to make a light weeknight dinner, my low carb cauliflower rice recipe collection comes to the rescue.
Ingredients for Cauliflower Rice Risotto
- Cauliflower: You can use either a small cauliflower head or pre-riced cauliflower (fresh or frozen).
- Mushrooms: I recommend using small brown mushrooms, thinly sliced, which have a more robust flavor over white button mushrooms. However, you could also use wild mushrooms, etc. – based on what you have available.
- Aromatics: You’ll need onion (or shallots) and garlic; adjust the amount of garlic to personal taste.
- Broth: I used low-sodium chicken broth. For a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth instead (or even a mushroom/umami broth).
- Oil: Any neutral cooking oil will work. I use avocado oil.
- Cheese: This cauliflower mushroom risotto uses a combination of mozzarella and parmesan (a vegetarian one if needed) for that ooey-gooey and salty/tangy combination – just enough to taste decadent without becoming unhealthy.
- Salt & pepper: To season, to taste.
- Parsley: Fresh herbs work wonders at adding extra dimension to a dish and a bit of ‘freshness’ to this cauliflower risotto. Alternatively, chives would work.
Keep reading below (after the recipe how-to) for more information on any cauliflower risotto add-ins and recipe variations!
How to Make Cauliflower Risotto
- Prepare the ingredients: First, clean and chop the cauliflower (if using a raw cauliflower head) into florets. Learn the proper way in how to cut cauliflower. Then finely dice the onion, thinly slice the mushrooms, and mince the garlic.
- Rice the cauliflower: Transfer the cauliflower florets to a large food processor and process into a rice consistency (it doesn’t have to be 100% even in size – a few larger chunks are okay). Transfer the cauliflower rice to a large bowl and set it aside.
You’ll need to process the cauliflower in 3-4 batches; otherwise, the cauliflower nearest to the blades will practically become a paste. You can also do this with a box grater, but it’ll take longer and more effort.
- Sauté the mushrooms and aromatics: Pre-heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add the sliced mushrooms and cook until golden brown with no liquid left- around 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Then add an extra swirl of oil and the onion and garlic. Sauté the ingredients for several minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cauliflower: Add the cauliflower rice to the pan along with the cooked mushrooms, broth, and salt and pepper. Stir it well, then cover and cook for 4 minutes, or until the cauliflower is ‘just’ tender.
Be careful not to overcook the cauliflower, or it will start to release excess liquid, and the risotto can become ‘mushy.’
- Add the cheese: Remove the cauliflower rice risotto from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Then add the parsley and stir once more!
Optional Add-In’s and Variations
Below are a few optional ‘add-ins’ and seasoning variations for this healthy risotto featuring rice cauliflower and mushrooms.
- Alcohol: You can substitute half of the stock for white wine or vermouth if preferred. Allow it to cook off for extra depth of flavor.
- Dairy-free: Feel free to use your favorite melty dairy-free versions of mozzarella and parmesan. You can ramp up the cheesy flavor with the addition of nutritional yeast, too (to taste).
- Vegetables: I’ve found quick-cooking green vegetables work particularly well in this cauliflower risotto recipe. Peas, steamed asparagus or broccoli, and spinach are my favorite add-ins! Tomatoes that are pan-fried until lightly ‘bursting’ will also pair wonderfully with this cauliflower risotto recipe.
- Herbs: Add extra flavor with the addition of additional fresh herbs cooked into the mushroom risotto recipe. Mushrooms pair well with thyme, tarragon, or rosemary.
- Protein: While this makes for a great meat-free main, you can bump up the protein with the addition of shrimp skewers on the grill(which cook very quickly) or stick to a plant-based source like beans. You could also use leftover cooked bone in turkey breast roast(adding with the cauliflower) or even bacon (sauteed first until crispy, then removed and added back in at the end).
- Cream: Since this cauliflower rice risotto is so low-calorie, you can get away with adding a little extra richness to the recipe. Cauliflower rice risotto won’t get as naturally creamy as regular risotto due to the lack of starch, so a little cream can help add creaminess without overwhelming with fat. Add it at the same time as the cauliflower or as a ‘finisher.’
- Pesto: Just a little pesto (red or green) mixed into the cauliflower mushroom risotto will add tons of depth of flavor.
- Truffle oil: A tiny drizzle over the served cauliflower mushroom risotto tastes delicious and transforms this into ‘gourmet’ fare!
- Spice: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat.
Tips for Best Results
- Using frozen cauliflower rice: If you use a bag of pre-riced cauliflower or pre-made and frozen cauli rice, there’s no need to thaw. Instead, just add a few extra minutes to the cooking time! (If you love frozen cauliflower rice as much as I do, here are 14 other frozen cauliflower recipes to use it in!)
- Feel free to increase the mushrooms: We all know mushrooms practically disappear once cooked, so feel free to increase the amount of mushrooms to as much as you’d like – they’re almost zero calories and packed with nutrients; it’s a win-win!
- For creamier mushroom risotto: You can remove some of the cooked cauliflower rice risotto to puree into a creamy consistency, then fold it back into the risotto for super creamy results.
- To avoid mushy cauliflower risotto: Ensure you don’t overcook the cauliflower rice! Just 3-4 minutes is more than enough.
- For crispier/less ‘soggy’ mushrooms: Rather than adding them in at the same time as the cauliflower, fold the mushrooms into the mixture before serving. Though the dish won’t be as flavorful when not cooking the mushrooms with the rest.
You sure can – in fact, I love to meal-prep cauliflower rice (it lasts 3 months in the freezer!) exactly for this reason. If using frozen, don’t thaw and add a few minutes to the cooking time.
Traditional risotto is made creamy thanks to the starchy nature of the arborio rice that leeches out into the sauce and gives it a thick, creamy consistency. In this case, cauliflower rice risotto obviously won’t react the same way. However, there are several ways you can make this version creamier, including blending a small portion of the cooked risotto into a creamy sauce to fold back into the mixture or with the addition of a little cream.
If your cauliflower rice risotto is watery or mushy then it’s likely that you’ve cooked the cauliflower rice for too long and it has started to release its’ excess liquid.
If you’ve overcooked it so much that you don’t want to enjoy it as a risotto, you can still pop it in a food processor for a deliciously creamy cheesy cauliflower mash topped with sauteed mushrooms.
If you haven’t cooked it enough it may be a little crunchy. Alternatively, if you cook it too much it can become soft and mushy. I’ve found the cooking sweet spot is between 3-4 minutes.
This mushroom risotto is fairly versatile. I like to use small brown mushrooms, which I find have more flavor than white mushrooms. However, you can use white, cremini, chestnut, oyster, enoki, chanterelle, or even a mixed ‘wild mushroom’ combination. Just chop them down to nice sizes to sauté well.
This cauliflower risotto recipe is hearty enough to enjoy as a main but also light enough to enjoy as a side or alongside other sides. I like to serve this cauliflower mushroom risotto with:
- Baked chicken breast, Instant Pot chicken breast, or oven baked chicken thighs.
- Instant Pot pork chops or pork carnitas.
- Lemon butter baked cod or other white fish.
- With veggie sides like sauteed zucchini or Brussel sprouts with bacon, or broiled asparagus.
- Alongside a leafy green salad like lemon kale salad.
This meat-free dish can be eaten alone as a light meat-free meal or served as a side for all sorts of mains, including chicken, pork, fish, and more! Looking for more vegetarian meal inspiration? You might like this zucchini tomato pasta or one-pot chili mac n’ cheese! Alternatively, browse through my entire collection of meat-free recipes!
Let me know in the comments what your favorite way to enjoy this cauliflower risotto is!
How to Store and Make Ahead
Make ahead: You can prepare the cauliflower rice in advance and store it for up to 3 months in the freezer (or 5 days in the fridge). Then, when ready, cook it from frozen, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
Storing: Keep any leftover cauliflower rice risotto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Freeze: Since this cauliflower mushroom risotto is so quick to prepare and tastes best when freshly made, I prefer to do so. However, you should be able to freeze leftovers too for up to 2 months—thaw in the fridge before reheating with additional broth.
Reheat: Reheat the cauliflower risotto on the stovetop (or in a microwave) gently until warmed through. Add an extra splash (or more) of broth (or milk).
More Low Carb Cauliflower Recipes
- Cauliflower fried rice
- Thai cauliflower rice
- Cilantro lime cauliflower rice
- Sesame cauliflower with bell peppers
- Baked mac n cheese with cauliflower
- Cauliflower biscuits
You might also like this list of 25 cauliflower rice recipes!
- 2 lbs cauliflower 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into large florets*
- 1.5 lbs brown mushrooms sliced
- 1 tsp avocado oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth low sodium**
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 3 tbsp parsley finely chopped
- In a food processor, add cauliflower florets in 3-4 batches and process until “rice” forms. The key to proper coarse rice texture is not to overcrowd the bowl of food processor. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
- Preheat large non-stick skillet on medium – high heat and add mushrooms. Cook until golden brown or about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
- Return skillet to medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion and garlic, sauté until translucent or about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add cooked mushrooms, cauliflower “rice”, broth, salt and pepper. Stir, cover and cook for 4 minutes.
- Turn off heat, add Parmesan and mozzarella cheese and parsley; stir until cheese is melted.
- Make ahead: Prepare the cauliflower rice in advance and store it for up to 3 months in the freezer (or 5 days in the fridge). Then, when ready, cook it from frozen, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
- Or use a bag of store bought cauliflower rice. If using frozen, don’t thaw and add a few minutes to cooking time.
- Store: Keep refrigerated in a glass airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat on the stovetop (or in a microwave) gently until warmed through. Add an extra splash (or more) of broth (or milk).
- Sub half of the stock with white wine if you wish.