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Cauliflower rice paella! It is fast, easy and delicious, as well as naturally vegan, grain-free, & keto-friendly (with one simple sub). Only 92 calories per satisfying serving, too.

Make a Healthy All-Vegetable Paella

Traveling home to the San Francisco Bay Area always inspires me with regard to food. Especially when it comes to produce. It isn’t just the produce markets, open air stalls, and my mother’s vegetable garden.

It’s also the simple, innovative vegetable preparations at restaurants and markets big and small that make me excited about recipes and recipe creation all over again.

My August trip was no different, and so I am keeping my pledge (made to myself, in my head :)) to make and share more easy, delicious vegetable dishes. One can only eat so much steamed broccoli and imbibe so many kale smoothies before the need to make something more inspired comes on strong.

An all-vegetable paella is a delectable place to begin!

Nutritional Highlights of Cauliflower Rice Paella

This vibrant dish is:

  • Vegan
  • Grain-free
  • Paleo
  • Keto-friendly (with one simple sub)
  • Gluten-free

Use Cauliflower Rice in Place of Traditional Rice

Cauliflower rice stands in for regular rice in this California-inspired paella. Cauliflower rice is a breeze to prepare (see my DIY cauliflower rice post), but you can also buy ready-to-use cauliflower rice (sold in bags in the produce department of many supermarkets).

Like rice, the cauliflower is a neutral backdrop, showcasing the bold flavors of the dish (e.g., spices, garlic, olive oil). Additionally, it cooks in about 5 minutes, a fraction of the time it take to cook rice.  

The other fresh elements of this paella are readily available and quickly prepared: sliced red bell pepper, chopped onions, garlic, parsley and green peas (these are frozen).

How to Make Cauliflower Rice Paella

After sautéing the onion and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil, minced garlic is added, followed by diced tomatoes, spices and thyme. This paella is already a stretch from the traditional, so I have no problem with using ground turmeric in place of saffron (for golden color as well as flavor).

Before adding the cauliflower, stir in 2/3 cup water, low-sodium vegetable broth or white wine, whichever you prefer. 

Cook and stir for 30 seconds, and then add the cauliflower.  Cook, stirring to coat and combine the cauliflower, for 4 to 5 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Last, remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with the peas. No need to defrost the peas! The heat from the warm ingredients and the pan will defrost and warm them. Cover the pan and let stand for 3 minutes.

Remove the lid, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with optional lemon wedges. Done!

This is hearty enough to be enjoyed as a main dish at lunchtime, or enjoy as a side. It rewarms well, too, so make it ahead of time and pack for several days worth of lunches. YUM!

Happy eating!

Cauliflower Rice Paella {vegan, grain-free, keto, paleo}

Cauliflower Rice Paella {vegan, grain-free, keto, paleo}

Yield: 6 servings

Cauliflower rice paella! It is fast, easy and delicious, as well as naturally vegan, grain-free, keto-friendly and Paleo-friendly. 


  • 1 medium (~6 in/15 cm diameter) head cauliflower, riced (see DIY cauliflower rice post)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) canned, petite-diced tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (more or less to taste)
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) water, white wine or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (250 mL) frozen green peas (see note for KETO)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • Optional: lemon wedges


  1. Begin by making the cauliflower rice. If using packaged cauliflower rice, skip to step 2.
  2. In a paella pan or large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook and stir for 5 to 6 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, cook and stir for 30 seconds longer.
  3. Add the smoked paprika, turmeric, thyme, salt and tomatoes to skillet. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the water; cook and stir 30 seconds and then add the cauliflower. Cook, stirring to coat and combine the cauliflower, for 4 to 5 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle with the peas. Cover pan; let stand for 3 minutes. Remove lid, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with optional lemon wedges.


Storage: Store the completley cooled paella in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to 6 months.

Keto Variation: Use cut frozen cut green beans, thawed, in place of the green peas.

Ready to Use Cauliflower Rice: Fresh bags of ready-to-use cauliflower rice (sometimes called cauliflower pearls) are often available in produce departments, located near bags of salad greens. If using this option, you will need approximately 6 cups (1.5L).

Nutrition Information
Serving Size 1/6 of recip (about 1 cup)
Amount Per Serving Calories 93Total Fat 3.1gSaturated Fat 0.4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 302mgCarbohydrates 14.6gFiber 4.8gSugar 6.4gProtein 4.2g

Did you make this recipe?

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About Camilla

I'm Camilla, food writer, author, runner, and spin instructor. PowerHungry® is where I share my easy, minimalist, plant-based recipes, designed for living a healthy, delicious, empowered life.

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  1. Perhaps puree 1/3rd cup of chickpeas/white beans, with 1/3 veggie broth, plus any tomato juice, & mushrooms, to make a protein rich umami [savory]sauce, & complete vegan dish.

    Serve with garlic bread, scones, rice, or bread pudding, Biscotti, orzo pasta/rice/millet/sorghum/Couscous, [& leave the cauliflower in fine pieces, if one only has standard {non riced) cauliflower] or dinner roll [to sop clean the bowl], etc. if one isn’t avoiding carbs/grains.

    If one IS avoiding carbs/grains, they could still mix in a vegan protein such as: ground almonds, white beans, chickpeas, yellow split peas, red lentils, etc., to make it even more nutritious, filling, & still plant based.

    One could also add various herbs, for color & taste.

    A fruity dessert [cobbler, pie, or 100% fruit sorbet, Mixed fresh fruit, etc.] would be a nice finishing touch

  2. I made this today. It was absolutely delicious. I did add some mushrooms to use up veg I needed to get rid of. Thank you for the recipe!

  3. I made this recipe today for a big crowd and it was AH-mazing!!!
    Added in some grilled zucchini and portobello mushrooms and it was scrumptious!

    For some reason, I cannot print the recipe from this website.

    1. Hi Karen,
      Bell pepper and garlic are typical ingredients I paella, I would leave them in and add in whatever other ingredients you like.