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Spanish Cauliflower Rice (With Chorizo, Chicken & Shrimp)

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Paella-inspired Spanish Cauliflower Rice with shrimp, chicken and chorizo is healthy and delicious, perfect for a grain-free, low-carb dinner. Cauliflower is chopped into rice-like kernels and cooked in a fabulous sofrito of onions, garlic and red sweet peppers.


Spanish Cauliflower Rice With Chorizo, Chicken & Shrimp

Updated: This recipe was originally published in 2013, one of my earliest creations. It has since been updated with new photos and extra copy. Photography by Lindsay Fordham, recipe by Irena Macri.

Spanish Cauliflower Rice

This cauliflower Spanish rice is inspired by the traditional Spanish dish known as paella. I didn’t want to call it that as such because it features chorizo – a no-no in a paella if you ask a Spaniard – and it’s not made with proper paella rice, so I kind of feel like I would be bastardizing the dish too much. So, Spanish cauliflower rice it is!

In terms of flavours, it has those beautiful hints of paprika and saffron (if you can afford it) as well as plenty of onions, garlic and red peppers cooked down into gorgeous, caramelised sofrito.

This riced cauliflower recipe works as a main dish and is satiating and nutritionally balanced. It’s grain-free, gluten-free, low-carb, paleo, and Whole30 friendly.

Cauliflower Spanish Rice With Chicken, Chorizo & Shrimp

What Is Sofrito?

A Sofrito ( also known as sofregit, soffritto, or refogado) refers to a cooking method or an element used in the Mediterranean, Latin American, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese cooking.

It features aromatic ingredients like onions, garlic and often carrots, celery, peppers or tomatoes, cut into small pieces and sautéed or braised in cooking oil until soft and translucent. Sofrito serves as a flavourful base for sauces or to coat other foods in and it’s essential for paella and also for this cauliflower Spanish rice version.

What Is Sofrito?

Ingredients For Spanish Cauli Rice

Cauliflower rice: you will need about 1 head of cauliflower to make 5 cups of cauliflower rice. You can also use pre-chopped, store-bought cauliflower rice or even frozen cauliflower rice.

Protein: good-quality chorizo (look for the Spanish kind, with lots of paprika) or another type of sausage if you can’t find it; chicken breast or thighs; and shrimp/prawns, which can be raw, cooked or frozen.  

For sofrito: lots of olive oil, onion, garlic, red sweet pepper (bell pepper/capsicum), chili, sweet and smoked paprika, white wine, vegetable or chicken stock, and tomato paste. I love adding some saffron or saffron powder for that authentic paella flavour BUT it is expensive and not always accessible so it’s optional in this recipe.

Plus: a little salt and pepper, lemon juice and green onion for garnish. 

Cauliflower Spanish Rice Ingredients

How To Make Spanish Cauliflower Rice

Prep the cauliflower. Using a processor, or chopping by hand, dice cauliflower into small, rice-size crumbs. Set aside. If using frozen cauliflower rice, measure out 4-5 cups and pop it in the microwave to defrost. Alternatively, add to a large bowl and cover with boiling hot water for 10-15 seconds, then strain and set aside.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients and have everything ready before you start cooking this dish.

Step 1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook on both sides for 1-2 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Remove chorizo to a plate but reserve the fat/oil that oozed from the sausage. 

Step 2. Add the prawns and cook on each side for 1 minute, sprinkle with a little salt and remove to a plate. 

Step 3. Finally, add the chicken with a little more olive oil if the pan starts getting sticky. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few pinches of pepper. Cook chicken for about 6-7 minutes, until slightly browned on all sides. Remove to a side plate as well. Note: it will cook for a little longer once we add the cauliflower rice into the dish. 

Cooking chicken for paella Spanish rice

Step 4. Keeping the heat on medium, add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the same frying pan. Add the onions, red peppers, chilli and a good pinch of salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times. Add garlic, paprika and saffron if using. Stir through for 10 seconds to release the aromas. 

Step 5. Add white wine and let it bubble away for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and stock and cook on low heat for 5 minutes until onions and red peppers have softened and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Step 6: At this stage, add the pre-cooked chorizo (reserve a few slices for styling) and chicken together with the cauliflower ‘rice’. Mix through and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times, until the cauliflower has softened slightly but is still a little crunchy. You can add a little more oil or/and stock if the pan gets a little sticky or it feels like you need more liquid. 

Step 7. Finally, stir in the pre-cooked prawns and drizzle with lemon juice to finish things off. Serve with some chopped green onions and a sprinkle of paprika.

Cauliflower Spanish rice Paella style

Nutrition Notes

This Spanish cauliflower rice dish is high in protein and fibre, satiating yet not heavy, and balanced in most essential nutrients. In fact, I would call it nutrient-dense, especially high in B-vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron, and antioxidant-potent vitamins C and E. It’s grain-free, gluten-free, low-carb, paleo, and Whole30 friendly.

Nutrition Macros

Per serve: 499 calories, 19.9 g total carbs, 6.1 g fibre (13.8 g net carbs), 38.4 g protein, 28.7 g fat.

More Spanish Recipes

Fulls Recipes & Ingredients

Find the full list of ingredients, instructions and extra cooking notes below. If you have questions or cook this recipe, please let me know in the comments and make sure to rate this recipe so it’s easy for others to find.

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Description

Learn how to make Paella-inspired Spanish Cauliflower Rice with shrimp, chicken and chorizo. Made with a fabulous sofrito of onions, garlic and red sweet peppers, this dish is healthy and delicious, perfect for a grain-free, low-carb dinner.


  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets and chopped finely, you need about 5 cups (see notes above, alternatively you can use 5 cups of store-bought cauliflower rice) 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 x medium good-quality chorizo sausages, skin off and sliced (look for Spanish kind, with lots of paprika) 
  • 12 prawns/shrimp, peeled and deveined, keep the tails on 
  • 1 chicken breast or 2 chicken thighs, diced into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum pepper, diced into small cubes
  • 1/2 long red chilli, diced finely 
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron powder or a few saffron threads (this is optional, you don’t have to buy it or use it)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 green onion, for garnish (you can also use parsley)


  1. Prep the cauliflower. Using a processor, or chopping by hand, dice cauliflower into small, rice-size crumbs. Set aside. 
  2. Prepare the rest of the ingredients and have everything ready before you start cooking this dish.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook on both sides for 1-2 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Remove chorizo to a plate but reserve the fat/oil that oozed from the sausage. 
  4. Add the prawns and cook on each side for 1 minute, sprinkle with a little salt and remove to a plate. 
  5. Finally, add the chicken with a little more olive oil if the pan starts getting sticky. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few pinches of pepper. Cook chicken for about 6-7 minutes, until slightly browned on all sides. Remove to a side plate as well. Note: it will cook for a little longer once we add the cauliflower rice into the dish. 
  6. Keeping the heat on medium, add 2 more tablespoons of olive to the same frying pan. Add the onions, red peppers, chilli and a good pinch of salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times. Add garlic, paprika and saffron if using. Stir through for 10 seconds to release the aromas. 
  7. Add white wine and let it bubble away for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and stock and cook on low heat for 5 minutes until onions and red peppers have softened and the sauce has thickened slightly.
  8. At this stage, add the pre-cooked chorizo (reserve a few slices for styling) and chicken together with the cauliflower ‘rice’. Mix through and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times, until the cauliflower has softened slightly but is still a little crunchy. You can add a little more oil or/and stock if the pan gets a little sticky or it feels like you need more liquid. 
  9. Finally, stir in the prawns and drizzle with lemon juice to finish things off. 
  10. Serve with some chopped green onions and a sprinkle of paprika.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 499
  • Sugar: 7.9 g
  • Sodium: 849.7 mg
  • Fat: 28.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 19.9 g
  • Fiber: 6.1 g
  • Protein: 38.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 157.1 mg

Keywords: Paella, Cauliflower Rice, Spanish, Rice, Skillet, Low-Carb, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Healthy Dinner


Storage, Freezing & Reheating

  • You can store cauliflower rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  • To freeze, cool the Spanish Cauliflower Rice and store in an airtight, freezer-safe container or plastic bag for up to 3 months.
  • Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat thoroughly in a frying pan with a little oil. Otherwise, reheat in the microwave for 2-4 minutes, until warmed through.

More Cauliflower Recipes

Spanish Cauliflower Rice (With Chorizo, Chicken & Shrimp)



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