Cauliflower “Couscous”

Gluten-free, vegan, mock couscous made with steamed ground cauliflower, apples, nuts, and other mix-ins.

Here we present 2 versions of cauliflower "couscous", one with rosemary, lemon zest, almonds, raisins, celery, and apple, the other with orange zest, dried sweetened cranberries, walnuts, green onion, and apple. You could use any combination you want of sweet (raisins, craisins, apple, pear), tangy (lemon zest, orange zest), allium (garlic, green onion, shallots), and nutty (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pecans).

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a side


  • 1 head cauliflower, cored, broken into florets
  • 1/2 cup water (more or less depending on the size of your pan)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Mix-ins Version 1

  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2/3 cup of sliced green onion (green part only)
  • 1 large red apple, cored and diced (peel can stay on)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Mix-ins Version 2

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried, sweetened cranberries (could also use fresh pomegranate arils)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 large apple, cored and diced (peel can stay on)


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1 Place cauliflower florets into a food processor. Pulse several times until the cauliflower looks like a coarse meal, resembling traditional couscous.

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2 Cover the bottom of a large sauté pan with a thin layer of water. Add salt, zest, and an aromatic herb such as rosemary, if using. Bring to a simmer, stir. Add the ground cauliflower to the pot, spreading it out in an even layer. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to the lowest possible simmer setting. Cover the pan and cook/steam for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove cauliflower to a sheet pat to cool.

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3 Heat olive oil in a medium sized non-stick sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped nuts and cook until the nuts begin to brown slightly. If using celery, add the celery and continue to cook until the celery is lightly softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then Add the green onions, raisins or dried cranberries, and diced apple to the pan, and stir to warm through.


4 Place cauliflower and nut apple mixture into a serving bowl and gently stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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  1. Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate

    It’s funny, this is not a new idea and it has crossed my mind to make it about 100 times but I still haven’t gotten around to it. I think it has to do with the fact that cauliflower can be so messy. Well I need to get over that and make some, this looks so good!

  2. Alison@cookingwithfriends

    How clever! I love cauliflower and will definitely try this.

  3. Susan

    What a perfect idea! I’ve never been crazy about cauliflower because first of all, it doesn’t have much flavor, if any. It also has such a grainy texture and it overcooks so quickly that it just falls apart. This recipe takes advantage of all of those traits. Can’t wait to try this!

  4. Nina

    I’m going to try this with orange cauliflower, which will look even more couscous-esque.

  5. Tonya

    I make this with parsnips and it’s great! Cauliflower is next on my list.

  6. Osiaq

    Oh my husband loves it! Thank you!

  7. Deb

    Made this over the weekend, IT IS GREAT! Simple too!!

  8. Kate

    You’ve made a cauliflower lover out of me! I love couscous but do try to keep my grains to a minimum, so I was willing to try this.

    I sauteed the cauliflower in olive oil instead of steaming it and added a little curry powder to my mix – yum! Thank you!

  9. Jacob

    Hi Elise,
    Looks delicious!
    Would the recipe work with frozen caluflower?


    • Kim

      I’ve used frozen cauliflower and it works perfectly. Adjust your cooking time down a bit though

  10. Lynette

    I was a guest at my in-laws for Thanksgiving yesterday. They’d asked me to bring “a vegetable.” I made your cauliflower couscous and it won rave reviews. I made a hybrid version — basically version 1 with orange zest instead of lemon. This really is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish. It is light, and the flavors complement instead of compete with all of the other traditional Turkey Day trimmings. The fact that it can be served warm or at room temperature makes it easy to work into your plans. We loved it! Thanks, Elise.

  11. Mish

    Just made this with version two (cranberry and orange zest) and it’s delicious!!

  12. Marie

    What a great idea!

  13. margaret rivera

    Tried it , it came out delicious!!! Thanks :) served it with grilled salmon.