Cauliflower 'Couscous'

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

Cauliflower Couscous
Elise Bauer

These days so many people are avoiding wheat or gluten. My mother and I are both sensitive to gluten, so we eat foods containing it sparingly, and often look for gluten-free versions of ingredients such as pasta.

That's why when a friend introduced me to the idea to make a mock couscous out of cauliflower (an idea she got from Chef Eric Ripert), my ears perked up.

Cauliflower couscous? Why not? Of course nothing beats true, steamed to perfection, durum wheat couscous. But for those of us avoiding wheat, cauliflower couscous is a tasty and practical solution.

Cauliflower couscous
Elise Bauer

Making cauliflower couscous couldn't be easier. You just grind up fresh cauliflower florets in a food processor until they resemble couscous. Steam the cauliflower in just enough water to coat the bottom of a pan. Then lightly sauté some nuts, fruit, and onions and toss with the "couscous".

It tastes great! And it's vegan. Consider it for a holiday side if you have guests who are vegetarian or gluten-free.

Cauliflower 'Couscous'

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 servings

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).


  • 1 head cauliflower, cored, broken into florets (see How to Cut and Core Cauliflower)

  • 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 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped

  • 2 ribs celery, diced

  • 2/3 cup 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 tablespoon extra virgin 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)

Special Equipment

  • Food processor


  1. Process cauliflower florets in food processor:

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

    pulse cauliflower in food processor
    Elise Bauer
  2. Steam ground cauliflower in sauté pan:

    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.

    infuse oil with rosemary for cauliflower couscous
    Elise Bauer

    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.

    simmer ground cauliflower for couscous
    Elise Bauer
    steam cauliflower for cauliflower rice
    Elise Bauer

    Remove from heat. Remove cauliflower to a sheet pan to cool.

    spread cooked cauliflower out in sheet pan for couscous
    Elise Bauer
  3. Brown nuts, cook celery, add green onions, raisins, apples:

    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.

    heat mixins for cauliflower couscous
    Elise Bauer
  4. Combine and serve:

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

    Elise Bauer
Cauliflower Couscous
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
242 Calories
12g Fat
33g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 242
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 403mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 7g 26%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 72mg 360%
Calcium 85mg 7%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 573mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.