Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowl

by | Oct 3, 2023

This Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowl recipe is a game-changer for looking for a quick weeknight meal packed with flavor and nutrition. This customizable bowl features a base of cauliflower rice topped with any protein and colorful veggies of your choice. Plus, you only need one cooking pan for easy clean up.

Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowls with tofu or shrimp

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Why you’ll love it

Every time we’ve tested this Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowl, we’ve come to the same conclusion. It’s super easy and always tastes delicious.

Plus, it’s a perfect recipe if you’re looking to skip a grocery run and use up what you have on hand. You get to use your choice of protein (shrimp, chicken, tofu, black beans, chickpeas, etc.), and any of your favorite veggies on hand. That’s right – show those veggies sitting in the back of your fridge some love. 😉

Plus, with these options to customize, you can tailor this bowl to your unique taste preferences and dietary needs. Check out my customizable protein bowl template too.

Is this protein bowl healthy?

This Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowl is packed with nutrients! Cauliflower is low in calories but filled with fiber, vitamin C and folate, making it an fun alternative to traditional rice every so often. 

The protein of your choice supports our muscles, while the colorful array of vegetables provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies healthy.

The dish is finished off with healthy fats and vitamin E from the avocado slices. The monounsaturated fats found in avocados help support healthy cholesterol levels which can lower your risk of heart disease.

Two Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowls

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Cauliflower – This versatile vegetable is the star of the show, offering a low-carb alternative to traditional rice. You can find fresh cauliflower in the produce section of your local grocery store, or save time with pre-chopped cauliflower rice available in the frozen food aisle.
  • Protein – Pick your favorite protein to add a satisfying and protein-packed element to the bowl. For meat options, look for fresh or frozen varieties in the meat or seafood section. For plant-based options like tofu or black beans, check the canned goods or refrigerated tofu section.
  • Lime Juice – This zesty ingredient brings a burst of citrus flavor to the dish. Freshly squeezed lime juice offers the best taste, so grab a couple of juicy limes from the produce section.
  • Sauce – A umami-rich sauce enhances the overall savory taste. You can find soy sauce or gluten-free tamari in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores. We’ve also been enjoying using coconut aminos which is gluten-free and flower in sodium than most options.
  • Vegetables – Customize your bowl with a colorful array of extra vegetables. Don’t hesitate to mix and match to your heart’s content!
  • Cilantro – This fresh herb adds a pop of flavor and a delightful fragrance to the bowl. Find fresh cilantro near other fresh herbs in the produce section. You can even use a sprinkle of dried cilantro if you don’t have fresh.
  • Avocado – Creamy and nutritious, avocado makes a fantastic topping. Look for ripe avocados that have a slightly softness when given gentle pressure.

How do you make this cauliflower rice protein bowl?

This cauliflower bowl is broken up into different steps, but comes together in no time. The main thing to pay attention to is the cooking time of various protein options you might use. Here we’ll break down how you can cook each protein in a skillet over the stove top.

1. Cooking chicken

When cooking chicken, it’s important to ensure it reaches 165ºF. You could also cut down on the cooking time by using pre-cooked chicken in the deli section. Either way, make sure to cut the chicken into small 1-inch cubes before cooking in a pan. 

Cooked chicken: Cook for 3-4 minutes to warm up

Uncooked (raw) chicken: Cook for ~6-7 minutes per side 

2. Cooking shrimp

Shrimp cooks in a skillet very quickly so keep an eye on it to avoid overcooking. You could also use pre-cooked shrimp here.

Cooked shrimp: Cook for 2 minutes to warm up

Uncooked shrimp: Cook for 3-4 minutes

3. Cooking tofu

I love using tofu in everything from tofu tacos to power bowls. You can buy it in bulk or just one package. Be sure to read this guide on how to press tofu before beginning. For this recipe, I like using my hands to crumble them up into pieces before cooking.

Pressed and crumbled tofu: Cook for 6-8 minutes

4. Cooking canned beans

Having canned beans in your pantry is a great way to have a protein-packed staple at the ready. You can use any type of canned bean such as black beans, garbanzo beans, or white beans. Cooking is optional, but it’s nice to warm it up.

Canned beans: Cook for 2 minutes to warm up in the skillet


4. Other protein options

You might choose to use another protein option such as ground beef, plant-based meat, edamame, eggs, or others. Look up a simple guide to cooking these in a skillet, then feel free to use it in Step 2 of this recipe. 

Cook cauliflower rice and veggies

After you’ve cooked your protein, add it alongside the browned cauliflower rice and veggies. You can do this in the same pan you cooked your protein in to save on dishes!

Tips and tricks

  • Serving Tips: This Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowl is delicious on its own, but you can also serve it with a dollop of Greek yogurt or a drizzle of hot sauce for added creaminess or heat. We also often like to serve with tortilla chips for extra crunch!
  • Troubleshooting Tips: If you’re finding yourself in need of more flavor add the end, feel free to add an extra splash of soy sauce or season with salt and pepper.
  • Scaling Tips: Feel free to double or triple the ingredient quantities based on your desired serving size.

Customize it your way

Like all of my other recipes, this cauliflower bowl is completely customizable. You get to choose what protein, sauce, and veggies you want to use.

Protein of your choice

Here are some popular options for these bowls. See cooking instructions for these options above!

  • Chicken 
  • Shrimp
  • Tofu
  • Canned beans

Sauce of your choice

There are 4 different types of umami based sauces that work well for this recipe:

  • Soy sauce or low sodium version (contains gluten and soy)
  • Tamari (gluten-free)
  • Coconut aminos (gluten-free and soy-free)
  • Yondu Vegetable Umami (gluten-free)
Crumbled tofu in a bowl

Veggies of your choice

Along with the cauliflower, feel free to saute any additional quick-cooking veggies of your choice. Here are some ideas that pair well with the southwest flavors:

  • Bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Corn
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowls on white backdrop

Can I make this protein bowl ahead of time? 

Absolutely! Feel free to cook up this recipe and then divide the components among 4 meal prep containers to enjoy throughout the week. 

How do I store leftovers? 

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. When ready to serve, reheat in the microwave for about 2 minutes until warmed through.

Need more help with recipes for your busy schedule?

In my coaching + cooking program, I help busy people with beginner cooking knowledge become confident in the kitchen so that they can enjoy nourishing foods they love and stress less about mealtime. Click here to learn more about this virtual program led by a dietitian.

Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowl Feature scaled

Cauliflower Rice Protein Bowl

Mackenzie Burgess, RDN
This customizable bowl features a base of cauliflower rice topped with any protein and colorful veggies of your choice. Plus, you only need one cooking pan for easy clean up.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 380 kcal


  • 14 to 16 ounces protein of your choice (shrimp, chicken, pressed and crumbled tofu, canned and drained black beans, chickpeas, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice or about 1 lime, juiced – divided
  • 2 tablespoons sauce of your choice (soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos) – divided
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil – divided
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cauliflower rice* I typically use 1 -10 ounce bag
  • 3 cups vegetables of your choice, diced (peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, corn, kale, tomatoes, etc.)


  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or 1 tablespoon dried cilantro
  • 1 large ripe avocado, sliced
  • Lime wedges, for garnishing


  • In a large bowl combine protein, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce. Mix until protein is fully coated with spices. 
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan to medium-high heat. Add protein to the pan and fully cook through.** Once the protein is cooked, transfer to a bowl covered with foil and set aside to stay warm.
  • To the same pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the cauliflower rice and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside. 
  • Then to the cauliflower rice pan, add over vegetables of choice, remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Stir and sauté mixture for 3-4 minutes, until warmed through.
  • Once everything is cooked, distribute cauliflower veggie mixture among 4 serving bowls and top with the protein. Evenly garnish with cilantro, avocado, and lime.



*Cauliflower Rice Note: You can also make your own cauliflower rice by taking ~1 small head cauliflower (or ½ large head) and roughly chop into florets. Then, add this cauliflower into food processor and pulse until it’s small and has the texture of rice.
**Cooking Note: See the blog post above for specific cooking instructions for all protein options. Here is a general timing guideline:
  • Cooked chicken: Cook for 3-4 minutes to warm up
  • Uncooked chicken: Cook for ~6-7 minutes per side
  • Cooked shrimp: Cook for 2 minutes to warm up
  • Uncooked shrimp: Cook for 3-4 minutes
  • Pressed and crumbled tofu: Cook for 6-8 minutes
  • Canned beans: Cook for 2 minutes to warm up
  • Cooking another type of protein? Look up a basic cooking guide before adding into Step #2.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 380kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 39gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 270mgFiber: 7gSugar: 8g
Tried this recipe?Tag us @cheerfulchoices and let us know how it was!

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Hi, I'm Mackenzie...

nice to meet you!

I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and recipe developer. I create simple recipes with customizable ingredients “of your choice.” I also help busy people gain kitchen confidence through my hands-on program.

Need more hands-on help?

In my coaching + cooking program, I help busy people with beginner cooking knowledge become confident in the kitchen. Click here to learn more about this virtual program with a dietitian!

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