Vegan Cauliflower Rice “Risotto” with Asparagus & Mushrooms

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Vegan Cauliflower Rice Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms

I went a little overboard on the cauliflower rice this week. With the #EatYourDaily10 challenge fully underway, I accidentally bought 4 bags of prepared cauliflower rice. I forgot that I had already bought 2 pounds of cauliflower rice at Trader Joe’s, and then picked up another 2 pounds of cauliflower at Coscto. Whoops.

Guess who’s eating a LOT of cauliflower this week?

Luckily, I needed most of that rice to get this recipe just right. I’ve seen several recipes for cauliflower “risotto” out there, but many of them call for several types of cheese (and quite a lot of them at that!) which I think kind of defeats the point of this “healthy makeover.” I wanted to make this Cauliflower Rice Risotto completely dairy-free and vegan, and the resulting recipe has plenty of flavor without the need for cheese. Of course, you’re always welcome to add a sprinkling of cheese, vegan or otherwise, right before serving, if you’d like to.

Vegan Cauliflower Rice Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms on a plate

I use the term “risotto” very lightly when it comes to this recipe, because I think the term risotto technically refers to a method of cooking rice. We’re not cooking real rice here, so you won’t have the traditional texture that comes in the classic version, and I’ve also omitted the butter to keep it vegan. Oh, and I left out the wine because I never have wine on hand. I’ve always found that I can usually substitute a touch of balsamic vinegar for wine in most recipes, and I think in works well in this case, too.

Essentially, I’ve created a cauliflower risotto recipe that is:

  • Alcohol-free
  • Dairy-free and vegan
  • Gluten-free and grain-free
  • Low-carb
  • Low in calories
  • Ready in 30 minutes or less
  • And totally delicious

It’s probably unlike any “real” risotto that you’ve ever tried. Feel free to call it a cauliflower rice stir-fry if you’d prefer. Either way, it’s super delicious so I hope you’ll enjoy it. As written, this recipe serves two adults as a full meal, but it could probably serve four if you serve it with a side dish, or as a side dish.

vegan cauliflower rice "risotto" with asparagus and mushrooms in a pan
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4.91 from 10 votes

Vegan Cauliflower Rice "Risotto" with Asparagus & Mushrooms

This Cauliflower Rice Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms is the best low-carb alternative. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Vegan Cauliflower Rice "Risotto" with Asparagus & Mushrooms
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 156kcal


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion , diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms , sliced
  • 12 ounces asparagus , cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon high quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
  • 1 pound cauliflower rice
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • Fine sea salt
  • Sliced green onions , for garnish
  • Black pepper , for garnish


  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the onion until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes, then add in the mushrooms and asparagus and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • If you haven't purchased prepared cauliflower rice for convenience, this would be a good time to to prepare the rice while the vegetables are sauteeing. Simply break up a head of cauliflower into florets and then pulse them in a food processor, or grate them with a box grater, to create a rice-like texture.
  • Add in the garlic, balsamic vinegar, and thyme and sauté for another minute. Add in the prepared cauliflower rice, coconut milk, and 1 teaspoon of salt, then stir well.
  • Bring the coconut milk to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Lower the heat and let the vegetables cook until the cauliflower rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid. If any excess liquid remains at the bottom of the pan, you can raise the heat to simmer it off. Adjust any seasoning to taste, adding more salt if desired. (I added another 1/2 teaspoon to mine-- I find that cauliflower needs quite a bit of seasoning!)
  • Serve warm with sliced green onions and black pepper on top. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.


Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 1173mg | Potassium: 534mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1050IU | Vitamin C: 73.4mg | Calcium: 240mg | Iron: 3.2mg
Per Serving: Calories: 156, Fat: 9g, Carbohydrates: 9g, Fiber: 7g, Protein: 6g

Vegan Cauliflower Rice Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms on a plate

Substitution Notes:

  • I’ve tested this recipe using lemon juice and red wine vinegar instead of the balsamic, and both versions turned out fine. I prefer the flavor of the balsamic vinegar more, but feel free to use what you have on hand and just adjust the seasonings to your taste. (The longer the balsamic vinegar has aged, the better it will taste, too. I used one that was aged for a minimum of 3 years.)
  • If asparagus isn’t in season where you live, I’ve also tested this recipe using fresh green beans, and that was delicious, too. I imagine a number of seasonal veggies could be used throughout the year.
  • The coconut milk in this recipe adds creaminess, but you can replace it with water or almond milk for a lower-fat and coconut-free version. I used water and added a 1/4 cup of tahini during one recipe trial, and that also added creaminess as an alternative.
  • Because this is a skillet meal, you can pretty much make any changes you want to and just taste as you go. If you make any other substitutions please let us know in the comments below so we can all benefit from your experience.


Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite way to enjoy cauliflower rice? 


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Izzy Bruning

WOW – I can’t wait to try this!!!
Izzy | Pinch of delight


Hi Megan,
Thanks for this recipe – can’t wait to try it!
Is the “coconut milk” in this recipe referring to canned coconut milk, or unsweetened coconut beverage (like Silk or Coconut Dream)?


Amazingly delicious and super satiating. Haven’t made one of you recipes that wasn’t loved by my family. Thank you Megan, for all your work that we are all benefiting from!


I just made his for lunch at it is so, so good. I don’t know how you consistently come up with such winning recipes but thank you!


    Geez…I just noticed all my typos! Sorry!


I really want to make this but I can’t find the recipe. Is there some kind of glitch?


I just tried this recipe. I didn’t have asparagus on hand so I added spinach at the very end. It turned out great!


So glad I found your site! I already see a few recipes that look amazing and I will try them this week!! Thank you for the inspiration!!


Does this call for the canned coconut milk or the kind you drink & find in the refrigerated section? Thank you!

    Megan Gilmore

    I used the canned kind, but I think any type would work for this particular recipe.


Hi Megan, do you think this recipe could be cooked successfully using the Instant Pot?

    Megan Gilmore

    It might be soggier in the Instant Pot, but you could always use the “saute” function at the end to help simmer off any excess liquid.


Hi Megan,

I am excited to try this recipe. Do you have to use coconut milk? or could I use regular milk?


Carolyn Tsourakis

We used vegetable stock for the coconut milk. It was great! Doubled up on the asparagus & garlic and went without the mushrooms as my husband doesn’t eat fungi. Really enjoyed this recipe a lot. You can take it so many directions depending on your diet and taste preferences.

Maria Comstock

I just made this with leeks, shiitake, hen of the woods and portabella mushrooms. I didn’t have any thyme, so I put in some Bell seasoning. I was looking for a recipe with cashew cheese, but this worked out just fine!


Wonderful easy vegan meal.
Thank you!


Thank you for inspiration. Delicious and easy vegan meal!

January Leavell

Wish the nutritional info was included in the recipe. It would make it so much easier to see if it fit my needs.


So good! I used frozen cauliflower florets thawed under cold water before ricing in my processor. 5 stars for this easy, tasty, healthy & budget friendky recipe. Thank you!

Celeste klinE

Why do I see sprigs of tarragon in this photo… it’s not listed as an ingredient in the recipe

Andrew Debnam

Just cooked this for my wife who’s (constantly?) on a diet. She doesn’t believe it’s under 160 calories a portion (is this reliable?) but she was very impressed and loves the recipe. Thank you for sharing it.

Heather McGrath

I made this for a friend last night, my guinea pig friend oh, that’s why I like to try different recipes on her. We both absolutely loved it. I did add a couple things on my own… Coconut milk and Curry go hand-in-hand oh, I added a little Curry and I also added about a quarter of a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Yum!


Hey! can i use almond milk and tahini instead of coconut milk?


This recipe was so good! I made it for 3 people, but the portion size came out HUGE! This is a great meal prep and whole30 dish – thank you for sharing! Totally satisfied my craving for risotto 🙂


I just made my 1st risotto and so glad I did, it tasted delicious! 😀 Great recipe and it’s even dairy-free!
I also wanted to thank you for the very clear and precise instructions (number of minutes per vegetable, etc.), instead of judging when it’s done, as well as amounts, even with salt, herbs and wine. When you don’t have any references, this is really helpful. The only thing I changed was adding red wine instead of balsamic vinegar.


Can you start with frozen cauliflower rice or is fresh best?

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