Cauliflower Rice Paella

I’m on such a cauli rice kick these days. I love when I “discover” something that opens a whole bunch or new paleo doors for me. I feel like I’ve avoided making cauli rice for so long because it seemed like such a pain. But it’s really not! The first time I started experimenting with it was when I made my Pineapple Fried Cauli Rice. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, I knew my next experiment would have to be a paella.

I’ve been wanting to try a Spanish paella for awhile and I didn’t want it to be some half-A paella. I really wanted to get it just right, the flavors, the textures everything! I wanted it to have the same authentic flavors of a traditional Spanish paella. Not some sloppy paleo version.

As far as the proteins to add in, you can switch it up a bit. Traditionally a paella has clams and mussels but because the East Coast has been having some crummy weather Whole Foods was out of fresh clams and mussels. And I have to admit, I was secretly relieved because I’m not a fan. But if you like them, by all means add them because a paella traditionally should have them.

One trick I used that I think really enhanced the flavor of this was using the same cast iron skillet to cook each protein individually. You’ll see in the recipe, but essentially cook your chicken thighs, remove. In that same chicken goodness-y pan, you’ll cook the chorizo, then remove. In the chorizo goodness cook the shrimp. You get the idea. It’s awesome! And leave the shells on the shrimp, it add so much more flavor. In order to devein it, get your kitchen shears out and cut the shell where the vein is and clean. But leave the rest in tact. And when you salt and pepper them, really rub it into the shrimp, shell and all. Paellas all about flavor and I thought every step of the way on how to enhance it.

This really is such a special dish. Paellas always seem so celebratory to me, although I’m not sure why. My grandmother was from Spain, so it was something that my mom made occasionally and that I always loved and looked forward to. Or when it’s ordered at a Spanish restaurant, it’s ordered for the whole table, not just a single serving. With that being said, it seems in my mind to be the perfect dish to serve to guests or family. It does take a bit of time, with cooking each protein up separately, but trust me. it’s worth it.

This dish is also easy to make Whole30 compliant. My only concern would be the chorizo. You can either make your own or closely check your ingredients. If you choose to make your own, don’t worry about casing it, just add the ground chorizo. It’s the flavors that you really want in there anyways, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a link or not.

The end result is a bomb paella. I had to kick my husband out of the kitchen because he kept eating it before I snapped my photo. Comment below if you have any questions!

AMAZING Cauliflower Rice Paella from the Whole Smiths. It's hard to believe it's grain-free. Paleo friendly and Whole30 compliant.

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5 from 1 vote

cauli rice paella

A traditional Spanish paella made with cauli rice
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: dinner / main
Cuisine: Paleo
Servings: 6
Author: the whole smiths


  • 1.5 heads of cauliflower
  • 2 TBSP ghee
  • 3 chicken thighs deboned and cut into pieces
  • 2 chorizo links cut into quarters
  • 1 lb shrimp deveined w shell on
  • 3/4 lb scallops
  • 2 lobster tails
  • 1/2 yellow onion quartered
  • 3/4 C. chicken broth
  • 1 & 1/4 C crushed tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP smoked paprika
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 pines of saffron strands
  • 1/4 C chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper


  • In blender or food processor break down cauliflower and pulse until size of rice granules, set aside
  • In a large cast iron skillet heat 2 TBSP of ghee on medium high heat
  • Salt and pepper both sides of chicken things
  • Once ghee is hot place chicken thighs skin side down in pan, cook for 4 minutes each side and remove
  • Add chorizo pieces to pan and cook through, turning pieces to ensure even cooking
  • Once chorizo is cooked through, remove and set aside
  • Salt and pepper shrimp
  • Add to pan and cook 2-3 minutes each side until cooked through
  • Remove shrimp from pan and set aside
  • Add additional ghee if needed to pan
  • Add scallops to pan and cook through roughly 3 minutes each side depending on size
  • Remove and set aside scallops
  • Add lobster to pan belly side down and cover w lid, straight on to pan
  • After 3 minutes flip lobster, place lid over again and cook for a remaining 3 minutes
  • Remove from pan
  • Add onions (and additional oil if needed) to pan and cook until translucent, remove
  • Add chicken stock to pan and deglaze, scraping bits off
  • In a separate large pan add cauliflower rice
  • Add chicken stock from cast iron skillet to cauliflower rice and cook on medium high
  • Add crushed tomatoes and onions to cauli rice and bring to boil on medium high heat
  • Add paprika, saffron and chili powder, stir to combine thoroughly
  • Cook until "rice" is soft and tender but not soggy
  • Add all seafood and chicken into pan and combine
  • Continue to cook another five minutes or until most liquid has boiled down
  • Sprinkle parsley over top and serve
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    1. Have you had a chance to make it yet? I wasn’t a big fan of cauli rice at first, but once I started adding yummy stuff into it I was sold! lol

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! I made this right after you posted the recipe and have had it for dinner practically every day every since 😛

  2. I’m just about to make this for the first time. Do you mean a couple of pinches of saffron threads? I’m pretty sure you did, since I can’t find anything related to pines and saffron except a brand.