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Cheesy Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Leeks

This cheesy cauliflower risotto with caramelized leeks is so satisfying - you're going to reach for seconds. This will become your favorite cauliflower side dish.

Riced cauliflower is sauteed with caramelized leeks, and cheddar cheese is added to make this dish rich and creamy - and even MORE delicious than rice risotto.

If you're looking for more healthier, low-carb or keto dinner ideas, give this cauliflower risotto a try!

bowl of cauliflower risotto

Is there anything cauliflower can't do??

Cauliflower is definitely the most satisfying and versatile vegetable out there. There's so much you can do with it to really recreate the flavors and textures of traditional carb-heavy foods.

I've previously shared my Cauliflower Grits recipe, and now I am using cauliflower in a similar way to make a creamy cauliflower risotto.

cauliflower risotto up close on a fork

Be sure to also check out this low-carb mashed cauliflower with cream cheese!

Cauliflower risotto

Risotto is typically made from rice - it is a rich and creamy-tasting rice dish, with the rice being almost "overcooked" to give it a porridge-like texture. 

In this recipe, I recreate that same creaminess using "cauliflower rice," cheese, and a bit of vegetable (or chicken) stock. I also add caramelized leeks for lots of flavor (more on that later).

bowl of cauliflower risotto with leeks

Cauliflower "rice"

This recipe uses cauliflower rice (aka riced cauliflower). All that means is it's cauliflower that has been grated into small rice-like pieces. Cauliflower rice can also be made by pulsing cauliflower florets in a food processor.

grated cauliflower "grits"

Luckily you can buy riced cauliflower in most large grocery stores now, which saves you about 10 minutes of prep time and you can start cooking immediately!

Caramelized leeks

The ingredient that gives this cauliflower risotto lots of flavor is leeks. Leeks have such a nice slightly sweet flavor when they are cooked and allowed to brown a little, they are one of my favorite ingredients!

I use leeks in my Sweet Potato and Leek Soup, Asparagus Leek Soup, and in my Sweet Potato Leek Potato Fritters recipes. Go check them out.

Cooking with leeks

Here are my top tips for cooking with leeks:

1. Slice the leeks first, then wash them. Leeks have lots of little layers to them, and dirt often gets trapped in between. If you wash before chopping, you might find lots of dirt as you start slicing.


2. Dry the leeks thoroughly. This allows them to get nicely caramelized and browned instead of steamed in the extra water. Use a salad spinner to dry the leeks. You'll be SHOCKED at how much water comes out of rinsed and drained sliced leeks (or chopped lettuce, for that matter). I LOVE my salad spinner.

sliced leek in a salad spinner

3. Allow leeks to brown a little. That's where all the flavor is. 🙂

sauteing leeks

How to make cauliflower risotto

This recipe starts by sauteing leeks in olive oil until they are caramelized (see above for tips!).

Then you add the riced cauliflower and vegetable stock (or chicken stock)... or water if you don't feel like opening a container of stock! Just a little liquid to help steam the cauliflower and make it creamier.

cooking cauliflower risotto

Then you add the cheese. Lots of cheese. I love plain old cheddar for this recipe, but feel free to add your favorite cheese. Gouda would be fantastic!

cooking cheesy cauliflower risotto with leeks

Garnish with some fresh herbs, and serve!

This recipe makes a GREAT healthy side dish for roast pork (see my 30 minute roast pork loin recipe), grilled chicken (see my recipe for the BEST chicken marinade), or any protein of your choice.

cauliflower risotto with caramelized leeks and pork loin

Psst! Love cauliflower? ME TOO! Check out my other cauliflower recipes:

Did you enjoy this recipe?? Share a photo on Instagram and tag me in it! @babaganoshblog. And don't forget to share this recipe on Facebook and save it for later on Pinterest:

cauliflower risotto with leeks pin graphic

bowl of cauliflower risotto with leeks
Print Recipe
4.84 from 6 votes

Cheesy Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Leeks

Cheesy Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Leeks is going to be your new favorite vegetable side dish! It's super satisfying, tasty, easy to make, and low carb and keto.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Kosher, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Kate


  • ½ lb leeks - (2 small or 1 large leek, about 3 cups diced leeks) - see notes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lb riced cauliflower - (from 1 medium-large cauliflower, see notes)
  • ½ cup vegetable broth - (or chicken broth or water, see notes)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice - (from ½ lime or lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon salt - (or more, to taste)
  • black pepper - to taste
  • optional garnish, such as diced scallion or cilantro leaves -


  • Thinly slice the leeks and thoroughly clean them. Dry them well, in a salad spinner, if you have one.
  • In a large 12-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat and add the sliced leeks. Saute for 10-15 minutes, or until the leeks are nicely caramelized and reduced in size by about half, stirring often. (Rice the cauliflower during this time if you are starting with a whole head of cauliflower).
  • Add the riced cauliflower and ½ cup vegetable broth, and stir well. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the shredded cheese, lime or lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked to your liking, stirring every few minutes. Serve warm, with additional freshly ground black pepper and scallions or cilantro for garnish.


  • I recommend rinsing the sliced leek in a large bowl to make sure you get all the dirt out, then drying the sliced leek thoroughly using a salad spinner. Drying the leeks thoroughly ensures they get caramelized nicely instead of just steaming in the residual water.
  • If you are starting with a whole cauliflower head, cut it into quarters and "rice" it by grating it on a large grater. Do this while the leeks are caramelizing so you can save some prep time (but don't forget to stir the leeks so they don't burn!).
  • Vegetable broth or chicken broth give this recipe even more flavor, but I have made it with water before too and it's still really good!


Serving: -1g | Calories: 368kcal (18%) | Carbohydrates: 19g (6%) | Protein: 18g (36%) | Fat: 26g (40%) | Saturated Fat: 12g (60%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 56mg (19%) | Sodium: 792mg (33%) | Fiber: 6g (24%) | Sugar: 6g (7%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

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