We Tried Chipotle's New Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice To See if It's Good

Just remember it's a veggie, not a grain.

Chipotle's Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice
Courtesy of Chipotle

Within a few hours of Chipotle announcing the nationwide rollout of its new Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, I found myself scraping the bottom of a burrito bowl container with my fork wondering where all the food went. The answer is obvious: I ate it. And you know what? It was delicious.

I'm not on the keto diet, I'm not doing Whole30, I'm not trying paleo or going full vegan—though those are all good reasons to try out Chipotle's new rice alternative. I just like cauliflower. I've eaten it in crusts, soups, and mash, as steaks, and yes, even rice. But I've never had cauliflower rice like Chipotle's.

When I peeled off the aluminum lid to reveal my cauliflower rice-filled veggie burrito bowl, my first thought was, Wait, did they forget to put it in here? Well, no they didn't. It was there all right, but unlike real rice, which creates a firm foundation for the other ingredients, the cauliflower got kind of trampled on and mushed, looking like a chunky green salsa by the time my fork dug it up. It wouldn't hurt for Chipotle to be a bit more generous with the servings—especially since the substitute costs $2 extra—but despite blending in, the flavor came through nice and clear.

Oh, that's another thing: Cilantro and lime aren't the only flavors going on here, because even though cauliflower's sweet and nutty taste is subtle, it's not as neutral as rice. I could unmistakably detect the flowery white vegetable. Maybe that's a drawback for some, but I viewed it as an enrichment of my meal's already bursting flavor profile.

My biggest gripe with Chipotle's take on cauliflower rice is that it's wet. In all fairness, that's not uncommon with cauliflower rice—after all, the vegetable is more than 90% water. If cauliflower isn't fully dried after being washed, gets heated for too long, or is prepared too far in advance, it just gets soggier. For a major restaurant chain, I expected the food engineers to have worked out the kinks before the nationwide release. The result of subbing rice for cauliflower was a soupy burrito bowl that lacked a starchy base to keep moisture from pooling at the bottom.

At the end of the day, a little waterlogging wasn't enough to turn me away, because the added flavor of cauliflower undoubtedly improved my veggie bowl and showed me what I'd been missing. I don't expect everyone to prefer Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice to its grainy predecessor, but I have full confidence that veggie lovers and people with dietary restrictions alike will appreciate Chipotle for padding its portfolio of plant-based ingredients. I know I do.

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Kyler Alvord is a news writer at Thrillist. Find him on Twitter and Instagram. Or don't. It's really up to you.