Instant Pot Cauliflower

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This Instant Pot cauliflower is so easy to make. It’s a healthy side dish recipe, and you can’t beat the zero minute cook time! (vegan, gluten-free)

Instant Pot cauliflower in a bowl

I love cauliflower in all its forms. From savory roasted cauliflower to cauliflower pancakes and curry, this humble vegetable can take on so many different personalities.

For those nights when I’m short on time, this quick Instant Pot cauliflower is the ideal side dish. It cooks while the pot comes to pressure (5 to 10 minutes), so it only needs a cook time of zero minutes for a perfectly tender result. This method works for many other vegetables as well, including broccoli and asparagus.

Step by Step Instructions for Instant Pot Cauliflower

Step One: Prepare the Cauliflower Florets

Cut the head of cauliflower into evenly-sized florets, and place them in a large bowl. Each floret should be about one to two inches.

Cauliflower in a bowl with spices

Step Two: Season the Cauliflower

Mix together the smoked paprika, salt, and chili powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the cauliflower, and stir to coat evenly. 

Instant Pot cauliflower in the pressure cooker before cooking

Step Three: Pressure Cook the Cauliflower

Transfer the cauliflower to a steamer basket that will fit in your pressure cooker. Place 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot, then put the steamer basket in the pot. Cover the lid and turn the valve to Sealing.

Set the pot to Manual High Pressure for 0 minutes. The cauliflower will be cooked by the time the pot comes to pressure. Use a quick release by turning the vent after the 0 minute cook time. Carefully remove the steamer basket from the pot immediately after the pot comes to pressure. Serve warm.

Tips and Frequently Asked Questions about Instant Pot Cauliflower

How long does it take to cook vegetables in a pressure cooker?

You can use a zero minute cook time to cook many types of vegetables in the Instant Pot. The vegetables get steamed while the pot comes to pressure. One important tip for making Instant Pot cauliflower is to release the pressure immediately when the pot beeps after coming to pressure, and quickly remove the cauliflower from the pot. If you leave it in for a few extra minutes, it’ll be mushy.

Can you cook cauliflower directly in the Instant Pot water?

I recommend using a stainless steel steamer basket to cook your cauliflower. You can also use the trivet that comes with the Instant Pot, but if you cut your veggies too small, they’ll fall through the gaps in the rack into the water. Cut them a bit larger if you’re using the trivet. I don’t recommend cooking the cauliflower directly in the water.

What spices go well with cauliflower?

I like to season the cauliflower with smoked paprika, chili powder, and salt before cooking it. You can also sprinkle on the seasoning after cooking if you’d prefer. Adjust the spices according to your family’s tastes, adding more or less chili powder as desired. You can also use garlic powder, parmesan cheese, or lemon juice for other delicious flavors. Cauliflower absorbs a variety of flavors well.

Can I make Instant Pot cauliflower to cook it for another recipe?

If you’re making a cauliflower mash, cauliflower soup, or cauliflower rice for another recipe that calls for steamed cauliflower, this is the easiest way to prepare it. Just skip the seasonings in this recipe and follow the Instant Pot cooking instructions below.

What’s the best way to mash steamed cauliflower?

There are several ways to mash this Instant Pot steamed cauliflower. First, make sure it’s tender enough to mash. You may need to leave it in the pot for an extra minute to achieve the right texture. Then you can use a fork, potato masher, food processor, or immersion blender to mash the steamed cauliflower.

Why is Instant Pot cauliflower better than the stovetop version?

It’s fine to cook cauliflower on the stovetop, but I prefer to use the Instant Pot because it comes out perfectly every time with this cooking method. Sometimes when I make cauliflower on the stove, it gets overcooked because of the variation in timing depending on how high the burner is set.

Kids will enjoy this cauliflower dipped in Ranch dressing, but it’s also delicious on its own. It’s so easy to make this pressure cooker cauliflower on a busy night!

Instant Pot Cauliflower

This Instant Pot cauliflower is so easy to make. It’s a healthy vegan, gluten-free side dish recipe, and you can’t beat the zero minute cook time!
Print Recipe
4.67 from 9 votes
Instant Pot cauliflower in a bowl
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Total Time:15 minutes

Recommended Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder

Instructions

  • Wash the cauliflower and cut it into bite-sized florets. Place it in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, salt, and chili powder. Sprinkle the mixture over the cauliflower, and stir to coat evenly. Transfer the cauliflower to a steamer basket that will fit in your Instant Pot.
  • Place 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot, then put the steamer basket in the pot. Cover the lid and turn the vent to Sealing.
  • Set the pot to Manual High Pressure for 0 minutes. The cauliflower will be cooked by the time the pot comes to pressure. Use a quick release and carefully remove the steamer basket from the pot immediately after the pot comes to pressure. Serve warm.
  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several days.

Approximate Nutrition Info

Calories: 18kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 168mg | Potassium: 219mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 80IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Servings: 8
Calories: 18kcal
Cost: $.39 per serving

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Instant Pot Cauliflower Price Breakdown

This recipe costs $3.08 to make, or $.39 per serving. Enjoy this easy pressure cooker cauliflower on a busy night.

Note: This recipe was originally posted in 2018, and it was updated in 2022.

17 Comments

  1. 2 stars
    Zero minutes wasn’t anywhere near long enough—the cauliflower florets were not even Al dente, but close to raw. Two four minute cooks later (total of almost 9 minutes) they were ready to mash. I had a huge amount of steam release after each cook so I know instant pot was working as intended. Major fail.

      1. 8 quart pot, bite size florets from a fairly small head of cauliflower. There was a good head of steam as every time I thought it was done and vented it released hard.

      2. It works like a charm for me every time in my 6 quart Instant Pot. The cauliflower comes out crisp-tender. You would need to cook it longer if you want a very soft, mashable texture. Since you’re using a larger pot, you may need more water. I believe the manual suggests a minimum of at least 18 oz of liquid for the 8 quart pot. For mashable cauliflower, try a 3 minute cook time.

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