This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

This easy 30-minute Instant Pot cauliflower tikka masala features tender cauliflower in spicy and hearty tomato sauce. It’s super simple to prepare and family-friendly! Serve this flavorful Indian-inspired curry over steamed rice or with naan for a true restaurant experience!

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala in a bowl with roasted cashews, cilantro, and rice.

⭐️ Why You Should Try This Recipe

  • Ready in just 30 minutes in one pot. This flavorful cauliflower curry is made in only one pot and requires very little active time. It’s so easy you will be surprised by how delicious it is! Plus, the Instant Pot cooks the cauliflower to perfection!
  • Rich, creamy, and flavorful. Perfectly seasoned with garlic and ginger and infused with Indian spices, the creamy masala sauce is velvety and flavor-packed!
  • Family-friendly. Both kids and grown-ups love this curry! You can serve it with white rice, brown rice, or naan to make it a heartier meal!

📘 What is Tikka Masala

Tikka Masala is a popular Indian dish that consists of meat and/or vegetables simmered in a tomato-based sauce. The sauce is typically infused with spices and aromatics like garlic, ginger, and onions. This type of Indian curry is often finished with cream and served with rice.

🥬 Ingredient Notes

Preparing this Instant Pot cauliflower recipe requires very basic ingredients you probably already have on hand. Here’s what you will need:

  • Cauliflower – While you can use frozen cauliflower, I advise going with fresh cauliflower for optimal flavor and texture.
  • Onion and garlic – Feel free to substitute shallots for the onion.
  • Ginger – Opt for fresh ginger for a citrusy and spicy aroma.
  • Spices – For the spices, I went with a combination of garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and ground chili for a hint of spiciness.
  • Diced Tomatoes – Use canned diced tomatoes with their juice.
  • Sugar – To slightly lower the acidity of the tomatoes. You can use white sugar, coconut sugar, or even maple syrup.
  • Coconut cream – It is essential to make the tikka masala sauce rich and creamy. Do not omit it! You can replace coconut cream with cashew cream, coconut yogurt, or your favorite plant-based cream.
  • Fresh cilantro – For a touch of freshness. If you don’t have cilantro, use your favorite fresh herbs.
  • Roasted cashew – Optional, for extra texture.
Ingredients like cauliflower, diced tomatoes, spices, and coconut cream.

🥣 How to Make Cauliflower Tikka Masala

This recipe starts with the Tadka, also called tempering. To make the Tadka:

  1. Fry the aromatics. Heat the oil in the Instant Pot using the Sauté function. Once hot, sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger for a few minutes or until the onions start to brown.
  2. Add the spices. Once the onions start caramelizing, add the spices and stir to combine. Cook for 2 more minutes. Frying the spices in oil enhances their flavors.
  3. Deglaze the pot. Next, add about 1/4 cup of water to the pot to deglaze it. This will prevent bits of spices and aromatics from sticking to the bottom and burning.

The next and final step consists of cooking the curry:

  1. Add the remaining ingredients. Add the diced tomatoes and sugar to balance with the acidity of the tomatoes. Add the cauliflower florets as well and toss to combine.
  2. Pressure cook. Close the lid and turn the valve to the “Sealing” position. Press the “Pressure Cook” button and adjust the time to 2 minutes. The Instant Pot will take approximately 8 minutes before coming to pressure.
  3. Quick-release the pressure. Once the countdown is complete, wait 1 minute before releasing the pressure manually. To do so, turn the valve to the “Venting” position. Be careful as the steam will be very hot. Hence, I recommend using an oven mitt or a kitchen towel to turn the valve.
  4. Stir in the cream. Next, add the plant-based cream and stir to combine. At this point, give it a taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  5. Garnish. Finally, top with chopped cilantro and roasted cashews for a little crunch!

🍚 What To Serve With Cauliflower Tikka Masala

You can serve this Instant Pot cauliflower tikka masala with:

  • Cooked grains: Rice, quinoa, semolina, or even farro.
  • Naan: Dip homemade naan into the creamy sauce. It’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy this curry!
  • Plant-based protein: For a protein-packed meal, serve this cauliflower curry with sautéed tofu, vegan chicken, or tempeh!

📔 Tips

  • Do not cut the cauliflower florets too small. Otherwise, they will be overcooked. I recommend going with 2-inch florets. I also recommend using very fresh cauliflower; it should not be yellow or soft.
  • Adjust the pressure cooking time. Cooking the curry for 2 minutes will yield cauliflower with an al dente texture. It’s cooked but still slightly crunchy. If you prefer the cauliflower to be more tender, pressure cook it for 4 minutes.
  • Not a fan of coconut? Replace the coconut cream with your favorite plant-based cream. I tested this recipe with cashew cream and soy cream, both were equally delicious!
  • Adjust the seasoning to taste. Depending on the brand of diced tomatoes used, you may have to add extra salt. Taste the sauce after cooking and adjust saltiness as needed. You don’t want a bland sauce!
  • Deglaze the pot with water. To prevent getting a “Burn” message on the Instant Pot, deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup of water to remove the onions and spices that could have stuck to the bottom. This should be done before adding the diced tomatoes.
  • Regarding the diced tomatoes: It seems some brands have more juice than others. If your tomatoes are on the thicker side with very little juice, I recommend adding about 1/2 cup of water to make sure there is enough liquid in the Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala in a ceramic bowl with cashews and cilantro.

💬 FAQ

I do not have an instant pot. Can I make this recipe?

Sure! You can cook this dish in a Dutch oven or a large saucepan. Let simmer covered for 12-15 minutes, stirring regularly until the cauliflower is tender. I do recommend adding the coconut cream at the same time as the diced tomatoes if cooking on the stove.

Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned diced ones?

While I haven’t personally tried it, it should work. You might have to add some water if your tomatoes are not very juicy.

How long does cauliflower tikka masala keep?

It will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

My cauliflower is overcooked/undercooked. What happened?

You either cut the cauliflower florets too small or too large. Read our tips above to fix it.

Is this cauliflower tikka masala recipe authentic?

This recipe is not authentic, but the tikka masala sauce is based on authentic recipes.

I hope you will love this easy and quick Instant Pot cauliflower tikka masala! It is perfectly spiced, creamy, and nutritious!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala curry in a ceramic bowl.

Note: This recipe was first released in 2018 and was updated in August 2023 with new photos, process shots, and improved flavor. It was re-tested multiple times as well.

full of plants in envelope

Want to Save This Recipe?

Enter your email below & we’ll send it straight to your inbox! Plus, you will receive new recipes every week!

Save Recipe

I’d like to receive more tips & recipes from Full of Plants.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recipe
Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala

4.42 from 60 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
This easy 30-minute Instant Pot cauliflower tikka masala features tender cauliflower in spicy and hearty tomato sauce. It's super simple to prepare and family-friendly!
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cook Time : 12 minutes
Total Time : 22 minutes
Servings 4 serving
Calories 196 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Fry the aromatics. Set the Instant Pot to Sauté mode for 7 minutes and add the vegan butter or oil. Once hot, sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger for a few minutes or until the onions start to brown, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the spices. Once the onions start caramelizing, add the spices and stir to combine. Cook for 2 more minutes.
    Deglaze the pot. Next, add about ¼ cup of water to the pot to deglaze it. This will prevent bits of spices and aromatics from sticking to the bottom and burning.
  • Add the remaining ingredients. Add the diced tomatoes, sugar, and cauliflower florets to the Instant Pot. Toss to combine.
  • Pressure cook. Close the lid and turn the valve to the "Sealing" position. Press the "Pressure Cook" button and adjust the time to 2 minutes. The Instant Pot will take approximately 8 minutes before coming to pressure.
  • Quick-release the pressure. Once the countdown is complete, wait 1 minute before releasing the pressure manually. To do so, turn the valve to the "Venting" position. Be careful as the steam will be very hot. Hence, I recommend using an oven mitt or a kitchen towel to turn the valve.
  • Stir in the cream. Next, add the coconut cream (or plant-based cream) and stir to combine. At this point, give it a taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and roasted cashews and serve with rice or naan!
  • This Instant Pot cauliflower will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat over medium heat in a saucepan or in the Instant Pot on the "Sauté" or "Keep warm" function.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Do not cut the cauliflower florets too small. Otherwise, they will be overcooked. I recommend going with 2-inch florets. I also recommend using very fresh cauliflower; it should not be yellow or soft.
  • Adjust the pressure cooking time. Cooking the curry for 2 minutes will yield cauliflower with an al dente texture. It’s cooked but still slightly crunchy. If you prefer the cauliflower to be more tender, pressure cook it for 4 minutes.
  • Not a fan of coconut? Replace the coconut cream with your favorite plant-based cream. I tested this recipe with cashew cream and soy cream, both were equally delicious!
  • Adjust the seasoning to taste. Depending on the brand of diced tomatoes used, you may have to add extra salt. Taste the sauce after cooking and adjust saltiness as needed. You don’t want a bland sauce!
  • Deglaze the pot with water. To prevent getting a “Burn” message on the Instant Pot, deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup of water to remove the onions and spices that could have stuck to the bottom. This should be done before adding the diced tomatoes.
  • Regarding the diced tomatoes: It seems some brands have more juice than others. If your tomatoes are on the thicker side with very little juice, I recommend adding about 1/2 cup of water to make sure there is enough liquid in the Instant Pot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 196 kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.1 g | Protein: 9.6 g | Fat: 3.8 g | Fiber: 12.5 g | Sugar: 20.4 g
Course : Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine : Indian
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
Share this recipe!

About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this Recipe




223 Comments

  1. Just made this – It was awesome!!
    Added some chickpeas for protein and topped with cilantro.
    Love your recipe’s btw and your photos are amazing!

        1. Sorry to hear you didn’t like the recipe Paul, may I know what was not good for you? Saltiness, spiciness?

  2. I’m going to use some left over cashew sour cream I made last night in place of the yogurt!
    Looking for and, I love tikka masala!

  3. 5 stars
    This cauliflower masala is absolutely delicious! And an “instant pot” is not necessary – an old fashioned yet perfectly reliable and practical pressure cooker works just as well. I use my mother-in-law’s which must be over 20 years old, but it cooks everything to perfection.

    1. I don’t have either! Crockpot will make the cauliflower fall apart probably. I’ll just wing it on the stove.
      Maybe oven roast the cauliflower?

      1. As Elaine said you can use a regular pressure cooker. If you don’t have one, boil the cauliflower until tender, drain and then add to the masala sauce.
        Yes, roasting should work well too!

        1. I roasted the cauliflower in the oven and added it to the sauce I made on the stove! I added about 1/4 cup of cashew sour cream…perfect! Amazingly easy and very good. Served with quinoa.
          Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious! I did’t have canned tomatoes or v-yogurt tho, so I made my own cashew cream and used fresh organic tomatoes. Still turned out super yummy. Also, didn’t have chili powder so opted for Red Harissa and it was absolutely banging good, delicious. Keep in mind we have only been using our instant pot since the day after Christmas and find the manual to be not so helpful so we spent a lot of time trying to get the pressure cooking right. Thank you so much for sharing this easy, delicious, healthy vegan meal with us. I’m a fan of fullofplants1.wpengine.com !!!! NOM NOM~

    1. Thank you Lisa! I’m glad you like this curry 🙂 It can only taste better with fresh tomatoes and a rich cashew cream!
      Thanks for the feedback!

  5. 5 stars
    I made this last night and then used the Instant Pot to make your coconut yogurt. I wish there was leftover curry because they are both so good and would have been good together!

  6. This is the first FulOfPlants recipe I’ve made and I loved it. I used fenugreek seeds because that’s what I had.

  7. Hi – I was wondering – what exactly is ‘ground chili’? Is that a spice? Or? Also, if one leaves out the maple syrup, would that ruin the recipe? Or is there a non-sugar type replacement?

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you!

    1. Hi Michelle, ground chili is a mix of spices. It usually contains cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika, etc, it’s not pure cayenne pepper.
      Leaving out the maple syrup won’t ruin the recipe at all, especially if you don’t have a sweet tooth. Otherwise, you can probably use a bit of stevia.

      1. 5 stars
        I used fresh mustard greens rather than fenugreek. The flavor is apparently similar. 4 leaves chopped up. It looked like too much going in but was just right in the end. The leaves cook down a lot.

  8. do you think you could put quinoa (along with some water) in along with everything else for the pressure cooking? i’m new to my instant pot but i love “all in one” recipes!

    1. Yes, I think that would work. Make sure to use a good ratio of quinoa to water so it doesn’t soak up the whole sauce.

    2. 5 stars
      Yum! This turned out really good. I had no inspiration for dinner and then remembered this from some recent posts. I worked with what I had (tomato paste, extra water and some cherry tomatoes, coconut cream) and added some red lentils so cooked a bit longer. Will make again for sure! Thanks!

  9. 4 stars
    Really fabulous recipe. I’m always all about adding extras to my recipes and I think that cauliflower would be the bomb!

    Finally some much needed SUN!

  10. Looks so yum! This may be a stupid question, but is an instant pot the same as a pressure cooker? Or a CrockPot? So many pots. I’m confused.

    1. An Instant Pot can be used as a pressure cooker, or as a slow cooker. A CrockPot is a slow cooker but not a pressure cooker if I’m not wrong.
      You can probably make this recipe using a regular pressure cooker.

  11. This is so good! Love that it’s so easy! I’m having a problem with the burn message though and I’m not sure what I did wrong.

    1. Thanks Britany! Usually the burn message appears where there is no liquid left in the Instant Pot. Did you put the valve on “seal” and added all the liquids?

    1. It’s about the same if using a pressure cooker, make sure it is in seal position. Cook for 2 minutes once the pressure cooker is under pressure. Then wait 10 minutes before releasing the pressure.

  12. 4 stars
    Tastes fine, but the cauliflower was seriously over cooked. I would reduce pressure cooking time at least in half.

    1. Hi Stephen, I’m sorry to hear that! I make this recipe regularly and the cauliflower is never overcooked. My guess would be that your cauliflower florets were a bit too small?

    2. Can i add bown lentils? Or potatoes? If so can you let me know the pressure times for each? Potato and lentil?

  13. My family loved this. Very complex flavors. I made my Garam Masala from scratch. I served it with a BBQ’d chicken. You could easily add cooked chicken right to it at the end.

  14. 5 stars
    Making this tonight! I don’t have a pressure cooker or an instant pot though. Are any major adjustments needed if I cook this on the stove-top besides oven cooking the cauliflower?

    1. If using a stove-top pressure cooker, you might have to add 1-2 minutes to the pressure cooking time. Another option, cut the cauliflower into florets, lightly coat it with oil and bake in the oven until cooked. In the meantime, prepare the sauce in a skillet or large saucepan and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the cooked cauliflower to the sauce and cook for another 5 minutes.

  15. 5 stars
    I’m not sure what I didn’t wrong but I’m going on my third 2 minute pressure cooking session. The cauliflower keeps being under cooked. It appears that the pot is working correctly. I’m using the manual setting at 2 minutes. Thanks so much!

    1. What was the size of your cauliflower florets? Also, did you put the Instant Pot on the “Seal” position?

    2. My cauliflower was undercoooked. It needs more time. I live in high altitude though and found that varies alot since water boils at a diff temp

  16. 4 stars
    I tried this recipe, and it’s delicious. But your instructions for using the manual pressure didn’t work nor did they gibe with the instantpots instructions. I ended up using the chili/beans feature for 10 minutes of pressure. Worked great.

    1. Hi Jacqui,
      Glad to hear you liked it! Could you be a bit more specific on what went wrong for you? I made this recipe several times and 2 minutes was always enough to cook the cauliflower.

  17. I made a double batch of this today. I was skeptical because I had read that too much tomato can lead to scorching. But I trusted the good ratings! Mine did indeed scorch but luckily I smelled it before it got too bad. The vent was on sealing and I followed the recipe. But I wonder if some brands of crushed tomatoes are thicker than others? The ones I used, which were def. crushed and not a sauce, were thick like a sauce. Anyway I caught it in time and just let it cook stovetop with a bit of water added.

    1. I guess it depends on the brand, mines have quite a lot of juice. You could also use a can of whole peeled tomatoes and chop them, then add it with the juice to the Instant Pot.

  18. 5 stars
    Delicious! Made it last night. I’m new to this whole “instant pot” cooking…Super easy recipe to follow. I recommend reading over the ingredients/recipe fully before starting & doing all the prep first…then the pot does the rest! Easier than I originally thought it would be. Thanks for the recipe!

  19. I followed the recipe perfectly but for some reason the instant pot was not able to reach pressure. This usually happens for me when there is not enough fluid…so I wonder if my caulifower head was too large, making the recipe dry overall. I ended up cooking it on stovetop until the caulifower was done and I loved the flavour…wondering what I can do differently next time so that I can make it in the pot. Do you think it was too much cauliflower?

  20. 5 stars
    Thank you – your recipe was delicious! I did not have diced tomatoes so I used stewed instead, just broke them up in a blender first. Thanks for the idea of using more chili powder – 1 teaspoon was perfect. I was nervous about using the IP’s saute function because the IP gave me the burn warning in the past, but this time I added a little water and scaped the bottom well before proceeding to pressure cooking – it worked great! I think it’s important to have all the ingredients chopped, measured and ready to go when using the IP, timing is more critical than usual.