Inspired by Indian tikka masala, this easy 30-minute Instant-Pot cauliflower curry features tender cauliflower served in a spicy and hearty tomato sauce. Serve this flavorful curry over brown rice, or with naan or roti!
This flavorful cauliflower curry is made in only one pot and comes with a creamy masala sauce that is infused with Indian spices. The recipe is super simple and requires very little active time. It's so easy you will be surprised by how delicious it is!
🥬 Ingredients to Make Cauliflower Tikka Masala
Preparing this Instant Pot cauliflower recipe requires very basic ingredients you probably already have on hand. Here's what you will need:
- Onion and garlic cloves
- Fresh Ginger
- Diced Tomatoes, canned is best to save time.
- Spices like dried fenugreek, cumin, garam masala, coriander, and turmeric.
- Maple syrup
- Non-dairy yogurt or cream to slightly thicken the sauce and make it creamier.
🥣 How to Make Cauliflower Tikka Masala
Before starting, be aware this is an Indian-inspired dish. It is not authentic in any way, although I tried to give the sauce an authentic flavor.
This recipe starts with the tadka, also called tempering. Fry onions, garlic, and ginger for a few minutes, or until the onions start to brown.
Then, add the spices. Frying the spices in oil enhances their flavors. For the spices, I went with a combination of garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and ground chili for a hint of spiciness.
Next, add the diced tomatoes and a drizzle of maple syrup to balance with the acidity of the tomatoes.
Finally, add the cauliflower florets to the pot and close the lid. You are almost done! It's time to let the Instant Pot do its job.
Just 2 minutes under pressure and the cauliflower is cooked to perfection! You obviously have to wait for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, which can take 7-8 minutes, but that leaves you time to do the laundry, set the table, or whatever you have on your to-do list.
To make the curry creamier and richer, stir in some vegan yogurt at the end of cooking. You can use coconut yogurt, almond yogurt, or even homemade cashew cream. For the toppings, you can't go wrong with fresh cilantro and roasted cashews for a little crunch!
- I do not have an instant pot, can I make this recipe? Sure! You can simply prepare the sauce in a regular saucepan or skillet, let it simmer for 5-6 minutes, and then stir in boiled or roasted cauliflower.
- 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.
- What is the size of your Instant Pot? For this recipe, I used a 6-Quart Duo Instant Pot.
- My cauliflower is overcooked/undercooked, what happened? You either cut the cauliflower florets too small or too large. Read our tips below to fix it.
- Do not cut the cauliflower florets too small otherwise, they will be overcooked. I recommend going with 2-inch florets. We also recommend using very fresh cauliflower, it should not be yellow or soft.
- 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!
- To prevent getting a "Burn" message on the Instant Pot, deglaze the pot with a couple of tablespoons 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 ½ cup of water to make sure there is enough liquid in the Instant Pot.
You can serve this cauliflower tikka masala with rice, quinoa, or tofu for a protein-packed meal. This curry is perfectly spiced, creamy, and nutritious!
More Vegan Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Creamy Masala Steel-Cut Oats
- Instant Pot Sesame & Basil Noodles,
- Instant Pot Sticky Rice with Green Curry Sauce
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter or oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground chili
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 small cauliflower head cut into florets (about 4 cups florets)
- ½ cup non-dairy yogurt or cashew cream
- optional toppings: fresh parsley, roasted cashews
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode for 7 minutes. Add the oil. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions start to caramelize and become soft. Add the dried fenugreek leaves, garam masala, turmeric, chili, cumin, and salt. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure it doesn't burn. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and scrape the bottom to make sure nothing is sticking to it, this will prevent the Instant Pot from giving you a "burn" message.
- Add the diced tomatoes, maple syrup, and cauliflower florets. Secure the lid and close the vent to Sealing. Press the Pressure Cook button and adjust the time to 2 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure, then cook under pressure for 2 minutes.
- Once the program is finished and you have heard the beeps, wait 1 minute and release the pressure. Stir in the non-dairy yogurt and stir to combine. Taste the sauce and adjust the saltiness if needed.
- Serve hot with rice, naan, or tofu, and top with fresh parsley and roasted cashews.
- 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.
This recipe gave me a burn notice. Not enough liquid.
Sorry to hear that! Did you add the juice with the diced tomatoes?
I’ve tried this recipe twice and I LOVE it! I saw another review that suggested adding garbanzo beans. I did that and it definitely added some substance to the meal. I know this is going to be a regular on my list.
Thanks Mary! Glad to hear the recipe worked for you and you liked the flavor 😉
Thanks for the rating!
My instant kept saying "Burn" ...I added water but it still wouldn't cook....please advise...
I'm not sure what happened, for most people this recipe works great but I had a few similar comments like yours regarding the 'burn' message. Did you add the juice of the diced tomatoes?
I'm going to re-test this one once more and update it if needed.
I just re-tested the recipe this morning and didn't get any "burn" message. I'm not sure how it can happen since this is a curry and there is quite a lot of liquid. What kind of canned tomatoes did you use?
Btw, the recipe has been updated with cup measurements for the cauliflower florets.
Did not taste good at all
Sorry to hear you didn't like this recipe, can you develop?
Love the combination of spices. Great recipe! I just discovered your blog and l will definitly try other recipes.
Glad you liked it 😉 Thanks for the rating!
This recipe ended up being my favorite of four curries I made for my visiting brothers and parents--I cook Indian food a lot and having tried many easy instant pot recipes, I honestly was not expecting much! It has a great spice blend that just tastes restaurant-style to me, and is creamy while still remaining light and healthy. Loved having a big bowl for breakfast--I'll definitely be making this again as a low cal dead easy curry/stew. I used a onion-ginger-garlic puree that I had made for another recipe, and full fat greek dairy yogurt but I'm sure many variations would be delicious.
Thanks so much for the great feedback Kim! I'm happy you liked this cauliflower tikka masala! 😉
If I make this in regular slow cooker what would be the heat (high/low) and timing? Thx!
I don't own a slow cooker so I have absolutely no idea, sorry!
My daughter made this for her YouTube channel (PickyPawsMouthPiece). We had to modify a few things because we couldn't find the ingredients, It turned out delicious and was actually quite filling.
Awesome! Thanks for your feedback!
Tastes great! Unfortunately like some others I kept getting "burn" but I was able to salvage it OK. I used 4 cups of frozen cauliflower florets and 1 28-oz can of Cento San Marzano tomatoes with the juice. I tried adding 1/2 cup of water, too but still got "burn." I used an Instant Pot DUO60. It still came out OK though! I just finished it on "Saute" mode.
I re-tried this recipe many times after seeing some people had the burn message but I never get it. I assume it depends on the brand and consistency of the diced tomatoes. I'm surprised that you still got the message after adding 1/2 cup of water. Maybe it's because something already burnt at the bottom.
I think you are right about the burn message being triggered by food sticking on the bottom of the pot. After the saute function finished, I scraped the bottom, added a bit of liquid and allowed the pot to cool a minute. That eliminated the burn message for me. I love the spice blend and make this recipe often!
Thanks for your rating Holly!
Full of flavour and very easy to make. Thank you.
Thanks Allison! 🙂
I made this tonight and it was so good! The recipe was easy to follow and worked perfectly as written. I opted to stir in a container of plain cashew yogurt. I made some brown rice to go with it and then topped the dish with chopped cilantro and roasted cashews! Amazing! Thank you for sharing!
Awesome! So glad you liked it! 🙂 I have never tried commercial cashew yogurt but I'm sure it was good!
I made this the other night. I had all of the ingredients on hand. I found it to be a bit bland and half-hearted.
Parsley? I think cilantro would have been a better choice. The cauliflower was over cooked at the 2 minute mark.
It smelled great but I was very disappointed.
I've had such great luck with the Instant Pot. Not this go 'round!
You can definitely use your favorite herb as a garnish! 🙂
How large were your florets? I cut mine in large pieces and at 2 minutes they still have a nice texture.
they were large. Thanks for getting back to me.
The ingredient list calls for diced tomatoes but the directions call for crushed.
I tried both and there is not much difference in the end honestly.
I plan on making this tomorrow night....The recipe calls for ground chili - I’m guessing this is not chili powder???
Yes, it is chili powder!
Thank you, Thomas! I made the Thai Peanut Jackfruot last night. AHMAZING!! Sauce was outstanding. Thinking tofu would be good as well!! Thank you for the great recipes!
Great! I'm happy to hear you liked the jackfruit 🙂
I have used a Breville Fast Slow Pro Pressure Cooker constantly for two years..It is more expensive than the Instant Pot but it is very versatile and well built. It would prevent the "burn" problem on saute experienced by other commenters because of its excellent non stick coating on its pot. Its only disadvantage is that it hasn't a yogurt setting.
Ours wasn’t as red as in the picture. The ginger was overpowering and we didn’t really taste much besides that. The sauce ended up being pretty liquidy. It wasn’t that filling either. Oh well, we tried.
Sorry to hear you didn't like this!
Is there something that I can get at a local grocery to substitute for fenugreek leaves? Thanks.
I'm afraid there is not Becky, you can just omit.
Very well-written recipe. We substituted 2 tsp of mustard seed powder for the 2 tsp of dried fenugreek leaves. Tempering took longer than expected because the recipe didn’t specify whether to sauté on medium or high so I stayed safe with medium but then went again on high. I had one can of diced tomatoes and one of diced tomatoes with green chilies and it added a nice kick. The cauliflower still had a bit of crunch. Made 4 bowls and each serving was filling with a garlic naan. Will definitely make it again and haven’t yet thought of any ways to improve on this recipe.
Awesome! Thanks for your great feedback Benjamin 🙂
Was so good!! I’d like to make this a second time tomorrow. Only this time, would like to add chicken. Any suggestions on how to cook chicken in an instant pot? My first time with chicken! Thanks!
Thanks for your feedback Adriana!
I'm vegan so I have no idea how to cook chicken in the Instant Pot, maybe search online.
Just as the recipe says! So yummy!
I made this recipe today... It was amazing! I added the tofu in scrambled form in the pot from the beginning and served with quinoa. Excellent! Miam!
Awesome! Thanks for the rating!
I made this last night and I added quinoa as another commenter mentioned. I added an equal amount of water but it turned out to be too much. The masala flavor was there, but it was too watery and so there was no "sauce." I toasted the spices and ginger on the stove while the onions were sauteing to avoid the BURN message. I kept the cauliflower florets fairly large so they wouldn't get mushy - the 2 minute time scared me - but they did turn out to be crunchy (almost too crunchy in some cases, but now I know the right size). Will try again, maybe with other veggies like potatoes, and hopefully, the sauce will turn out with better consistency.
Thanks for your feedback Emily. Yes, adding more water will make the sauce too thin, even if you add quinoa. There should be enough juice from the canned tomatoes.
Jehan N Bailey
We made this recipe for the first time last week for friends. Tonight we are having those same friends and others too as they as they all want to taste it.
I'm doubling the recipe.....do I need to make and modifications?
Sorry for the late reply! You shouldn't have to make any modifications if doubling!
Didn’t have 28 oz of diced tomatoes - I used crushed tomatoes. Added the cashew yogurt and also cilantro. Didn’t have cashews but added peanuts. This was sooo good. Didn’t have fenugreek leaves or dried Indian red chili but I used celery seed and red chili pepper flakes instead and a little extra Garam masala which contains fenugreek.
Note that the ingredients list says diced and the instructions say crushed. I did add the two tablespoons of water to the when I added the spices. No “burn” message 🙂 I think I prefer to used crushed tomatoes over diced. The cashew yogurt halls to thicken it as does serving it over rice which absorbs the delicious sauce.
Thanks so much for your feedback Melanie! 🙂 So glad you liked this cauliflower tikka masala!
I love Instant Pot recipes!! We made it with broccoli as had used the cauli. It was very tasty! We will add more chilli next time as he likes it hot!! That you so much
Great! Thanks for your feedback Patricia 🙂
I have a can of full fat coconut milk, xanthym gum, and almond flour. Do you think I can use a concoction of these to replace the yogurt for a thicker sauce?
I think just coconut milk and maybe a pinch of xanthan gum is enough, no need the almond flour.
I've made this about a dozen times already, and is our go-to curry now. Spot on with ingredients and quatities, the only exception I use regular full cream yogurt. Occasionally I mix it up adding a little zucchini, even chickpeas (pre cooked). The maple syrup is an inspired addition I think. Thank you.
Thanks for your rating and feedback David! I'm happy to hear you like it and made it so many times 🙂
I am planning on buying the smallest instant pot as just us 2 here. Will this recipe fit in that small size
Get a bigger IP. I cook for only my wife and use the DUO 60 and smaller would be difficult for this recipe and most meals. Keep in mind, 2/3 is a "full" IP.
I'm afraid I don't know about this small instant pot.
This was my first instant pot recipe and we picked a great one! Since we started eating plant based we are falling in love with Indian recipes and this did not disappoint. I'm looking forward to lunch so I can have the leftovers. Thank you!
Thanks for the great feedback Susan! 🙂