Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala | Get Inspired Everyday!

I’ve been getting lots of requests for more Instant Pot recipes as well as meatless meals. So today is a 2 for 1 kind of situation. Or it may be more than that come to think of it because this Tikka Masala is also vegan and Whole30 too!

I decided to go with cauliflower as the main focus in this luscious spiced sauce because it really is a great vehicle for all sorts of flavors. In fact the other day Tyler and I were discussing the never ending cauliflower trend, and I was wondering why it’s only growing in popularity.

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala | Get Inspired Everyday!

I was thinking that really what’s so special about cauliflower anyways… I mean it’s almost always the last one left on the veggie tray. But he made a good point by mentioning that cauliflower is kind of tasteless.

Not completely without flavor mind you, but the kind of flavor that lends itself so well to so many different dishes. I guess it’s kind of like chicken in that regard, so versatile.

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala | Get Inspired Everyday!
Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala | Get Inspired Everyday!

This recipe comes together quickly, so I like to have everything I need prepped before I start cooking.

The onion gets sautéed first, then the garlic and ginger are added in an cooked briefly. Then I like to add an extra step that makes this more like the restaurant versions by scooping out the cooked onion mixture and blending it with the tomatoes.

This extra step creates a really nice smooth sauce, but I have to confess that sometimes I do skip this step and just continue on. It doesn’t take much time to blend the onion mixture with the tomatoes, but sometimes life doesn’t allow for an extra couple minutes. (Or let’s face it… sometimes I’m just in a hurry and not feeling it!)

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala | Get Inspired Everyday!

Next the blended tomato mixture is added to the Instant Pot along with the spices. Then the cauliflower florets are piled on top, and stirred to mix them in a bit.

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala | Get Inspired Everyday!

Finally the lid goes on the Instant Pot and you set it for just 1 minute of cooking time.

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala | Get Inspired Everyday!

Do keep in mind the Instant Pot tends to take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure and another 10 minutes to release pressure.

When I first started making things in the Instant Pot I always underestimated how long the pressurization part would take, so it’s good to have a basic idea of the overall cooking time!

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala | Get Inspired Everyday!

From there, you add the coconut cream along with some additional garam masala. This little step of adding garam masala at the end is a real game changer. I read somewhere, (wish I could remember the source) that because garam masala is a rather delicate spice mix that a true Indian recipe will stir part or all of it in toward the end of the cooking time.

This tip is definitely absolute gold because both my Butter Chicken and now this Cauliflower Tikka Masala are so much better than when I used to add it in only in the beginning.

To keep this Whole30, try serving it with any kind of veggie rice. Since cauliflower is already the star of the show, I’d go with butternut rice because I love it’s sweetness with Indian food. But to be completely honest, I like this best with freshly steamed rice, chopped cilantro, and toasted cashews!

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Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala | Get Inspired Everyday!

Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala

  • Author: Kari
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x


Indian comfort food made easier and perfect for meatless meals!



8 cups cauliflower florets from 1 head cauliflower, 3 pounds

1 Tablespoon avocado oil

1 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon minced ginger

2 Teaspoons garam masala, split reserving 1 Teaspoon for the end, see notes 

1/2 Teaspoon ground cardamom

1 Teaspoon each ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder

1 Teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

1 can coconut milk, refrigerated, see notes

128 ounce can whole fire roasted tomatoes


Freshly steamed rice, or butternut rice for paleo and Whole30

Chopped fresh cilantro

Chopped toasted cashews


Prep the cauliflower into florets about 1″ in size and set them aside.

Turn a 6-quart Instant Pot on to the sauté setting and add the avocado oil. When the oil is just starting to shimmer, add the onion and sauté until the it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and ginger, and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Turn the sauté setting off and scoop the mixture out of the Instant Pot and into a blender. Add the spices using just 1 teaspoon of the garam masala reserving the other teaspoon for the end of the cooking time. Scoop the hardened cream from the top of the can of coconut milk and set it aside to reserve it.

Pour the leftover liquid from the coconut milk into the blender along with the fire roasted tomatoes and the salt. Blend until mostly smooth, then pour the sauce back into the Instant Pot. Add the cauliflower florets and stir to partially cover. Secure the lid and pressure cook for 1 minute.

When the cooking time is done, use the quick release function, and when the Instant Pot is safe to open remove the lid. Turn the sauté setting back on, and stir in the coconut cream along with the remaining 1 teaspoon of garam masala, simmer for 1 minute to combine the flavors.

Season to taste, and if you’d like to thicken the sauce slightly mix together 1-2 teaspoons tapioca starch with 2 tablespoon of water until smooth. Drizzle in small amounts of this mixture into the simmering tikka masala stirring constantly until the sauce thickens to your liking.

Serve immediately with your choice of sides.


I read somewhere to add a small portion of garam masala in at the end of the cooking time because it’s a delicate spice mix, and it’s a complete flavor game changer!

You don’t need to refrigerate the coconut milk if you have cans of coconut milk that have been sitting in your pantry for weeks because the cream will have separated. The only purpose of refrigerating the coconut milk is to more rapidly separate the cream from the liquid.

When cauliflower is too expensive, try broccoli instead.

Keywords: Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Whole30, Vegan, Vegetarian

30 thoughts on “Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala”

  1. YESSS! Instant Pot curry is the best. I love eating cauliflower, but HATE prepping it, it is always so messy. Ricing cauliflower is my nightmare. it ends up on the floor, counter, in my hair. It is the worst. I’m thankful for pre-prepped cauliflower.


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