How to Steam a Whole Head of Cauliflower in the Instant Pot

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A whole head of steamed cauliflower is great for slicing into cauliflower steaks, chopping into florets, or drizzling with sauce for a beautiful vegetarian dish. It’s easy and just takes a few minutes to steam it in the Instant Pot / pressure cooker. 

a whole head of steamed cauliflower on a wooden tray

Cauliflower is really having its 15 minutes of fame. Cauliflower rice, cauliflower gnocchi…this vegetable is being transformed into all sorts of things. Frank and I were served a whole head of cauliflower in a rich butter sauce two years ago in Paris that inspired this Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce. (That recipe was the most popular thing I shared on Instagram all of last year!) 

How to Make Steamed Cauliflower

The easiest way to get steamed cauliflower that also insures it is tender all the way through to the center, is to steam it in the Instant Pot / pressure cooker. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Rinse and Remove Leaves 

Rinse the cauliflower and peel off the outer leaves from the head of cauliflower. (Note: This is optional. If you want to leave a few or all of the leaves intact, you can, just make sure to peel them back and rinse well since dirt can hide behind the leaves.)

Step 2: Add Cauliflower to Instant Pot Rack with Water 

Pour water in the bowl of the slow cooker. Place head of cauliflower on the trivet that came with the Instant Pot (or in a steamer basket), stem-side down. Lower it into the Instant Pot. 

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an uncooked head of cauliflower on a trivet for the instant pot

Step 3: Steam for 1 Minute

Use the “Steam” button on the Instant Pot set for 1 minute to cook the cauliflower. When done, quick release the pressure.

making steamed cauliflower in the instant pot

Step 4: Cool and Use

Remove the head of cauliflower and let it cool slightly. Then serve it however you’d like. Keep it whole, slice into “steaks”, or remove the florets. If you want to use the florets individually, you can just use your hands or a small knife to pop them off, leaving the core in place. Add some sauce or just toss the florets with some salt and pepper.

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4.32 from 19 votes

How to Steam a Whole Head of Cauliflower in the Instant Pot

A whole head of steamed cauliflower is great for serving whole, slicing into cauliflower steaks, or chopping and using in other recipes. It’s easy and just takes a few minutes to steam it in the Instant Pot / pressure cooker.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 1 minute
Total: 6 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker
  • Pressure Cooker Trivet

Ingredients 

  • 1 head Cauliflower (16 to 22 oz)
  • 2 cups Water

Instructions 

  • Rinse the cauliflower and peel off the outer leaves from the head of cauliflower. (Note: This is optional. If you want to leave a few or all of the leaves intact, you can, just make sure to peel them back and rinse well since dirt can hide behind the leaves.)
  • Pour 2 cups water in the bowl of the Instant Pot.
  • Place head of cauliflower on the trivet that came with the Instant Pot (or a steamer basket) stem-side down. Lower it into the Instant Pot. Close and lock the lid.
  • Use the “Steam” button on the Instant Pot set for 1 minute to cook the cauliflower.
  • When done, immediately quick release the pressure.
  • Remove the head of cauliflower and let it cool slightly.
  • Serve the cauliflower however you’d like. Keep it whole, slice into “steaks” or remove the florets. If you want to use the florets individually, you can just use your hands or a small knife to remove them, leaving the core in place.

Nutrition

Calories: 36kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 49mg | Potassium: 430mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin C: 69mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $2.75
Calories: 36
Keyword: cauliflower recipe, easy side dish, instant pot, steamed vegetable, vegetarian
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

4.32 from 19 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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7 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Hi and thank you for the recipe. Learning to cook lots of things in our instant pot. The recipe produced somewhat crisp cauliflower. We ended up cooking it one more minute and it was softer.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Jess
    I have to say that although I have cooked veg in my Instant Pot before, it’s never occurred to me to cook a whole cauliflower. I tend to cook double quantities for my husband and myself and create a home made ready meal for another day and I think this would be a very useful way to add veg quickly. It’s usually cheaper to get a full cauliflower than a bag of frozen so I’m definitely going to try this. Thank you.