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Here’s a fast, easy, and healthy side dish: Instant Pot cauliflower! Flavored with lemon zest and Italian seasoning, you won’t be able to stop eating it.

Instant Pot Cauliflower
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Did you know that steamed cauliflower can taste incredible? We know, we know: with no seasoning, it’s nothing to write home about. But steam it in a pressure cooker until it’s just crisp tender, then mix with olive oil, Italian seasoning and lemon zest and POW! It’s in your face good. I literally could not stop eating this! (Neither could our 2 year old, which is saying something.) After all these years of thinking the only way to eat cauliflower was to roast it, we’ve found a way quicker way that works for easy weeknights. May we present: Instant Pot cauliflower!

How to make Instant Pot cauliflower: a tutorial

The Instant Pot is a quick, hands off way to steam vegetables! We’ve used the same method with our Instant Pot broccoli and Instant Pot Brussels sprouts. Essentially: chop the veggies. Throw them in with a bit of water and press Cook! Here’s exactly how to make pressure cooker cauliflower, and a little trick for the chopping part.

Step 1: Chop the cauliflower into florets.

Use a large chef’s knife to cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Here we used 1 small head of cauliflower, which is enough for 4 servings. Feel free double if you’d like: it’s still the same cook time!

Wondering the best way to cut cauliflower? Alex and I use a genius method that doesn’t end up with crumbles all over the counter! (Anyone have that issue?) Go to How to Cut Cauliflower or see the video below.

Step 2: Pressure cook on High for 2 minutes.

Place the florets in the Instant Pot with ½ cup water. Then pressure cook on High for 2 minutes. Note that the pressure cooker takes about 5 minutes to “preheat” or come up to pressure before cooking.

You may find other recipes online that state a 0 or 1 minute cook time for cauliflower in the Instant Pot. In all of our testing, we found that 2 minutes was the sweet spot that yielded the perfect crisp tender florets. If you like your cauliflower very crisp you could try a cook time of 1 minute, but we wouldn’t go less than that.

Instant Pot cauliflower

Step 3: Quick release and add flavorings.

Then you’ll perform a quick release by immediately letting all the steam out of the top valve. Once it’s come out, you can open the lid and taste your cauliflower. It comes out perfectly steamed and crisp tender!

Pressure cooker cauliflower

The BEST way to serve cauliflower as a side

Want the best way to serve cauliflower as a side? For this one we went Mediterranean style. And when I tasted it, I immediately starting shoveling more bites into my mouth. It’s that good! As I mentioned, I used to think that the only way to eat cauliflower was roasted. Now I’ve been proven wrong! Here’s the best way to flavor cauliflower:

It sounds deceptively simple, but the flavors work remarkably well. The lemon zest in particular is great for brightening up after the pressure cooker, which can dull flavors cooking at such high pressure.

Instant pot cauliflower

What kind of Instant Pot to use?

All pressure cooker brands vary! The brand we use is an Instant Pot 6 Qt Programmable Pressure Cooker. All Instant Pot recipes on this website have been tested using that model, and we also can’t speak to other brands and types of pressure cookers. For example, Instant Pot Mini works differently, so use it at your own risk.

More quick Instant Pot side dish recipes

This Instant Pot cauliflower is one of our favorite easy side dishes! A few more we might recommend:

If you’re looking for more side dish ideas, we’ve got lots! Head to Best Vegetable Side Dishes and 25+ Favorite Side Dish Recipes.

Steamed cauliflower

This Instant Pot cauliflower recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, and vegan.

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Instant Pot Cauliflower

Instant Pot Cauliflower

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

3.3 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Here’s a fast, easy, and healthy side dish: Instant Pot cauliflower! Flavored with lemon zest and Italian seasoning, you won’t be able to stop eating it.


  • 1 small head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (zest from 1/2 lemon)


  1. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Add it to the Instant Pot with the water. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
  2. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 5 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure. (Avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  3. Quick release: Once the timer beeps, vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Open the pressure cooker lid. Test the cauliflower and if it is the desired tenderness, move to Step 4. Otherwise cook an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute. (It depends on pressure cookers, so once you have your desired timing use that each time.)
  4. Carefully remove the cauliflower to a bowl, draining any liquid. Toss with the remaining ingredients. Taste and add additional salt as necessary, then serve. (Store leftovers refrigerated.)
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Vegetables

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Janey fochs says:

    Yes. 2 minutes way too long- it was really mushy.

  2. denise says:

    2 minutes might be ok for entire head, but turn florets to mush. I use a basket over water for zero minutes, and a quick release when adding to something like a curry. One minute quick release is good when mashing.

  3. Barb Eles says:

    2 minutes was perfect. I left the cauliflower in large pieces. Released the pressure as soon as the 2 minutes were up and served with a cheese sauce.

  4. Yvette Harrison says:

    I needed a recipe for steaming cauliflower in my Instant Pot and found you on Google. Just finished zesting the lemon. One of my sides for today’s dinner. I’ll leave a comment on how it turns out.

  5. Alana says:

    I made this exactly as directed (2 minutes on high pressure and then quick release), and it turned out perfect. Such an easy and healthy side dish.

  6. Alexandria says:

    Turned out perfect! My husband was wowed by the flavor and my picky 6 year old finished his plate. I personally wish I had made more because just like you said I didn’t want to stop eating it. Sooo gooood.

  7. Janet Stewart says:

    I went to 0 minutes, quick release….I like my cauliflower al dente. My head was rather large so I used more spices than called for. Also left out the olive oil because I am oil free. Turned out great! That lemon zest gives it just the right touch.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Two minutes was still too much, and 1/2 c water was too little. I ended up with burnt mush. Less time, more water, and a steamer basket next time. The topping idea was good, though.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I made it with 2 minutes and loved the flavor but would use a steamer basket next time and cut the time to 1 and see what happens. Also I am going to try it without tbe oil. I used 1 tablespoon the first time and was very good but am trying to go no oil

    1. Laurie Clark says:

      Followed instructions exactly, and 2 minutes created extremely mushy cauliflower. Bummer because the organic cauliflower I bought was expensive!

      1. Alex Overhiser says:

        I’m so sorry it didn’t work out.

  10. Dan A. says:

    Hi, your Step 2 instruction heading says 3 minutes but the actual recipe says 2 minutes. Thought you might want to update that.

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Type updated: it should be 2 minutes! Thank you.

  11. Anonymous says:

    2 minutes turned cauliflower into mush. Would recommend following others advice and go with 0 , quick release , and check from there.

  12. Anonymous says:

    0 minutes and quick release. Al dente

  13. Michelle says:

    Three minutes was the perfect time to cook a medium size head of cali in my instant pot duo crisp. Seasonings were really good, though I cut the salt in half. My family loved this recipe!

  14. Lee says:

    I tried the 3 minutes, too and the cauliflower was very soft. Would’ve been good for cauliflower mash, as Kathy had mentioned. I did put it under the Mealthy Crisp Lid for five minutes @ 425 and was still soft.

    I think I am going to do the 0 minutes next time and see what I get and perhaps not have the cauliflower sitting in the water.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thank you for the comment! We’ve done some further testing and updated the recipe to reflect variations in Instant Pots!

  15. kathy says:

    Cauliflower turned to mush – 3 minutes is too long to cook a larger head of cauliflower. Ended up making cauliflower mash since it was so overcooked.

    1. Liz says:

      I only wish that I had read your reviews before I put my cauliflower into the Instant Pot at 3 minutes. You can’t use the word cauliflower, Instant Pot, 3 minutes and CRISP in the same recipe, it’s just not happening!

      1. Jeremy Pearson says:

        This turned my cauliflower into absolute mush.

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