Instant Pot Whole Cauliflower

When it comes to Instant Pot cauliflower recipes, this one is definitely a must-try! A whole head of cauliflower is perfectly pressure cooked with a delicious spice rub, then finished with a sweetened glaze and garlic, thyme bread crumbs. It’s beautiful, impressive, festive and easy to make. Serve it as a plant-based, vegetarian main or as a side for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter or a special dinner.

If you’ve never tried cooking a whole cauliflower, this is a great recipe to give it a go. As a dish, it’s impressive looking, and can be served as a centrepiece at any dinner gathering. Normally, roasting the whole head of cauliflower takes quite a long time but we’re using the Instant Pot pressure cooker to speed up this process.


The cauliflower is rubbed with butter or dairy-free margarine before getting a lovely spice mix rubbed all over it. Once inside the Instant Pot, it will pressure cook for five minutes on HIGH, which will soften it and get all those spices and fat melted into the vegetable. 

While the cauliflower is cooking, you will prepare the garlic bread crumbs and a tomato-y glaze. You can then finish the cauliflower in the oven for 10 minutes (to get a nice crust) or you can serve it without. We’ve provided notes in the instructions in the recipe card below for both cases. Here is a handy video to show you how to make this Instant Pot cauliflower recipe.



The glaze sauce is a little sweet and tomato-based and it’s totally up to you if you want to use it. Cauliflower will have plenty of flavor from the spice rub and the garlic crumbs, so if you want to simplify the recipe, the glaze can be omitted. Alternatively, you can brush it with your favourite BBQ sauce.


Whether you use the glaze or not, you also have the option to finish the cauliflower in the oven. We put the cauliflower in a hot oven for 10 minutes to get a bit of a crust, but if you don’t have an oven or it’s occupied by another dish, you can certainly go without.



You can serve the whole cauliflower on a round platter or a cutting board. Make sure to discard any juices from the baking dish before topping the cauliflower with the bread crumbs to keep them crunchy. Otherwise, any crumbs that fall to the bottom might get soggy from the cooking juices. It’s not a big deal and they will still taste delicious. We topped ours with a few extra seeds and dried cranberries for that festive Christmas look.

Use a fork to hold the cauliflower in place when you cut it. You can slice out a wedge or cut away a few florets and dish them out with a few garlic crumbs on top.

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Instant Pot Whole Cauliflower

Instant Pot Whole Cauliflower

  • Author: Instant Pot Eats
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian


Rubbed with warm spices and finished with a tomato-y glaze, this whole-cooked Instant Pot cauliflower dish is served with garlic and thyme bread crumbs for that crunchy finish. This plant-based, vegetarian dish will surely impress your dinner guests.


For the spice rub

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp dried thyme

1.5 tsp paprika

1 tsp coriander seed powder

1 tsp salt

1 whole cauliflower

20 g / 1 tbsp butter or dairy-free alternative

For the garlic crumbs

1 cup chopped stale bread (we used old sourdough)

1 tbsp butter or margarine/olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp salt

For the glaze (optional) 

1.5 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce

Other toppings: pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, fresh herbs

You will need an Instant Pot trivet and ideally a steaming basket


  • Preheat the oven to 250 C / 480 F if you want to finish the cauliflower with a little roasting.
  • Mix the spice rub in a bowl and rub the cauliflower all over with butter. Sprinkle with the spices and rub them in on all sides. Place cauliflower inside a round baking tin or a steamer basket, if you have one.
  • Add a cup of water to the Instant Pot and place the trivet on the bottom. Place the cauliflower dish on top the trivet or place the cauli head directly on the trivet and close the lid. Set the Instant Pot to Manual/Pressure Cook, HIGH pressure for 5 minutes.
  • While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare the crumbs and the glaze (if using).
  • Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the butter or other cooking fat/oil. Once melted, add the diced bread and toss through. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring a couple of times, before adding the garlic, lemon zest, thyme and salt. Stir and cook together for another minute or two, until garlic gets fragrant and golden (don’t let it burn to get too brown though, as it will turn bitter). Set aside.
  • Whisk the glaze ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  • Once the Instant Pot timer’s up, release the pressure manually using the quick release if you plan to finish the cauliflower in the oven. If not, allow the pressure to release naturally.
  • If roasting, transfer the pre-cooked cauliflower head carefully to a baking dish lined with parchment paper and brush the glaze all over. Pop in the hot oven for 10 minutes to get a nice crust. If not roasting, simply brush with the glaze.
  • Top the cauliflower with the garlic bread crumbs (make sure to discard excess cooking juices from under the cauliflower first so that crumbs don’t get soggy). Add any other toppings you like.
  • To serve, cut the cauliflower into wedges and serve with some crumbs over the top.


  • Serving Size: 4 florets with glaze and crumbs
  • Calories: 163
  • Sugar: 6.6 g
  • Sodium: 929.7 mg
  • Fat: 6.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24.1 g
  • Fiber: 3.7 g
  • Protein: 5.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 12.2 mg


Instant pot whole cauliflower

Instant Pot Recipes
By Instant Pot Eats

About us: We are a team of Instant Pot enthusiasts, who love good food and cooking. Our blog is dedicated to delicious Instant Pot recipes you can make using your trusted pressure cooker.
PS. This post may contain Amazon affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission for purchases made through these links. 

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  1. 5 minutes was way too long for my cauliflower today. Flavour is great. Texture is way to mushy. Will try 3 minutes next time. Not giving up!,

    1. Was this for a whole head of cauliflower or was it cup up or perhaps a small head? That would make a difference.

  2. this recipe tasted good, but the cauliflower was terribly overcooked at 5 min. and was mushy. It fell apart before I could even get it in the oven to brown. It was disappointing. I would try it again, but not in the instant pot. I think it would be better in the oven. Easier to track when it is done just right.

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