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Instant Pot Lentil Cauliflower Curry

July 21, 2017 by Ginger Hultin MS RDN

How are you using your instant pot or slow-cooker these days? I’m so intrigued by Instant Pots. They look like digital crockpots and they work a bit like magic. You put the ingredients into the bowl of it, shut the top, and even a recipe like this Instant Pot Lentil Cauliflower Curry full of lentils and vegetables will cook in 5 minutes. That’s right – the ‘cook time’ on this one is 5 minutes. I’m breaking down the how and the why in this post but all you really need to know is that instant pots are awesome and make your life easier. But don’t worry, if you don’t have one yet, you can adapt this recipe to your slow-cooker or crock-pot with no issues at all. It will just take a little longer.

I’m really excited about this recipe because it’s naturally vegan, it’s a fun way to use hearty veggies like cauliflower and carrots but you can also weave in pantry staples like tomato sauce, rice and lentils. Even a teen could make this so it is a great step for your family to move into cooking and meal prepping – whether you’re trying to inspire young people to get involved or if perhaps you, yourself, aren’t much of a cook and need an easy way to create healthy meals.

Instant Pot Lentil Cauliflower Curry

Why Instant Pot?

I’m a bit of a slow cooker snob. I used to feel like it wasn’t an urban-girl piece of equipment to use. Also, I’m often gone from the house for 12+ hours per day so how am I going to run an 8-hour slow cooker? I use my slow cooker mostly to create recipes that I can keep an eye on at home and also to make some of my favorite recipes such as my Spiced Apple Cider Bourbon Punch. Another convenient use for a slow cooker is a work-from-home day. Assemble it in the morning and when you’re done working, dinner is ready without having to do a lot of meal prep. With our busy family, working smarter land making recipes like this ahead of time is necessary if we’re ever going to eat in.

Instant pots are great for cooking meals when you don’t want to have a slow cooker running all day. I was really happy with the way this recipe turned out and could not believe it took only 15 minutes. A few things to know about instant pots (although I am still figuring out some of the tricks and features). Many recipes will list the cook time as just 5 minutes – yes it’s true, my recipe here technically cooked in five minutes but it does take a little time for the instant pot to seal. So I’d say this recipe took more like 15 minutes.

If you haven’t used an instant pot before – they are super cool. They are programmable – so you’ll see options on the buttons such as “steam” or “slow cook” or “egg” and it’s a ‘multicooker’ which means it cooks in a variety of ways, making your life easier as you’re able to do more things with one tool. You can slow cook (so you really won’t need that slow cooker anymore…), pressure cook – that’s the speed setting that I use in this recipe, cook rice, steam foods, keep foods warm or even make yogurt.

When you use the high-heat, pressure cooking option like you will for the Instant Pot Lentil Cauliflower Curry, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the food is done. What would take hours in other appliances are done in minutes in this one. It’s very interesting that the longest part of the process is the “warm-up” which is when the pressure is building and the pot is sealing. The actual cooking part takes just minutes but then, the pot will have to lower the pressure and release some of the steam built up so that it’s safe to open. They’re so automated now that they’re very safe an all of this is automated. They’re nothing like the old-school pressure cookers of days gone by.

Making the Instant Pot Lentil Cauliflower Curry

Slow Cooker Lentil and Cauliflower Curry has savory flavors and tons of veggies for maximum fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Lentils themselves are pretty incredible. They contain nutrients like iron, zinc, and B-vitamins in addition to being packed with protein and SERIOUS fiber as well. To put fiber in perspective, recommendations are 30-38 grams a day for men and 25 grams a day for women and a cup of lentils offers 16 grams. A dish like this is so perfect for long lasting energy through the typical afternoon slump.

To prepare this, you literally combine all the ingredients in your instant pot, set it and let is pressure cook. I included slow cooker instructions as well because I know that not everyone has an instant pot yet. You can’t go wrong either way. Feel free to adapt, as always, and add or subtract veggies, herbs and spices to suit your taste.

I really hope you enjoy this simple Slow Cooker Lentil and Cauliflower Curry recipe!

If you’re in search of other healthy summer recipes, check out my spicy vegan zucchini boats, salad skewers with peanut dressing, or spicy cauliflower stir fry with shrimp and peanuts!

What do you make in your instant pot or slow cooker?

Instant Pot Lentil Cauliflower Curry

Make this ahead for a savory dinner AND leftovers for your weekly meal prep
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Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Americana
Keyword: curry, easy vegan dressing, instantpot, vegetarian
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 12


  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger freshly grated
  • 2 cups brown lentils rinsed
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower chopped into bite size florets
  • 3 Tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 30 ounces tomato sauce canned
  • 25 ounces water (shake it up in the used tomato sauce jar!)
  • 2 cups brown or white rice - try freezer variety prepared by cooking or heating up (if frozen)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro chopped roughly


  • Instant Pot
    Combine all ingredients except rice and cilantro into the base of the instant pot. Set to high pressure and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Slow Cooker
    Place all ingredients except rice and cilantro into a 4-quart electric slow cooker; stir well and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  • Serve over brown rice and top with cilantro.
Tried this recipe?Mention @champagnenutrition


  1. Abby on December 3, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Instructions says to put all ingredients rice, cilantro and pepper into pot. It then says to cook rice and sprinkle with cilantro and pepper…. should the first line of the instructions read place all ingredients EXCEPT for rice, cilantro and pepper into crock pot?

    • Ginger Hultin on December 4, 2019 at 1:37 pm

      Thank you Abby! I need to rework this recipe – thank you for pointing that out! However, this is a really good recipe and I love how hands off it is. Enjoy!

      • Abby on December 10, 2019 at 12:11 pm

        No problem… it was a question though… so I will assume it should say all EXCEPT?

        • Ginger Hultin on December 13, 2019 at 9:03 am

          I’m actually going to update this next week! Thanks for the feedback – this is such a great winter recipe

  2. Summer on August 19, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    This was great. The whole family enjoyed it. I served it with rice and garlic naan. I wasn’t quite sure whether I was supposed to do a manual pressure release or let the pressure naturally release. I ended up just letting it release naturally while I was preparing the garlic and butter for my naan. That worked out great. Lentils were perfect – not mushy.

    • Ginger Hultin on August 23, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      Oh awesome! You did a great job meal prepping and multi-tasking. So glad this was a win for you 🙂

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Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO

Integrative nutrition specialist helping clients navigate complex health conditions to reduce inflammation and feel better.

Thanks for visiting! If you're struggling with a cancer diagnosis, autoimmune condition, gut health problems, or even a medical mystery, nutrition can make a HUGE difference in your day-to-day life. I run a virtual, concierge private practice where I partner with my clients over time to help them improve their health through nutrition. Be sure to visit the blog for easy, plant-based, anti-inflammatory recipes and our "Resources" page for a variety of self-paced programs, books, e-books, and nutrition podcast episodes.

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