Spicy Instant Pot Cauliflower Queso

8 servings
15 min

This Instant Pot cauliflower queso is what everyone wants me to bring to parties and cooking demos.

Serve it on baked tortillas chips, pasta, or slathered over baked potatoes. Or on top of my No Oil Vegan Instant Pot Tamales.

The cauliflower is the bulk, the carrots give it color, and the cashews make it extra creamy. Serve it on baked tortillas chips, pasta, or slathered over baked potatoes.

Cauliflower Is Magic

You can make grilled cauliflower steaks, vegan cauliflower wings, and use it to make silky smooth sauces and dips.

The trick to making cauliflower sauces is to steam them just until a fork will pierce it and you can blend it in your blender. This is what keeps the cauliflower taste to a minimum.

When you overcook cauliflower the cells burst and that’s what makes it have an overwhelming smell. If you cook it until it’s just beginning to soften it tastes much milder.

Do I Have to Have All These Different Chili Powders to make Cauliflower Queso?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is you can use what ever chili powder blend or single chili powders you have on hand.

What I would do is blend everything except the chili powders first. That way you can taste as you go while you experiment with the chili powders.

This recipe comes from my book, The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot. Be sure to get a copy for yourself!

I suggest starting with small amounts and moving from there. Remember you can always add more, but you can’t take it out if you added too much!

Can I Make the Instant Pot Cauliflower Queso without Nuts?

You can leave the cashews out if you are allergic or just don’t eat nuts. It just won’t be extra creamy, but it will still taste amazing!

Cauliflower Queso Recipe Variations

  • skip the carrots to make a white vegan cheese sauce
  • make a pasta sauce by leaving out the chili powders and stir in Italian seasonings or fresh basil
  • Leave out the chili powders and add in chopped pimentos to make a pimento cheese dip

More Recipes to Try

  • No Oil Vegan Instant Pot Tamales
  • Plant Based Instant Pot Potato Salad: Extra Veggies and No Added Oil
  • The Best Instant Pot Chai Tea Concentrate
Spicy Instant Pot Cauliflower Queso
Recipe details
  • 8  servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 5 Minutes Total time: 15 min
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For the Instant Pot
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets, 1 small head of cauliflower
  • 1 cups thick cut carrot coins, about 2 small carrots
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
For the Blender
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • liquid drained from 2 cans RO*TEL, or about
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste, optional
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeno powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon guajillo chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
The Chunky Parts
  • 2 - 10 oz cans diced tomatoes and green chilies, , drained
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1/4 cup minced pickled jalapenos

Add the water to the Instant Pot liner and put a silicone or other vegetable steamer inside.
Add the cauliflower, carrots and cashews to strainer in that order.
Cover and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
Carefully release the pressure manually.
Pour the cooked mixture into a strainer over the sink and drain the water.
Add the drained mixture to your blender with the liquid drained from the cans of diced tomatoes and green chilies and blend well.
Add the smoked paprika, salt, chili powder, ancho powder, chipotle powder, jalapeno powder, guajillo powder, and mustard powder to your blender.
Scrape out the blender contents into mixing bowl and stir in the tomatoes and green chilis chopped cilantro if using and pickled jalepenos if using.
  • If you are salt -free add an additional 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder. This will add in a bite that's similar to salt.
  • Don't like spicy? Leave out the chipotle powder and maybe even the jalapeno to make it extra mild.
Plant Based Instant Pot - Recipes by Kathy Hester
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