Instant Pot Spiced Quinoa and Cauliflower Rice Bowls

A flavorful and healthy vegan meal featuring turmeric, cumin, and coriander spiced quinoa, cauliflower rice, and tofu!

Instant Pot Spiced Quinoa and Cauliflower Rice Bowls

I’ve been wanting to make quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah”) in the Instant Pot since I got it. It’s one of my go-to side dishes for years.

Did you know that quinoa is not actually a grain, but a seed? I just like using it as an easy to prepare, gluten-free option that’s awesome to bulk up a meal.

By adding easy-to-make cauliflower rice along with other flavourful ingredients and spices, you’ve got a filling, healthy, and satisfying meal.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Instant Pot Spiced Quinoa and Cauliflower Rice Bowls!

How do you make these Quinoa and Cauliflower Rice Bowls?

Red bell peppers, tofu, dry quinoa, sliced almonds, cauliflower, onion, lemon, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and vegetable broth.

All the ingredients for this tasty and nutritious Instant Pot meal that’s perfect as a main dish or as a side dish! Full ingredients quantities and complete instructions listed in the recipe card below.

Sautéed onions, garlic, ginger with dry quinoa, tofu, bell peppers, spices, and broth in the Instant Pot.

Sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger with toasted quinoa and then stir in the fragrant spices, before adding in the red bell pepper, tofu, and broth in the Instant Pot. Then seal the lid and cook for only ONE MINUTE at high pressure!

Cooked spiced quinoa, tofu, and bell peppers with cauliflower rice in the Instant Pot.

When it’s ready, the quinoa is perfectly cooked (chewy and fluffy) and the tofu and bell pepper are tender, but holds it’s shape.

In the photo above, the cauliflower rice is to the side and is ready to be mixed in with the rest of ingredients. Once combined together, cover with the lid (do not seal) and let it sit for five minutes.

Overhead view of spiced quinoa and cauliflower rice in a large bowl that's topped with cilantro and almonds.

Add in the sliced almond, fresh cilantro, lemon juice and give it a gentle stir. Taste for additional salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Some Cauliflower Tips:

If using a fresh cauliflower, look for a creamy white, compact body with firm green leaves at its base; avoid spotted, dull (grey) coloured cauliflower.

What if I want to make cauliflower rice from a whole cauliflower?

Remove the green leaves and hard root base, and cut into large pieces. Rice the cauliflower by using a food processor fitted with the grater attachment (that’s what I did) or by using a box grater with medium-holes (the ones used to grate cheese), to grate the cauliflower into the size of rice. I like to do this as the quinoa cooks in the Instant Pot.

Why not add in the cauliflower rice with the quinoa to cook in the Instant Pot?

It will turn the cauliflower into mash. Our first batch contained cauliflower florets with the quinoa mixture and it broke down quite easily into a soft mushy mixture even after only one minute of high pressure in the Instant Pot.

Letting it rest in the heat of the quinoa will allow it to maintain its shape and produce a nice tender-crisp texture.

Overall, these Instant Pot Rice Bowls are:

  • Healthy: It’s jammed pack of vitamins and nutrients. For example, quinoa is high in fiber, iron, protein, and manganese, which contributes to maintaining healthy bones. Cauliflower is full of nutrients. For instance, it’s high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, and very low in calories.
  • Flavourful: The lovely spices including ground turmeric, cumin, and coriander absorbs into the ingredients and gives the firm tofu, slightly nutty white quinoa, and cauliflower rice a pretty golden-yellow colour.

    • This combination of spices is fragrant and very mild in spicy-heat. Turmeric, which also has anti-inflammatory properties, features a pungent (almost mustardy), and earthy-sweet taste, cumin is earthy, mildly spicy and peppery, and coriander has earthy and lemony flavours.
    • To add, the zesty and bright profile of lemon juice and citrusy, aromatic fresh cilantro heightens the overall flavours of this filling meal. If you dislike cilantro, you can substitute with parsley or leave it out all together.
    • Aromatic sautéed onions, garlic, and ginger provide savoury, mildly sweet and spicy notes that give the meal a rich umami flavour.
    • The chopped red bell pepper gives the dish a mild sweetness too.
  • Full of different textures: chewy yet creamy curly-tailed quinoa, tender tofu and bell pepper, tender-crisp cauliflower rice, and crunchy almonds give this dish a wonderful mix of textures that’s different with each bite.
  • Fast and easy to make: It’s simple to prepare and it only takes one minute at high pressure in the Instant Pot!
  • Vegan and gluten-free: A great option for those with these dietary restrictions. When looking for tofu, be mindful to ensure the variety you select is free of ingredients (e.g. flavourings) that may contain gluten.
Spiced quinoa, cauliflower rice, tofu, bell pepper, sliced almonds, and cilantro in a large bowl.

Check out these other vegan Instant Pot recipes! (I like soup)

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you try this recipe, please leave a comment and rating below or share on any of my social media! I’m @yay_for_food on Instagram.

Instant Pot Spiced Quinoa and Cauliflower Rice Bowls

Instant Pot Spiced Quinoa and Cauliflower Rice Bowls

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 24 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A flavorful and healthy vegan meal featuring turmeric, cumin, and coriander spiced quinoa, cauliflower rice, and tofu!


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (low sodium), divided
  • 12 oz (350g) firm tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 lb (4 cups) cauliflower rice *(see first note)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 2-4 tbsp lemon juice *(see second note)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Using the “sauté” function on the Instant Pot, add olive oil and sauté onions until soft and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add in quinoa, garlic, ginger and stir for another minute or two to allow the quinoa to lightly toast. Then stir in the spices, including salt and pepper, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Deglaze by pouring in 2 tablespoons of broth, stirring and scraping the bottom of pot to remove/dissolve any brown bits.
  4. Add in the tofu, bell pepper, and remaining broth into the pot. Give the ingredients a good stir to distribute throughout the vessel. Press “cancel” to turn off the Instant Pot.
  5. Seal the Instant Pot and cook at high pressure (“manual”/"pressure cook" function) for 1 minute ***(see third note). After it is ready, allow natural pressure release for 5 minutes before quick pressure release to completely depressurize (until floating valve drops).
  6. Open the Instant Pot and stir in the cauliflower rice with the rest of the ingredients *(see first note). Cover with the lid (do not seal) and let it sit for 5 minutes to allow the cauliflower rice to soften slightly (tender crisp) in the heat.
  7. Last, add in the sliced almond, fresh cilantro, lemon juice and give it a gentle stir *(see second note). Taste for additional salt and pepper. Scoop into bowls and serve warm.


  • *I used a half of a medium cauliflower. If using a fresh cauliflower, remove the green leaves and hard root base, and cut into large pieces. Rice the cauliflower by using a food processor fitted with the grater attachment (that’s what I did) or by using a box grater with medium-holes (the ones used to grate cheese), to grate the cauliflower into the size of rice. I like to do this as the quinoa cooks in the Instant Pot.
  • **One medium lemon produces around ¼ cup of lemon juice. I tend to like a lemony dish so I used a full lemon amount of juice. Adjust according to preference.
  • ***It takes 10-15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure.
  • Nutritional calories represent one serving with eight servings total.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 8.2gCarbohydrates: 21.3gProtein: 11.2g

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35 thoughts on “Instant Pot Spiced Quinoa and Cauliflower Rice Bowls”

  • Loving this recipe idea for rice bowls, so many wholesome ingredients, all wonderfully good for you. Such a good idea for a mid-week supper, after a busy day this would just be so satisfying.

    • Hi! I’m making this as we speak. I did everything as suggested, except I followed the chicken in place of tofu comment. When I opened the instant pot to add the cauliflower it was still super liquidy and the quinoa not fully cooked. But I didn’t fully grasp that until I had added the cauliflower rice. So I just ran it again pressurized for 1 more minute. Do you have any guesses as to why it didn’t cook fully and was still so wet? Also, with chicken: fully cooking it as suggested, THEN pressure cooking it, ends up being too much. Chicken is a little tough. Any ideas on how long to cook it pink, then use pressure to cook the rest of the way? Thanks. Other than that, it sure smells good!

      • Hi Alexa! When I was researching for this recipe, I found that cook times for quinoa to be relatively consistent so I’m not why it would not be fully cooked. It might appear wet initially, but I find that once the cauliflower rice is added, it comes together. For the chicken, I think the additional pressurizing time might have overcooked it. If you decide to make this recipe again with chicken, I would recommend sautéing until fully cooked, removing the chicken from the pot, and then adding it back in the end. I hope that you enjoyed the flavour regardless.

  • I love my Instant Pot and quinoa dishes so definitely have to give this recipe a try – the bowls look delicious!

  • my default for quinoa is mediterranean-ish, with plenty of feta and olives and herbs. not sure why, but it tastes so good that i keep doing it. this spice-y version sounds like a good way to mix it up though!

  • This rice bowl is nutrition packed and full of flavor. I try to incorporate turmeric into my cooking for its nutritional value, but I need to do it more. This is such a great recipe, Marie!

  • Its a great recipe and nicely detailed for a total instant pot noob like myself. I did change a couple things though: I put triple or quadruple the amount of spices in it and added a ton of curry powder, some cayenne for a kick, and did use a whole lemon. I also toasted the almond slivers in a dry pan with the curry powder for more flavor. It was deliciousss! But then again I like things with as much spice as Indian food.

    • Thanks Aimee! I’m a spice wimp although I like a little heat! I’m glad you enjoy this recipe. Thanks for trying this one!

  • This looks amazing! I know it’s a vegan dish but do you know how it could be modified to make with chicken instead of tofu?

    • Hi! I would sauté the chicken (that’s chopped into small pieces) along with the onions (Step 1) until the chicken is fully cooked. Then proceed with the recipe as written. Hope this helps!

    • Hi Greg! I don’t think that Farro would work for this recipe. The cook time at high pressure for Farro in the Instant Pot is 10 minutes while quinoa only requires 1 minute. Hope this helps!

  • Love this dish! I did the spices the way you recommended, but will probably add more next time. I topped it with cilantro, crushed almonds (I like a big crunch), and chili lime hot sauce and it is perfection!
    Have you ever made this using any different spice combinations?

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, Anya! I’ve never tried this recipe using different spice combinations, but I can imagine a Mexican spice blend would work well.

    • Hi Janae! Yes, you can use pre-made cauliflower rice. I’ve never tried using it (I’ve only used fresh), but I believe the taste will still be great.

    • I used organic riced cauliflower (store bought) and it worked wonderfully – but I did use the fresh and not the frozen kind.

  • This recipe sounds delicious! I’ve been trying to find vegan Instant Pot, easy recipes. This sounds like the ONE. Do you know if halfing this recipe will still come out the same? I’m only cooking for two of us. (Though I plan to bribe my kids into trying it 😉

  • This recipe is fabulous! I used it my son’s high school teacher appreciation luncheon. It was a hit! I was asked a few times if I was chef. I had to admit that here is where I got the recipe from. FYI it doubles nicely. Although in my pot it was tight once I added the cauliflower and cilantro. But it was great to see everyone really enjoying a vegan dish – even the doubters! Sooo Good! Thanks!

    • It makes me so happy that everyone enjoyed this recipe. This comment really made my week. Thank you Oscar!

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