Roasted Cauliflower Barley Risotto | Instant Pot recipe

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Instant Pot Roasted Cauliflower Barley Risotto is an easy and impressive side dish that’s mostly hands-off and has tons of flavor from parmesan cheese, fresh time, and tender vegetables. 

Instant Pot roasted cauliflower barley risotto topped with fresh parmesan and parsley, in a large serving bowl.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This mostly hands-off side dish recipe is full of rich umami flavor and has a unique chewy texture that’s more satisfying than soft risotto.

We may be biased, but we think that the Instant Pot is the best way to cook grains that come out perfectly every time. Give it a try with our how-to posts about how to cook Barley, White Rice, Brown Rice, and Quinoa

This is one of our favorite Instant Pot side dish recipes made with grains. If you love it, be sure to try our more traditional Instant Pot Lemon Parmesan Risotto with Baby Peas.

Update: This has been a popular recipe on the blog for years, so we thought we’d freshen up the post with new tips and photos to help you perfect it at home. 


Here’s what you need for the best pressure cooker barley risotto with cauliflower:

  • Cauliflower. You’ll cook this at the same time as the barley either in an oven or an air fryer. 
  • Parmesan. We recommend freshly grated cheese, rather than pre-grated, for the best flavor. 
  • Onion and garlic. These add major flavor to the grains as they cook. 
  • Barley. Look for pearl barley to ensure it cooks fully in the Instant Pot. 
  • Broth. You can use vegetable or chicken broth. Try our homemade Instant Pot broth for tons of flavor. 
  • Thyme and parsley. Herbs add a pop of green and freshness on top of your risotto. 
Roasted Cauliflower on a foil lined sheet pan

How to Make Roasted Cauliflower Barley Risotto in an Instant Pot

This easy recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

You can cook the cauliflower either in the oven or in an air fryer. See the questions section below for air fryer tips. We prefer the air fryer because it’s faster and always comes out crispy. Of course, the oven works great too. 

If you want to roast the florets, start by preheating the oven to 425°F. Toss the cauliflower florets on a foil-lined baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat them well in the seasoning. Roast the cauliflower for 20 minutes, until they’re crisp on the edges and tender. 

When the cauliflower is cooked, toss it with some of the grated parmesan, then return it to the oven for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese. 

Overhead picture of roasted cauliflower barley risotto cooked and ready to serve in an Instant Pot.

Meanwhile, you can make the barley in the Instant Pot. Heat a drizzle of olive oil using the Sauté function and cook the onion until it’s tender and transparent, then add the garlic for a minute to soften it up. 

Next, add the barley, broth, and thyme sprigs and pressure cook on high for 25 minutes. When the cooking time ends, release the pressure manually, then carefully remove the lid. 

There will be some extra liquid in the pressure cooker, so select Sauté and bring the barley to a simmer to reduce the liquid and finish cooking the barley until it’s tender. It’s ok to leave some extra liquid because the cauliflower will also absorb some when you add it. 

Stir the butter and remaining parmesan cheese into the risotto, along with the cheesy roasted cauliflower and fresh parsley. Season the dish to taste, and enjoy!

A spoon full of roasted cauliflower barley risotto scooped from an Instant Pot.

Important Tips for Making Barley Risotto

  • For deeper caramelized flavors, you can roast the onion along with the cauliflower. This is a great reader tip, thanks, Julia!
  • Don’t worry if there’s seems to be too much liquid when you remove the Instant Pot lid. Some of this will reduce when you simmer it, and more will be absorbed by the cauliflower and parmesan you add. Plus, you want your risotto to be soft and creamy, not dry!
  • We recommend using low- or no-sodium broth so you can better control the seasoning. 
  • That said, it’s important to salt the cooking liquid before you pressure cook the grains so they absorb the flavor as they cook. 
Overhead picture of Instant Pot roasted cauliflower barley risotto topped with fresh parmesan and parsley, in a large serving bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions about Instant Pot Barley Risotto

How should I store leftover risotto?

Barley, like all grains, will absorb water as it cools, so this is best enjoyed fresh from the pot. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. To reheat, you may want to add additional broth or water to loosen it up. 

What should I serve with cauliflower barley risotto?

This is a great side dish to serve alongside Pressure Cooker Pork Chops, or Old-Fashioned Instant Pot Pot Roast.

Can I cook the cauliflower in an air fryer?

Yes, we actually prefer to make air fryer cauliflower rather than roast it. To roast the cauliflower florets in the air fryer, toss them in the basket with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cook them at 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing them halfway through, until tender and crispy on the edges. 

Can I make dairy-free barley risotto?

Yes, to make this recipe dairy-free, and even vegan if you use vegetable broth, omit the cheese or use vegan parmesan instead and use olive oil instead of butter. 

Can I add protein to the risotto?

Yes, if you’d like to turn this into a complete meal, you can add your favorite protein, such as cooked shrimp, shredded chicken or pork, or some readers like adding chopped ham or sausage. 

Instant Pot roasted cauliflower barley risotto topped with fresh parmesan and parsley, in a large serving bowl and placed in front of an Instant Pot.

MORE Instant Pot Grain Recipes

The Instant Pot is one of the best ways to cook grains, including these popular recipes:

Pressure Cooker Roasted Cauliflower Barley Risotto with Parmesan Cheese in a white bowl

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Close up picture of Instant Pot roasted cauliflower barley risotto topped with fresh parmesan and parsley, in a large serving bowl.

Roasted Cauliflower Barley Risotto

Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: grains, Meatless
This Instant Pot Roasted Cauliflower Barley Risotto is a hearty and mostly hands-off side dish full of rich, cheesy flavor.
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  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 springs of thyme
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  • Preheat oven to 425°. Cut cauliflower into small florets. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil in a Ziploc bag. Season well with salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spread cauliflower on baking sheet.
  • Roast until almost tender, about 20 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. Sprinkle cauliflower with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, and roast until cauliflower is tender, approximately 5 minutes more.
  • While cauliflower is roasting, select Sauté and heat 1 tablespoon oil in pressure cooker pot. Sauté the onion until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
  • Add barley, broth and thyme to the cooking pot. Cover and lock lid in place. Select High Pressure and 25 minutes cook time. When timer beeps, turn off and use a quick pressure release.
  • Select Sauté and cook uncovered, stirring often until barley is tender and liquid is reduced until it’s thick and creamy. (The cauliflower will absorb some of the liquid when you add it.) Remove thyme stems.
  • Mix in butter and 1/4 cup Parmesan until blended. Mix in roasted cauliflower and fresh parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately topped with additional grated Parmesan cheese.


Calories: 218kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 98mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg


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