Instant Pot Vegan Makhani Sauce

Creamy Vegan Makhani Sauce made in the Instant Pot!

This one pot sauce is versatile and can be paired with your choice of veggies, chickpeas, tofu for a creamy curry.

Serve over rice or with naan for a delicious meal!

If you love all the Instant Pot vegetarian/vegan recipes that I share on the blog, please join me on this Facebook Group – Instant Pot Vegetarian Recipes. The group would feature vegetarian instant pot recipes from all around the web!

shot of vegan makhani sauce with cauliflower and green peas served over white rice and garnished with cilantro.

If you are looking for a nice creamy sauce to pair with your naan and rice and which is also easy to prepare, then you are in the right place today.

This Vegan Makhani Sauce is without the makhan (butter) and so easy to make in the Instant Pot!

Sarvesh doesn’t like coconut based sauces at all. If he smells coconut, he will stay away from it.

Which is strange because he loves coconut ice cream and coconut flavor in everything else except Indian curries.

But this vegan makhani sauce was approved by him. He said if I wouldn’t have told him it’s vegan, he wouldn’t have been able to guess it. Now that’s a  win for me!

This Vegan Makhani Sauce

✔ is easy one-pot sauce

✔ without the butter!

✔ gets its creaminess from cashews and coconut cream

✔ freezes well for easy meals during busy days

✔ is vegan and also gluten-free

The prep work for this sauce involves chopping the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato and green chili (if using).

Once you have done that, you only need to saute them, add the spices, water and then pressure cook until it’s all cooked and done.

You then blend the sauce to a smooth consistency. You may use your immersion blender (then you can blend it right away) or wait for few minutes until it cools down a bit and then use your regular blender.

I prefer my regular blender since it results in a smoother sauce but of course on busy days, I just usually use my immersion blender straight away.

The base for this vegan makhani sauce contains cashews with onion, ginger, garlic and tomatoes.

I add some tomato paste to increase the depth of flavors and then add spices like coriander, garam masala and kashmiri red chili powder.

Please note that kashmiri red chili powder is not the same as red chili powder/cayenne pepper. It’s very mild and mostly added to give curries a bright red color.

vegan makhani sauce served in a white bowl with some cilantro on the side

The final bit is adding the coconut cream and then finishing off with cardamom powder and kasuri methi.

If you don’t have coconut cream, use the top thickened part of full fat coconut milk. You can add anywhere between 1/4 to even 1/2 cup, it depends on how much you like the coconut flavor in your curries.

If I am making this for Sarvesh, I would probably not add more than 1/4 cup of coconut cream.

This sauce also freezes well. You can read more about freezing directions in the recipe notes.

Serving Ideas for Vegan Makhani Sauce

So, you have made the sauce and now what do you add to it?

Anything literally. It goes well with any vegetable. Once, I roasted some cauliflower with salt and turmeric while making the sauce and then added the roasted cauliflower to the sauce once that was done.

You can add potatoes, beans, carrots, peppers, greens (cooked of course)!

Other than vegetable, tofu is another great addition. Also paneer if you are not vegan.

Beans and chickpeas can also be added to the sauce for another hearty meal.

And the best pairing of this sauce is with rice in my opinion but naan would be great too.

Method

1- Press the saute button on the instant pot. Once it displays hot, add the oil and then add the bay leaf, garlic, green chili, ginger and broken cashews. Saute for 1 minute.

2- Then add the chopped tomato.

3- Add the tomato paste, coriander powder, kashmiri red chili powder, garam masala, salt and sugar.

4- Stir in 1 cup water. If your instant pot has “burn” problem, don’t stir the tomato paste with everything else. Just push everything slightly under water with a spatula.

If your instant pot doesn’t have the “burn issue”, give a quick stir.

step by step pictures collage of making vegan makhani sauce in the instant pot

5- Close the pot with its lid. Press the manual or pressure cook button and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes, with the pressure valve in the sealing position

6- Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and then do a quick pressure release by manually moving the sealing valve from sealing to venting position. Open the pot and remove the bay leaf.

7- Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut cream and blend to a smooth sauce using your immersion blender. Or wait for few minutes until the sauce cools down a bit and then use a regular blender.

8- Press the saute again. Add the cardamom powder and kasuri methi. Stir and let the sauce simmer for 2 minutes until it’s all heated through.

step by step pictures collage of making vegan makhani sauce in the instant pot

Add your cooked veggies/tofu/chickpeas etc. Let simmer for 2 more minutes.

Garnish with cilantro and serve vegan makhani sauce with rice or bread of choice!

pair of hands holding a bowl of curry and rice from one side and digging into the bowl with a spoon from another hand

If you’ve tried this Vegan Makhani Sauce then don’t forget to rate the recipe! You can also follow me on FacebookInstagram to see what’s latest in my kitchen!

Vegan Makhani Sauce

Vegan Makhani Sauce is easy to make in the Instant Pot and makes a great base for a creamy vegan curry! Add your favorite veggies, tofu, chickpeas etc. and serve over rice for a hearty meal!

shot of vegan makhani sauce with cauliflower and green peas served over white rice and garnished with cilantro.
Course Entree
Cuisine Indian
Keyword vegan makhani sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 171 kcal
Author: Manali
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 tablespoons oil, 22 ml, use oil of choice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5-6 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 green chili, chopped, skip if you like less spicy
  • 1 inch ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons broken raw cashews
  • 5 medium tomatoes, around 550 grams, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablepoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder, for color
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt , or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup water, 8 oz
  • 1/4-1/3 cup coconut cream, adjust to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed kasuri methi, dried fenugreek leaves
  • cilantro, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Press the saute button on the instant pot. Once it displays hot, add the oil and then add the bay leaf, garlic, green chili, ginger and broken cashews. Saute for 1 minute.

  2. Then add the chopped tomatoes.

  3. Add the tomato paste, coriander powder, kashmiri red chili powder, garam masala, salt and sugar.

  4. Stir in 1 cup water. If your instant pot has "burn" problem, don't stir the tomato paste with everything else. Just push everything slightly under water with a spatula. If your instant pot doesn't have the "burn issue", give a quick stir.

  5. Close the pot with its lid. Press the manual or pressure cook button and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes, with the pressure valve in the sealing position. 

  6. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and then do a quick pressure release by manually moving the sealing valve from sealing to venting position. Open the pot and remove the bay leaf.

  7. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut cream and blend to a smooth sauce using your immersion blender. Or wait for few minutes until the sauce cools down a bit and then use a regular blender.

  8. Press the saute again. Add the cardamom powder and kasuri methi. Stir and let the sauce simmer for 2 minutes until it's all heated through.

  9. Add your cooked veggies/tofu/chickpeas etc. Let simmer for 2 more minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve vegan makhani sauce with rice or bread of choice!

Recipe Notes

1. If you want to freeze this sauce,  let the sauce cool completely and then freeze individual portions - 1/4 cup per cube in ice cube trays. Thaw directly in the pan and add veggies of choice when you want to make your meal. 

2. The sauce thickens as it cools down because of cashews and coconut cream. Add some water while re-heating.

3. This sauce isn't spicy. If you would like more heat, add some cayenne pepper/red chili powder along with other spices.

Nutrition Facts
Vegan Makhani Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 171 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 20%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Sodium 256mg 11%
Potassium 461mg 13%
Total Carbohydrates 13g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 6g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 27.1%
Vitamin C 29.1%
Calcium 2.2%
Iron 6.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

4 thoughts on “Instant Pot Vegan Makhani Sauce

  1. Manali, you have one of the best recepies on your site but you have not created ‘search’ on your site. I can’t find my favorite ones

    1. Hi Rekha, I am so glad you enjoy the recipes! There’s a search box, if you are on mobile just click on those 3 horizontal lines on the upper right hand side of the screen and a drop down menu will appear which will have the search box. And on desktop, the search box is clearly visible on the upper right hand side. hope that helps!

  2. Hi Manali,

    Can we use Tomato sauce instead of paste or skip the paste altogether? Or any other substitute for it

    Thanks.
    Manju

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