Simple Instant Pot Vegan Appetizers For, Well, Anytime

You don't need too much of an excuse to eat too many finger foods.

By Olivia Taylor

Throwing a cocktail party with a vegan menu can be intimidating, especially if you are not used to cooking plant based meals. But, with the right tools it really doesn’t have to be scary. Your best bet is that Instant Pot you got for the holidays (last year), but still haven’t used yet.

Here’s a few plant based instant pot vegan appetizers (yes that’s a mouthful) that will leave you enough time to really focus on your mixology game. You got this.

Steamed Spring Rolls With Mushrooms, Napa Cabbage and Bamboo Shoots

Calling things “finger food” feels weird since we’re all adults here, so let’s just call these spring rolls from One Green Planet the perfect cocktail party snack.


  • 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage

  • 1 cup sliced bamboo shoots

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

  • 12 spring roll wrappers

  • 2 cups water


  • Combine the cabbage, bamboo shoots, cilantro, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, soy sauce, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Stir until just combined.

  • Place the spring roll wrappers on a flat surface.

  • Top each wrapper with an equal amount of the cabbage mixture, making a row down the center. Roll up the wrappers, tuck in the ends, and place side by side in the steamer basket.

  • Add the water to the Instant Pot™ and insert the steamer basket. Lock the lid into place, press the Steam button, and adjust cook time to 3 minutes. When the timer beeps, let pressure release naturally until float valve drops and then unlock lid. Remove rolls from pot and serve warm.

Notes Spring roll wrappers are also known as rice paper because they are made from rice flour, and rolled into thin, translucent sheets. Before using them you must briefly soak them in water so they become soft and pliable for rolling up the spring roll filling.

Vegan Sloppy Joe Sliders

Burgers are better when they're tiny. And these little plant-based dudes from Pass The Plants are hearty enough to make sure your friends don’t take those cocktails too hard.


  • 1 cup green/brown lentils

  • 1 cup red lentils

  • 3 cups water

  • 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes (I love the Muir Glen Fire Roasted variety)

  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 Tablespoons Vegan Worcestershire sauce (I love The Wizard’s brand or Annie’s Naturals)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 large onion (chopped)

  • 1 sweet bell pepper or poblano pepper (chopped)

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil (optional)

  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (optional)

  • 1 cup Vegan Ground Beef (optional)


  • Sauté onion, salt, and bell pepper for 3 minutes.

  • Add cumin and oregano and cook for 1 minute.

  • Add tomato paste and stir to coat and cook for another minute or two.

  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir throughly, making sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot.

  • Bring to high pressure and cook for 13 minutes.

  • Allow for a natural release, stir, and serve over toasted hamburger buns.

  • Optional: Stir in 1 cup of vegan ground beef after pressure is released and simmer on sauté function before serving.


Take these to the next level and top them with a hearty helping of Vegan Southwestern Coleslaw.

Cauliflower Queso

Because, liquid (vegan) cheese > (vegan) cheese plate. Need we sell this recipe from Epicurious any harder?


Instant Pot Ingredients

  • 2 cups (214 g) cauliflower florets (about 1⁄2 head small cauliflower)

  • 1 cup (237 ml) water

  • 3⁄4 cup (96 g) thick-cut carrot coins 1⁄4 cup (34 g) raw cashews

Blender Ingredients

  • 1⁄4 cup (24 g) nutritional yeast

  • Liquid drained from 1 (10-oz ) can diced tomatoes with green chiles (I like Rotel)

  • 1⁄2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1⁄2 tsp salt (or to taste)

  • 1⁄4 tsp chili powder

  • 1⁄4 tsp jalapeño powder (page 56), optional

  • 1⁄8 tsp mustard powder

Mix-In Ingredients

  • 1 (10-oz ) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained (I like Rotel)

  • 1⁄2 cup (75 g) chopped bell pepper (optional)

  • 2 tbsp (30 g) minced red onion (optional)

  • 1⁄4 cup (4 g) minced cilantro


  • For the Instant Pot, add the cauliflower, water, carrots and cashews to your Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes, then carefully do a quick pressure release by moving the valve to release the pressure.

  • Pour the cooked mixture into a strainer over the sink and drain the extra water.

  • For the blender, put the drained mixture along with the nutritional yeast, liquid drained from the canned tomatoes, smoked paprika, salt, chili powder, jalapeño powder (if using) and mustard powder into your blender. Blend until smooth.

  • For the mix-ins, scrape out the blender contents into a mixing bowl and stir in the tomatoes and green chiles, bell pepper (if using), minced onion (if using) and cilantro.


You can serve this at room temperature or keep it warm on the lowest slow cooker setting.

Vegan Mini Meatballs

If you stick a toothpick in it... it counts as an appetizer. Get your meat-free meatball on with these lil’ minis c/o Fried Dandelions.


  • 1/4 cup water

  • ~1 1/2 to 2 pounds of frozen vegan meatballs (I used 2 bags of Trader Joe's meatballs, 2 bags of Gardein meatballs, or 1 bag of Ikea meatballs)

  • 1 1/2 cups barbeque sauce

  • 1 14 ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon water


  • Pour the water into the Instant Pot .

  • Add the frozen meatballs on top.

  • Pour the barbeque sauce on top of the meatballs.

  • Mash up the cranberry sauce and pour that on top of the barbeque sauce, using a spoon to cover the meatballs slightly.

  • Turn the Instant Pot on and set it to high pressure/manual for 5 minutes, being sure to also set it to sealing.

  • Once the Instant Pot has come to pressure and cooked for 5 minutes, allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes.

  • After 5 minutes, turn the valve to venting and allow the pressure to release fully.

  • Remove the lid of the Instant Pot .

  • Pour the cornstarch slurry into the pot and stir gently.

  • Set the Instant Pot to "sauté."

  • Allow the sauce to thicken slightly and bubble while stirring, about 2-5 minutes.

  • Turn off the Instant Pot , or change the setting to "keep warm."


The frozen meatballs take about 20 minutes to come to pressure before the 5 minute cooking time. Be sure to plan accordingly!

If you don't have an Instant Pot you can prepare these on the stovetop. Simple place the barbeque sauce, cranberry sauce, and veggie meatballs in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium low heat until the sauce coats the meatballs and the meatballs are cooked through in the centers. Optionally add the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce.

It’s time to plant-based party, friends.