This Instant Pot Carrot Halwa recipe (Gajar ka Halwa) is every bit as authentic as the stove top version of the popular Pakistani and Indian dessert – just MUCH easier. Naturally gluten-free, this Carrot Halwa recipe requires just 6 ingredients and is made from start to finish in the Instant Pot.
We all have some foods that we hold dear to our hearts. Foods that we feel a particular ownership toward, ones we feel entitled to criticize poorly-made versions of, etc. Carrot halwa (or gajar ka halwa as I grew up calling it) is that food for me.
Two winters ago during a visit to Pakistan, I tasted fresh, homemade carrot halwa made with plump, juicy red carrots and hand-churned ghee. If there was any ambiguity left about what carrot halwa should taste like, it was gone that winter.
All this is to say that I am not taking this carrot halwa recipe sharing-thing lightly, and I’ve tried my best not to compromise on the authentic taste.
How to make Instant Pot Carrot Halwa
Here’s how to make Carrot Halwa in the Instant Pot.
- First, you shred the carrots. To do this, use the shredder attachment of your food processor. If you have two attachments to choose from, use the thinner blade vs. the thicker one so you don’t have any chunky pieces in the halwa.
- Next, you briefly sauté these carrots with the cardamom pods in a little ghee.
- Stir in the milk and heavy whipping cream, seal, and pressure cook on High for 30 minutes.
- When you first open the Instant Pot after cooking, you’ll have to let the milk evaporate. This will take about 10 minutes on High Sauté. Increase stirring toward the end.
- Next you add the remaining ghee and sugar and sauté, stirring often, for another 8-10 minutes. There’s no denying this is a tedious step, but it’s is imperative to bring out the flavor and deep orange color. Carrot halwa should be completely dry and pulling away from the pot instead of sticking to it.
More Tips to make Carrot Halwa
- Use organic carrots, the best you can find. I buy relatively small carrots with their tops still intact.
- Stick to ghee (not butter or oil) for the most authentic flavor. This recipe uses 3 tbsp, which you can decrease it to your liking, but what is carrot halwa without that beautiful trace of ghee left on your plate?
- If you find it easier/quicker, you can transfer the halwa after pressure cooking the stovetop and sauté there instead.
How to make Gajar ka Halwa Dairy-Free (Vegan)
Though I haven’t tried it myself, I have heard back from several people who’ve made a dairy-free version. I would use vegan butter or oil to replace the ghee, dairy-free milk of choice (creamy oat milk has been suggested) to replace whole milk, and coconut cream (or more DF milk) to replace whipping cream.
How to Double this Recipe
This recipe makes enough for a small family, so you’ll need to double if making for a larger family or guests. To double, increase the sauté times, but pressure cook for the same amount of time.
How to Freeze Carrot Halwa
Carrot halwa freezes well, so feel free to double the amount and freeze for later. To thaw, let it come to room temperature or defrost before microwaving to heat through.
How to make Carrot Halwa on the Stovetop
The process takes a little longer without the Instant Pot, but it’s still very easy. To make Carrot Halwa on the stovetop, bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until it reduces down, stirring more frequently toward the end.
More Pakistani & Indian Desserts to try
If you have any questions about this recipe, please feel free to ask below! And if you try it, please do share with me below or tag me on Instagram!
Easy Instant Pot Carrot Halwa (Gajar ka Halwa)
- 1 lb organic carrots (measured after removing tops & ends) tops and ends removed, peeled only where necessary
- 3 tbsp ghee divided
- 4-5 green cardamom pods
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 1/2 – 4 tbsp raw cane sugar or sweetener of choice depending on how sweet your carrots are
- 1 tbsp slivered pistachios optional, for garnish
- 1 tbsp slivered almonds optional, for garnish
- Use the shredder attachment of food processor to thinly grate the carrots, in batches if necessary. Set aside.
- Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and set to More. Once hot, add 2 tbsp of the ghee, cardamom pods, and shredded carrots. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the color starts to change and the carrots reduce down a bit. Add the whole milk and heavy whipping cream and stir to mix.
- Cancel the sauté setting, secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting and set the cooking time to 30 minutes on High pressure.
- Allow the pressure to naturally release for 3-5 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure by moving the Pressure Release to Venting.
- Select the Sauté setting and set to More. Sauté, stirring occasionally until most of the moisture has evaporated and the carrots start sticking to the bottom (~10 minutes).
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp of ghee and sugar and sauté again, scraping the bottom of the pot as you go, for another 8-10 minutes. This step is imperative to bring out the color and flavor.
- Once the the halwa is dry, the ghee starts to separate, and the carrot halwa turns a deep orange (closer to red) color, press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot.
- Scoop into a serving dish and decorate with pistachios and almonds, if desired.