This Instant Pot Jambalaya recipe is a Cajun inspired one dish recipe with shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken and rice that will make a spicy dinner for your family. Using a pressure cooker makes it a quick and easy weeknight dinner the whole family will enjoy.
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One of my favorite things about the Instant Pot is that it makes cooking a one dish meal quick and easy. I am always looking for ways to simplify meal planning and reduce the amount of dishes that I need to wash, and the Instant Pot lets me saute meat and vegetables and then bring it to pressure and let it all cook together.
What is Jambalaya?
I enjoy making recipes from different parts of the country, and Jambalaya is one that my family and I enjoy. It is a traditional Cajun recipe from Louisiana that is made with rice, peppers, onions, celery and more. Peppers, onions and celery are considered the trinity of Cajun cooking, so they will be included in almost any jambalaya recipe. The meat included in the dish can vary, but I used traditional smoked andouille sausage along with chicken and shrimp. In jambalaya most of the liquid used to cook the rice is absorbed by the rice, so it is not soupy like a gumbo would be.
How to make Jambalaya in the Instant Pot
The first step in making the Instant Pot jambalaya is to saute the andouille sausage. This is where the Saute function of the Instant Pot comes in very handy, since you can brown the sausage in the same pot the jambalaya will cook in. The sausage is already fully cooked, so it doesn’t really need to be browned, but doing this will add the sausage flavor to the rice and make the final dish tastier. After the sausage is browned remove it from the Instant Pot and keep it for later.
Then the chicken thighs are browned in the Instant Pot. The chicken will cook along with the rice, so this step is just to give it a nice appearance and the chicken does not need to be cooked through. After the chicken the vegetable “trinity” of peppers, onions and celery are added, along with a bunch of garlic and the rice. These are stirred to get a little coating of oil on the grains of rice.
Then salt, Cajun seasoning and thyme are added to season the dish, along with diced tomatoes and chicken broth which provide the liquid to cook the rice. It is important to NOT add the shrimp or sausage at this point. Some meats do not do well under pressure, and both shrimp and sausage fall into this category, so do not add them or their texture in the final dish will be unappetizing and rubbery!
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The pressure cooker is then brought to pressure and the rice and chicken cook along with the vegetables. It only takes 8 minutes of high pressure to cook the dish through. After the Instant Pot has finished let it rest for 5 minutes, and then manually release the pressure. Letting the rice rest for five minutes helps keep it fluffy and not mushy.
Now it is finally time to add the shrimp and sausage, stir the Instant Pot jambalaya and replace the pressure cooker lid. Since both the shrimp and sausage are already cooked this warms them up and infuses the dish with their flavor. The resulting jambalaya is a spicy one dish meal that is perfect for feeding the family on a busy weeknight.
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Instant Pot Jambalaya
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces andouille sausage
- 2 boneless chicken thighs
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 green pepper chopped
- 3 ribs celery chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cup rice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt optional
- 2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
- 1 3/4 cup chicken broth (use 21/4 cups for 8 quart Instant Pot)
- 8 ounces cooked shrimp thawed
- 4 scallions sliced
Note - Some readers have reported getting a Burn message when they make this recipe. I made the recipe instructions more specific in a couple areas to try and prevent this error. But some Instant Pots are more likely to get this error than others, so if you have seen this error before on any recipe I'd suggest reading the more detailed discussion right below the recipe card for ways to prevent it.
- Chop the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Then slice the andouille sausage and cut the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces.
- Set the Instant Pot to Saute and add the olive oil. Allow it warm up for a few minutes.
- Brown the andouille sausage for about 5 minutes, until it is nicely browned. Then remove the sausage and set it aside for now. Stir so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the chopped chicken thighs to the Instant Pot to brown. Brown for 3 minutes. Stir so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Turn the Instant Pot off. Add the chicken broth to the instant pot to deglaze. Scrape the bottom of the container with a wooden spoon to make sure there aren't browned bits of sausage or chicken stuck to the bottom. Bits of food stuck to the bottom might cause the BURN error once the pot is brought up to pressure, so scrape it well.
- Add the onion, green pepper, celery, garlic, salt, Cajun seasoning, and thyme. Stir to mix the vegetables and seasoning.
- Add the rice and mix. Add the can of tomatoes on top of the rice, but don't stir it in, just spread it out on top. This will reduce the chance of a BURN error. DO NOT add the browned sausage.
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set it for Manual High Pressure for 8 minutes. Once the pressure cooker has finished cooking let it rest for 5 minutes, then manually release the pressure.
- Take the lid off and stir the cooked shrimp and reserved andouille sausage into the Instant Pot. Replace the lid and let it rest for another 5 minutes to warm the sausage and shrimp.
- Serve sprinkled with scallions.
Instant Pot Burn Message
A number of readers have let me know they get a Burn message when they make the recipe. This error occurs when a high temperature is detected on the bottom of the inner pot, which triggers a temperature sensor. I recently updated the instructions to make them more specific in a few areas to try and help with this issue. Here are the most likely reasons for seeing this error on this recipe.
- Food is stuck on the bottom of the inner pot after the Saute function is used. This recipe uses the Saute setting to cook both sausage and chicken, and this can leave little pieces of meat stuck to the bottom of the pot. The fix for this is to deglaze the pot with the chicken broth after the meat is browned. Make sure you use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape any little bits of browned meat left after the chicken broth is added. Alternately you can also just brown the meat in a frying pan on the stove if you know your Instant Pot is prone to this error.
- If you let the Instant Pot cool down for a few minutes after using the Saute function before bringing the Instant Pot up to pressure it is less likely to give the Burn message.
- Recipes using tomatoes are more likely to burn as the Instant Pot comes to pressure. I modified the recipe to specify that the tomatoes should be added last, and not stirred into the other ingredients.
- Another modification that could help is to not stir the rice into liquid, just push it down so it is covered by the liquid but not stirred in. Basically the idea is to keep the rice off the bottom of the Instant Pot. I didn’t add that to the instructions, because I haven’t actually tried it, but other people have told me this technique is helpful.
I’ve never actually gotten the Burn message on my Instant Pot, so these suggestions are based on what others have report works. It seems that some models of Instant Pot are more likely to see this error message than others. If you have seen this error message more than once or twice I’d suggest checking out this helpful article on the Burn Message from Paint the Kitchen Red which has a comprehensive list of causes and ways to fix the issue.
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- The grocery store I usually use, Wegmans, always has andouille sausage, but not all stores do. If you can’t find andouille sausage Mexican chorizo or kielbasa make the best substitutes. They aren’t spiced quite the same, but they will make sure your jambalaya is tasty, even if it isn’t quite as traditionally Cajun.
- Check the salt content in your Cajun seasoning. Some brands have lots of salt and some don’t, so you might need to adjust the amount of salt in this recipe depending on your personal tastes.
- I strongly prefer to use chicken thighs in Instant Pot dishes instead of chicken breasts. Breast meat is more likely to dry out and doesn’t take high pressure well.
- Of course you don’t need to use all three meats in this Instant Pot jambalaya. I frequently make chicken and sausage jambalaya just because shrimp is so expensive. Leaving out the shrimp is a good way to make this a more affordable meal for your family.