This recipe for Instant Pot red beans and rice is a traditional Southern dish made with beans, vegetables, sausage and Cajun seasoning. This New Orleans style recipe is easy to cook in a pressure cooker making a delicious and healthy dinner for the family.
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My family and I enjoy spicy food and making recipes from different cultures and traditions. Cajun food is a favorite, like my Instant Pot Jambalaya recipe. Compared to my Jamabaya recipe this Cajun red beans and rice is simpler to make and more affordable.
This recipe combines inexpensive beans and vegetables with a little bit of meat for a delicious comfort food recipe. Using a pressure cooker to cook the beans means there is no soaking necessary and the dish will be ready much more quickly than traditional cooking methods.
Now quick is a relative term and this pressure cooker red beans and rice still will take over an hour to prepare. But compared to slow cooking all day or pre-soaking the beans and cooking on the stove this is quick!
What Kind of Beans Should I Use?
The small red beans called for in this recipe are not actually kidney beans. Red beans are smaller and are shaped more like pinto beans. I can find small red beans in the international section of my local grocery store, but not every store stocks them.
Luckily red kidney beans are similar, and cook in about the same amount of time. So you can easily use kidney beans in this recipe without any changes if that is what is available to you.
What Kind of Sausage Should I Use?
For a traditional New Orleans flavor andouille sausage would be the most authentic and spiciest choice. However this is another product that isn’t always available at all grocery stores.
So smoked sausage or kielbasa also work fine in the recipe. You could also use chicken sausage, use ham or leave the meat out completely for a vegetarian recipe.
The recipe does assume that whatever sausage you use is precooked however. In these pictures I used kielbasa. The milder flavor of kielbasa is more appealing to my family than andouille sausage.
The traditional “trinity” of vegetables used in Cajun cooking are onions, bell peppers and celery and this recipe includes all three ingredients. I used an orange pepper, because that is what I had on hand, but the color of the pepper isn’t important.
I also used a premade Cajun seasoning mix and then added extra thyme, cayenne and bay leaves. These spices give the dish a rich and amazing flavor.
How to Make Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
1. Saute the Vegetables
Turn the Instant Pot on the Saute setting and let it heat for 2-3 minutes. Then add the oil along with the onion, bell pepper and celery. Saute for 2-3 minutes and then turn off the Instant Pot.
2. Deglaze the Instant Pot
Add 2 cups of water to the Instant Pot and stir. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to make sure there are no bits of vegetables stuck to the bottom. Not deglazing the Instant Pot can lead to a Burn error.
3. Bring the Instant Pot to Pressure
Add the chicken broth, garlic, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, parsley and Cajun seasoning to the Instant Pot and stir. This is all the remaining ingredients except the sausage and rice. Set the pressure cooker on Manual, high pressure, for 30 minutes.
4. Add the Sausage
Once the pressure cooking time has finished do a quick manual release of the pressure in the Instant Pot. Add the sliced sausage and stir it into the mixture.
Then put the lid back on and set the Instant Pot on Manual mode, high pressure for 15 more minutes. You might need to run the lid under cold water to get it to reseal since the red beans will still be very hot.
5. Let the Dish Naturally Release
After the second cooking time is up let the Instant Pot naturally release pressure. Then serve the Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice over cooked white or brown rice.
What About Soaking the Beans?
You do not need to soak the beans when you are using a pressure cooker. That is one of the big advantages of cooking beans in a pressure cooker!
If you do want to soak the beans then you will need to modify this recipe. First of all the cooking time would be shorter and secondly you would use less liquid. But I haven’t tested the recipe that way so I don’t have specifics.
Why Do You Bring the Instant Pot to Pressure Twice?
This recipe calls for bringing the Instant Pot up to pressure twice, once for 30 minutes and then again for 15 minutes. So why not just do it once for 45 minutes?
The problem is that 45 minutes is too long to pressure cook sausage. Some meat takes pressure cooking well, like chicken thighs, and some meat doesn’t, like sausage.
If you pressure cook sausage for 45 minutes it will become rubbery and have an unappetizing texture. So while it adds a little bit of time to the recipe it is important to do.
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How Can I Thicken the Red Beans and Rice
When you are making a pressure cooker dish with beans it is easy to end up with too much liquid at the end. The amount of liquid the beans absorb can vary depending on how old the beans are and other factors. I’d rather have dish that is a little soupier than I like than have under cooked beans.
I don’t care much if a dish like red beans and rice has a little more liquid than is ideal. I just serve the dish with a slotted spoon and ladle and let everyone dish it out how they like. But you can also thicken the dish up quickly if desired.
The easiest way to thicken red beans and rice is to scoop out some of the beans and mash them with a potato masher. Then stir the mashed beans back in to thicken the dish. You can also put the Instant Pot on simmer with the lid off and let some of the excess liquid evaporate.
What to Serve With Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
You can serve almost any side dish you like with Red Beans and Rice. Sauteed greens are a popular choice, like collard greens cooked with bacon. Corn on the cob or cornbread are also popular choices. I like to serve it with a quick green salad.
- 16 ounces small dry red beans
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 cups water
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
- 16 ounces sausage - andouille, kielbasa, or smoked sausage, sliced
- 2 cups cooked rice
- Turn the Instant Pot on Saute and let it heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil along with the chopped onion, bell pepper and celery.
- Saute for 2-3 minutes and then turn off the Instant Pot.
- Add the 2 cups of water to the Instant Pot to deglaze it. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon and make sure there are no burned bits of vegetables on the bottom. This reduces the chances of getting a Burn error.
- Add the red beans, chicken broth, garlic, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, Cajun seasoning and dried parsley. Stir to mix well.
- Set the Instant Pot on Manual, high pressure for 30 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure.
- When the pressure cooker finishes do a quick release of the pressure. Take the lid off and add the sliced sausage, stirring to mix.
- Put the lid back on and set the Instant Pot on Manual mode, high pressure, for 15 minutes. You might need to run the lid under cold water to get it to reseal more quickly.
- After the second cooking time is up let the Instant Pot do a full natural release. This will probably take about 20 minutes.
- Serve over the cooked rice.
You can use red kidney beans instead of small red beans.
If the final dish is too soupy then take some of the beans and liquid out and mash them with a potato masher. Stir them back in to thicken the dish.
If you want a vegetarian dish leave out the sausage and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
I have an 6 quart Instant Pot and make and test my recipe in that. If you have a different size or brand of pressure cooker you might need to make adjustments to the recipe.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 559Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 1851mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 22g