Dry red beans and brown rice are cooked together with flavorful seasonings in the Instant Pot in this classic vegetarian staple!
As I seem to say with most recipes, this one is a long time coming. This recipe started out as vegetarian jambalaya and slowly (seriously, over a few months) transformed into just red beans and rice.
Because a recipe for red beans and rice is a must-have in every vegetarian kitchen! And, of course, I have to employ my handy-dandy Instant Pot for a speedier recipe.
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Much history surrounds red beans and rice, most notably the connection to New Orleans and Creole cooking. While traditionally not a vegetarian recipe, this staple is easy to adapt for the modern day vegetarian kitchen.
It takes just over an hour to make red beans and brown rice in the electric pressure cooker. That’s because the dry beans and brown rice are cooked at the same time.
That means just one pot and a few minutes of prep for a flavorful pot of vegetarian goodness!
How to make red beans and rice in your electric pressure cooker
- Start by sauteing the “holy trinity” of bell pepper, onions, and celery in a bit of olive oil until softened.
- Add the garlic and seasonings and saute for 30 seconds more. Sauting–“bloom”– spices with the aromatic ingredients (onion and garlic) is a quick way to deepen flavor.
- Add the remaining ingredients: red beans, brown rice, vegetable broth, hot sauce, bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients.
- Lock the electric pressure cooker lid in place and set the vent to sealing. Choose “high pressure” and set the timer to 30 minutes. Allow a natural pressure release. All in all this should take just about an hour.
- When the pressure has released naturally, remove the lid. Test a bean to make sure it’s fully cooked. If not, cook on high pressure for 5 more minutes, then release the pressure manually. Squeeze in lemon juice and top with green onions.
What kind of red beans should I use?
Do not use kidney beans in this recipe. While they are red, and they are sometimes used in red beans and rice, they have a different cook time than small red beans.
Use a bag labeled with “small red beans” for this recipe.
What kind of Cajun seasoning should I use?
Cajun seasoning contains paprika, oregano, garlic, thyme, and other super flavorful spices. You can use a storebought cajun seasoning (that’s what I usually do) or make your own.
Can you freeze red beans and rice?
Red beans and rice freeze well. Freeze in single portion containers for easy last-minute lunches, or freeze all at once in a large container. Red beans and rice thaws best in the fridge, but in a pinch it can be thawed in the microwave or on the stove. Just be warned that the texture may degrade if thawed this way.
Note: Let the red beans and rice cool before freezing. Don’t fill to the top of your freezer-safe container, as the food will expand when it freezes.
Make it a meal!
- Mix in cooked okra, vegetarian andouille sausage, and fresh tomatoes to make an impromptu veggie jambalaya
- Add to corn tortillas with peppers and spinach for filling tacos
- Enjoy as a side dish with jalapeno cornbread and a kale salad
If you’re looking for a standard beans and rice recipe without additional seasonings, check out this black beans and brown rice recipe. Or try out these refried black beans for another easy bean-based dish.
Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
- 1 and 1/2 cups dry small red beans
- 1 and 1/2 cups dry brown rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1/2 cup diced celery ~3 stalks of celery
- 1 medium red or green bell pepper diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon dry parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce add more for heat
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 and 1/2 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from one lemon
- green onions for topping (optional)
- Rinse the dry beans and sort out any debris. Rinse the brown rice. Set aside.
- Set your pressure cooker to "saute" on normal heat. Heat the olive oil in the pot, then add the onions, celery, and bell pepper. Saute for 5-6 minutes or until softened.
- Stir in the garlic and seasonings: cajun seasoning, thyme, parsley, salt. Saute for 30 more seconds, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Add the remaining ingredients: hot sauce, vegetable broth, water, red beans, brown rice, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Lock the lid in place and set the pressure valve to sealing. Set to "high pressure" and put the timer to 30 minutes.
- Once the cook time is done, allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove the lid and taste for seasonings. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice. Remove the bay leaves and enjoy!
- Like it extra spicy? Use 1 tablespoon of hot sauce and add a diced jalapeno in with the garlic.
- Older beans may take longer to cook. If you find that your beans aren't cooked all the way through, lock the lid back in place and set to high pressure for another 5 minutes. Release pressure manually.