Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice is a quick, easy twist on the traditional Creole recipe. Unsoaked, dried red beans cook with sausage, onion, bell pepper and garlic in the electric pressure cooker until the beans are soft and creamy. Serve over fluffy white rice for the perfect weeknight dinner. Makes 6 servings.
Back in the early days of 2020, I set out to make some bean-based suppers for our family that they would enjoy since we (shockingly!) had dried beans in our pantry.
Having certain ingredients in our pantry while other mainstays were missing and unavailable for purchase really forced me to get creative… and I’m so excited to debut this Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice for y’all today.
It’s been tested a lot, and my husband, kids and I all adore it because it is the perfect comfort food… but it takes less time to make. And we all know that’s a win if you’ve got small kids, a job or don’t like to hang close to the kitchen all day.
I’m not going to call this recipe authentic—because authentic red beans and rice are cooked on the stovetop—but if you’re looking for something that tastes like the classic that doesn’t take all day? This recipe is for you, my friend.
If you’re curious about the history of this dish, as well as the difference between Creole and Cajun, I talk about both in length beneath the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of this blog post.
Looking for some more dinner recipes? Check out my Dinner recipe index.
What you’ll need to make Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
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- Sharp knife and cutting board
- Garlic press (if you don’t want to chop your garlic)
- Instant Pot or another brand of electric pressure cooker
- Liquid measuring cup
- A pot with a lid to cook your rice in, unless you want to use a rice cooker
In addition to these tools that you’ll want to use, you also need some ingredients that may or may not be in your pantry and fridge:
- Spicy sausage—Andouille is traditional for red beans and rice, but a hot Italian sausage works. So does mild Italian sausage, if you don’t like the heat.
- Dried red beans—do not even consider using canned red beans in this dish or it’ll be completely mush when you take the lid off
- Onion, bell pepper and garlic—there are no replacements for these lovely ingredients, so make sure you’ve got ‘em on hand
How to make Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
First and foremost, chop your veggies. We want them ready to go before we turn on the Instant Pot. (You can also forgo this step by purchasing pre-chopped veggies at the store if that’s more your speed.)
When everything is chopped and out of the fridge, turn on the Instant Pot to the Saute setting. (Please note if your electric pressure cooker doesn’t have this setting, you’re going to need to get out a skillet to do this part.) Add butter, and stir until melted.
Gently place the sausage in the butter with tongs. Sear on all sides until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. You do not have to cook the sausage all the way through—we just want to get some good color on it here!
Remove the sausage from the pan, and place on a cutting board. We’ll let it cool for a few moments before we slice it into rounds.
Next, add in the garlic, onion and bell pepper to the pot. Season them with the red pepper flakes and salt, and stir occasionally, cooking until soft. This will take 10-15 minutes, just depending on your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. We want these to pull up bits stuck to the pan left from the sausage to have as much flavor as possible.
Slice the sausage as the veggies cook. (Multi-tasking for the win!)
When the veggies are soft, pour in the stock. Add in the red beans, bay leaf and sliced sausage, too.
Place the lid on the Instant Pot, and seal. Cook on high pressure for 2 hours 30 minutes.
When the cooking is done, let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally, and then remove the lid carefully.
Smash some of the red beans with a potato masher or the back of your spoon to create a thicker, creamier texture.
Serve over warm white rice with a garnish of parsley.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
You’re probably going to roll your eyes when I tell you that Red Beans and Rice is an awesome party dish!
I know, I know. The history of this dish makes it a comforting Monday night meal, but I love a good comfort food to share with friends, and this one is particularly awesome since it’s hands-off.
Here are some suggestions for making this dish for your people. Since Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice is super cozy, I think this would be great to enjoy while watching football or anytime in the fall or winter when you’re wanting something comforting.
- Make your prepwork faster by purchasing pre-chopped onion, green bell pepper and garlic. (Or prep them in advance yourself and store them in the fridge until it’s cooking time.)
- Invest in a rice cooker. If you’re cooking rice for a crowd, this is infinitely easier than doing the stovetop method. (My Louisianan husband is nodding his head as he reads this because the rice cooker is probably his favorite kitchen appliance we own.)
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. When you’re entertaining friends, you’re supposed to have fun, and since this red beans and rice is hands-off while it cooks under pressure, it’s a great recipe for hosting.
- Double the recipe for a crowd! Because everybody loves red beans and rice, and my family of four (which includes a 5-year-old and an almost 2-year-old) can take down an entire pot of this in a night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Red Beans and Rice History You Should Know
It’s a traditional Creole dish that is synonymous with Mondays. Why? Ham was a traditional Sunday night meal for many families, so the ham bone or sausage leftovers were thrown into a pot with red beans and veggies to cook low and slow all day the next day.
No one knows for sure where Red Beans and Rice came from, but in my research, I’ve discovered some believe immigrants, enslaved people and/or traders brought this dish to New Orleans by way of the Caribbean.
Rice and Beans are a staple dish in so many cultures. Check out Brazilian black beans and Brazilian rice, which make an everyday Brazilian classic called arroz e feijão. Arroz y frijoles is a staple in many Hispanic households. Rajma Chawal is a vegetarian kidney bean curry served over rice that is popular in Northern India.
What’s the difference between Creole and Cajun?
In terms of food, Creole cuisine pulls influence from Spain, Africa, Germany, Italy, Portugal and the West Indies.
Cajun cooking is more of a one-pot, home cooking made with whatever ingredients the cook has on hand. (I really like how Houma Travel talks about the differences in the cooking and comparing the two to country vs. city cooking, though Cajun cooking can certainly be elevated. Please don’t think it’s all simple food because there is some that can certainly be “fancier.”
Both have similarities, of course, and oftentimes are thought of as one and the same. They are not, however, the same.
For example, Creole dishes call for tomatoes and okra while Cajun dishes do not. Which is why you’ve probably read my thoughts on gumbo and the “correct” gumbo ingredients because Cajun gumbo calls for neither, haha.
But Creole and Cajun are more than just food.
In fact, the term Creole goes back to the Caribbean, but for this explanation, we’re just going to talk about Louisiana because there is a lot of information out there. (If you want to learn more, I highly suggest reading about this article by Helen Bush Caver and Mary T. Williams.)
In Louisiana, the word creole was first used to describe someone who was born in the colony (as opposed to anyone born elsewhere.) It was originally used to distinguish the children of colonists and not anyone else—to set them apart in a separate class.
However, over time, this label has been applied to the people who are descended from the enslaved African American, as well as the Native Americans, who were born in Louisiana.
Broadly speaking, Louisiana Creole people are the descendants of those who inhabited colonial Louisiana during both French and Spanish rules. Many spoke and speak French, Spanish and Louisiana Creole.
Cajuns are an ethnic group that lives in Southwest Louisiana. They are also known as Acadians. The Acadians were expelled from what are now the Canadian Maritime provinces during the 1700s during the Great Expulsion. Since they came to Louisiana and settled in the Acadiana region (west of the Mississippi River), the Cajuns are known for their dialect of French, as well as their music, culture and cuisine.
I don’t have an Instant Pot. How do I make this recipe?
I’ve got a Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice recipe that would work for you! I haven’t perfected my stovetop Red Beans and Rice, so please check out this recipe from Louisiana Cookin’ if you want one.
I don’t have dried red beans. Can I make this with canned beans?
No. If you’re looking for Red Beans and Rice that call for canned beans, check out Jaylynn Little’s Quick Red Beans and Rice.
Can I make this with a different type of sausage?
Yes! I used hot Italian sausage because that’s what we had on hand, but Andouille is the “traditional” sausage for a red beans and rice dish. If you don’t like heat, I suggest a mild Italian sausage because it adds a little sweetness.
Can I make vegetarian red beans and rice?
You sure can! If you want vegetarian red beans and rice, simply leave out the sausage and cook this for the same amount of time. Don’t skip the step where you sauté the veggies, though, as that’ll add for a nice depth of flavor.
Quick tips for making Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
- Give yourself enough time to get it going. While this red beans and rice recipe is pretty hands-off, you still have a portion of time where you’re chopping, searing and sautéing vegetables before the pressure cooker lid goes on. Don’t forget about it and then panic.
- The sear and saute make a difference. Don’t skip this step to cut corners because it adds a ton of flavor to the final dish!
- Don’t forget to cook the rice! We serve this with our favorite white rice, but you can serve it over brown rice if that’s your jam. Just make sure to time it out to where your rice is done around the same time that the beans are.
- Make it small batch. You can easily half this recipe and cook it for 1 hour and 30 minutes (instead of the 2 hours and 30 minutes) if you’re just feeding yourself and/or one other person.
Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice is a quick, easy twist on the traditional Creole recipe. Unsoaked, dried red beans cook with sausage, onion, bell pepper and garlic in the electric pressure cooker until the beans are soft and creamy. Serve over fluffy white rice for the perfect weeknight dinner. Makes 4-6 servings.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (can sub oil)
- 1 lb. spicy pork sausage
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups when diced)
- 1 green bell pepper, small, diced (about 1 cup when chopped)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 lb. dried red beans (about 2 heaping cups)
- 1 bay leaf
- 32 oz. chicken stock, unsalted* if possible
- 4 cups white rice, cooked, for serving
- Turn on the Instant Pot to the Saute setting. Set for 30 minutes.
Add the butter, and stir until melted.
- Add the sausage to the pan, and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes, and then remove. (Please note that it doesn’t have to be cooked through for you to remove it. We just want to get some good color on it.)
- When the sausage is out of the pan and cooling on a cutting board, add in the garlic, onion and bell pepper. Season with red pepper flakes and salt. Cook until soft, about 10-15 minutes.
- Slice the sausage as the veggies cook until soft.
- When the veggies are soft, pour in the stock. Add the beans, bay leaf and sliced sausage.
- Place the lid onto the Instant Pot, and seal. Cook on high pressure for 2 hours 30 minutes.
- Let the Instant Pot’s pressure release naturally, and then remove the top carefully.
- If desired, smash some of the red beans with a potato masher or the back of your spoon. This will give the sauce a thicker, creamier texture.
- Serve over warm white rice with a garnish of parsley.
*If chicken stock is salted or isn’t marked as unsalted, don’t season with salt. Instead, taste the final dish and add extra if needed.
To half the recipe, use half of the ingredients. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- I used fresh hot Italian sausage in this recipe because that’s what I could find, but you could easily use smoked sausage, too. The smoked sausage will hold up better in the cooking, though both will taste delicious. You can also use Andouille sausage if you can find it—fresh or smoked. If you don’t like spicy sausage, use a mild Italian sausage.
- Not a fan of the heat? Leave out the red pepper flakes or use half of them.
- Dairy free? Use any tasteless oil that has a higher smoke point, like avocado oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, etc.
- Vegetable stock works for chicken stock in this recipe. If you don’t have either on hand, water would work in a pinch, too.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 591Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 1017mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 6gSugar: 4gProtein: 28g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.