Our Instant Pot red beans and rice recipe takes classic New Orleans ingredients and adapts them to the Instant Pot for a time-saving version.
Red beans are cooked and broken down to a creamy texture bursting with flavors and then served over hot steamed rice. Big flavors can be had with minimal effort!
What is the Red Beans and Rice Dish?
Red beans and rice is a classic Louisiana Creole dish. It is made of red beans or kidney beans, smoked ham bone, sausage, spices, and the Cajun holy trinity of bell pepper, onion, and celery.
Red beans and rice was introduced to America by Haitians who arrived in Louisiana in the late 1700s. The most popular legend holds that at the time, Monday was traditionally laundry day.
To feed the hungry household on laundry day, a large pot of red beans was simmered on the stove while the women were occupied with the clothes. The ham bone leftover from Sunday’s pork dinner would be added for extra flavor and nutrients.
These days, red beans and rice is popular and a staple food in restaurants and homes any day of the week.
Is Our Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice Healthy?
Yes, our red beans and rice recipe is healthy. The main nutrient content can be broken down as follows:
Calories: Each serving of our red beans and rice contains 496 calories. We decided to pair the dish with a green salad and fresh juice for an extra dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. That made the whole thing into a 750-calorie meal.
Sodium: We keep our eyes on the amount of salt so the sodium content aligns with the USDA Dietary Guidelines. In this recipe, we used only ½ teaspoon of salt, enough to bring out the beans’ flavor and promote a healthier diet.
Saturated Fat: With only 3.6 grams of saturated fat in each serving, our red beans and rice is healthier than many other versions on the internet.
Red Beans vs Kidney Beans
Red beans and kidney beans may have a similar reddish color, but they are two different foods.
Red beans are smaller, rounder, and have a darker red color. Kidney beans, on the other hand, are larger, have a brownish red color and distinctive kidney shape. Once cooked, red beans tend to be softer in texture while the kidney beans retain their shape and firmness.
Red beans and rice is traditionally made with small red beans. However, sometimes it can be challenging to find this variety in grocery stores, so red kidney beans come as a good substitute. They soak up the aroma and flavor from the seasonings and work as just well in the recipe.
How to Prepare Red Kidney Beans
If you choose canned kidney beans, simply rinse them with water, and they are good to go. For dried beans, we recommend soaking them in water before cooking to speed up the cooking process.
Soaking beans allows dried beans to absorb water, which helps to dissolve the starches that cause intestinal discomfort. There are two simple ways to soak dried beans:
Overnight-soak method: Cover your beans with cold water and let them soak at room temperature for at least 4 – 6 hours or overnight.
Quick-soak method: After rinsing the beans, cover them with hot water and let them soak for an hour.
Either way, once you’ve soaked them, drain and rinse your beans with cool water before cooking them.
Red beans and rice cooked with salt and pepper are delicious, but additional spices can make the dish phenomenal. Here is what we use in the red beans and rice recipe:
Onion and garlic: Fresh garlic and onion bring out the aromatic notes in the dish. If you don’t have them on hand, substitute dried ones.
Cajun seasoning: It is a blend of paprika, oregano, garlic, thyme, and other super flavorful spices. Feel free to reduce the amount of seasoning if you want a milder version of red beans and rice.
Tips for Cooking
Adjust the cooking time
There are various brands of instant pots with different settings, so consider the listed cooking time a best guess. If your beans aren’t yet tender and creamy after 35 minutes, and add a few more minutes as desired.
Change up the proteins
It’s not necessary to use smoked sausages in the recipe. Cooks regularly try all kinds of meat like ham, beef, or chicken in its place. Go wild with what you have and what your heart desires, or dare to keep it vegetarian-friendly like this Instant Pot Black Beans Recipe or healthy Instant Pot Pinto Beans.
Soak 8 oz dried red beans in hot water for 1 - 2 hours. Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.
Turn the Instant Pot to Sauteé mode and sear 4 oz smoked sausage in the pot until brown on both sides (about 3 minutes). Set aside on a plate. Cut into 0.5-inch slices.
Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in the pot, then add 1 tbsp garlic, 2 oz onion, 2 oz celery, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp thyme, and 2 oz green bell pepper. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes.
Add red beans and 2 cups chicken broth to the pot.
Set on Meat Stew mode for 25 minutes.
Release the steam according to your Instant Pot manual. Open the pot, add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, 1 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp dried sage, 1/2 tsp dried basil, and sausage.
Simmer in Sauteé mode for another 10 minutes.
Serve over 2 1/2 cups cooked rice. Garnish with 2 tbsp coriander.
Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 496Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Vitamin A 164IU
Vitamin C 17mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
This red beans recipe is delicious. I will be making again soon!