If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you probably know all about red beans and rice. It’s such a simple dish, but there’s something incredible about the way the creamy beans and nutty rice come together with Cajun and Creole spices. The last time I went to NOLA, I probably ate my weight in this comforting dish. The only problem: traditionally, this Southern classic isn’t very healthy. It’s made with chunks of fatty pork and smoky sausage that makes it very heavy and greasy. So, we decided to create a healthier, clean-eating version with this Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice Stew. It’s not only filled with vegetables and fiber-rich beans, but it’s super quick and easy to whip up, too!
This recipe captures everything you love about the Southern favorite. It has a rich and creamy texture that keeps the dish comforting. Not only that, but the spicy cayenne, black pepper, and paprika pack the perfect amount of punch! We could have made our Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice with turkey sausage, but we decided to make it a vegetarian dish instead. This dish feels like a warm hug, and I promise that you won’t miss the meat!
Cooking is Quick and Easy with the Instant Pot
Ever since I got my Instant Pot, I feel so much more capable of putting healthy meals on the table. Instead of getting a Zatarain’s spice packet at the store (filled with sodium and other additives), I turn to the Instant Pot instead. Because it cooks under pressure at a high heat, it’s capable of melding flavors together in an incredible (almost magical) way. Everything I cook in it tastes like it simmered all day on the stovetop!
For this Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice Stew, the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and celery intensify when they’re cooked under pressure. As they get super soft, they infuse the rest of the ingredients with their flavor and aroma. It’s a perfect pairing with spicy cayenne pepper, liquid smoke, and paprika (which mimic the smoky flavor of the andouille sausage). And, since we cook the brown rice in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, it absorbs all of that flavor. The result is pretty phenomenal!
About the beans: using canned low-sodium kidney beans means that they’re already soft and ready to eat. You won’t have to wait 30 to 45 minutes for the Instant Pot to cook dry beans from scratch. As a result, this dish only requires 15 minutes of cooking time! We love a quick-and-easy, one-pot meal like this because it means we can make it on a weeknight.
If you’re from the South or you have a passion for Southern food, we’d love to hear from you in the comments! Let us know if this recipe reminds you of one of your favorite dishes back home.
Yield: 8 Servings| Serving Size: 1 cup | Calories: 239 | Total Fat: 4 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fats: 0 g | Carbohydrates: 43 g | Fiber: 9 g | Sugars: 7 g | Protein: 11 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 577 mg | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 2 |
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (15 ounce) can low sodium no sugar added diced tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
- Set the Instant Pot to the Saute setting and add the olive oil. Once the olive oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, bell peppers, and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Change the setting to Manual with high pressure and add the remaining ingredients. Seal the lid and set the timer to 15 minutes. Once the time is up, let the Instant Pot rest for 10 minutes before manually releasing the pressure. Ladle into serving bowls and enjoy!
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More Southern-Inspired Recipes Made Healthier:
You’ll get all your Cajun-spiced favorites in this recipe, but the main ingredient is tofu instead of meat! This plant-based, vegan recipe is the perfect introduction to tofu. And, since tofu is a complete protein, you’ll get all the essential amino acids with one serving.
I love how deep and spicy Cajun seasoning is. It can transform something that’s a little boring and normal (like turkey) into something completely extraordinary. This is the perfect way to prepare your next roast turkey or chicken.
Going vegan is one of the best ways to make your favorite Southern recipes much healthier. This completely plant-based recipe transforms gumbo into a healthy meal without sacrificing any flavor. And, since it’s made in the slow cooker, it’s super easy to cook, too!