This classic Creole dish gets a convenient, modern upgrade with this Instant Pot red beans and rice recipe! Flavorful andouille sausage and tender red beans cook to perfection in a smoky, spicy sauce that's served over fluffy rice for one hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal.
Why You Need to Make This Recipe
Growing up in Houston, I've had my fair share of red beans and rice. You'll find a lot of Cajun and Creole influence in Houston cuisine, and I've made plenty of trips to New Orleans over the years. I know good Creole food, and this Instant Pot red beans and rice recipe is an absolute winner.
For a deep, smoky flavor, we cook this New Orleans favorite with andouille sausage and ham hocks along with plenty of Cajun seasoning for the perfect spice kick. The sauce is rich, thick and creamy, which makes for some serious comfort food.
Plus, it's great for serving a crowd on game day or for a simple casual gathering. This cozy Creole meal isn't fussy or hard to make. Everyone always loves this super easy Instant Pot red beans and rice, and it perfectly sets the mood for a friendly gathering over some good, down-home Southern cooking.
Before we start cooking, let’s make sure we’re prepared. Here are the main ingredients for our Instant Pot red beans and rice recipe.
- Small red beans: Red kidney beans and small red beans are not the same. Some red beans and rice recipes call for red kidney beans, but small red beans are traditional in this dish.
- Andouille sausage: You will love the depth of flavor the sausage adds.
- The Holy Trinity: This is the classic Cajun-Creole aromatic base of green bell peppers, celery and onion.
- Garlic: Because what savory dish doesn’t benefit from flavorful garlic?
- Chicken stock: This is the base of our sauce.
- Cajun or Creole seasoning: I always use my homemade Cajun seasoning. It’s quick to whip up, and I love that you won’t find any unnatural ingredients. Plus, it has a wonderful smoky, spicy flavor. Store-bought seasoning also works.
- Ham hocks: This adds a smoky complexity that makes this red beans and rice over-the-top delicious.
- Bay leaves and thyme: To help build that savory, woodsy flavor.
- Cayenne pepper: Just to give it an extra kick of spice.
- Apple cider vinegar: With all these rich flavors and spices, we need a touch of acidity to brighten the dish. I'll admit that this isn't the most traditional ingredient, but I'm a big believer in adding a little acid to any dish.
- Cornstarch slurry: This mixture of cornstarch and cold water will help mimic the thick texture we get from cooking slowly on the stove.
- White rice: Traditionally, red beans and rice is served with white rice. That said, you're more than welcome to substitute brown rice if you prefer.
Let’s start cooking! We turn the Instant Pot to the Sauté function and melt some bacon grease or canola oil. Once that’s nice and hot, we add our andouille sausage slices until browned on one side, flip and repeat. For proper browning, we don’t want to crowd the pan, so let’s do this in two batches.
Now we add our Cajun Holy Trinity, cook until softened and then throw in some garlic.
From here, we pour in the chicken stock and add the browned Andouille sausage, ham hocks, red beans, Cajun seasoning, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. We stir to combine, put on the lid and set the Instant Pot to Manual for 50 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, we do a natural release for 20 minutes. If you're new to Instant Pot cooking, this means letting the machine sit for 20 minutes before releasing the valve. Whenever cooking beans, we want to do a natural release to ensure they’re plenty soft. Once the 20 minutes are up, we then release the valve and remove the lid for our final step.
How to Thicken
Since we’re making this red beans and rice with sausage in a pressure cooker, the liquid will be thin after cooking. When we make red beans and rice on the stove, we can cook it uncovered, which allows the sauce to thicken as it reduces. Obviously, that’s not an option with pressure cooking.
To get that classic thick sauce, we turn the Instant Pot back to Sauté, make a cornstarch slurry and stir it into the hot liquid. We let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, stir in the apple cider vinegar and just like that, we have a perfectly thick red beans and rice.
How to Serve
When we’re ready to serve, we scoop some rice into a bowl and top with the red beans and rice. On the side, I love serving a good cast-iron skillet cornbread. It sops up that delicious sauce beautifully.
For dessert, I highly recommend my bananas foster cheesecake. Bananas foster is a classic New Orleans dessert, and I have no doubt you will love it in cheesecake form. It’s a creamy, dreamy delight.
Can You Make Ahead of Time?
You can make this Creole favorite up to four days ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Right before serving, cook some fresh white rice, and you have yourself one unforgettable meal.
Can You Freeze?
You bet! I actually have some leftover red beans and rice in my freezer right now. I love having this on hand, so I'm ready to go for any last-minute gatherings.
To store in the freezer, we spoon the portions into freezer-safe, airtight plastic containers and keep for up to six months for best quality. Simply thaw, cook some rice, and you’re ready with a crowd-pleasing meal.
Do I Need to Soak the Beans?
Nope! With the Instant Pot, we get plenty of cooking power, so it's a step we can skip. Soaking beans obviously isn't hard, but it does take some planning. Sometimes we might have it all together -- our recipes planned, ingredients purchased -- so soaking beans isn't a big deal. But for those times when you need to make this recipe on a whim, you certainly can.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- While it's made in the Instant Pot, red beans and rice still takes time to come to pressure, and then you have to factor in the 20-minute natural release. If you're entertaining, just keep this in mind for timing purposes. And, of course, that's when making this ahead comes in handy.
- Browning the sausage gives the dish a deeper flavor and a nice crust to add some texture, so I don't recommend skipping this step.
- Some people like to remove the meat from the ham hock and stir it into the broth after cooking. Ham hocks can be a bit salty, so it won’t suit everyone’s taste, but the option is there.
- This makes a flavorful red beans and rice, but the heat level is more on the mild side. I like to serve it with Original Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce, which adds the perfect kick of heat with a slight tang. That way, your guests can add more heat to suit their tastes.
- Alternatively, if you know you have a spice-loving crowd, feel free add extra cayenne pepper if you want to take it up a notch.
A brown ale is a classic beer pairing with red beans and rice. With a brown ale, we get some nice sweet bready malts that counter the heat, and it has enough body to stand up to that rich, thick sauce. Brown ales are also a favorite with that andouille sausage.
I love a pilsner with just about any kind of spiced food as well. It's so crisp and keeps the palate refreshed.
Looking for a wine? A gewürztraminer is a nice option. This wine comes with a residual sweetness that's lovely with our spice as well as the perfect acidic zip to cut through the sauce.
For a taste of New Orleans in your own kitchen, I hope you try this Instant Pot red beans and rice. Everyone is sure to love this comforting dish.
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Looking for More Cajun and Creole Recipes?
Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
- Instant Pot or pressure cooker
- Kitchen twine
- 1 tablespoon bacon grease or canola oil
- 1 pound Andouille sausage sliced
- 2 celery ribs chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper stemmed and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves grated or minced
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 ½ pounds ham hocks
- 1 pound small red beans sorted and rinsed
- 2 ½ tablespoons Cajun or Creole seasoning homemade or store-bought
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional, if you like a little heat
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs tied in a bundle with kitchen twine
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Splash of cold water
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Cooked white rice
- Hot sauce for serving, optional
- Fresh chopped parsley for garnish, optional
- Using the Sauté function, heat bacon grease or canola oil. Brown half of the Andouille sausage. Flip and brown on the other side, about three minutes each side. Remove from Instant Pot. Repeat with the other half and remove from Instant Pot.
- Add the celery, onion and green bell pepper to the Instant Pot. Cook until soft, about four to five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook from 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Pour in chicken stock. Add browned Andouille sausage, ham hocks, red beans, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper (if using), thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
- Put on the lid and turn the valve to seal. Cook on manual for 50 minutes.
- When the time is up, allow to naturally release for at least 20 minutes. Remove the lid and turn again to the Sauté function.
- In a small cup, stir together cornstarch and just enough cold water to make a slurry. Stir into the Instant Pot. Cook uncovered until it thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Remove thyme and bay leaves and stir in apple cider vinegar. Add salt to taste if needed. You can also add even more Cajun seasoning or cayenne pepper if you'd like more heat. Serve on white rice with hot sauce and fresh parsley if desired. Enjoy!
- For full tips, please see blog post.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.