You can celebrate the Mardi Gras tradition any time you please by serving this Instant Pot Cajun Red Beans and Rice recipe. Ours here is both vegan and gluten free, however, you can easily add in any meats you might have enjoy.
You will instantly transport yourself to the heart of New Orleans–Bourbon Street. Think of the bright colors, the savory aromas wafting from the cafes, and the soul-satisfying foods.
Food plays a vital role in every culture. The Cajun tradition is no exception to that rule.
So let’s explore the flavors and cultural heritage of one of Louisiana’s finest offerings. Reimagined for the Instant Pot, this Cajun Red Beans and Rice recipe is ready in under an hour.
Of course, if you don’t have an instant pot, you can make this in a soup pot instead once you’ve cooked the beans, or else for a short cut, using canned beans.
Red Beans and Rice: A Louisiana Favorite
Louisianans love to share stories about their heritage. Ask them about how they fell in love with eating red beans and rice.
You’ll get a wide range of answers pinpointing local historical events to the family folklore. Most often, these intertwine.
But one thing the people of Louisiana–especially New Orleans residents–agree on is that red beans and rice is the traditional “Monday” dish.
Eating this Monday comfort food dates back to the early 1800s.
During that time, the humble Cajun residents of New Orleans had two customs.
First, Monday was “washing day,” so families occupied their time tending to the family’s laundry. This simple dish enabled them to put the pot over a low flame in the morning and tend to the chore-of-the-day.
Second, no food went to waste in the thrifty households of the era.
Every family had a signature red beans and rice recipe. They would often stirred in leftover ham, chicken, or pork chops to further flavor the beans.
7 Healthy Reasons to Eat Legumes
Red beans, aka kidneys, are part of the legume family of plant foods.
Kidney beans are not as popular as other legumes with American consumers. Indeed, pintos and black beans hold the number one and two spots in our hearts.
Regardless of your personal pick, all legumes offer remarkable health benefits. Here are seven.
1 – Aid in weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Eating legumes can people lose weight or manage to stay at a healthy weight.
A 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the connection between weight loss and protein.
They proved that those study participants who consumed a higher amount of protein shed more pounds than those who did not.
Legumes are high in protein, which increases satiety, or the feeling of “fullness.”
2 – Maintain colon health by eating more fiber
What is fiber? You know you are supposed to eat more of it.
But you don’t know what it is, exactly.
Fiber is the part of any plant food that your body is unable to digest. In the case of beans, it’s the outer shell.
In terms of your everyday diet, you’ll find higher fiber in the skins, shells, and outer layers of your fruits and veggies.
Think apple peels and potato skins. The dietary fiber is why dietitians advise people not to peel their apples before eating them.
The fiber binds to waste as it moves through your colon and adds bulk, making it easier to eliminate.
So eating foods rich in fiber will improve digestion and might help prevent problems later in life.
The chart below, from the Mayo Clinic, explains how much daily dietary fiber adults need.
3 – Regulating your blood sugar levels helps to control diabetes
There are good carbs and bad carbs.
Complex carbs, which are high in fiber–the desirable type.
These are healthy because your body digests them slowly and thus stabilizes insulin production and your blood sugar.
On the other hand, bad carbohydrates are the ones you’ll find in sugar, soda, cereals, and other processed foods.
These sugary foods digest fast, giving you a rush of energy. Soon after, you “crash.”
That illustration of good vs. bad carbohydrates depicts the glycemic index’s operation, measuring the rise and fall of your blood sugar.
Learning to control your glycemic index is essential, especially if you have diabetes. How you eat literally makes a difference between living a life of wellness or illness.
Also, if you have prediabetes–or a family history of the disease–this control over your blood sugar levels is a key to preventing the disease.
4 – Red beans provide an excellent source of plant protein
As humankind strives for a more sustainable, earth-friendly world, plant-based proteins, or plant proteins, are coming to the forefront.
One cup of red beans contains about 15 grams of protein. That number is close to the amount of protein you find in 3 ounces of canned tuna (17 grams).
However, the legumes contain under one gram of fat; the tuna fish contains 2.5 grams–more than double!
So when you look at plant proteins side by side, you can see a notable difference.
When you stack legumes against other meats like turkey, chicken, and beef, the margin widens even further.
Not only do you reap health rewards, but plant proteins also help you reduce your carbon footprint.
5 – Avoid iron deficiencies
Your body needs iron to nourish the blood, and legumes can fill that order.
Iron is a mineral that supports healthy hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from your lungs to your tissue and muscles.
Additionally, this mineral helps to balance your hormones and boosts your immune system.
Red beans contain approximately 5 milligrams of iron per cup.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adults should eat 18 milligrams of iron per day.
Is This Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice Recipe Vegan?
I prepared this as a vegan recipe. I’m not vegan, but I try to eat a meatless meal once or twice a week to control my cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight.
However, do not let that stop you from fixing this to your liking. Follow that Cajun tradition of adding your leftover meats, stir in fully cooked meat after the cooking cycle.
The choice to follow a vegan recipe or add in the meat is entirely yours to choose.
Why Use the Instant Pot?
Using an Instant Pot, InstaPot, or any other all-in-one cooker brand helps you take fresh, healthy ingredients from prepping to a hot, finished meal in about an hour.
These all-in-one cookers are electric pressure cookers. Here is how it operates.
You seal the contents into a pot. The steam builds up inside that chamber, increasing the pressure. This increases the boiling point of water above the standard 212°, shortening the cooking time substantially.
Not only do you cook the food faster, but that trapped steam ensures the food stays moist and flavorful. You lose no taste or nutrients through evaporation.
However, you can follow this recipe and make it on the stovetop, a dutch oven, or a slow cooker. Just be sure to plan for longer cooking times.
Another very beneficial food for regulating blood sugar is Jerusalem artichokes. These are great eaten raw by itself or in salads,
Cajun Cooking – The Holy Trinity
The basics of almost all Cajun-inspired dishes is “The Holy Trinity.”
3 Must Have Ingredients for Cajun Cookin
- green bell peppers
Adding these to your recipes lends not only authentic flavors but also sneaks extra veggies onto your plate.
In the days before refrigeration and retail grocers, early Louisianans grew the vegetables they needed to feed their families. Even the smallest city yards had narrow lots, growing herbs and staple vegetables.
These ingredients flourished in their climate. And so they became part of traditional Cajun recipes.
What’s the difference between Creole and Cajun Food?
I also snuck tomatoes into my recipe, which adds vitamin C and flavor. Some purists will say this makes the recipe more “Creole” than Cajun. Either way, it tastes delicious!
The two cuisines share the same love of herbs and spices, and the flavors are similar.
Cajun cooking is the local, rural “country cooking.” The flavor base is the Holy Trinity, peppery flavor, and simple methods.
On the other hand, Creole cooking signals “city food.” Think of this as fine food prepared by a chef.
Creole recipes also use a roux of butter and flour to thicken their sauces. That distinction separates the method from Cajun cuisine more than any other factor.
You can celebrate the flavors of Mardi Gras any time of the year with this mouth-watering InstantPot Red Beans and Rice recipe.
- Medium- to a large-sized sweet yellow onion, finely diced
- 5 ribs of celery, cleaned and finely diced
- 1 medium to large green bell pepper, chopped
- One pound of dried red beans
- Two large tomatoes, diced
- 5 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons of paprika
- 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons of parsley
- Cooked rice (for serving)
- Louisiana hot sauce (for serving)
- Clean and chop all your vegetables. Set them into the liner of your Instant Pot.
- Gather the long list of spices (it's so worth it!)
- Add the rest of your ingredients to the Instant Pot. Put the lid on the cooker and make sure it seals well.
- Set the pot on the "chili/beans" setting. Add additional time, to bring the cooking time to 40 minutes.
- Start the cooker.
- When the alarm chimes, open up the steam valve and depressurize the pot. Carefully open the lid.
- Serve over cooked rice. Top with Louisiana hot sauce for authentic seasoning.
The Takeaway: You Can Enjoy Cajun Red Beans and Rice in an Hour
Use your electric pressure cooker to serve up a taste of Mardi Gras any chance you can!
You will enjoy the delicious flavors of this Cajun Red Beans and Rice recipe, and you will sneak in a healthy vegan dish. It’s so delicious that your family won’t even miss the meat.