Instant Pot Jambalaya is a faster and better way to create this Cajun favorite. Made with chicken, andouille sausage, and rice, this flavorful meal is on your table in a snap. Whether you already love your pressure cooker or are a newbie, this is a fantastic recipe to add to your weekly rotation or to serve up for Mardi Gras.
Cajun and Creole food isn’t just for Louisiana natives. This spicy and flavorful Instant Pot Jambalaya is so satisfying and surprisingly easy to make.
The chicken and sausage come out super juicy and tender in a fraction of the time. The rice cooks up SUPER quickly since it is pressure-cooked instead of simmered on the stovetop. (It’s quite a bit faster than this traditional Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya!)
Not to mention all of those incredible Cajun flavors! The holy trinity of bell peppers, onion, and celery are the base for a spicy and herbaceous tomato-based broth reminiscent of an authentic New Orlean’s-style dish.
And if you close your eyes and take a bite, you’ll be transported to the bustling Bourbon street with melodic jazz music humming in the background.
Since this recipe makes enough to feed a crowd, it’s perfect for meal prepping and freezing leftovers for later. Or, you can always host a Mardi Gras party and share it with friends!
To make this easy Instant Pot Jambalaya recipe you will need:
Chicken. For moist and flavorful chicken, opt for boneless, skinless thighs. Chicken breasts will work, but ensure they are cut the same size so they cook evenly. Also, breasts will turn out drier and not as tender as thighs.
Sausage. To get that authentic Cajun kick, opt for andouille sausage. However, if too much spice is an issue, regular sausage links will work, but you will miss out on some traditional flavor. The Aidell’s brand sausage is my go-to!
Rice. For a traditional jambalaya, stick with long-grain white rice. Other types of rice, like basmati or jasmine, have an aromatic flavor that will overwhelm the Cajun flavors. Steer clear of short or medium grain rice or the jambalaya will end up mushy. And don’t forget to rinse the rice well before cooking! If you sub brown rice for the long-grain white, be sure to adjust the amount of liquid and time accordingly.
Holy Trinity. In Louisiana, the holy trinity also refers to the combination of onions, celery, and bell peppers in a dish. Don’t leave any of these out! The combination is delicious and makes up the base of flavor.
Canned Tomatoes. Just about any variety will work, diced, regular, or fire-roasted. Go for the fire-roasted for the most flavor.
Cajun Seasoning. Any brand, or homemade, will work. Vary amount used to the desired spiciness. Blackened Seasoning will do if you want flavor with less spice.
Herbs. A mix of dried herbs enhances the flavor of the dish. Traditionally, bay leaves, basil, and oregano work best. However, parsley or thyme can be substituted.
How to Make Instant Pot Jambalaya
The basic steps for making Instant Pot Jambalaya are simple to follow.
Cut and Cook Sausage
Add one tablespoon of oil to a 6-Quart Instant Pot and set to sauté. While oil heats, cut sausage links into bite-size slices.
Carefully place sausage into the pot and beware of popping oil. Cook the sausage for about five minutes, or until it is browned on both sides. Remove from the pot and let the sausage drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Cut and Cook Chicken
Leave the Instant Pot on the saute setting and add another tablespoon of oil. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces that are uniform in size. Smaller chunks of chicken will cook more evenly.
Add the chicken to the oil and cook for about three minutes, rotating the chicken so it is cooked on all sides. Searing the chicken will lock in juices and ensure tender meat. Remove the chicken from the pot and place the pieces on a paper towel-lined plate.
Saute and Deglaze
Finely chop one small sweet onion, one bell pepper, and three stalks of celery. Add vegetables to the oil and saute for two minutes. When onions become translucent, add garlic to the mix and continue to saute for one more minute.
Pour broth into the pot and thoroughly scrape the bottom. Those crispy bits are full of flavor so you want to incorporate them into the dish. Also, an extra layer on the bottom of the Instant Pot could set off the dreaded “burn error,” so make sure to avoid this!
Be sure to rinse your rice well, then pour it into the pot with the garlic and vegetables. Toss in the sausage, chicken, canned tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, herbs, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together. If subbing brown rice, ensure enough liquid is present.
Pressure Cook in Instant Pot
Place the lid on and ensure the pressure valve is turned to the sealing position. Set the Instant Pot to cook for five minutes, then allow a natural pressure release of five minutes. Open the pressure valve and continue the release.
Serve and Enjoy!
Dish the jambalaya up, top with fresh parsley, and enjoy! If you don’t have fresh parsley, that is fine, the jambalaya is full of flavor, already.
Meal Prep and Storage
- To Prep-Ahead: Chop the vegetables up to 2 days in advance. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces no more than 1 day in advance.
- To Store: Place jambalaya in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
- To Freeze: Seal in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Place in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
- To Reheat. Allow jambalaya to thaw in the fridge, then warm in a skillet with a bit of oil at medium heat for the best results.
While Cajun and Creole food are similar, there are subtle differences. Typically, if the jambalaya is brown, it’s Cajun, and if it’s reddish-orange, it’s Creole. Historically, Creole food is from New Orleans while Cajun is from Southwest Louisiana.
Jambalaya and gumbo are often confused. Jambalaya, by nature, is a rice dish. Gumbo is a stew that is often served with rice.
Jambalaya is most commonly a rice dish served with sausage (usually andouille), chicken or pork, and sometimes seafood, commonly shrimp or crawfish.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Rinse until clear. Run the rice under water until it is clear to get light and fluffy grains instead of a clumpy mess.
- Good sear. Ensure the oil is hot before adding the sausage and chicken so the meat gets a good sear. This will lock in the juices and keep the meat tender.
- Scrape to release. Removing the stuck-on pieces from the bottom will prevent burning.
- Mix just enough. Make sure the ingredients are mixed together, but keep the tomatoes from the bottom of the pot. If the tomatoes rest on the bottom, the jambalaya will be too thick and you might get a burn error.
- Adjust the spice. This recipe is easily adjustable! For those that want extra spice, add in more Cajun seasoning. If serving to kids or those that don’t want spicy dishes, limit or omit the Cajun seasoning and use Blackened instead.
Make it a Meal
While one of the perks of jambalaya is that it can be a one-bowl meal, there are some side dishes that would go great.
Other Cajun Recipes
Instant Pot Jambalaya Recipe
Instant Pot Jambalaya is a faster, and better, way to create this Cajun favorite, and it's not just for Mardis Gras! Made with chicken, andouille sausage, and rice, this flavorful meal is on your table in a snap.
- 2 Tbsp. oil divided
- 12 oz. andouille sausage cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 lb. chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 green bell pepper finely chopped
- 1 small sweet onion finely chopped
- 3 stalks celery finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves finely minced
- 1 ¾ cups broth chicken
- 1 ½ cups long grain white rice rinsed and drained
- 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes regular or fire roasted
- 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- ¾ tsp. basil dried
- ¾ tsp. oregano dried
- 1-1 ¼ tsp. salt to taste
- ½ tsp. black pepper to taste
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a 6-quart Instant Pot set to the sauté function along with the cut sausage. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until browned. Remove from the pot and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot along with the cubed chicken and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until browned on both sides. Remove from the pot and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Add bell pepper, onion, and celery. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue sautéing for another minute.
Pour in broth and scrape the bottom of the pot to ensure there are no bits or pieces stuck.
Stir in the sausage, chicken, white rice, diced tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, basil, oregano, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf.
Close the lid and make sure the pressure release valve is in the sealed position.
Set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow a 5 minute natural pressure release before opening the pressure valve.
Serve with a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh parsley and enjoy!
Meal Prep and Storage
- To Prep-Ahead: Chopping the vegetables and cutting the meat into bite-size pieces will save time. Don’t cut meat more than one day ahead of time.
- To Store: Place jambalaya in an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- To Freeze: Seal in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Place in freezer for up to 3 months.
- To Reheat. Allow jambalaya to thaw in the fridge, then warm in a skillet at medium heat for best results.