Haha, I had a very “Louisiana” day yesterday! I made a big pot of red beans during the day and then went to a crawfish boil at night. :P Despite living in southern Louisiana, that was like a year’s worth of Louisiana squeezed into one day for me! Anyway, I was craving red beans, so I thought it was a good opportunity to try making them in my pressure cooker. Red beans are a super simple, flavorful, filling, and cheap meal, which is why they’ve been a staple food across the souther U.S. for generations. Beans are notorious for taking forever to cook, but with pressure cooker technology, these Pressure Cooker Red Beans can be finished in just about an hour! So, that pretty much makes them the perfect food, IMHO.
I used my 7-1 Multi-Functional Instant Pot pressure cooker so that I could do the sauté steps all right in the same pot, but you can use any electric or stove top pressure cooker. There are several other brands of multi-function pressure cookers on the market as well, such as this Cosori model that is a little less expensive and comes with a glass lid for when you’re using the slow cooker function. If you’re using an old-school single-functin pressure cooker, just do the first couple of sauté steps in a skillet and then transfer everything to the pressure cooker when you add the beans, spices, and broth.
The secret to good red beans is to use some sort of smoked meat, like sausage or a smoked ham hock, and to cook the beans down until they’re so soft that they begin to break down. When the beans break down they turn the cooking liquid into a deliciously thick and creamy mixture that is absolutely delightful with rice. It’s a match made in heaven. If possible, use andouille sausage, but if you can’t find it in your area just use another variety of smoked sausage. Make sure it’s a smoked sausage, not something like Italian sausage. And if you don’t want to use meat at all, I made a pretty delicious (if I do say so myself) Vegan Red Beans and Rice a few years back. No pressure cooker? No problem. Here is my recipe for regular stove-top Louisiana Red Beans and Rice.
Pressure Cooker Red Beans
- ½ lb. smoked sausage (like andouille)* $1.60
- 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.13
- 1 onion $0.37
- 1 bell pepper $0.98
- 3 stalks celery $0.24
- 4 cloves garlic $0.32
- 1 lb. dry uncooked red beans $0.97
- 1 tsp dried thyme $0.10
- 1 tsp dried oregano $0.10
- 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
- ¼ tsp cayenne $0.02
- Freshly cracked black pepper $0.05
- 3 cups chicken broth $0.39
- 2 cups water $0.00
- 3 green onions, sliced $0.20
- 6 cups cooked rice $1.13
- Slice the smoked sausage into medallions. Add the olive oil and sliced sausage to the multi-function pressure cooker or a skillet and sauté the sausage until it is brown on both sides (about 5 minutes). Once the sausage is well browned, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon.
- While the sausage is browning, finely dice the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and mince the garlic. After removing the sausage, add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the pot and continue to sauté for another five minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent. The moisture from the vegetables should dissolve the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.
- Rinse and sort through the beans to remove any bad beans or debris. Add the beans to the pot along with the cooked sausage, thyme, oregano, paprika, cayenne, some freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of a pepper mill), chicken broth, and water. Stir to combine.
- Secure the lid on the pressure cooker and close the vent. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes (either use the manual button or bean/chili button on the Instant Pot and increase time to 35 minutes), then let the pot naturally release pressure as it cools. Test the beans to make sure they're extremely soft. If they're not soft yet, re-secure the lid, close the vent, and cook for an additional 20 minutes on high power.
- Once the beans are very soft, stir and smash the beans agains the side of the pot with the back of a large spoon until the liquid thickens. Taste and add salt as needed (start with a teaspoon and add more until the flavors pop).
- Add about 1.5 cups of red beans to a bowl, top with 1 cup rice and a sprinkle of sliced green onions.
Step by Step Photos
Start by slicing 1/2 lb. smoked sausage into medallions. Use andouille sausage, if possible, but if you can’t find it in your area, use another type of smoked sausage. Add the smoked sausage to the pot with 1 Tbps olive oil and sauté until the sausage is browned. If your pressure cooker does not have a sauté function, you can do this part in a skillet.
While the sausage is browning, finely dice one onion, one green bell pepper, and 3 stalks of celery. Mince four cloves of garlic. Remove the browned sausage from the pot and add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic.
Continue to sauté until the onions are soft and transparent. The moisture from the vegetables should dissolve all the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.
Rinse 1 lb. red beans and sort through them to remove any bad beans. Add them to the pot along with the cooked sausage, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and some freshly cracked pepper.
Finally, add 3 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water. Stir to combine. Secure the lid on the pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes (you can either use the manual or bean/chili buttons on the Instant Pot, then increase the time to 35 minutes).
After cooking at high pressure for 35 minutes, let the pot cool and release pressure naturally. Open the pot and test the beans for tenderness. You want them to be extremely tender and breaking down so that they make the liquid thick and creamy once you start stirring. If they’re not soft just yet, simply put the lid back on, close the vent, and set to high pressure again for another 20 minutes. If your beans are having a hard time softening, it’s most likely due to hard water or old beans.
Once the beans are very soft, stir the pot and smash the beans against the side of the pot as you stir. The starches from the beans will begin to turn the liquid into a nice thick sauce. Finally, taste the beans and add salt as needed. With dishes like this you absolutely will not taste all the flavor notes until it is seasoned well with salt. The chicken broth will add some salt, but you’ll most likely need to salt it at the end as well. Start with a teaspoon and add more as needed (the total amount will depend on the type of broth you used and your individual taste buds).
To serve the red beans, place about 1.5 cups in a bowl and top with a cup of cooked rice. Sprinkle sliced green onions over top. Don’t skip the green onions, either! They give the dish a blast of freshness that really brings it all together. :)
The way that rich sauce coats the rice is just so MMMM-mmmm!