This One Pot Cajun Chicken and Rice is a super easy and quick way to prepare a full Instant Pot chicken recipe with rice and veggies. Perfect for weeknights and leftovers make amazing lunches.
I already shared with you that here that I didn’t know about anything Cajun and definitely not Cajun cuisine until I moved from Germany to Canada as a young adult.
But one thing I know for sure is how much I love the ease and convenience of one pot meals. And this one pot Cajun chicken is no different.
The ‘one pot’ I chose for this Cajun chicken recipe is the almighty Instant Pot. Seriously, I’ve fallen in love hard with this electric pressure cooker.
Why I LOVE my Instant Pot
- I now make yogurt from scratch every other week from local, organic milk from pasture-raised cows
- Goodbye to canned pulses for good. I buy only dry beans, cook them in bulk and it takes no time (even without soaking), and then I freeze them for future use.
- Forgetting to take out meat from the freezer to thaw for dinner is no longer an issue. I have made Instant Pot chicken breast and ground beef from frozen without any adverse effects on flavor or texture.
- Spaghetti Squash fully cooked in 10 minutes – enough said!
And these are just a few of the reasons I love my Instant Pot. I am still learning some of its functions and will of course share with you here as I get into Instant Pot bone broth, whole chicken and even cheesecake (?!).
How to make Cajun Chicken
This recipe is of course for the Instant Pot method of making Cajun chicken and rice. And it really couldn’t be much easier.
First, I used the Instant Pot sauté function to soften the onion and garlic and give it some colour. Then I stir in tomato paste and deglaze the pot.
Next, I add rice and the diced bell pepper together with some Cajun seasoning (I used my homemade Cajun seasoning).
When cooking poultry in the Instant Pot chicken thighs are preferred by many, but I have used chicken breast with great success in this recipe. It comes out tender, flavorful and not dry at all.
To achieve that, I cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to ensure they are thinner and will cook through quickly. I season each half from both sides with Cajun seasoning, so there is a lot more seasoning in contact with the chicken as opposed to whole chicken breasts.
Next, I arrange the Cajun breast breast halves over the rice mixture in the Instant Pot, add chicken broth and let everything cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.
I let the pressure release naturally (NPR) for 5 minutes and then turn the valve to quick release (QR) any remaining pressure.
Finally, I shred the nice and tender chicken with two forks and stir it in with the rice. Voila! This chicken and rice pressure cooker recipe is done.
Which Rice to use for one pot cajun chicken and rice
I am a huge fan of whole grain brown or red rice, but it takes a long time to cook. Instant Pot rice recipes can vary a lot, but for me (at very high altitude) brown rice takes 26 minutes!
When I tried it with this Cajun chicken rice recipe, surprisingly the chicken still came out tender (not dry at all). But the bell pepper pieces were cooked to complete mush.
I like bell peppers with still a little texture, so for this Instant Pot chicken and rice casserole I chose parboiled rice.
It cooks just as fast as regular white rice, but actually has 80% of the nutrients of brown rice. It’s because parboiled (converted rice) gets soaked in the husk, which allows many of the vitamins and minerals to move into the kernel.
Since learning more about the process and nutritional value of parboiled rice, it has become my go-to whenever whole grain rice isn’t an option. And I actually really like the texture with a little more bite and more separated kernels, than regular white rice.
I have also tried this recipe with Jasmine rice and regular white rice and had good success.
What to serve with Cajun Chicken
This recipe for Cajun chicken is already fairly balanced with protein, carb and veggies, but I definitely prefer more vegetables with dinner – about half my plate.
So if you are wondering what goes with Cajun chicken, I’d say just a simple and quick green salad! Since the cooking time is completely hands-off in this Instant Pot chicken breast recipe, you’ll have plenty of time to set the table and toss up a salad – even with healthy homemade dressing.
More Ways to Make Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
Instant Pot chicken recipes are always super popular and this easy Cajun chicken is just one way to do it. You can easily modify this recipe to change things up or to adjust it to your liking.
Not a fan of spicy Cajun chicken? You can still make pressure cooker chicken and rice but try a milder Mexican seasoning (like Taco seasoning mix) and add tomatoes and corn to the rice.
How about an Italian version? Rub Italian herbs and salt + pepper on the chicken and stir in tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms for vegetables with the rice. I am thinking these veggies would still retain some bite even if cooked with brown rice (26 minutes).
I also want to try a one pot Instant Pot chicken curry and rice version. With curry powder on the chicken and curry paste (and/or powder) in the rice. In that case I would also replace some of the broth with coconut milk.
Also check out this post for more chicken instant pot recipes.
UPDATE: FAQs and Troubleshooting
Quite a few of you have tried this recipe and loved the flavor. Unfortunately a large percentage had to deal with mushy rice in varying degrees.
From your comments I gathered that most of you don’t use parboiled rice (my favorite for this recipe). So I went back to the drawing board.
I went to the store and picked up regular white rice as well as Jasmine rice (unfortunately, they didn’t have Basmati). Armed with those rice varieties I went through a few more test runs of this recipe.
I concluded there are 2-3 possible culprits and solutions in the mushy rice dilemma:
- By rinsing the rice some water will already be absorbed and the rice-water ratio ends up a little off. So I tried the recipe with unrinsed rice and it still comes out fine.
-> I no longer recommend rinsing the rice and removed that step from the instructions.
- While parboiled rice still retains some bite after 10 minutes of pressure cooking, that seems a little too much for white and Jasmine rice. 8 minutes was perfect for me, but I am at high altitude.
-> So I now recommend a range of 7-8 minutes (the latter for high altitude). And because the chicken breasts are cut in half, they still cook through just fine.
- I have learnt that using quick release (QR) with meat can dry it out. For that reason I used to recommend 10 minutes natural pressure release (NPR), before quick releasing any remaining pressure. However, in those 10 minutes the rice can end up overcook.
-> I settled on the happy medium of 5 minutes NPR. That way te chicken stays moist and the rice doesn’t cook too long.
VIDEO: How To Cook Instant Pot Cajun Chicken & Rice
Instant Pot Cajun Chicken and Rice
- 1 lb. chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning divided
- 1 tablespoon oil olive or avocado
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1.5 cups white rice (I have used regular white, Jasmine and parboiled rice with success)
- 1 bell pepper cut into large chunks
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make then thinner. Season well from both sides with Cajun seasoning (about 2 teaspoons).
Heat the Instant Pot by pressing the ‘Sauté’ button. Once display shows ‘HOT’ add the oil and sauté the onion and garlic until lightly browned.
Stir in tomato paste then deglaze the pot with a few tablespoons if the broth. Make sure to scrape off any brown bits that may be stuck at the bottom. Turn off Instant Pot by pressing ‘Cancel’.
Turn off Instant Pot by pressing ‘Cancel’. Then add rice, bell peppers, and 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (or more to taste and more heat). Stir until well combined.
Pour the remaining broth over the rice mixture and carefully arrange the chicken breast halves over top.
Close the lid and turn the valve to ‘Sealing’. Cook on ‘Manual’ high pressure for 7-8 minutes (the latter at high altitude).
Let the pressure release naturally (NPR) for 5 minutes, then release remaining pressure by turning the valve to ‘Venting’.
Once the pin drops, carefully open the lid. Shred the chicken with two forks, then stir to combine the Cajun chicken with the rice. You can adjust the seasoning to taste at this point.
Serve with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.
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