This One Pot Cajun Chicken and Rice is a super easy and quick way to prepare an Instant Pot chicken and rice recipe with veggies. Perfect for busy weeknights and leftovers make amazing lunches.
I already shared with you 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.
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Why I LOVE my Pressure Cookers
- 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 electrical pressure cookers.
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 (this step is optional). Then I stir in tomato paste and deglaze the pot.
Next, I add 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 pour in the chicken broth and arrange the Cajun breast breast halves on top. Now, carefully spread the rice on top 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 or chili 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
Too soft/mushy rice
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 came out fine. BUT when I stopped recommending to use rinsed rice A LOT of readers had issues with the pot not pressurizing and/or displaying BURN.
-> So I am still recommending to rinse the starch off the rice, but I've measured approximately how much water gets absorbed during rinsing, and reduced the amount of broth called for in the recipe by ¼ cup.
- 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.
Burn display/pot not pressurizing
The dreaded BURN message is giving many Instant Pot users and food bloggers a hard time. Personally, it has NEVER happened to me and left me completely puzzled for a while.
Finally, I learned that it most likely has to do with the manufacturing date of the pot. Mine and others from late 2016 and earlier don't really have the BURN issue. But it seems like newer pots late 2017 and newer either run hotter or are more sensitive (or both) and produce the BURN message way more frequently especially with starchy rice or pasta dishes.
But I've come up with a few solutions:
- Most importantly, I changed the order of the ingredients. Instead of having the rice at the bottom, where it could easily get stuck or burn on, I now recommend adding it at the very end and DON'T stir.
- Aside from the rice starches burning at the bottom of the pot, another culprit could be stuck on browned bits from sautéing the onion and garlic.
-> You absolutely have to deglaze the bottom of the pot properly with a little water or broth. And scrape up any bits that may be stuck.
-> After one commenter said they don't even bother with the browning step, I realized that the onions and garlic softened up nicely even if added raw. So I have made the sautéing into an optional step.
Mushy bell peppers
Pressure cooked bell peppers are on the soft side, there is no way around it.
- But I found that if I actually cut them into smaller pieces (dice) the soft consistency isn't very noticeable in the rice & chicken mix.
- I've also replaced the bell pepper with 1-2 cups of frozen peas, corn, carrot mix and I actually like those veggies much better pressure cooked. They still remain a little bit of bite.
Pressure Cooker I Use
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes You'll Love
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
- 1.5 cups white rice (I have used regular white, Jasmine and parboiled rice with success) well rinsed
- 1 bell pepper, diced (I've also used 1-2 cups of frozen peas, carrots and corn instead)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1.75 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. This helps remove starches that may otherwise scorch at the bottom of your Instant Pot.
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make then thinner. Season well from both sides with Cajun seasoning (about 2 teaspoons).
Optional step: Soften first the onion and then garlic with the oil using the sauté function. Deglaze with a couple tablespoons of water and scrape up any brown bits. There should be NOTHING left stuck to the bottom, otherwise the Instant Pot will not be able to pressurize properly.
Then add bell peppers, tomato paste and 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (or more to taste and more heat). Stir until well combined.
Pour the broth over the veggie mixture and arrange the chicken breast halves over top. Now spread the rinsed rice on top and DO NOT stir!
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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