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Our 3-step Instant Pot Jambalaya recipe is incredibly flavorful and so easy! Serve over brown rice for a healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free dinner. Freezing instructions included.
This Instant Pot jambalaya recipe was inspired by one of my favorite people in the world–my dad! He’s been making and honing this Cajun specialty dish for some time now.
In fact, his slow cooker version called “Curt’s Slow Cooker Jambalaya” made it into our first cookbook, From Freezer to Table. Let me tell you, he really knocked it out of the park!
So with dad’s original recipe as my basis and my Instant Pot know-how (Did you know Polly and I published a whole cookbook full of Instant Pot recipes, too?), this Easy Instant Pot Jambalaya came to life.
Here’s our latest cookbook full of Instant Pot and Crock Pot recipes, if you want more well-tested recipes…
Why I Love Jambalaya in the Instant Pot
In case you need some convincing, let me tell you why it’s totally worth throwing this dish together.
- It’s super easy! This “dump and go” meal only requires three steps, a handful of ingredients, and about 30 minutes from start to finish.
- Delicious! The combo of all the vegetables, the andouille sausage, and seasonings create a complex flavor explosion in your mouth without much work.
- It makes a LOT. This can feed a large group or you can freeze half a batch for another meal later.
- Speaking of freezing, this makes a great freezer meal. I’ll teach you the best method for freezing below.
- Really healthy! It’s naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, full of vegetables, lean protein, and is served over fiber-rich brown rice.
What Is Jambalaya?
Jambalaya was born in Louisiana and is filled with a combo of sweet, spicy, and smoky flavors that make it stand out from other one-pot dishes. The Spruce Eats says, “Although the exact origin of jambalaya is unknown, it is most likely the result of multiple ethnicities mingling in the port city of New Orleans centuries ago.” There are two versions of the dish:
- Cajun – Called “brown jambalaya” that doesn’t contain tomatoes.
- Creole – Known as “red jambalaya” that does have tomatoes.
My recipe falls under the Creole category because I used tomatoes. I tried to keep it pretty lean and healthy while also packing in big taste!
Here are the simple ingredients you’ll find in my Instant Pot Jambalaya:
- Onions, Green Bell Peppers, and Celery – This combo of veggies is known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking. It’s also known to make your house smell amazing while they cook.
- Andouille Sausage – A Cajun sausage that infuses the other ingredients in the pot with spice and smoke. I opted to slice up some all-natural, fully-cooked andouille as a short-cut for this recipe.
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – This lean cut gets infused with flavor and doesn’t dry out thanks to the Instant Pot. But, you can use boneless, skinless thighs instead to add in a little more fat (read: more flavor).
- Fire-roasted diced tomatoes – If you can find canned fire-roasted tomatoes in the store, they add complexity to this dish and are my favorite. But, if you can’t, look for petite diced tomatoes instead.
- Chicken broth – You can either make your own or buy some at the store. I really like the Swanson brand. It tastes homemade and doesn’t have all the yucky additives.
- Cajun seasoning – My dad swears by Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning but use whatever kind you like. This seasoning adds in salt, black and red pepper, chili powder, and garlic.
- Dried herbs – A combo of dried oregano and thyme round out the seasoning. Make sure you have these in your pantry.
A lot of jambalaya recipes also call for shrimp. You can easily stir in some pre-cooked shrimp at the end of the cook time, if you want. Or, you can use uncooked shrimp and boil the jambalaya for a few minutes using the “Saute” function, until the shrimp is just cooked through. I decided to keep things simple and exclude it myself.
Take a peek at just how easy it is to make this recipe…
How to Make Instant Pot Jambalaya
Stir in the Ingredients
Add the chopped veggies, tomatoes, broth, chicken, sausage, Cajun seasoning, oregano, and thyme to the Instant Pot. Stir.
Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure. (Note: It will take about 10-15 minutes for the IP to come to pressure before starting the cook cycle.)
Stir and serve warm over cooked rice. Top with hot sauce, if desired.
Can You Freeze Jambalaya?
Yes, you can freeze jambalaya but there are a few important tips to keep in mind to make sure it tastes like fresh on the other end of it’s stay in the freezer.
We recommend freezing this jambalaya dish before pressure cooking it, so it turns out tasting just like a fresh meal. Since this is a big batch meal that feeds at least 8 people, one idea is to freeze half the batch and cook the rest for dinner. The cook time will NOT change if you do this.
Keep reading to learn exactly how to freeze this meal…
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How to Make It a Freezer Meal
One of THE best qualities of the Instant Pot, in my humble opinion, is that you can cook frozen meals directly in it. That’s not the case with the slow cooker, according to the USDA! Seriously, don’t put frozen food in your crockpot. Here’s how we recommend freezing jambalaya for the Instant Pot…
How to Freeze For Later:
Add the veggies, tomatoes, broth, chicken, sausage, and seasonings to one or two gallon-sized freezer bags or round containers. Seal and freeze. (Tip: If using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen.)
How to Prepare From Frozen:
Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen meal to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Cook at high pressure for 17-22 minutes. (I usually start at the lower time recommendation. Check to make sure the chicken registers 165°F internally or is no longer pink inside. If it’s not done, cook at high pressure another 2 minutes and check again.) Serve warm over rice.
How to Serve Instant Pot Jambalaya
Serve over brown rice or quinoa and you will have a delicious, nutritious dinner. You can even make Brown Rice in the Instant Pot ahead of time and have it on hand for this recipe. If you want to go completely grain-free, try serving it over cauliflower rice. Top with a little hot sauce, if you want to kick up the heat.
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- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire-roasted, diced tomatoes (Sub: petite diced tomatoes)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 – 1.25 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes (Sub: boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
- 12–14 ounces precooked, all-natural andouille sausage, thickly sliced (Sub: andouille chicken sausage)
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (Recommended: Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed in hand
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed in hand
- 8 cups cooked brown rice (Sub: cooked long-grain white rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice)
- Hot sauce, optional for serving
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Make It Now:
- Into the Instant Pot, add the onion, bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, broth, diced chicken, sliced sausage, Cajun seasoning, oregano, and thyme. (Do not add the rice.) Stir to combine.
- Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure*. (Note: It will take about 10-15 minutes for the IP to come to pressure before starting the cook cycle.)
- Stir and serve the jambalaya mixture over rice. Top with hot sauce, if desired.
*This is a good time to make a quick-cooking rice on the stovetop, if you aren’t using the pre-cooked rice from the store.
Freeze For Later:
Add the veggies, tomatoes, broth, chicken, sausage, and seasonings to a gallon-sized freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze. (Tip: If using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen.)
Prepare From Frozen:
Note: You will need to have cooked rice on hand to complete this meal. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen meal to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow step 3, but cook for 17-22 minutes. (Check to make sure the chicken registers 165°F internally or is no longer pink inside. If it’s not done, cook at high pressure another 2 minutes and check again.) Follow step 4.
Chopping Tip: Be sure to chop the veggies all about the same size and fairly small, since we aren’t sautéing them at the beginning. That way they cook at the same rate and get cooked through.
Freezing Tip: Since this is a big batch meal, you may want to freeze half the batch for later and make the rest now. Note: If you divide the batch in half, you will NOT have to adjust the cook time. It will cook at the same rate.
Heat Level: I would say this dish is moderately spicy. If you’re sensitive to heat (or are making this for kids), I suggest only using half of the Cajun seasoning. You can always add more hot sauce to individual servings later, if needed.
Can I cook the rice in the Instant Pot with everything else? I did not test it this way because I like the texture of rice cooked on the stove for the exact amount of time better. However, you could throw some Instant Brown Rice (not the long cooking rice!) in with the other ingredients before pressure cooking, and it will work out okay…just not perfectly. And I like perfectly. 🙂
How to Add in Shrimp: You can easily stir in some precooked shrimp at the end of the cook time, if you want. Or, you can use uncooked shrimp and boil the jambalaya after pressure cooking for a few minutes. To do this, turn on the “Saute” function, stir, and cook until the shrimp is just cooked through. It won’t take long. P.S. I recommend using peeled, deveined shrimp to make your life much easier!
Crockpot Directions: If you’d like to make this in the slow cooker instead, saute the onions and celery in a saute pan over medium-high heat until soft (or microwave them with 1 teaspoon oil for 4-5 minutes), add all ingredients to the crockpot (except the rice), and cook on LOW for just 2 1/2 – 3 hours (if you go longer the chicken will overcook!).
Want More Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot?
We’ve got you covered. Hop over to this post highlighting 20+ Best of the Best Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot. It includes freezer meal instructions for EVERY recipe plus tons of pro tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years.