Smoky Instant Pot Lentils and Rice

This Instant Pot lentils and rice recipe for the pressure cooker is easy, delicious and versatile! Both grains cook together in the pot for simple assembly.

Smoky Instant Pot Lentils and Rice (Pressure Cooker) | A Couple Cooks

Meet our new favorite: this Instant Pot lentils and rice recipe! It came about as an accident, actually! I wanted to make a bowl meal with both lentils and rice, and needed to cook both of them. Alex and I knew you could cook rice in an Instant Pot, but wondered whether both lentils and rice could cook together our the Instant Pot (pressure cooker)! We tried it out using brown rice and lentils of the French variety, and added some spices to make them taste smoky and meaty. And guess what…

It worked! The Instant Pot lentils and rice cooked perfectly together, and the brown rice cooked much faster than on the stovetop! These lentils and rice are incredibly versatile: you can use them as a taco filling, as a bowl meal, in nachos, or as a side dish. And, we’re so smitten that we made you a video! Watch below.

Related: Use this recipe as a filling for our Instant Pot Tacos with Smoky Lentils!

Watch how to make Instant Pot lentils and rice

Important notes about this lentils and rice recipe

First, a few notes about this Instant Pot lentils and rice recipe! First, this recipe makes many servings. Since lentils and rice are great as leftovers and incredibly versatile, this makes enough for 10 cups, which is 8 or so servings. You’ll probably find you have leftovers unless you’re making this for a crowd.

Also, this lentils and rice recipe is a component meant to be served in various ways: like as a taco filling, in a bowl meal, or as a side to grilled fish. They’re not meant to be served just as is — so determine how you’d like to use them! Even throwing them over salad greens and topping with cheese crumbles and a few sliced veggies would be perfect. Our favorite way to eat our Instant Pot lentils is in our Instant Pot tacos or on our BEST Vegan Nachos. We’d love to hear how you serve them in the comments below!

Related: 15 Best Lentil Recipes | Dal Makhani | Cuban Black Beans & Rice

Smoky Instant Pot Lentils and Rice (Pressure Cooker) | A Couple Cooks

How to make Instant Pot lentils and rice

And, a few things to note about the ingredients in our Instant Pot lentils and rice recipe:

  • Use long grain brown rice! We’ve optimized the timing for long grain brown rice in this Instant Pot rice recipe, so make sure to use this: it’s easy to find at most grocery stores.
  • Use French lentils! French lentils hold their shape better than green lentils, so we’ve used them here. If at all possible try to find French lentils (also called Puy), but you can use green lentils in a pinch!
  • Use smoked paprika! To make this Instant Pot brown rice and lentils taste smoky, we’ve used smoked paprika. Sometimes it’s called pimentón
  • Use fennel seeds. Using fennel seeds brings in a meaty flavor; since fennel seeds are typically used in sausage, the evoke the taste of meat in vegetarian dishes!

Other than keeping these notes in mind, it’s very simple to make Instant pot lentils and rice! Throw the ingredients in the pot, cook on high pressure for 16 minutes, and natural release for 16 minutes.

Related: Lentil to Water Ratio | What are Lentils?

Smoky Instant Pot Lentils and Rice (Pressure Cooker) | A Couple Cooks

Looking for healthy Instant Pot recipes?

If you’ve read our other Instant Pot posts, you’ll know Alex and I used to be Instant Pot skeptics. We thought it was mostly helpful for cooking meat, but have found there are plenty of Instant Pot vegetarian recipes like these Instant Pot lentils! Instead of being just another kitchen appliance, we’ve enjoyed using our pressure cooker to simplify some of our vegetarian basics like sweet potatoes and chickpeas. Here are some of our other favorite Instant Pot recipes so far:

This recipe is…

This Instant Pot lentils and rice recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant based, dairy free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.

Related: Try using our Homemade Vegetable Broth for this recipe!

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Smoky Instant Pot Lentils and Rice (Pressure Cooker) | A Couple Cooks

Smoky Instant Pot Lentils and Rice (Pressure Cooker)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (271 votes, average: 3.86 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 37 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 10 cups (about 8 servings) 1x


This Instant Pot lentils and rice recipe for the pressure cooker is easy, delicious and versatile! Both grains cook together in the pot for simple assembly.


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups long grain brown rice (do not sub short grain or white rice)
  • 2 cups French green lentils (also known as Puy; green works if you can’t find French)
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika (pimentón; do not sub sweet)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


  1. In the Instant Pot, place all ingredients except the vinegar and give them a stir. Lock the lid and place the vent in the “Sealing” position.
  2. Cook the lentils: Press the Pressure Cook button (making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected) and set the time for 16 minutes. Wait while the Instant Pot cooks. (Note: It takes about 5 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  3. Wait for natural release: After the pot beeps, use the Natural Release method and wait another 16 minutes to let the pot cool down naturally (we set a timer so we don’t forget!). Then vent any remaining steam by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. (Never put your hands or face near the steam release valve when releasing steam.)
  4. Open the lid and stir in the apple cider vinegar. Taste and add additional salt as necessary (veggie broth does vary in salt content, so you may need to add more salt). Serve warm. This recipe makes quite a bit and leftovers can be re-purposed throughout the week. 
  5. Storage info: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator; they do become more dry as they cool, so make sure to reheat them before serving again. Depending on the texture, consider adding a glug of olive oil for moisture.
  • Category: Main Dish, Side Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Instant Pot, Instant Pot Recipes, Pressure Cooker, Pressure Cooker Recipes, Lentils and Rice, How to Cook Lentils, Pressure Cooking

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    August 20, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Could you do this in a pot on the stove? I don’t have an instant pot and really want to eat this! Looks so good!

    • Reply
      August 20, 2018 at 11:19 am

      Hi! Unfortunately the cook times are really different on the stove top so they can’t be cooked all together :(

    • Reply
      March 13, 2020 at 10:30 pm

      I actually just did this. I cut the recipe in half and put everything in the pot except the vinegar and cooked it covered on medium heat.

      I didn’t add all 4 cups of broth either; I started with about one (it covered the ingredients), covered the pot and let the broth cook down, stirred and then added more broth(about 1/4-1/2 cup) and cooked covered until the rice(which was a japanese short grain that I had on hand) and lentils were cooked through.

      *I think the key is to slowly add the broth during the cooking process (like cooking risotto) but I was also cautious because I didn’t want a gelatinous mess that rice turns into if you cook it in too much liquid.

      **I halved the recipe because my husband eats like a picky 12 year old (oh he was upset when I brought lentils home) and it’s just the 2 of us right now. It made enough to where we both ate and then I had lunch for work the next day.

      I hope this helps~

  • Reply
    August 21, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Tried this tonight and it wad SO good!! Will definitely be making it again as it was super easy and very flavorful!

    • Reply
      August 21, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      Oh we are so glad to hear this! Thanks for trying it!

  • Reply
    August 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    I just have a regular (all be it very old) pressure cooker. Any idea if the cook times would be similar to insta pot cook times ?

    • Reply
      August 22, 2018 at 2:12 pm

      I would expect that they would be similar in cooking time, but I do not know for sure! Let us know if you try it :)

      • Reply
        August 26, 2018 at 11:43 am

        I tried this recipe today in my stovetop pressure cooker , and the cook times in the recipe were pretty much equivalent. It took about 15 minutes to get up to temp and pressure , and then I left it to cook under pressure for 16 minutes. The only difference would be next time, I will use a bit more liquid. For this time, since it was a little dry, I just added in some tomato sauce we had on hand which made it perfect consistency to add to salads or nachos for this week’s lunches. Thanks for this delicious recipe!

      • Reply
        February 12, 2020 at 6:09 pm

        Can you cook this in a crockpot? I don’t have a pressure cooker or an instant cooker.

        • Reply
          Alex Overhiser
          February 12, 2020 at 9:32 pm

          Sorry, this wouldn’t work in a slow cooker.

  • Reply
    August 23, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Sounds great! I can’t wait to make this for myself and my toddler. Do you think brown basmati rice would work? Also, do you think I could sub the onion and garlic powder for a diced onion and garlic and still get good results (it’s just what I have on hand)?

    • Reply
      August 26, 2018 at 12:35 pm

      Virginia — sorry for the delay! YES brown basmati rice will work, that’s what we used! On the onion and garlic — I actually wouldn’t sub them here since you’d have to saute them first (unless you’re comfortable using the saute feature!). I would use onion and garlic powder if you can since that’s how we tested it and I’m not sure how long to saute in an IP, how their volume would affect the overall cook time, etc!

  • Reply
    September 15, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    I made this tonight for tacos. We love the flavor! But mine came out a little dry. Any suggestions to keep that from happening next time? I may try adding another cup of vegetable broth. Thank you!!

  • Reply
    October 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Can’t wait for more instant pot recipes from you! Keep them coming! I liked the dry crumbly yet chewy texture!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    Loved making this. Thank you so much! I had to use normal green lentils. They ended up being a little bit uncooked. Do you have any advice for that?

    • Reply
      January 4, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      Oh you are so welcome! We don’t have a recipe for Instant Pot green lentils yet but it will be coming! In the meantime, I’d just 1 or 2 minutes to the cook time for this if your green lentils were too al dente for your liking. (We’ve had other people make it with green lentils that turned out fine, so it depends on the exact brand of lentils and pressure cooker.) THANKS!

  • Reply
    Todd Katz
    February 17, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    I’d like to make this with short grain brown rice … should I just experiment or is there some particular reason why you warn against using the short grain version? Thank in advance.

    • Reply
      February 18, 2019 at 9:24 am

      Hi! This recipe was written for long grain, and not tested with short grain. We aren’t sure if it would get fully cooked or not!

    • Reply
      Kami G.
      May 5, 2021 at 8:15 pm

      I just made this with green lentils and short grain brown rice and it came out great! I increased the cooking time to 20 min. I did not have fennel seeds so I threw in some cumin powder. Delicious and easy!

  • Reply
    February 20, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    I made this and it is fabulous as a meat (think ground beef) substitute. It does come out dry-ish and that’s what gives it the texture of sauteed ground beef. I used it on a taco salad complete with salsa and guac. Yum! I want to try it in stuffed peppers ala mexicali and in a 5 ingredient enchilada casserole recipe that calls for pulled chicken.

    In response to the short grain rice question, long grain rice remains firm and non-sticky which allows the crumbly texture when cooked with the Puy lentils. Short grain rice cooks up with a much softer texture and sticks together. Probably not the best choice for this recipe.

    • Reply
      March 23, 2019 at 10:36 pm

      Ooo love the idea of putting this on a taco salad! We may need to try this :) Thank you for weighing in about the short grain rice!

  • Reply
    April 4, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Can I use only long grain wild rice? Thanks

    • Reply
      April 4, 2019 at 10:23 am

      Hi! Wild rice has a different cooking time, so that wouldn’t work with this timing. Thanks for asking!

  • Reply
    Catherine Lawrence
    June 16, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    I just made this today following the instructions exactly in my InstantPot and it is AWESOME! The texture is great, not sticky and not dry, but perfect! I have been looking for a good recipe for beans and rice and believe it or not, it is hard to find one that works. I am so happy with this! I just whipped up some guacamole and plan to chow down with this for supper. It is great, thanks!

    • Reply
      June 16, 2019 at 5:15 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it! It’s a favorite.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Would this recipe work with a rice cooker or crock pot? I’d love to try this recipe but don’t have an instant pot.

    • Reply
      July 8, 2019 at 9:44 pm

      Hi! Sorry, the timing for this only works in an instant pot or other pressure cooker.

  • Reply
    Jennings Palmer
    July 14, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Just made this exactly as the recipe said, and it’s incredible!! Thank you for sharing this!

  • Reply
    July 28, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    I don’t have a pressure cooker, but this recipe looks amazing! Is there a way I could cook the rice and lentils separate and combine them to get a similar flavor to this recipe?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      July 28, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      Hi! You could just cook both according to package instructions (with broth instead of water) and then combine with the spices and a little bit of olive oil for several minutes on the stovetop.

  • Reply
    January 2, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    I am currently trying this recipe just as written, but it keeps giving me a “food burn” error. I’ve tried unsticking it from the bottom and adding water twice. It still gives me an error. Help?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      January 2, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      Hi! Are you using the long-grain brown rice? Other types cook much faster — this could be the issue.

  • Reply
    Seneca Spurling
    January 3, 2020 at 12:29 am

    So glad I came across this recipe! Saw the recipe today, and then made it tonight. Usually I make bbq jackfruit tacos and they’re a wonderful staple but I was hoping to find something new to add to taco rotation, and this one is definitely a keeper. I made it almost exactly as per the recipe, but I didn’t have garlic powder so I added two garlic cloves (used the garlic press so it was just as easy). Definitely on the dry side but works perfectly in tacos with salsa on top. Really fantastic flavor. My partner said it made an impressive substitute for ground beef. I personally loved the way it tasted a bit like sausage. The texture and flavor are just wonderful. Thank you!
    PS: I definitely think a glug of olive oil will be the perfect to moisten this up when reheating.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    This recipe was great! My husband and I, and two kids all loved it! I made it into a lentils and rice bowl with lots of raw veggies, hemp and pumpkin seeds, and a homemade avacado sauce. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Is the lentil/rice ratio important? Would I be able to make this with a higher amount of lentils vs rice if it’s still 4 cups total?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      January 25, 2020 at 2:00 pm

      We haven’t tested this, but I think it would work!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2020 at 5:34 am

    Oops meant can I freeze the leftovers?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      February 14, 2020 at 11:02 am

      Yes, this should freeze well.

  • Reply
    February 23, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    I halved this – worked perfectly, and so delicious! Thank you!

  • Reply
    March 1, 2020 at 9:49 am

    If I cut the recipe in half, does the cook time remain the same?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      March 2, 2020 at 11:40 am


    • Reply
      March 2, 2020 at 12:03 pm

      Thank you!

      • Reply
        March 3, 2020 at 9:48 pm

        I made it tonight! The whole house smelled so good!

  • Reply
    Jen Coken
    March 18, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    This DID NOT work for me. I followed the recipe exactly. About 5 minutes into it, my Instant Pot told me it was burning. I turned it off, vented it and added more liquid (It looked pretty dry). I started it up again and the same thing happened. This time I allowed it to vent naturally and now it is just a big mess. The lentils have broken down but the rice is not cooked. I am now attempting to work it stovetop to try to save it since the grocery stores were pretty bare.

    What the heck did I do wrong?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      March 18, 2020 at 5:27 pm

      I’m so sorry! Are you using French Puy lentils, or standard green lentils?

  • Reply
    Rebeckah Z.
    May 22, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    This turned out amazingly for me! I’ve made it twice, the first time with regular paprika and no fennel seeds since I didn’t have any. This was tasty, but not Smokey. The second time, I actually had all the seasonings on hand, and it was wonderful! Very Smokey and delicious flavor. We’re using it for taco fillings. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Reply
    June 20, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks for the recipe….I used vegetable broth and zatar instead of fennel & black pepper. Finished with melted butter …so good!

  • Reply
    August 1, 2020 at 7:54 am

    I just made this and it turned out wonderful! I was a bit short on the brown rice (about half a cup short) and forgot to adjust the water accordingly so it’s a bit sticky and more like the texture of chunky refried beans because of that, but I find I don’t mind that (I was using it for nachos anyway, so chunky clumps that are kinda like ground meat work fine for it). I might have used the wrong lentils too, so that could be part of the issue, but I’m leaning more toward too much water since the lentils still maintained most of their shape. I live in Germany and I know I’ve seen lentils labeled as “Puy” before, but I used Berglinsen because it’s what I had on hand. The German to English translation was really unclear and some sites said they are Puy lentils, others said otherwise. Either way, they didn’t burn to the bottom and they’re definitely edible and taste excellent. I’ll definitely make it again using the correct measurements and see if the amount of water I used was the issue, but definitely a recipe I’ll make often regardless.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    5 stars for sure! This was incredible as “taco meat”. I put it on corn tortillas and topped it with Mexican street corn and your chipotle sauce. My husband and I just loved it. Thanks for the recipe and great idea for yummy vegan “tacos”.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      August 13, 2020 at 9:25 am

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2020 at 9:31 am

    So you don’t wash either the rice or the lentils before cooking? That seems odd.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      September 28, 2020 at 9:03 am

      We don’t, but you are welcome to!

  • Reply
    September 29, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    I used green lentils since that’s what I had on hand, otherwise I followed the recipe as written. It is delicious, thank you! I’m eating it in a taco salad right now. This is my new favorite. 😋

  • Reply
    October 10, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you for your simple and healthy recipes! I want to try your Instant pot wild rice soup but I’ve been to 2 stores this week and neither had wild rice :(
    One thing I might try-To add another kick to this, would you recommend reducing some of the broth a tad and adding some canned fire roasted tomatoes that I’ve seen in some of your other recipes?

    • Reply
      Sonja Overhiser
      October 12, 2020 at 9:03 am

      Sorry you can’t find wild rice! It can be hard to find sometimes (not sure why!)! Sometimes we buy it online. Re your question, we probably wouldn’t suggest adjusting an Instant Pot recipe. The Instant Pot is a little picky about how much liquid is included! It’s possible it could work but we haven’t tried it with tomatoes. This one has tons of flavor so we’d suggest trying it as written!

  • Reply
    Tricia S.
    February 15, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    Adjustments for an instant pot mini?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      February 16, 2021 at 9:42 pm

      Sorry, we haven’t tested any recipes with the mini :(

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