Lentils And Rice Recipe (Instant Pot Recipe)

This lentils and rice recipe is delicious as a plant-based meal or even a wonderful side dish!

I’ve been going kind of crazy with my Instant Pot recipes lately. I’ve taken a part-time job recently, so my time in the kitchen is at a premium! That being said, this single mama is TIRED!! So spending a bunch of time in the kitchen isn’t something I have a lot of energy for anyway right now. A new job takes a little getting used to, so until I do get into the routine of things, I’m relying heavily on my Instant Pot. (No, I was not paid to promote Instant Pot. I just love mine!)

A white bowl filled with Lentils and Rice

As many of you know, I went 100% plant-based for about 2 years, and I loved it! I felt so much better on the inside. So much “cleaner”. (It’s hard to put it into words, actually). But most of the recipes out there for the Instant Pot are anything but plant-based. So, I had to get a little creative. But you won’t catch me complaining! I’m no longer vegan, but I still enjoy many plant-based meals, just like this one.

Why Use An Instant Pot?

  • Much like a slow cooker, it’s a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of appliance.
  • It’s faster than a slow cooker.
  • It cooks to perfection every single time.
  • While you do have to get to know your IP pressure cooker in the beginning, once you do, it’s a breeze to use!
  • You can sauté in it before you do any pressure cooking. Can’t do that in a slow cooker! Makes for easy, one-pot meals!
  • Very little cleanup! (see the previous bullet)
  • If you absolutely WANT to use a slow cooker, the IP does that, too!! (and a few other things like making yogurt!)
  • There are very few things you CAN’T cook in an IP.
  • It saves time in the kitchen.

Recipe Notes

  • This recipe has sort of an “Indian” or “Moroccan” flare to it. The curry is mild, so there is almost no noticeable heat to the spice.
  • A little salt goes a long way with this dish.
  • It travels well for lunches.
  • It’s a complete-protein meal all by itself, thanks to the combo of rice and legumes.
  • It’s a wonderful side dish if you aren’t plant-based.
  • Do NOT use “quick cook” or “minute” brown rice. Your rice will end up very mushy. This must be regular brown rice. I’ve tried this with both brown Basmati rice and brown short-grain rice. Both work well.
  • This is a fantastic recipe for meal prep!
A side view of a white bowl filled with Lentils and Rice

#1 Tip For Perfect Lentils And Rice

Above all else, make sure your lentils are not old lentils. Sometimes, this can be a little tough at the store because you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting on the shelf. But it’s better to use just-bought lentils than to use lentils that have been sitting on your pantry shelf for a long time. Old lentils take much longer to cook, so your rice will turn to mush before the lentils are done. NEVER USE OLD LENTILS FOR THIS DISH!

What You’ll Need

Red onion – You can use any color onion you have on hand. Yellow onions work well. But red/purple onions tend to have better flavor.

Red bell pepper – Again, use any color pepper you have handy. But red is the sweetest and will give this dish the best flavor.

White mushrooms – Brown mushrooms will work as well.

Oil – Use any light-flavored oil you prefer. I used coconut oil.

Garlic powder – I used garlic granules, but powder works just as well and is sometimes more readily available. If you prefer to use fresh garlic cloves, mince at least 6 cloves. And if you can sauté them for one minute before adding them to the pot, all the better for flavor.

Ground cumin – Make sure it’s just plain cumin with nothing else mixed in. Don’t use a spice mix.

Curry powder – If you don’t have curry powder, you could try using garam masala. However, the dish will be spicier, and the flavor will be different. It will still be yummy, though!

Dry brown lentils – You can use other types of lentils, such as green lentils or French lentils (puy lentils), but avoid red lentils as they will not stand up to the cooking time for the rice, and you’ll end up with mush.

Brown basmati rice – I’ve also used short-grain brown rice, and it works well here. AVOID quick-cooking or “minute” rice. You’ll get mush if you use them here.

Vegetable broth – Use broth with no sugar added. Low sodium is best.

Salt and black pepper – at serving, to taste.

How To Make Instant Pot Lentils And Rice

The vegetables added to the insert for sautéing.

Put the red onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms into the IP insert along with the oil. Press the sauté button.

Adding the spices to the sautéd vegetables.

Sauté the vegetables until they are wilted and the onions are translucent, then add in the spices and stir.

Sautéing the rice and lentils with the spices and vegetables in this Instant Pot Lentils And Rice Recipe.

Add the lentils and rice and stir well to coat the rice with the spices.

Vegetable broth added to the Instant Pot for cooking this Instant Pot Lentils And Rice Recipe.

Finally, add in the broth and stir well.

Press the OFF button on your IP. Put your lid on, close the vent to the sealing position, and then press the manual button. Adjust time to 24 minutes on high pressure.

When done, allow a 15-minute natural release (leave the steam valve closed for 15 minutes for a slow, natural pressure release), then open the vent to release any remaining steam.

The finished Instant Pot Lentils And Rice, just finished.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir and serve.

How To Store

Keep this in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container. 

How To Reheat

You can easily warm this in the microwave or in a pot by adding a bit of water or broth and stirring constantly as it warms.

Can You Freeze This?

You can store this in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 4 months.

How To Thaw

Thaw this in the fridge overnight or thaw in a microwave.

More Healthy Instant Pot Recipes

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A white bowl filled with Lentils and Rice

Instant Pot Lentils And Rice

A delicious one-pot meal straight from your Instant Pot! Enjoy it as a plant-based main meal or a nutritious side dish to a different main course.
3.85 from 65 votes
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Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Moroccan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Pressurizing: 20 minutes
Total Time: 39 minutes
Servings: 7 servings
Calories: 310kcal
Author: Tiffany McCauley



  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 cup brown lentils (dry)
  • 1 ½ cups brown basmati rice
  • 3 ½ cups vegetable broth


  • Put the red onion, bell pepper and mushrooms into the IP insert along with the oil and press the sauté button.
    The vegetables added to the insert for sautéing.
  • Sauté the vegetables until they are wilted and the onions are translucent, then dd in the spices and stir again.
    Adding the spices to the sautéd vegetables.
  • Add the lentils and rice and stir well to coat the rice with the spices.
    Sautéing the rice and lentils with the spices and vegetables in this Instant Pot Lentils And Rice Recipe.
  • Finally, add in the broth and stir well.
    Press the OFF or CANCEL button on your IP. Put your lid on and close the vent, and then press the manual button. Adjust time to 24 minutes on high pressure.
    When done, allow a 15 minute natural release, then open the vent to release any remaining steam.
    Vegetable broth added to the Instant Pot for cooking this Instant Pot Lentils And Rice Recipe.
  • Season with salt as needed and serve.
    The finished Instant Pot Lentils And Rice, just finished.


Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 479mg | Potassium: 472mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 610IU | Vitamin C: 15.8mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 4mg

Recipe from the GraciousPantry® archives, originally posted 12/2/18.

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  1. What kind of Curry and what is a good brand to use?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Renee – Any curry powder sold in the spice aisle will work here. Most grocery stores carry it. Let me know how you like it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I really want to make this in the next week, but I don’t have an instant pot. How could I convert this to stove top or slow cooker?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Holly – I would cook it on the stove top. Follow the recipe exactly except put it in a regular pot. The only thing you’ll want to do is keep an eye on the liquid. You may have to add more, but I’m not sure how much. Hope that helps!

  3. Could I cook it in a traditional pressure cooker?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Dana – Absolutely! I just don’t know anything about them, so I can’t advise you on timing or anything like that.

  4. I made this over the weekend and while the flavors are delicious, the texture is not. It doesn’t look like the photo of what you made – mine is very mushy and all clumped together. Too much time in the Instant Pot? I followed your recipe exactly (except for swapping a little chopped broccoli for the mushrooms). Any suggestion? I’d love it if it were light and fluffy and the rice and lentils didn’t smush together so much.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Deb – How odd! Was the broccoli frozen by any chance? The only thing I can think of is that there was somehow too much liquid in the IP. Mine was very light and fluffy and I know a few people who have successfully made it as well. What type of rice did you use?

      1. I used fresh broccoli, 1/2 cup maybe. Rice was brown basmati from the bulk bins. I did rinse the rice prior to adding and drained it as best I could, but maybe there was extra water in it from that. Maybe next time I try a bit less broth?

        1. The Gracious Pantry says:

          Deb – I didn’t rinse my rice. I don’t know if that would make that big of a difference though. Could have been extra water, but I’m thinking it may have always washed away a little starch perhaps? I could be wrong. I would try about a 1/2 to 3/4 cups less liquid next time. If it doesn’t cook all the way, you can always add in a little more and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

  5. I had the problem of the lentils not being quite done. I followed the wait time etc and opened the lid to find it looked perfect, fluffy rice, like your picture. But the lentils needed more cooking :(. So I had to add more liquid and guess, obviously turning everything mushy in the process. Iโ€™ll try par boiling my lentils first next time then adding them as otherwise it looked perfect.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Hannah – This can happen if your lentils are a little older. They need more cooking time as they age. I’m sorry that happened! I hop the next round turns out just perfect for you. It really is a yummy dish!

  6. Ralph Rhineau says:

    4 stars
    I made the dish… quite tasty. I had some fresh tomatoes that were getting ready to go soft, so I cut them into eighths and put them in after the dish depressurized and let the heat from the dish lightly cook the tomatoes.

    I like stronger spicing so would increase the curry & cumin amounts, but the basic idea is right and this is a tasty, convenient whole-food plant-based dish.

    Some general comments to the various other commenters…

    1) Rinsing the rice won’t affect the doneness of the rice… it’s the rice:water ratio which in an electric pressure cooker is 1:1. Other pressure cookers and rice cookers need more water (4:3) to make up for the water that evaporates during cooking.

    2) yep, old lentils (more than a year) can take longer to cook the lentils

    3) When buying curry powder mixes, look for coriander come before the cumin in the ingredient list… cumin is cheaper than corriander so cheaper mixes go heavier on cumin (of course, you might like cumin more than coriander)

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Ralph – So happy you liked it! That’s really interesting about the curry powder. I didn’t know that! Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. 5 stars
    Very versatile. I had to sub some of the veggie ingred due to what I had on hand, but the rice consistency came out perfectly!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Roberta – Excellent! So happy you enjoyed it! ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. 5 stars
    This was really good!! Made it as written, maybe some extra veggies, but the whole family loved it, even the two year old. Quick and easy to make.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Sarah – Yay! I’m so happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for the rating! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Will water amount and cook time be different if I use white calrose rice?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Sonya – Most likely, yes. But I haven’t tried it, so I can’t make any recommendations. What you can do, is start with a slightly shorter time, and then check it every few minutes. I have to say though, that the rice may cook much faster than the lentils. So I’m not sure if that will work or not. You may want to cut the recipe in half the first time you try it.

  10. Hi,
    How come mine turned out mushy and not fried rice looking?

    1. Emy – Hmmm. It could have been a number of different things. What type of rice did you use? How old were your lentils? Did you cook for the required time? Did you change anything at all about the recipe? Just trying to help you nail it down…

  11. 5 stars
    I was wondering if you could freeze this dish? I made a little too much!

  12. Using oil is not really whole food plant as I have been taught because lo it is processed and not a whole food even olive oil. I use water to saute onions, garlic etc. I don’t use the saute function on the instant pot. I saute separately as nd then transfer to the instant pot.

    1. Virgin or Extra Virgin olive oils are not processed at all. They’re squeezed and filtered directly from olives, no chemicals or even heat are used. You’re missing out by “sauteing” with water.

  13. Edie Gardner says:

    in number 7 don’t u put the lid back on before u press the manual button

  14. Stephanie says:

    4 stars
    We enjoyed the flavor of this recipe but mine turned out quite dry. Iโ€™m positive this is bc of my timing. I have an electric pressure cooker but itโ€™s not an instapot so with all instapot recipes I have to attempt to adapt/tweak the time bc I donโ€™t have the same settings as an instapot. Even being dry my 10 year old dumped some stir fry sauce on it and had 2 plates. Delicious even tho I messed it up so I know once I get my timing/settings right it will be a weekly rotation!

    1. Stephanie – I so wish I had more experience with a regular pressure cooker, but the IP is all I’ve ever tried. I should really try to fix that so I can give directions for both. But I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  15. 3 stars
    As others have stated, this turned out to be very mushy. I was hopeful, but unfortunately, this wasnโ€™t very tasty.

    1. Calit – What type of rice did you use? After speaking with a few folks, I’m starting to think that may be the issue…

  16. 5 stars
    Thanks for this recipe. I have read all the reviews and want to just thank you for putting yourself out there and showing people that plant based food is tasty and with these new insta pots can be fun. Like all cooking the food can turn out all different ways even doing the same recipe. Mine, I doubled the recipe, tossed in bok choy, and am using a rice mix. Irregardless of how this turns out, I have enjoyed learning new flavors and veggie combinations. Thanks again.

  17. 5 stars
    I made this with white basmati rice, adjusting the cook time to 11 minutes under high pressure, quick release, and the texture came out fine !

    Just FYI for those getting mushy results, and maybe using something other than the brown rice.

    1. 3 stars
      Flavor was good, but consistency turned to mush. Iโ€™ve had this problem with many IP recipes. I used brown basmati and reduced the liquid to 3 cups. If I make it again, I will likely reduce the liquid even more. Definitely add salt at the end – changes the flavor completely!

      1. Al – Ya, a few people have had this issue and I’m trying to figure out what the issue is. I keep making it and it works perfect for me every time. I can’t seem to reproduce the problem. I’ll keep trying though. Sorry it didn’t work for you!

        1. I have heard that the size of the Instant Pot matters, 6 vs 8 quart, now that I want to make this recipe, I will have to put in the research as to how to adjust, most instant pot recipes online dont specify, but wondering if you should? I’d be curious to hear back from all the commenters what size pots they used compared with yours to see if maybe that is indeed the limiting factor.

        2. Scott – That’s an interesting thought. I wouldn’t think that would have an impact, but it’s certainly possible. I know it matters with a slow cooker. I will look into it. Thanks for bringing that up!

  18. cooking this now. thank you so much for the metric measure:) feels like I’ll be able to duplicate it much better..

  19. Made it exactly as described with items listed on the recipe. Two problems. #1 InstaPot gave me a “Food Burn” warning. I smelled some of the rice burning, so I opened it up and it was correct. I added a touch more liquid, gave it a stir and lowered the pressure to low. #2 The food was mushy and nothing like in the picture. I won’t be making the recipe as listed on here again. Will make a new pot and warn others to perhaps add some more seasonings before cooking. This came out quite bland in my humble opinion. Best wishes.

  20. Hi! I want to try this but am allergic to mushrooms. Do you think that it would work if I just omit them, or would I need to change the amount of liquid if I omit them? Or maybe there’s a good substitute? Thanks!