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Pressure Cooker Mexican Lentils and Rice (Main Dish)

Mexican lentil rice dinner (in the Instant Pot)

I took our Instant Pot camping for the first time this month, and it was a huge success!

I’ve used the Instant Pot (an electric pressure cooker) before for many things, although I still think I might only know the tip of the iceberg as far as its potential (I’m a stuck-in-a-rut kind of gal most of the time).

Here’s how I did it that made camping setup the easiest time we’ve ever had:

  • Soaked the lentils and rice overnight, then drained them.
  • Used some frozen items: the meat, some veggies.
  • Mixed everything up (except the cheese) in the Instant Pot just before we left, expecting the frozen foods to keep the broth and the rest plenty cold enough for a few hours.
Camping with the Instant Pot prep before you leave home
  • Latched down the lid and packed the whole thing up in the van.
  • When we arrived, we set it on a picnic table near the power outlet, plugged it in, turned it on and went about our merry way setting up tents and schtuff.
  • Half an hour later, dinner was completely ready…it stayed warm while we finished setting up and played a while, and then we served it up (with cheese, salsa and organic tortilla chips from Costco).
Camping with the Instant Pot dinner is ready when you are

My husband looked at me and said, “This is definitely the least work I’ve ever done when we’re out camping. I could get used to this!”

We just added some fresh veggies and homemade ranch dip and it was a one-pot meal that brought protein and complex carbs plus veggies to our camping trip, giving us the great health benefits of lentils and energy to fuel us for the outdoors.

Cleanup was a cinch too – we just wiped out the main gunk with a paper towel and filled the IP halfway with water. I turned it on “Saute” and the water heated up for me to do all my dishes!

Oh, yes…I could get used to this as well. Smile

But let’s get the recipe in your hot little hands so you can enjoy the break!

Mexican Chicken Lentil Rice Dinner in the Instant Pot

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Instant Pot Recipe: Mexican Lentils and Rice

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Pressure Cooker Mexican Lentils and Rice

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: main
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • 3/4 c. dry green lentils
  • 1/2 c. brown rice (or white)
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 1/2 c. homemade chicken stock
  • 1 c. tomato sauce (8 oz. can) or 1 6-oz. can tomato paste (in glass jars, no BPA!) + and extra ½ c. stock
  • 3/4 c. chopped onion (or a few Tbs. dry minced onion)
  • 1 c. chopped green or red pepper
  • 12 carrots, sliced or shredded
  • 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
  • optional: other vegetables like spinach, broccoli
  • 3 tsp. taco seasoning
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase)
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 c. grated cheese (I prefer to shred my own sharp cheddar but sometimes grab a Mexican blend at the store)

ship kroger


  1. Combine rice, lentils, and water in the Instant Pot following this rice soaking method.
  2. Allow to soak overnight with the machine turned off.
  3. Drain the water off (save some for next time; see method), then add all the other ingredients except the cheese to the pot and give it a stir.
  4. Lock in the lid and close the valve.
  5. Turn the Instant Pot on to the “Chicken” setting, which is 15 minutes on high pressure. (It will also take about 20 minutes for the IP to get up to pressure).
  6. When the 15 minutes are up, you can use either a quick release by opening the valve or a natural release by letting it sit for 15 minutes while you prepare a salad (or play with your kids). The Instant Pot will keep your meal warm as long as you need it to. If you use quick release, give the whole appliance a little jiggle to release any pockets of steam that may have gotten trapped under the thick food.
  7. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top (or stir it in) and close the lid for about 5 minutes to let it melt (or serve cheese at the table for individual plates).
  8. Serve warm with salsa and sliced avocados.


For our family at home, I always double this. It fits in the IP and we love leftovers. For camping, you want very few leftovers so a single batch will do.

You do not have to soak the lentils and rice. If you haven’t, just add one more cup of broth or water to the recipe at cooking time.

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Check prices on the Instant Pot at Amazon because they often fluctuate!

Slow Cooker Meal Too!

Instant Pot Mexican Chicken Rice and Lentils Gluten free fast and easy

This recipe was originally made in the oven as a “casserole” but I could not get the rice to cook, even after 90 minutes! #fail

I adapted it years and years ago to work failproof in the slow cooker and added lots of tweaks, and you can see a few versions of that recipe here and also in The Everything Beans Book. As I mentioned recently, we’ve had great luck in adapting slow cooker recipes for the Instant Pot, and I love that this recipe gives you so many options.

We love to serve it with lots of fresh toppings:

  • salsa
  • homemade guacamole
  • sour cream
  • chives or cilantro
  • fresh avocado
  • a squeeze of lime
  • other veggies
  • lettuce optional but pretty!
Instant Pot Mexican Chicken Rice and Lentils

You’ll soon find out how easy and adaptable this is, and no heating up the kitchen or slaving over a stove or cutting board in the summer months!

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget that you use daily?

More Instant Pot Resources:

Cooking Real Food with an Instant Pot Series



Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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2 thoughts on “Pressure Cooker Mexican Lentils and Rice (Main Dish)”

  1. Oh! You go GLAMPING…not CAMPING. There ARE no electrical outlets in the woods. Only solar or battery power.

  2. Yum! And I went camping a week and a half ago and took my instapot and also made lentils! I made lentil, rutabaga and quinoa porridge for breakfast. I made it in advance and froze it in a 4 or 6 cup glass Pyrex dish. When it was time to make it, I added a little water to the pot, used a metal trivet type thing to set my bowl on and steamed it for 10 minutes with natural release. 🙂

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