Easy, fast, and healthy too - Instant Pot Tex Mex Chicken and Brown Rice Stew is a perfect cozy meal for weeknights that can be made in under 30 minutes. Add your favorite toppings - cilantro, avocados, sour cream, and tortilla chips for crunch.
I’ve spent the entire week feeling a bit behind, but everything seems to have fallen into place for my girls’ birthday today. We managed to pull off an epic 7th-birthday-surprise for Molly and Clara yesterday with a big room makeover. (P.S. Wasn’t it just yesterday that they were these snuggly peanuts?) They knew they were getting bunk beds for their birthday, but we also got them new desks and dressers and lots of little fun things to make the room feel special after seven years of just having a hodge-podge of furniture in there. I was afraid the whole thing would get derailed (or at least the bunk bed delivery) when we woke up to 3 inches of snow yesterday (!).
Crazy week for sure. But today will be filled with chocolate cake and treats for their friends at soccer practice and Bo Lings for dinner. Before I get back to the sugar, I wanted to pop in and share this super simple meal that we have been loving as the seasons transition. I love any meal that just needs to be tossed in the Instant Pot for 20 minutes and comes out full of flavor, naturally gluten-free, and healthy as a bonus (just like my Instant Pot Potato Leek Soup).
Here’s how to make it!
- Chicken Thighs - Chicken thighs will hold up well to the longer cook time required for brown rice and add a lot of flavor to the stew’s base. I tested this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken breasts as well and they work just fine. I found them to get a bit more dry, but once they were shredded and stirred back into the finished dish, they were also delicious.
- Diced Onion - Saute a bit of onion in the Instant Pot to build a base of flavor.
- Dried Spices - Ground cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder form the flavor base of the dish. To help draw out their flavor, you’ll saute them with the onion for just a minute or two. Be sure to use garlic powder, not garlic salt.
- Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes - Look for fire-roasted tomatoes near the other canned tomatoes. I love using these because, as the name indicates, they have the added smoky flavor that comes from roasting. Most of these are not spicy, but some versions include jalapenos, so be sure to read the can if you don’t want spice. Regular diced tomatoes work just fine but won’t have quite as much flavor.
- Brown Rice - Brown rice gives this dish a hearty texture and flavor.
- Chicken Stock - Use homemade or store-bought chicken stock as the base. If using low-sodium stock, you might want to add a bit more salt to taste after the dish is done cooking.
- Lime Juice - Don’t skip the final step to stir in some fresh lime juice at the end of cooking. It really gives the stew a bright, fresh flavor!
Soup or Stew?
When Tex Mex Chicken and Brown Rice comes out of the Instant Pot it is a very thick soup. As the dish sits, the rice will absorb liquid and thicken so that the leftovers are more like a stew. Leftovers have almost the same thick creamy texture as Italian risotto. It’s great either way. If you want a more liquid-y soup, feel free to increase the stock by a cup.
More Tex Mex Favorites
- Tex Mex Stuffed Zucchini
- Slow Cooker Tex Mex Stuffed Peppers
- Tex Mex Burgers with Guacamole
- Black Bean and Zucchini Enchiladas
- Instant Pot Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas
- Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos
- Chicken Enchilada Pasta
- Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas
- Sheet Pan Tacos
- Slow Cooker Taco Meat
Instant Pot Tex Mex Chicken and Brown Rice Stew
- 6-quart Instant Pot / pressure cooker
- 6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (about 1 ½ lbs)
- 3 tablespoon Cooking Oil, divided
- 1 cup Diced Onion (any type)
- 2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder (do not use Cayenne pepper)
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 14 oz can Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
- 1 cup Brown Rice
- 5 cups Chicken Stock
- 2 teaspoon Lime Juice
- Cilantro, Avocados, Sour Cream, Tortilla Chips (or tortilla strips), Lime Wedges (for serving)
- Season chicken thighs lightly on both sides with some salt and black pepper (not in ingredients list).
- Turn on the pressure cooker’s sauté function to normal / medium.
- Add 2 tablespoon of cooking oil. When oil is hot, add chicken thighs and sear in batches on both sides just until golden brown, about 10 minutes total. Set chicken aside.
- To the heated pot, add 1 tablespoon cooking oil and then onions. Saute for 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in ground cumin, salt, chili powder, and garlic powder.
- Turn off the sauté function and pour in diced tomatoes (including liquid). Stir everything well.
- Add rice, chicken stock, and chicken.
- Close and lock the lid. Set steam valve to Sealing. Cook on manual / high pressure for 15 minutes.
- Let pressure naturally release for 5 minutes and then manually release any remaining pressure.
- When all pressure has released, open the lid. Shred or chop chicken and stir it back into the soup with lime juice.
- Taste and season with some more salt, if needed.
- Divide soup between bowls and serve with any toppings you'd like. Enjoy!
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