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Lentil Very Brown Rice (Instant Pot pressure cooker or stovetop cooking)

Lentil very brown rice ~~ there’s no better name for this combo of humble lentil and venerable grain. The lentils color the rice “very brown”, the tiny beans pump up the protein, vitamins and minerals, and brown rice gets a total rustic flavor upgrade.

Lentil Very Brown Rice

Very brown rice is is my absolute favorite 4-ingredient comfort food side dish. I eat it right out of the pot before it even gets near the dinner table. So addicting. Robbie doesn’t know about my sneakyspoonfuls. Don’t tell him, ok?

Click here to PIN Lentil Very Brown Rice!

If you use your pressure cooker or Instant Pot, lentil very brown rice is ready in 35 minutes!

When you cook them together in the same pot like this, the lentils and rice marry, adding a new flavor quality to rustic brown rice.  If you were to cook the rice and lentils separately and stir them together at the end, you won’t have “very brown rice.” You want to cook them together in the same pot.

This is important >>>> Be sure to sauté the rice in oil, until it crackles and browns, before adding the water and lentils. I used to skip that step, and my very brown rice came out mushy. The flavor is so good, the mush didn’t really bother me, but now I know better, for perfect very brown rice, sauté rice first.

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It would have been wordy and it sounds kinda funny to call it lentil and mung bean very brown rice, right? Truth is, two kinds of little beans enrich lentil very brown rice. Itsy bitsy round green mung beans have a sweeter flavor than green lentils (affiliate link) —so it’s a nice balance. The original recipe calls for “dry mixed small beans, such as mung, split peas, red or lentils.” Bottom line, use any small bean you wish.

I cook this favorite so often that my copy of Ellen Buchman Ewald’s Recipes for a Small Planet (affiliate link) is sadly worn and torn, particularly the page for Very Brown Rice. Here’s my adaptation of the recipe, so we can reference it from anywhere in the world, and give my little old treasured cookbook a rest.

Can I make lentil very brown rice in the pressure cooker?

  • In fact, I always cook very brown rice in either my Instant Pot or my stovetop stainless steel Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker.
  • In the Instant Pot or pressure cooker this recipe takes 35 minutes max; 10 minutes to bring to pressure, 15 minutes at pressure, and 10 minutes for natural pressure release. This recipe is written for pressure cooker times and with regular stovetop cooking.
  • Pressure cookers, both Instant Pots and stovetop pressure cookers, are amazing time-saving kitchen tool–in my kitchen they are essentials.
  • See recipe for regular stovetop cooking.

You might also want to try thisbrown rice and quinoa with leafy Chinese tofu.

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Nutrition Facts
Lentil Very Brown Rice
Amount Per Serving (6 g)
Calories 265 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 398mg17%
Potassium 246mg7%
Carbohydrates 45g15%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 6IU0%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 23mg2%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • I had to look up the word “pulses”! Shame on me… I thought I knew all the beany words.

    Pulse: from the Latin puls meaning thick soup or potage.

    GREG Reply · 29 February, 2016

    • yeah Greg–I learned the word from Canadian lentils. Year of the Pulse 2016. Reply · 5 March, 2016

  • What a great way to add some protein to a meal. I’ll have to give this a try. Reply · 5 March, 2016

    • Thanks Barbara–especially in a pressure cooker. Reply · 5 March, 2016

  • Diane

    I did it in my pressure cooker and it can out great1 Thanks Letty. Reply · 15 March, 2016

    • Love to hear that Diane! Reply · 16 March, 2016

  • KnowWhentoFold

    I’ve made this recipe and variations since the 80’s. Other legumes, such as chick peas, black Eyed Peas, and white beans go great, if using a pressure cooker. I also love brown sweet rice aka glutinous rice in this recipe. Reply · 14 June, 2016

    • Yes, It’s such a fabulous recipe and as you say–very adaptable! Reply · 14 June, 2016

  • Patricia

    Have you tried to double the recipe? I’m doing that right now! I’m hope The water will be enough since they recommend to fill it up only to half capacity when cooking foods that expand. I did sautee lots of onions and garlic so that will add some moisture. Crossing my fingers! Reply · 1 January, 2018

    • Hi Patricia, I can’t remember for sure but I believe I have doubled this recipe. When I double rice recipes, I double and just slightly round down the liquid. That means, if you are using a pressure cooker, use about 6 3/4 cups of water. If regular stovetop, use about 8 3/4 cups water. Are you using the pressure cooker or are you cooking the rice regular stovetop method?
      By now you have the results–let me know how it came out! Reply · 1 January, 2018

      • Patricia

        Hi Letty, sorry for the delay! It did come out well with the amount of water you recommend. I used my Instant Pot, so easy 😊 Now, I’m back for more. I have many mouths to feed! Reply · 6 March, 2018

  • Jill

    My teenage son (athlete whole food eater) loves this recipe. Thank you. Reply · 5 March, 2018

  • Sue

    Just made this, turned out great, I used one can of chicken broth added to the water to make the 3 1/3 cups and sautéed some onions with the rice before pressure cooking. Turned out wonderful. This will be a good to meal Reply · 31 January, 2019

    • Thank you Sue! It’s a favorite standby recipe at our house! Reply · 2 February, 2019

  • maggie

    I love this soup. I take a cup full to work for lunch daily. I use my pressure cooker it saves so much time. 😋 Reply · 28 April, 2019

    • Thank you Maggie! Best pressure cooker rice ever! Reply · 28 April, 2019

  • Telma Dorcey

    I used my stove top pressure cooker and it came out well. My picky kids loved it! Reply · 27 May, 2019

    • Thank you Telma. Awesome that your kids love this recipe too! Reply · 27 May, 2019

    • Riddhi Mane

      Hi there, I love how this turned out! I’m a little curious about the size of the cup you used in the recipe. I feel like I made 3 servings instead of 7. Reply · 4 April, 2020

      • Hi Riddhi,
        I used 1/2 cup measure, which for me comes out to 6 to 7 servings. I say that in the headnotes but calculated it to 7 in the amount column. Per your comment, I changed it to say 6 servings. Thank you. My husband and I eat more than 1/2 cup, like 1 cup per person. I made it the other night and we were both quite hungry. We had leftovers, which I froze for another meal. So, for us, the recipe might make 4 servings. 🙂 As part of a larger meal, 1/2 cup per/person would still be the right amount. Reply · 4 April, 2020

  • Christin

    We loved this! We are big lentil fans and this was so much more flavorful than just eating brown rice. Thanks for a great recipe! Reply · 3 October, 2019

    • Thank you Christin! One of my favorite rice dishes. Enjoy! Reply · 4 October, 2019

  • Hannah

    Hi! I look forward to trying this. I only have basmati rice in at the moment… have you tried this with white rice instead? How would you adjust it?
    Thanks Reply · 20 January, 2020

    • Hi Hannah, You can use basmati or white rice too. They will take less time to cook, so adjust the pressure cook time down to 10 minutes and stovetop time down to 30 minutes. This is an estimate–actually cooking time will depend on the rice you use other than long grain or basmati brwon rices. Reply · 23 January, 2020

  • Rob

    This is the very first thing I ever made in my Instant Pot and I make it at least once or twice a month.

    Just came back to print a new copy of the recipe (I have no memory for cooking measures!) and realized I never thanked you for sharing it.

    So easy – so yummy! Reply · 4 February, 2020

    • Thank you Rob! Love to hear that you enjoy the Very Brown Rice! Reply · 5 February, 2020

  • Sandra

    Turned out delicious, even though I didn’t see the note about less time for basmati. Now I’m trying to think of variations; I’ll probably throw some greens in next time. But this is wonderful, and thanks for posting it. Seriously, it is the simple recipe I’ve been looking for, and it’s perfect! Reply · 10 October, 2020

    • Thank you Sandra. Thanks for the inspiration–I bought some “frilly red” mustard greens at the Farmer’s Market and I’m adding those to tonight’s batch! Reply · 11 October, 2020

  • Rebekah Rushton

    Very Yummy! I added an onion and some finely chopped baby carrots and some paprika. I also used yellow lentils instead of green. I’ll have to share this recipe with my mom because my dad is Vegan and this is perfect. Reply · 22 August, 2021

    • Thank you Rebekah! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed this rice dish. I love your creative modifications! Reply · 23 August, 2021

  • Karen

    Love this! Used white basmati rice & brown lentils as that’s what I had on hand. Glad I read the comments & reduced time to 10 min. Needed a bit more salt for our taste, but other than that, this is perfect! Will definitely be making it again… Thanks! Reply · 21 May, 2022

    • Thank you Karen! I’m glad to hear you love the recipe! It’s a go-to at my house. Reply · 24 May, 2022

  • Janet

    I have made this recipe often for Meatless Mondays in the 3 qt Instant Pot in our camper. I usually add some veggies – kale and carrots are favorites for added color and taste. I experiment with different curries and spices. It’s the perfect one-pot meal! Reply · 19 September, 2022

    • Thank you Janet! Love that you riff on the recipe with veggies and spices! Reply · 23 September, 2022

  • Alsisande

    How does a serving size of “1 g” (one GRAM contain 355 calories? Reply · 6 December, 2023

    • Very good question. I input the measurements into a nutrition calculater and this is how it comes out. Reply · 7 December, 2023

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