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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

Click here to PIN Lentil Very Brown Rice recipe.

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 sneaky spoonfuls. Don’t tell him, ok?

When you cook them together in the same pot like this, the lentils and rice marry.C ooking rice and lentils separately and stirring them together at the end doesn’t give you very brown rice. 
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.

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—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 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 this brown rice and quinoa with leafy Chinese tofu.

Wishing you a fabulous day–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

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4.25 from 24 votes
Lentil Very Brown Rice
Lentil Very Brown Rice
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins

Rice cooked with lentils--what a healthy duo! Recipe instructions below are for both Instant Pot pressure cooking. For regular stovetop cooking see the recipe notes.. Serve lentil very brown rice as a bed for your favorite veggie stir-fry.  Makes about 3 1/2 cups very brown rice, 6 to 7 (1/2-cup) servings.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: brown rice, lentils, pilaf, Instant Pot, pressure cooker
Servings: 7 servings.
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or avocado oil
  • 1 ½ cups long grain brown rice (see note)
  • 3 1/3 cups water, for pressure cooking.
  • 1/2 cup dry green lentils and/or mung beans, (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Heat the oil in an Instant Pot or regular pressure cooker. For an Instant Pot, use the Sauté function. Add the rice and sauté until it crackles and browns lightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the water, dry beans and salt. On the Instant Pot, change to Manual and set the timer for 15 minutes. 

  2. For stovetop pressure cookers, let the pressure come to high, lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and set the timer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. 

  3. Let the pressure come down naturally, which takes about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
For regular stovetop cooking:
  1. Sauté the rice in a large saucepan as for pressure cooking. Increase water to 4 ½ cups, cover the pan, reduce the heat to very low. Cook 45 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. Never stir the mixture, merely tilt the pan to the side to check if there is water that the rice mixture still needs to absorb.

Recipe Notes
  • When cooking lentil very brown rice without a pressure cooker, some cooks will soak their lentils and mung beans for about an hour beforehand. They  add the soaked beans to the sautéed rice along with the water and salt. 
  • Any mix of dry small beans, including split peas and red beans, makes “very brown” rice.


  • 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

  • […] Lentil Very Brown Rice […] Reply · 28 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

  • 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 · 3 weeks ago

    • Thank you Rob! Love to hear that you enjoy the Very Brown Rice! Reply · 3 weeks ago

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