Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Opelousas

Instant Pot Opelousas

Opelousas - a Southern Rice based dish, this one's made from leftover Ham and cooks up beautifully in the Instant Pot!

So you all know (if you follow me – and if you don’t, I’d love it if you would, here with email (on the right) or on facebook or twitter (on the left)) I cooked up a ham for Thanksgiving. And what a ham it was! The stunning and absolutely delish Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham. It was just a half ham, but of course there were leftovers!

Instant Pot Opelousas

Instant Pot Opelousas

Yeah. Leftovers with an exclamation point! I love love love me some leftovers, and you should, too. I remember, though, a time I wasn’t so sure what to do with a bunch of leftover ham. There’s all the “usual suspects” like Bean Soup (this is a really good one) & Scalloped Potatoes & Ham, but what then?

If that’s you, you really need to check out my “12 Days of Ham” where I show you about 30 ways to refashion that bounty into fabulousness. But this year, I wanted something different. Something fresh. Something with a bit of spice. And so my mind went south.

Oh, not south that way, but south to Louisiana. To a dish I’ve only heard of. Opelousas. Yeah – I mean I had to make it just because of the name, didn’t I? To a northerner like myself, Opelousas is kind of like Jambalaya. It’s a an easy one pot rice dish with bell peppers and meat in it, anyway. But it’s lighter and it’s fantastic.

Instant Pot Opelousas

Instant Pot Opelousas

Opelousas is good, crazy good. I made it, then turned around and made it again, good. And then I made it again! And now I’m wondering how long I have to wait to make it again so that people won’t think I’m nuts.

Opelousas is usually made in a rice cooker and can be made with all kinds of things. I found a recipe for a Shrimp Opelousas on All Recipes. Then I found a very intriguing Smoked Sausage and Steak Opelousas from the Bearded Hiker. Check him out – he’s fun & boy can he cook! But I thought, why not make this with Ham? And then I thought, why not in the Instant Pot?

The key to this dish (and many rice dishes) in the Instant Pot is to rinse that rice. Rinse and rinse. Put the rice in a strainer, put the strainer in a medium to large-sized mixing bowl and as you run tepid water over the rice, swish it and rub the between your fingers while the bowl fills up. When the bowl fills, empty & repeat for a total of six times or until the water in the bowl is clear.

Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Opelousas

Instant Pot Opelousas

Instant Pot Opelousas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 4 tablespoons butter (sub a tablespoon or two of bacon drippings for some of the butter, if desired)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6-8 ounces mushrooms chopped or 1 can sliced mushrooms drained, optional
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 teaspoons and up to a tablespoon Cajun seasoning (see note)
  • 1 1/4 cup rice, rinsed very well (see note)
  • 1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons and up to 1 1/2 cups of beef broth (see note)
  • 1/2 cup green onion, sliced 1/4″, plus a little more for garnish if desired
  • 1 to 2 cups diced ham (about 1/2 inch dice)

Turn Instant Pot on to Saute, high heat. Add butter, onion, bell pepper and mushrooms if using. When softened, toss in the garlic, Cajun seasoning, rice and broth. (The rice should be well rinsed and only drained for a minute or two until water stops running out the bottom. A few drips are fine.) Stir gently around the pot once and once only. Top with ham and green onions.

Place lid on Instant Pot. Hit the Cancel button and use the Rice option, making sure “Keep Warm” function is off. The Instant Pot will seal almost immediately because the pan is hot. When finished, around 10 minutes, allow to rest 10 minutes, off, undisturbed, then release any remaining pressure. Fluff with a fork, garnish with green onion and serve.


  • Rice: When rinsing rise, place rice in strainer in a large bowl. Run tepid water over rice, swishing around and rubbing rice. When bowl fills, empty and repeat for a total of six times until water runs clear.
  • Seasoning: I used my home-made Cajun Seasoning. 2 teaspoons gave some good flavor but wasn’t hot, 1 tablespoon just a bit of heat. If you’re a fan of hotter foods, add some Cayenne pepper to the recipe.
  • Broth: The photos, above, were taken with the very odd measurement of 1 1/4 cups of broth plus two tablespoons. If you’d like a wetter rice, use 1 1/2 cups broth.


I’ll be linking up to Fiesta Friday this week, and I’m one of the co-hosts, along with Judi @ Take a minute to click over and check out all the posts!

Helpful Links

If you came to this recipe looking for a way to use leftover ham, be sure to check out the link below for 12 Days of Ham. You might want to see the sister post for 12 Days of Turkey, too.


26 thoughts on “Instant Pot Opelousas

  1. Kimberly

    Another IP recipe I can’t wait to try! I love that your recipes call for ingredients I usually already have on hand.

    • Hi Kim, I appreciate all your comments and it’s always great to connect with another Minnesotan. 🙂 I hope you’ll keep stopping by! This is a great recipe – it reminds me of Jambalaya.

      For the most part, I’m a pretty practical cook – I think the most unusual ingredients I use are in Asian dishes, but generally if I can’t find it in the grocery store and have to chase down or order an ingredient, with very few exceptions, I’ll find a substitute. I mean, really, who has the time…and a lot of my readers are from small towns where it’s hard to find specialty items.

  2. Pingback: Opelousas - A Rice Cooker One Pot Meal | The Bearded Hiker

  3. Looks so inviting Mollie!! I’m with you on the leftovers– BUT– I’m just about done with Thanksgiving leftovers this year. No more stuffing! I think you found a novel solution to the leftover dilema– and love love the name!! And– how was your Thanksgiving?? Did you end up in SD?? With your sis?? I’ll bet it was delicious! xox

  4. petra08

    I love ham! In Sweden we eat this for Christmas instead of turkey so I make it on the 24th of December and then cook a turkey on the 25th! This is a great way to use up any leftover ham and what a name for a dish! Opelousas, never heard it before, brilliant 🙂

  5. I love that you made this family favorite AND in your pressure cooker! I have been waiting for someone to do it to save me the trouble of figuring it out. I love my pressure cooker, but I never ever cook rice in it. I stick with my trusty rice cooker always. So I’m totally clueless when it comes to rice! But this…! I’m gonna cook a bunch of crazy stuff in ginormous quantities so I can have some leftovers to make this!

    • Thanks for stopping over and for sharing the Opelousas recipe on your blog! This is truly a wonderful dish – I ate the last of it for breakfast, lol!! I love your blog!!

      I like your idea of making all kinds of crazy good Opelousas! I do not think I would attempt this in the IP with Shrimp, though. It might get rubbery. It was great with the ham & I think something like roast beef or pulled pork? Or maybe uncooked chicken (rubbed with blackening spices? would be fantastic. 🙂 How about a Korean bbq meat on top?

      Rice can go so wrong in the IP and get gelatinous and sticky and gross but it was a Chinese lady that taught me about the rinsing years ago and once I tried that well rinsed rice in the IP it was like magic and turns out perfectly!

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