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Instant Pot Peruvian Inspired Chicken and Rice

This simple Peruvian inspired one pot chicken and rice dish is a fun pressure cooker dinner to pair with the Disney movie, The Emperor’s New Groove. It’s got a few unexpected ingredients like mint and butternut squash paired with tomatoes, garlic, and lime.

Green bowl of chicken and rice with a DVD

I’m sharing another addition to my kid’s movie themed dinners, this time traveling to Peru with a movie inspired by one of my favorites, The Emperor’s New Groove! 

Get kids excited about Latin American food by using some of the tips from my guide to Kid Friendly Latin American food

Inspiration

Note: This section has been added by reader request. Feel free to scroll or jump to the bottom using the jump to recipe button at the top or the table of contents above.

For this dish, I was inspired by the blend of cultures that are found in Peru like the Spanish, African, Chinese, French and Japanese (sources here and here). With that I decided to do a play on arroz con pollo, an incredibly versatile classic dish you can find across South America.

One of the classic variations of arroz con pollo in Peru is distinctive because of it’s green colored rice. The green rice is made by blending cilantro (and sometimes a bit of spinach) together and using that in place of some of the liquid the rice cooks in.

I really love the bright colors in this dish with it’s greens, oranges, and reds! With those bright colors comes some fun flavors from the tangy lime, to the slightly sweet butternut squash, and the savory garlic and ginger.

The combo of flavors and colors is a great way to entice kids to try something that might be new or something they have previously rejected like butternut squash.

For more tips on introducing kids to new foods see my guide to raising world food explorers.

green bowl with chicken, rice, and butternut squash

Ingredients you need 

Grocery list:

  • Chicken thighs
  • Fresh ginger
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Lime juice
  • Cilantro 
  • Mint

Pantry staples

  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Long grain white rice
  • Chicken stock
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

Substitutions you can make

What can I use instead of chicken thighs?

You can substitute 1.5 lbs of duck breasts instead of the chicken thighs. Duck breasts are similar to chicken thighs since both are dark meats. If you’ve never had duck breasts before this is a fun recipe to try them out in.

What can I use instead of butternut squash?

Instead of using butternut squash you could use carrots or fresh pumpkin, when available.

Other recipes you may like:

showing an instant pot full of dry ingredients and then with water

How to make this

  1. Chop chicken thighs into 1 inch cubes.
  2. Make sure the inner pot is in your pressure cooker and set the saute setting on medium heat.
  3. Add olive oil to inner pot and saute onions and garlic for 4-5 minutes until onion is soft. Then, add the ginger and cook for 1-2 additional minutes.
  4. Next, add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes until outside beings to brown.
  5. Cancel saute setting.
  6. Add the diced tomatoes, squash, rice, chicken stock, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Stir to mix.
  7. Set pressure cooker to manual setting on high pressure for 11 minutes. Make sure valve is set to sealing.
  8. Once cooking is finished, switch valve to venting and wait for the pressure cooker to complete release pressure. Remove lid.
  9. Stir in chopped cilantro and mint before serving.

Tips and tricks

How to peel fresh ginger?

The easiest way to peel ginger is to use a spoon. Flip the spoon upside down and use it to scrape away the skin.

If you find yourself with leftover ginger, you can keep ginger in the freezer in a freezer Ziploc bag. Whenever you need ginger, peel as you would normally and grate whenever you need it.

Tips for cutting butternut squash

Cutting butternut squash can be a big pain! Here are a couple tricks I use to make it a little easier:

  • Cut the butternut squash in half right above where the bottom gets bigger and then cut those halves into smaller sections to work with.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to cut off the skin. This will be much easier when you have cut it into smaller sections.
  • Save time chopping butternut squash and buy pre-cut from the produce section. This will save you a LOT of prep time.
a fork, napkin, and bowl

Tips for cooking with kids

Kids can be very out off by fresh herbs. One way you can help them be more excited about fresh herbs is to allow them to cut them!

Kid’s sized safety scissors are very handy for cutting up fresh herbs and it gives them a chance to practice those fine motor skills. 

See more tips for cooking with kids

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Recipe

a fork, napkin, and bowl

Instant Pot Peruvian Inspired Chicken and Rice

Try something a little different for dinner tonight with this Peruvian inspired pressure cooker recipe for chicken and rice paired with lime and butternut squash.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Pressure cooker sealing and release: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Latin American
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 517kcal
Author: Jade Jones

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs chicken thighs boneless and skinless
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups butternut squash chopped
  • 1 ½ cups long grain white rice
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint chopped

Instructions

  • Chop chicken thighs into 1 inch cubes.
  • Make sure the inner pot is in your pressure cooker and set the saute setting on medium heat.
  • Add olive oil to inner pot and saute onions and garlic for 4-5 minutes until onion is soft. Add ginger and cook for 1-2 additional minutes.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes until outside beings to brown.
  • Cancel saute setting.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, squash, rice, chicken stock, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Stir to mix.
  • Set pressure cooker to manual setting on high pressure for 11 minutes. Make sure valve is set to sealing.
  • Once cooking is finished, switch valve to venting and wait for the pressure cooker to complete release pressure. Remove lid.
  • Stir in chopped cilantro and mint before serving.

Notes

Substitutions you can make
You can substitute 1.5 lbs of duck breasts instead of the chicken thighs.
Instead of using butternut squash you could use carrots or fresh pumpkin, when available.

Nutrition

Calories: 517kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 615mg | Potassium: 684mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 4015IU | Vitamin C: 19.4mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 2.4mg
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11 Comments

  1. I too am Peruvian, and can understand where “Cindy Says” is coming from when she says that she was drawn to this recipe title. Even though you did say in the description that this is a “Peruvian inspired” chicken dish, it can be a bit misleading to someone who just reads the title and scrolls straight down to the recipe list & instructions. That said, I think it would have been more accurate for you to use “Peruvian Inspired…” in your recipe title and would have been cool to read what/how you were inspired by what Peruvian dish to give your audience (especially the Peruvian ones… lol) a better idea of why you created your own variation. I can only speak from my own upbringing and experience that I believe you may have been looking to the traditional Peruvian “Arroz con Pollo” (Chicken and Rice), which, without a doubt, every country, let alone, every family has their own take on this very universal chicken recipe.

    In Peru, it is made with pureed/blended cilantro, or “culantro” as it is called there, to which some cooks add green pepper, &/or spinach to the mix…or not, along with water or chicken stock (usually from the chicken that some cooks boil before sauteing or frying for this dish…again, there are traditional approaches and variations on that to this recipe). Without getting into more detail into that recipe, this delicious “green juice” is added to the uncooked rice at the end of the cooking process and that is what makes our chicken and rice dish green. My mom used to make another variation of this dish which uses red peppers as the juice (not cilantro) and would create a beautiful “tomatoey orangy red” rice colored dish which my siblings and I loved even more than the green one. I haven’t tried your dish yet, but it does sound delicious, and even though I will be using carrots instead of the squash (that’s what I have on hand), I will be giving it a go today. This is my first time visiting your site and will be checking out your other recipes as well. Blessings…

    1. I can totally see where you are coming from Jennie and appreciate your comment. I will add inspired to the title and the recipe name so that there is no longer any confusion. My inspiration was the classic arroz con pollo but simplified a bit for young/picky eaters. The addition of the cilantro puree sounds delicious! I will make a note and try to find a recipe for it to link to so that people can make it to add to the dish separately if desired. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

    1. Hi Ann, I’ve never tried making this in the crockpot so I cannot say for sure how it will turn out. Based on research I would say to increase the water to 3-4 cups water/chicken broth and instead of cutting up the chicken put it on top whole. Cook for 2.5-3.5 hours. I would also use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts to handle the longer cooking time. Do let us know how it turns out. Best of luck! Jade

  2. 3 stars
    As delicious as it is, Its not Peruvian in anyway and being Peruvian I was drawn to this recipe title right away.

    1. Hi Cindy, I’m glad you enjoyed the chicken and rice but am sorry you felt it wasn’t Peruvian. What sort of ingredients or flavors did you feel were missing?

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe was a huge hit with my family! I loved how easy it was to put together in my Instant Pot. Perfect for a night where would have normally grabbed take out for dinner!

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