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Instant Pot Spanish Rice With Sardines in Tomato Sauce

Spanish rice with sardines in serving bowl

This post is sponsored by King Oscar | Thank you for supporting the brands I love and trust.

Instant Pot meals have been a total godsend for me lately, and this Instant Pot Spanish Rice With Sardines in Tomato Sauce has come out on top as a favorite.

Who’s in charge of dinner at your house? Here, it’s me. (Shocking.) Once in a while my husband will take the reins in the kitchen and it’s so incredibly freeing when he does, but on a regular week it’s typically me who’s left planning or scrambling for a dinner plan. Not because he expects it—my husband is happy to eat a bowlful of cereal or grab takeout on his way home from the office. But I do feel the need to make sure my family is nourished and well-fed. It’s just a trait I carry; a blessing and a curse!

The Instant Pot has proven itself to be a dinner savior. Especially for someone like myself who’s always been too paranoid to leave the house with a working slow cooker sitting on the counter. (My fear of leaving the house with the slow cooker on started way before This Is Us, for the record.)

But with an Instant Pot, a tasty and wholesome meal like this one can be on your table in less than 20 minutes.

Ingredients being stirred in Instant Pot

Instant Pot Spanish Rice With Sardines in Tomato Sauce.

I don’t think I’m ever boiling rice on the stovetop again, friends.

This was the first time I attempted rice in the Instant Pot and it was magical. I couldn’t get over just how well the rice cooked—perfectly fluffy and oh-so-flavorful. It cooks in broth, a mixture of juicy tomatoes and punchy chilis, onion, bell pepper, and a blend of aromatic spices. Once the rice is ready, I fold in King Oscar’s brisling sardines slathered in a zesty finger-lickin’ tomato sauce—one that could probably turn just about anyone onto sardines.

Do you eat sardines?

Open can of sardines in tomato sauce

There seems to be a clear cut divide in the food world: people are either afraid of sardines or they’re part of the cult following that eats sardines straight out of the can. With the taste and quality of King Oscar’s sardines, that’s easy to do. Believe it or not, up until a few years ago I was part of the former group. In my early 20s, I tried some random brand’s sardines packed in water and was left mortified. But, things have changed and if you follow this blog regularly, you know I’m a loyal fan of King Oscar and his fish.

Quality is everything, and sometimes it just takes finding the right brand.

Open can of sardines in tomato sauce and other ingredients

King Oscar Brisling Sardines in Zesty Tomato Sauce.

My love for King Oscar products knows no bounds, which works out nicely, because the versatility of their product is equally boundless. With King Oscar’s Brisling Sardines, I’ve been able to create everything from simple pasta dishes to swoon-worthy brunch plates; fiery tacos to deliciously messy egg sandwiches. And with their broad range of flavors, it’s impossible to not be struck with inspiration.

Aside from being delicious, these gems are good for you and the planet. Sustainably wild caught from Norway’s fjords and coastal waters, these sardines are of the highest quality. They’re smoked over oak wood and carefully hand-packed with a zesty tomato sauce made from tangy, sun-ripened tomatoes. If you really want to kick things up, you could also try this recipe with King Oscar’s Brisling Sardines in Tapatío Hot Sauce.

Sardines in Instant Pot with rice

If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations, and you could be featured in my monthly newsletter <3

Spanish rice with sardines in serving bowl
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5 from 13 votes

Instant Pot Spanish Rice With Sardines in Tomato Sauce

This 20-minute Instant Pot Spanish Rice With Sardines in Tomato Sauce is nutritious, flavorful, and so easy to throw together!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Pescetarian
Keyword Instant Pot, pescetarian, Sardines, Spanish Rice, Tomato Sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Pressure release 5 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Servings 6
Author Dana Sandonato


  • 3.75 oz King Oscar's Brisling Sardines in Zesty Tomato Sauce
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup long grain white rice *times may vary with a different kind of rice
  • 20 oz canned diced tomatoes with chilies, drained
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander (optional)
  • Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish


  • Set the Instant Pot to its Sauté mode. When your Instant Pot is hot, add the oil. Then, add the sliced garlic, diced onion, and diced bell pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes; stir often to prevent the garlic from burning. 
  • Add the uncooked rice and stir to coat the rice in oil, mixing it well with the onion, garlic, and pepper. Transfer the vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes and chiles, and spices to the Instant Pot. Stir everything well to combine the ingredients.
  • Turn the Sauté function off by clicking on the Keep Warm/Cancel button. Place and secure/lock the lid on your Instant Pot and ensure that the pressure knob is set to the Sealing position. 

  • Click on the Manual button and set the Instant Pot to cook, on High Pressure, for 8 minutes. Once the 8 minutes is up and your Instant Pot starts to beep, it will start its natural release process. Let it naturally release for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, carefully move the pressure knob from sealing to venting for a quick release. Steam will spit out of the valve, so be careful. Once the steam has fully released, it's safe to remove the Instant Pot lid.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork. Finally, transfer the contents of the brisling sardines in tomato sauce into the Instant Pot. With a large spoon or spatula, break the sardines down into chunks and stir into the rice.
  • Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve.


If you can't find King Oscar's Brisling Sardines in Zesty Tomato Sauce, you could snag a can of their Brisling Sardines in olive oil, drain the oil, and add them to the Instant Pot with 2 heaping tablespoons of your favorite tomato sauce.


  • Christopher Calandro
    July 15, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    I’m going to attempt this recipe with Goya product this weekend. Details as events warrant.

    • Killing Thyme
      July 15, 2020 at 6:57 pm

      Chris! Definitely keep me posted. I hope you love it.

  • […] Instant Pot Spanish Rice with Sardines in Tomato Sauce from Killing Thyme […]

  • Andy Bailey
    April 9, 2019 at 11:53 am

    5 stars
    I saw this recipe a while ago when I was searching for sardine recipes with the instant pot on Google, I finally got to try it today after thinking about it all night

    I’m so glad that I stuck with it because the first time I tried the rice scorched at the bottom of the pot but the smell of the spices cooking was intoxicating so I tried again but this time rinsed the rice first, it turned out perfect! I’m so pleased that I can cook something with rice and it doesn’t scorch

    Rinsing the rice seems to make all the difference

    Great recipe, I’m a subscriber for sure

    • Killing Thyme
      April 9, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Andy! Thanks so much for the feedback. I’ve yet to experience the dreaded scorch/burn notice on my IP with my recipes, but it’s happened to a few others as well. I wonder if it depends on the model of IP. I’m really glad you figured out a way to avoid it; now anyone else with that issue can rest assured that rinsing should do the trick!

      Really happy you enjoyed this recipe :)

  • Easy Curry Fried Rice | Killing Thyme
    February 5, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    […] For more easy weeknight rice recipes, check out my Instant Pot Honey Garlic Chicken With Rice and Cashews and my hearty Instant Pot Spanish Rice With Tomato Sardines. […]

  • […] Instant Pot Spanish Rice With Sardines in Tomato Sauce […]

  • Tina
    October 10, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    5 stars
    What a great idea! My family loves King Oscar sardines, and even eat them right out of the can. I love adding them to favorite rice dish to complete a meal, and so easy too! Loving the spice mixture as well, and can’t wait to try this out!

  • donna
    October 1, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    5 stars
    I haven’t had a sardine in years, but after reading this I am zipping out to the stores tomorrow and this is going to be dinner – I have such a hankering for sardines now. Love that it comes together in the instant pot too, that thing is such a time saver!

  • Marisa Franca
    October 1, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    5 stars
    Well, I ‘m still searching for the King Oscar brand — I’m determined to find it. We do like sardines and I’d love to cook with them. I do have an Instant Pot on my Christmas Wish list. I’d love to be able to easily make rice in it. Your rice certainly looks like a fantastic and flavorful dinner.

  • Tracy Koslicki
    October 1, 2018 at 10:53 am

    5 stars
    I just got an Instant pot and have been collecting recipes! Pinning this one !! While I’m on maternity leave I’m on dinner duty but once I go back to work, it’ll be my husband so I’m getting recipes ready for him that he can throw together nice and quick!

  • Amanda
    October 1, 2018 at 8:17 am

    5 stars
    I feel the same way about rice in the instant pot! It comes so perfectly cooked and fluffy, and you don’t have to worry about any scorching at the bottom of the pan, as you do if you don’t appropriately babysit a pot of rice on the stove. What a great idea to add King Oscar’s sardines to the Spanish rice! This dish must have such great flavor. I have to look for the sardines in zesty tomato sauce!

  • Sarah
    September 30, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    5 stars
    I love King Oscar’s sardines! And those tomato sauce ones are SO STINKIN delicious!! I haven’t managed to buy an Instant Pot yet… but this does sound amazing! Maybe you’ve convinced me lol. Rice takes SO LONG to cook!!

  • Tina
    September 30, 2018 at 11:11 am

    5 stars
    I haven’t made Spanish rice from scratch in a long time. This reminds me how much I loved it. The addition of the sardines is genius, I think that’s a great pairing. I’m saving this for later. Thanks for this recipe!

  • Anne|Craving Something Healthy
    September 30, 2018 at 12:43 am

    I’m definitely afraid of sardines. I always recommend as a healthy protein and source of omega-3s but they’re one of the only foods I just can’t bring myself to try!

  • Stef
    September 29, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    5 stars
    I love the addition of sardines to this dish. I’ve been having lots of sardine sandwiches lately, but that’s about where my use of sardines stops. Thanks for the new idea!!

  • Carmy
    September 28, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    5 stars
    This rice looks so delicious and flavourful! My bf LOVES sardines so he’s going to have a hoot when he sees this since he’s only starting to realize what my IP can make! The zesty tomato sauce sounds so good so I’m excited to try and find a can!

  • Debra
    September 28, 2018 at 11:47 am

    5 stars
    This recipe has my name all over it. Hubby LOVES rice and I”m always looking for new and interesting ideas. I have been reading lately about the health benefits of sardines and didn’t have any ideas of how to incorporate more into our diets. Plus, I have a brand new insta pot wanting to be used more often. You hit the trifecta with me!

  • Amanda
    September 27, 2018 at 11:33 am

    5 stars
    I am firmly in this third group where I WANT to like sardines…they are so good for you, but I just haven’t been mentally able to get past the idea that I shouldn’t like them. I buy sardines with the hopes that maybe this time I will eat them, but then end up giving them to my mom haha I think this recipe and this brand, might be just what I need to get over my fears!

  • Gloria
    September 26, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    5 stars
    I just made Spanish rice last weekend…but not with sardines. This would be a complete meal for sure. I have never had any protein added to my Spanish rice recipe before. I think this is worth a try….since I can make a meal on rice alone.


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