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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 five-ingredient weeknight pasta to fisherman’s huevos rancheros; fishe tacos with sardines to deliciously messy breakfast 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

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4.12 from 9 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!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Pressure release: 5 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 6
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  • 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.
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  1. 5 stars
    I don’t often use my instant pot, but this recipe looked so good that I had to pull it out and try. Did not disappoint! So glad I tried it out. Thank you for your awesome recipes as always! 

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious!!! First time I’ve eaten sardines. I wanted to be brave at the age of 56 😆 Very good recipe. Thank you! 

    1. Oh you are SO welcome, Beck! Sardines aren’t so bad after all, huh? Haha. I find King Oscar’s can’t be beat.

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is awesome! We didn’t have bell pepper or canned dicedtomatoes with chilies, and we didn’t have an instant pot either. I substituted a teaspoon of garlic siracha chili sauce to add heat. We cooked the dish in a non-stick sautee pan and even though it took longer, it turned out beautifully. The dish tasted like a poor-man’s paella. I had my doubts but it’s definitely a keeper!

    1. Awesome! I’ll have to try this to get MY kiddo to eat sardines. Though he’s 2.5 and literally has an opinion about everything so I might have to wait a few years ;)

  4. 1 star
    Epic fail! I followed recipe as directed. Had a feeling I should have added more liquid. I’ve only had a burn warning 1 other time before. Now is the second. Transfered what wasn’t burned to the stove top hopefully to save dinner as it’s to late to cook something else. Does the size of the instant pot matter? I have an 8 qt.

    1. Hi Rachael! I have a 6 qt. For a 6 qt, 1 cup of liquid is typically needed. For an 8 qt, they call for 2 cups. That could definitely be the reason for the burn notice. I hope you were able to save dinner!