This Red Beans and Rice recipe is classic Cajun comfort food, with perfectly spiced beans simmered slowly in a pot with smoked andouille sausage, onions, bell peppers and celery, served up with rice for surprisingly complex flavor.
Red Beans and Rice is a dish that needs a special place in your go-to recipe box. Huge on flavor, easily adjustable, and infinitely satisfying, it works as a simple weeknight meal, a hearty weekend side dish, or a way to fill up the bellies of your hungriest party goers.
It also freezes wonderfully, so you can make an extra large batch like I do and freeze some for quick lunches and dinners throughout the week.
Bonus for me! And you!
The great thing is that everything sits in a pot and simmers until the beans are soft and creamy, and all those amazing flavors mingle and develop.
There is hardly any work for you. Isn't that great? I'll take an EASY recipe any day of the week.
The Story of Red Beans and Rice
Red Beans and Rice is traditionally cooked on Mondays in the south, where southern cooks were able to use some of the leftover stew meat and/or bones from their Sunday night suppers. It was also popular on Fridays during Catholic lent, made without meat.
It's really transformed over the years, where now Cajun style Red Beans and Rice is made with andouille smoked sausage and/or smoked ham, though other meats are certainly welcomed in this dish.
It truly is a southern staple dish, so hearty and satisfying, a signature of New Orleans and Cajun cuisine.
Let's talk about how we make it, shall we?
Red Beans and Rice Ingredients
- Vegetables. Onion, Celery, Bell Pepper, Jalapeno Pepper (optional, for extra heat), Garlic.
- Meats. Smoked Ham (or use ham hock), Andouille Sausage.
- Seasonings. Cajun seasoning blend, dried thyme, dried sage, salt and pepper.
- Beans. Use dried red beans for this recipe, though you can use canned. Red kidney beans can be used.
- Liquids. Chicken broth or chicken stock, apple cider vinegar.
- Rice. White rice is ideal.
- Extras. Olive oil for cooking, chopped parsley for serving.
How to Make Red Beans and Rice - the Recipe Method
First, heat a large pot to medium heat and add the olive oil. Heat the oil.
Add the onion, peppers and celery and cook them until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and smoked ham and cook another minute, stirring, until fragrant.
Add the andouille sausage, Cajun seasonings, thyme, sage, red beans and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat.
Simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the beans are tender and slightly creamy. It could take longer. Just keep testing to your desired doneness.
Stir in the vinegar and mash up the beans a bit with a spoon.
Serve over rice and garnish with chopped parsley.
I always serve it with some hot sauce on the side for those who want to spice it up a little. So good with hot sauce!
- Recipe Variations. I used smoked andouille sausage and smoked ham for my recipe, though other meats are welcomed here. Try smoked turkey or leftover turkey. Bacon is good, as well as boudin, or ham hocks, or pickled ham. It works great with chicken, too.
- Ham Bone. Try simmering the whole pot with a ham bone for some outstanding flavor. You can also vary up your seasonings here, with your favorite Cajun or Creole seasoning blend.
- The Beans. Also, red beans are traditional here, per the recipe name, but you can make this with other beans, such as kidney beans.
- Dried or Canned Beans. Regarding the beans, I like to use dried beans, then soak them overnight in a large bowl. See below for how to do that. However, canned beans will work for this recipe as well. You just won't need to simmer the pot as long.
- The Rice. I cook mine without rice and serve it over rice, sometimes as the meal, though you can cook the rice into the pot the last half hour or so. When serving as a side, I cook the rice into the pot.
- Seasonings. Feel free to use other seasonings to your preference, like Creole seasonings, cayenne pepper for extra heat, bay leaves and even green onions for garnish.
NOTE: Pickled pork is an often used ingredients with Red Beans and Rice, but it’s hard to find. Instead, just add a bit of apple cider vinegar to add some vibrancy to the flavor, though this is not required. Purely optional for you.
How to Soak the Beans
First, sort and rinse the beans. Add the rinsed beans to a pot with 6 cups of water. Leave it overnight, 6-8 hours for a long soak.
For a quick soak method, add the rinsed beans to a pot with 6 cups of water, then bring to a quick boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Cover and soak for 1 hour. Be careful not to over-soak the beans, or they can split.
NOTE: A 1 pound package of dried beans will result in 5-6 cups of cooked beans.
To Soak or Not to Soak the Beans?
Big discussion here, with opinions for both methods. Soaking can reduce cooking time and softening of the beans.
However, if you drain the beans, you may be losing some of the nutrients from the beans that have leached into the water. Soaking does help to soften the tough bean skins.
I like to add about 3 tablespoons of salt to the water for more of a brine when soaking, which helps soften the beans and adds a bit more flavor and creamy bean interiors. Also, some people report experiencing bad gas from unsoaked beans, so consider and decide accordingly.
Cooking time for soaked beans is about 1 hour, to soften them up, though it can take longer depending on a number of factors, including the age of the beans.
That's it, my friends! I hope you enjoy your Red Beans and Rice! Let me know how it turns out for you!
Try Some of These Other Popular Southern Recipes
- Hoppin' John
- Black Eyed Peas Recipe
- Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Creole Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Shrimp Creole
- Cajun Shrimp
- Seriously Awesome Jambalaya
- Crockpot Jambalaya
- Maque Choux (Cajun Corn)
- Cajun Boiled Peanuts
- Dirty Rice
- Boudin Balls
- Red Eye Gravy
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS.Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Cajun Red Beans and Rice Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper chopped (optional – I like it for a bit of extra heat)
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 pound chopped smoked ham Or use a ham hock instead
- 1 pound andouille sausage sliced
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning blend
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound dried red beans sorted through, rinsed, soaked and drained
- 4 cups chicken broth or more as needed
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups cooked white rice for serving
- Chopped parsley for serving
- Heat a large pot to medium heat and add the olive oil.
- Add the onion, peppers and celery and cook them until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and smoked ham and cook another minute, stirring, until fragrant.
- Add the andouille sausage, Cajun seasonings, thyme, sage, salt and pepper, red beans and chicken broth. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce the heat.
- Simmer for 90 minutes, or until the beans are tender and slightly creamy. It could take longer. Just keep testing to your desired doneness.
- Stir in the vinegar and mash up the beans a bit with a spoon.
- Serve over rice and garnish with chopped parsley.
NOTE: This poste was updated on 1/22/21 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 1/7/19.