Red Beans and Rice
Are you looking for the best recipe for this New Orleans staple? Well let me tell you, this is it. These red beans and rice are thick, creamy and so flavorful with tender perfectly cooked beans, and smoky andouille sausage, plus bacon, all served with rice. This recipe is better than Popeye’s. Easier. And sure to be hit as it is warm and comforting, flavorful, budget friendly, freezer friendly, and full of protein. Plus, it is a great option for New Year’s Day or the Monday after New Year’s because beans are said to bring luck and prosperity for the new year.
Where did red beans and rice originate?
Red beans and rice originates from New Orleans. Similar to how Shrimp Jambalaya is, it is a staple in both homes and restaurants around the state of Louisiana, but hales from New Orleans. For years it was what people, specifically Cajuns served on Mondays.
So why do Cajuns eat red beans and rice on Mondays? Well there is room for debate on this one, but even know you can typically find a big pot of red beans and rice cooking in someone’s kitchen in New Orleans. And the reason…tradition. In the 19th century, Monday was usually laundry day in most homes, and because washing machines weren’t a thing (gasp…the horror) it took all day. Can you even imagine trying to wash everything by hand? Anyway, as you can imagine, it was time consuming, leaving little time for cooking. But families need to eat, so dinner was usually something that could be tossed together, and required little attention. It had to be budget friendly, and feed a crowd. So red beans and rice it is!
What is red beans and rice?
It is a bean dish, that uses red beans, bacon, smoked sausage, and other spices and flavor enhancers, it cooks for a while, and produces a thick, stew like consistency, that is served with rice for a flavorful, filling, and low cost meal.
Are Red Beans and Kidney Beans the Same Thing?
What You Need to Make Red Beans and Rice
Making red beans and rice is fairly simple, but to get all the flavor you are going to need a handful of ingredients. Do not be intimidated by this list, it all comes together quickly and easily. And you will want all the flavor each of the ingredients adds:
- Dry red beans or red kidney beans – Are red beans and kidney beans the same? No, but you can use them interchangeably in this recipe. Are red beans poisonous? When raw or undercooked, the lectin (protein) found in these beans can be toxic to humans. This means properly preparing them is important. However, fortunately it is easy, simply soak them for at least 5 hours, and swap out the water, then cook them at a high temperature for at least 30 minutes. What can I substitute for red kidney beans? Red beans.
- Vegetable oil – Whichever kind is your preference.
- Andouille sausage, diced- You can cut it into coins too if you prefer, but I like it to be well distributed throughout my dish, so I prefer diced.
- Vegetables- Diced onion, chopped celery, green pepper, red bell pepper, and garlic.
- Chicken broth- You will need a good amount, as the beans will soak a lot of it up.
- Smoked bacon- Adds great flavor
- Cooked white rice- What is red beans and rice without the rice?
- Garnish: chopped green onion, or parsley.
- Spices: 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste.
How to Make Red Beans and Rice
How to make red beans and rice from scratch
Making this Louisiana special is not to complicated. So how do you make red beans and rice from scratch? It takes a few easy steps:
- Soak beans overnight.
- Cook bacon and sausage.
- Add in vegetables.
- Add beans, broth, and seasonings.
- Simmer to let flavors combined.
- Garnish and serve.
Step 1: Soak Beans Overnight
Place beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water, 2 inches above the beans; let stand 8 hours to overnight. Drain and rinse.
Step 2: Cook Bacon and Sausage
In a large heavy bottom pot, over medium high heat, heat vegetable oil and cook smoked bacon, and sausage until the edges brown and bacon is starting to crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
Step 3: Add Vegetables
Add in onion, celery, and peppers to pot with sausage and cook while stirring until vegetables soften and start to turn translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
Step 4: Add Beans And Spices
Stir red beans, chicken broth, bay leaves, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce into the sausage mixture and bring to a boil.
Step 5: Simmer
Reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Taste, season with salt, and continue cooking, simmering on low until beans are soft, meat is tender, and desired consistency is reached, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours more.
Step 6: Garnish and Serve
Serve in bowls topped with green onion.
FAQs about Red Beans and Rice
Do I Have to Soak the Red Beans Overnight?
Yeah…if you are working with dry beans, and you want the best results, with nice, tender, flavorful beans, planning ahead and soaking them for about 8 hours is really helpful. If you need to shortcut that time, the Instant Pot is going to be your friend. But make sure you soak them and drain the water because you do not want them to end up being toxic!
What Kind of Sausage Should I Use?
Smoked andouille is the way to go. Not only is it the cajun way, but it is going to add so much flavor to your red beans and rice. However, if you can’t find it, any kind of smoked pork or beef sausage will do the trick.
Is Red Beans and Rice Spicy?
This recipe is not very spicy, it has a lot of flavor, but not a ton of heat. It is pretty family friendly that way. However, you can definitely amp up the spice level to your comfort using more or less hot sauce.
Is Red Beans and Rice Healthy?
Strictly speaking I would not call it diet food, as the sausage and bacon can add a lot of fats. However, beans are rich in fiber, this is protein rich, and has lots of yummy veggies, so it is a great dish.
Can I Make it Vegetarian?
Red beans and rice CAN be vegetarian, but you would lose all the flavor the bacon and sausage add, so this is not the recipe or version of it to use in order to make it so.
Tips and Tricks
Making this recipe is Eazy Peazy but here are some helpful tips and tricks so It goes smoothly every time…
- Tip One: How to thicken red beans and rice? Cook it longer. If you want it thicker, take the lid off and simmer longer to allow more liquid to evaporate. Or mash up a few of the beans.
- Tip Two: Amp up the flavor by allowing the beans to sit in the bacon and sausage fat for a few minutes, cooking in it and soaking up some of the flavor before adding the liquids into the pan.
- Tip Three: Customize. How to make red beans and rice Jamaican style? Are red beans and rice cajun or creole? This is a cajun recipe, but you can certainly change the flavor profile some by using other spices, or additional spices. So have fun with it.
- Tip Four: Look at labels. Use high quality ingredients. Are red beans and rice gluten free? They are naturally so, but you may need to check the labels on the sausage to make sure there are not any fillers that would mess with the gluten free nature.
- Tip Five: Give it time. You want to let it simmer for at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours, in order to let all the flavors meld. Longer can even be better. I love this recipe as leftovers. So give yourself enough time to let the flavors really develop.
Make Ahead and Storage
How to make this recipe ahead of time and store for later: Can red beans and rice be frozen? YES!!!
One of the things I really love about this recipe is it is often better a few days later, or even weeks later. The flavors have a chance to really meld. Some foods are only food fresh, like churros, but some are awesome after sitting a while. Think chili!
So if you want to make this ahead and store it for later, go for it! Just make sure you prepare it all the way, then let it chill completely before putting in the freezer. Chill it as quickly as possible to avoid food safety issues. I recommend portioning it out to allow it to chill faster.
You can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Or freezer for up to 3 months.
Place or seal in airtight or freezer safe containers. Once completely chilled in the fridge, move to the freezer. And freeze. They will be good for up to 3 months.
And when you are ready to use, simply remove from the freezer, defrost, and reheat. You can even reheat in the microwave.
What goes with red beans and rice? Is beans and rice a complete meal?
Red beans and rice is a complete meal, but I love serving it with cornbread:
Other Great Recipes:
Red Beans and Rice
- 1 pound dry red kidney beans
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 12 ounces andouille sausage diced
- 1 cup finely diced onion
- ¾ cup chopped celery
- ¾ cup green pepper
- ¼ cup red bell pepper
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 quarts chicken broth or more as needed
- 1 pound smoked bacon
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce or to taste
- 4 cups cooked white rice
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onion or to taste
- Place beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water, 2 inches above the beans; let stand 8 hours to overnight. Drain and rinse.
- In a large heavy bottom pot, over medium high heat, heat vegetable oil and cook smoked bacon, and sausage until the edges brown and bacon is starting to crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add in onion, celery, and peppers to pot with sausage and cook while stirring until vegetables soften and start to turn translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir red beans, chicken broth, bay leaves, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce into the sausage mixture and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Taste, season with salt, and continue cooking, simmering on low until beans are soft, meat is tender, and desired consistency is reached, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours more.
- Serve in bowls topped with green onion
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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