Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe – A faster version of traditional Creole red beans and rice, this hearty recipe is made with smoked sausage, red kidney beans, and vegetables such as onion, celery, and green bell pepper. Filled with the same bold and delicious Cajun spices as traditional red beans and rice, the whole family will love this comforting Louisiana classic.
Cajun food will forever be one of my favorite cuisines to cook and eat! From classic recipes including jambalaya and gumbo to more creative fusions like this spicy Cajun sausage and chicken skillet or this creamy Cajun shrimp pasta.
Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe
As I mentioned, this is not how traditional red beans and rice is made in Louisiana. I will eventually include an authentic recipe here for you guys, but for now, I wanted to start with this “easy” version.
This is a recipe anyone can make any day of the week. All in, it takes about an hour to make but approximately a third of the cooking time is spent allowing your red beans to simmer.
Before we get started, a few important notes to consider:
- This recipe has the potential to be extremely spicy. Hopefully, you love spicy foods as much as I do and this won’t be a problem. If you’re sensitive to spicy food, pick a smoked sausage that is mild (generally speaking, andouille sausage is on the spicier side). Also, careful with the cayenne as it is made from dried and ground hot chili peppers.
- As the name implies, this dish is traditionally served with rice. Any kind of long-grain white rice is perfect, but honestly, feel free to serve this with whatever you’re craving, like brown rice, quinoa, or couscous.
- I have never tried Popeye’s red beans and rice so I definitely cannot even begin to compare the two.
- If you’d like, mash some beans with the softened veggies. This will create a creamier texture and appearance, but the taste will be the same.
What is Red Beans and Rice?
Some of you may be wondering what true, authentic, red beans and rice actually is (and how this recipe differs).
Red beans and rice is a symbolic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine. Made on Mondays, it is traditionally made using the leftover pork bones from Sunday’s dinner (ham was traditionally reserved for Sundays). It would include red beans, vegetables like bell pepper, onion, and celery, and spices including thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf. Sometimes you’ll find other meats such as ham and andouille or Chorizo sausage in many red bean and rice recipes.
In traditional New Orleans red beans and rice:
- Canned beans are never used. Instead, dry red beans are soaked overnight and simmered the next day.
- Once the stewed beans and vegetables are cooked and softened, part of the mixture (this varies from cook to cook) will be mashed with a fork creating a creamy, comforting texture.
- Smoked sausage is great, but ham hocks or ham shanks were often added when simmering the beans. Any extra meat from the bones would be picked off and all the flavor from the bones would infuse with the beans.
- It wasn’t intended to be a fast-cooking meal. It was a cook-all-day kind of dinner.
How to Make Red Beans and Rice
For the full list and amounts of ingredients, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. Brown the sausage
For best results, you’ll want to quickly sear your sausage before cooking any of the veggies. The reason? Flavor! Afterward, use the leftover fat in the pot to cook your delicious vegetables and really pump up the flavor.
To brown your sausage simply heat a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (this is the one I used to make this recipe) or pot over high heat. Add some olive oil and add the sausage in a single layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes, flip and brown on the other side.
Remove sausage from the skillet, leave any fat behind, and set aside.
2. Sauté the “holy trinity” (mirepoix)
To the same pot over medium-low heat add the last tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in the minced onions, bell pepper, and celery, mixing well to combine. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, if necessary to prevent the vegetables from burning.
- What is this “holy trinity” I keep referring to? The backbone of Cajun and Creole cooking, the holy trinity is a variant of the French mirepoix. Unlike mirepoix, the holy trinity is made with equal parts onion, celery, and green bell pepper. Variations may include aromatics such as garlic, parsley, or shallots.
Next, add the minced garlic, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Mix well and continue to cook for 1 more minute or just enough time to lightly toast the spices.
3. Add the beans and broth
Add in the drained red beans, bay leaves, and broth (or water) to your pot. You may use any variation of broth you like including chicken, beef, vegetable, or even bone broth. Bring to a low boil then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Cook the rice
If you haven’t already cooked your rice, now is a great time to do it. There are several different ways to cook rice. Find your favorite method with the help of these posts,
- How to Cook Perfect Rice on the Stove
- How to Cook Perfect Instant Pot Rice
- How to Cook Basmati Rice
- How to Cook Jasmine Rice
5. Return the sausage.
Return the sausage back to the pot and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Now is also a good time to check if you want to add more cayenne pepper to increase the heat level.
Serve approximately 1 cup of beans and sausage in a shallow bowl topped with approximately equal amounts of rice. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or green onions, if desired.
How to Serve Red Beans and Rice?
- Cornbread or biscuits
- Corn on the cob
- Coleslaw or a simple green salad
- Roasted or steamed vegetables
- Spicy collard greens (with or without bacon)
Can I Cook Red Beans and Rice in the Crockpot?
Yes, you can easily cook this in your slow cooker. For best results, I recommend browning your sausage and cooking your vegetables in a large pot (steps 1 and 2) on the stovetop first before transferring everything to your Crockpot. Then cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
Try these other delicious Cajun recipes,
Did you try this easy red beans ad rice recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Red Beans and Rice Recipe
- 2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
- 1 pound Smoked Andouille Sausage (sliced into 1/2-inch rounds)
- 2 medium yellow onions (diced)
- 3 ribs celery (diced)
- 2 green bell peppers (stemmed, seeded and diced)
- 5 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1.5 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 1/2 tsp cayenne (plus more if desired )
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 cans red kidney beans (drained, not rinsed)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups water or broth ((chicken stock, vegetable or beef broth), plus more as needed)
- 2 cups white rice (cooked according to package instructions or see notes below)
- Optional garnishes: (chopped parsley, green onions, cilantro, or hot sauce (like Tabasco))
- Brown the sausage. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or pot over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Once hot, add the sausage to the in a single layer and cook for 1-2 minutes before flipping to brown on the other side (see notes). Remove sausage from the skillet and set aside.
- The "holy trinity" (mirepoix). To the same pot over medium-low heat add the last tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in the minced onions, bell pepper, and celery, mixing well to combine. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the minced garlic, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Mix well and continue to cook for 1 minute.
- Red beans and broth. Add in the drained red beans, bay leaves, and broth (or water) to your pot. Mix well to combine and add additional liquid if needed. Increase heat and bring the red beans to a low boil. Immediately reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Return the sausage. Return the sausage back to the pot and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve. Serve approximately 1 cup of beans and sausage in a shallow bowl topped with approximately equal amounts of rice. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or green onions, if desired.
- Wash the rice. Before cooking any rice or rice recipe you always want to wash the rice. Place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer or in a bowl and wash with clean water several times.
- Add the rice to a medium saucepot. Add a pinch of salt and fill with water so that the rice is covered by approximately 2 inches of liquid. Bring to a boil.
- Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover.
- Check the progress of the rice every 5 minutes. If you can squish it between your fingers, it’s done. Drain any remaining liquid from the rice, transfer the rice back to the pot, fluff, and cool for a few minutes.
To cook this red beans and rice recipe in the crockpot:
- Follow steps 1 & 2 as outlined above.
- Transfer the browned sausage, softened vegetables and spices, drained beans, bay leaves, and broth to the bowl of your slow cooker. Mix well to combine.
- Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 2-4 hours.
- Serve with desired garnishes like parsley, cilantro, or hot sauce and rice.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)