This Red Beans and Rice Recipe is made with smoked sausage, red kidney beans, and vegetables like onion, celery, and green bell pepper. Ready in about an hour, this quick and easy version of classic Creole red beans and rice is perfect for busy weeknight dinners and makes delicious leftovers.
Cajun food will forever be one of my favorite cuisines to cook and eat! From classic recipes like jambalaya, gumbo, and shrimp etouffee to more creative fusions like this spicy Cajun sausage and chicken skillet or this creamy Cajun shrimp pasta.
Today I’m sharing how to make red beans and rice.
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. It would include red beans, vegetables like bell pepper, onion, and celery, and spices including thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf. Sometimes other meats such as ham and andouille or Chorizo sausage would also be added.
Unlike traditional versions of this classic recipe, this recipe uses canned red (kidney) beans in place of dried kidney beans. Easy enough to make during the week, you’ll find that this accelerated version takes just about an hour to make.
Authentic Louisiana 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 will be mashed with a fork creating a creamy, comforting texture.
- Ham hocks or ham shanks are often added to the simmering 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
1. Brown the sausage:
I highly recommend searing the 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.
2. Sauté the “holy trinity” (mirepoix) and toast the spices:
This “holy trinity” is the backbone of Cajun and Creole cooking. It is made with equal parts onion, celery, and green bell pepper. Some variations may include garlic, parsley, or shallots. In this recipe, you’ll cook these vegetables for about 8-10 minutes before adding the minced garlic, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, thyme, salt, and black pepper.
Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
6. 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.
- Red beans are kidney beans.
- 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.
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)
Crockpot Red Beans and Rice
To cook red beans and rice in the slow cooker, 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.
More Cajun-Inspired Recipes to Try,
- Slow Cooker Jambalaya Stew
- Cajun Chicken and Rice Bake
- Cajun Shrimp Foil Packets (oven and grill)
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta Recipe
- Easy Dirty Rice Recipe (Cajun Rice)
Did you try this easy red beans and rice recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Red Beans and Rice Recipe
- 2 tablespoon 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 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- ½ teaspoon cayenne (plus more if desired )
- 2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon 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.)