Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe
Red beans and rice is one of my favorite bean dishes. Some bean recipes trend more on the lighter side of the spectrum, but this dish tastes like an absolute indulgence. It’s full of deep, rich, spicy Creole flavor, and my version here is straightforward and just easy to make.
To develop the flavors and complexity of this classic dish, my recipe calls for a colorful medley of veggies, as well as herbs and spices.
- Red Beans: This crowd-pleasing red beans and rice recipe uses a pound of dried red beans, so you’ll need a large bowl for soaking and a large pot for cooking.
- Olive Oil & Butter: For sautéing.
- Andouille Sausage: You’ll need 12 ounces of Andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices.
- Onion: I like to use a yellow onion, but a white or a Vidalia would be fine, as well.
- Celery: You’ll need 2 celery ribs, diced.
- Bell Pepper: I generally dice up one small red bell pepper and one small green bell pepper; but go for the best and freshest ones, whether green, yellow, orange, or red.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is best here, but if you need to, you can substitute about ⅛ of a teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove.
- Salt & Pepper
- Oregano, Thyme, Paprika & Cayenne: If you want a milder dish, feel free to reduce the cayenne or omit it altogether. Add more cayenne if you like a spicy dish.
- Broth: You’ll need 6 to 8 cups of vegetable broth or chicken broth. I use low-sodium broths. Homemade is also great!
- Bay Leaves: Two whole bay leaves add fragrance and pungency to the dish.
- Green Onions: Chopped, plus more for garnish.
- Parsley: Chopped parsley is the perfect garnish for red beans and rice.
- Rice: You’ll need your favorite cooked long grain rice for serving.
Are Red Beans and Kidney Beans the Same Thing?
- So what do we mean by “red beans?” Well, they aren’t quite the same as kidney beans. Red beans are smaller, and they have a reddish pink color, while kidney beans are larger and more of a reddish brown. Both will work fine in this recipe, but kidney beans tend to have a thicker outer skin than red beans, so some cooks prefer not to use them.
What is Andouille Sausage?
- Andouille sausage in the U.S. (as opposed to France, where it originated) is a smoky, highly seasoned, flavorful sausage. Like hard salami and prosciutto, it’s somewhat dry. In Louisiana, it’s a very traditional and popular ingredient, used in all kind of ways. Like in this Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. 😍
If you don’t have Andouille, feel free to substitute chorizo, or even kielbasa.
How to Make Red Beans and Rice
To make red beans and rice, you’ll need to start in the morning or even the night before, to soak the beans. From there, it’s a straightforward process of sautéing veggies and sausage, adding broth and beans, and simmering until done. You should also cook the rice separately, and according to the package directions.
- Soak Beans: Put the dried red beans in a large soup pot or bowl and cover with two inches of water. Soak for eight hours, or overnight.
- Brown Sausage: Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large dutch oven or heavy pot set over medium heat. Add the sausage slices and cook until browned on both sides. Remove the sausage from the pot and set aside.
- Sauté Veggies: Melt the butter in the same pot, and then stir in the onions, cooking over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the celery and bell peppers; continue to cook for 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 20 seconds more.
- Add Seasonings & Broth: Season the vegetables with salt, oregano, thyme, paprika, cayenne and black pepper. Cook for 1 more minute, and then pour in the vegetable broth and stir, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add Beans, Sausage & Bay Leaves: Drain and rinse the soaked beans, and then add them to the pot, along with the andouille sausage and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the beans are soft and tender.
- Continue Cooking: Discard the bay leaves. Transfer a cup of the beans to a bowl; using a fork, mash the beans well. Return them to the pot and stir to incorporate. If the dish is too thick, add up to one cup of water. Taste for seasonings, and adjust accordingly. Stir in the parsley and green onions, and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Enjoy! Serve your veggies, sausage and red beans over hot cooked rice.
Do I Have to Soak the Beans?
This is really up to you. There are two main reasons to soak beans: on one hand, it is supposed to shorten the cooking time by about ten minutes. Secondly, soaking the beans is supposed to make them easier to digest. So, if that’s important to you, go for it!
Tips for Success
Working with red beans is fairly easy, even for an inexperienced cook. But, I would like to share these tips and tricks for making the process as easy (and delicious) as possible!
- Pick Over the Beans: Dried beans are like any other raw vegetable product; they need to be cleaned properly before using. With beans, it is possible that small pebbles or bits of dirt got into the beans during the harvesting and packaging processes. So run your hands through the dry beans, turning them over to see if you find any bits of rock or dirt. Then rinse them in clean water before soaking.
- Add Vinegar or Lemon: When making any soupy dish, and any bean dish (and red beans and rice is kind of both), I will often taste the mixture and feel like it’s a little flat, even with the appropriate seasonings. Adding a spoon or two of vinegar or lemon juice is a great way to boost the flavor without adding more salt or too much spice. Try it!
- Change Up the Protein: It’s not necessary to have Andouille sausage on hand to make this dish. Like many beans and rice dishes, it’s a basic way of preparing basic ingredients, and traditionally cooks would use all kinds of leftover pork meats, such as ham, ham hocks, and homemade pork sausages. Smoked turkey, too! Use what you like and what you have.
What Goes with Red Beans and Rice?
A classic comfort food meal like this one calls for some fool-proof side dishes to go with it. Here are some of my favorite things to serve with red beans and rice.
- Green Beans: Another comforting dish, this Green Beans and Mushrooms in Cream Sauce is full of yummy veggies, and it would go perfectly alongside hearty red beans and rice.
- Sweet Potato Wedges: These sweet potato wedges are good for you, and the taste is out of this world! I think sweet potato is a perfect side for any comfort-food entree, and the delicious texture of my Crispy Sweet Potato Wedges is a nice contrast to the casserole-like beans and rice.
- Puff Pastries: These easy and beautiful Raspberry Jam Puff Pastry desserts pair nicely with spicy dishes, thanks to the refreshing raspberry flavor and delicately-textured crust.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
It’s super easy to store leftover red beans and rice. Reheating them is also wonderfully quick and simple. Here’s how to preserve your leftovers and enjoy them later!
- To Refrigerate: Store the red bean mixture separately from the rice. Place beans in airtight containers, and cover the red beans tightly; store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- Leftover rice should be used within 24 hours. (You can make fresh rice as needed in order to serve the leftover beans.)
- To Reheat on the Stove: Place leftover beans and rice in a covered saucepan with a splash of water and cook over medium heat until heated through.
- To Microwave Leftovers: Place rice on a microwave safe plate or in a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle with water. Spoon red beans over the rice, and cover lightly with a paper towel. Heat for a minute at a time, until piping hot, stirring between heating.
How to Freeze Red Beans and Rice
- To freeze, allow the red beans and the rice to cool to room temperature. Place single portions of rice into freezer bags, and top with the appropriate amount of beans. Press as much air as possible out of the bags before freezing.
- Frozen red beans and rice will keep for up to 3 months.
- Do not thaw before reheating. Thawing can cause the rice to become mushy. Just reheat from frozen.
More Creole Dishes to Try
Louisiana Red Beans And Rice
- 1 pound dry red beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 to 14 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- ½ tablespoon butter
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne red pepper, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 to 7 cups low sodium vegetable broth, (you can also use chicken broth)
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley plus more for garnish
- Fresh green onions chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 ½ cups long grain brown rice or white rice, cooked according to the directions on the package
- Put dry beans in a large soup pot or a large bowl; cover in water and soak for 8 hours, or overnight. Water should come up about 2 inches over the beans.
- When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large dutch oven or a heavy pot set over medium heat.
- Add the sausage slices to the heated oil and cook until browned on both sides. Stir frequently.
- Remove sausage from pot and set them aside.
- Add butter to the pot and melt.
- Stir in the onions and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until starting to soften.
- Add celery and bell peppers; continue to cook for 4 minutes. Add a little more butter, if needed.
- Stir in garlic and cook for 15 seconds.
- Season with salt, oregano, thyme, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper; continue to cook for 1 more minute.
- Pour in vegetable broth and stir, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Drain the soaked beans and rinse; add the beans to the pot, and previously prepared andouille sausage.
- Add bay leaves.
- Increase heat to High and bring mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 1-½ to 2 hours, or until beans are soft and tender. Start checking for doneness around the 1-½ hour mark by mashing or squeezing the beans between your fingers. The skin should be a bit resistant to pressure, but the interior should be the consistency and appearance of baked potato.
- When beans are cooked through, remove the bay leaves from the pot and discard.
- Remove 1 cup of beans to a bowl; mash the beans with the back of the fork, and then return to the pot; stir.
- If mixture is too thick, add up to 1 cup water.
- Taste for salt and seasonings, and adjust accordingly.
- Stir in parsley and green onions and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Serve over cooked rice.