Easy Red Beans and Rice is a bold and flavorful dinner recipe! Creamy red beans are cooked to perfection with sausage, ham, and a bounty of savory cajun seasonings.
Spicy Red Beans and Rice, the Easy Way!
If you’ve ever tried red beans and rice, you know this amazing dish has a lot more going on than its simple name suggests. A staple of Louisiana cooking, red beans and rice usually contains plenty of aromatic veggies and spices, plus one or more flavorful meats, from Andouille sausage to smoked ham to shrimp.
My easy version is made with sausage, ham, bell pepper, celery, onion, and garlic, and served with hot sauce and pickled okra for an extra kick. This is a perfect dish to make with that leftover holiday ham bone in your freezer, or just leftover ham. Make it spicy or mild, however it suits your taste.
What You’ll Need
Let’s take a closer look at those ingredients. You’ll notice that I use Cajun seasoning, which can be kind of spicy. To control the heat, you can use a combination of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix these to taste in a small dish, and use about 1.5 teaspoons of the blend.
- Olive Oil: Or any cooking oil you prefer.
- Onion: Dice up your onion – any kind is fine.
- Bell Pepper: Green bell pepper is most common, but red, orange, and yellow are fine as well.
- Celery: Dice the celery.
- Garlic: The fresh garlic cloves should be minced, or pressed through a garlic press.
- Salt and Pepper
- Thyme and Bay Leaf: These earthy herbs bring out the best in savory bean dishes.
- Cajun Seasoning: Use your favorite brand, mine is Slap Ya Mama, of Cajun or Creole seasoning to kick up the flavor.
- Andouille Sausage: The sausage should be thinly sliced. I like to slice mine on the diagonal.
- Red Beans: Drain the beans well, and rinse them once or twice.
- Worcestershire Sauce: A small amount of this useful condiment helps balance the taste of the red beans and rice. Chicken Stock: You could also use vegetable stock, or just water.
- Ham Hock: A ham hock adds depth and smokiness. You could substitute smoked turkey wings, or leave this out entirely.
- Ham: Some diced, smoked ham adds a nice flavor and texture.
- Parsley: I love using a little fresh parsley in the dish, as well as for a pretty garnish.
- For Serving: To serve, have some hot cooked rice on hand, as well as a jar of pickled okra (optional), and some Louisiana hot sauce (also optional).
Are Red Beans and Kidney Beans the Same?
Not quite, although they are similar. Small red beans are traditional for this recipe, and are fairly easy to find dried. However, for this easy version of red beans and rice, I’m using canned beans. And it’s a little less common to find small red beans in a can.
If you are having trouble finding canned red beans in your grocery store, take heart! Kidney beans are good substitutes, and even cannellini would work – although I suppose that dish would no longer be red beans and rice!
Let’s Make Some Red Beans and Rice!
Okay, so this is definitely an easy version of traditional red beans and rice, but it does still take some time – so be sure to budget about an hour for making it. Here’s the scoop:
- Cook the Aromatics and the Seasonings. To begin, heat up a swirl of olive oil in a large stock pot. Store in the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, and let that sauté gently for about 5 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Then add the salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf, and creole seasoning, and cook these for one more minute to release the fragrances.
- Add the Remaining Ingredients. Now, you can add all the remaining ingredients (except the rice, okra, and hot sauce). Stir in the sausage, beans, Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, ham hock, and smoked ham. Simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, or even longer, if you like. Add more broth as needed if the beans become dry during cooking.
- Serve! To serve, you can stir the rice into the bean mixture, or serve each portion of the red beans over a small scoop of rice in a bowl. Garnish with hot sauce and/or pickled okra, as desired.
Helpful Tips and Tricks
Are you ready to try this traditional Louisiana favorite? I hope so, because I know you are going to love it! But before you go, let me share just a few helpful tips.
- Make It Thinner: As the red beans cook, the liquid in the pot will thicken. You can thin it out with more broth if you would like it to be more of a soup adjusting the salt accordingly.
- Make It Thicker: For thicker and creamier red beans and rice, try mashing or pureeing about a cup of the cooked beans, and stirring them back into the pot.
- Vegetarian Option: If you’d like to make a vegetarian version of this dish, that’s fine, too! I recommend adding extra seasoning, oil, and vegetables of your choice, as well as a splash of soy sauce or coconut aminos, to boost the flavor.
What Goes with Red Beans and Rice?
Typically, red beans and rice is served with a side of cornbread and some beer! But if you’d like to make something else, try one of these easy options:
- Greens: Healthy, bold, and quintessentially Southern, you can’t go wrong with a good mess of greens! Try these Beer Bacon Collard Greens – their next-level good.
- Asparagus: Another favorite green veggie, this Air Fryer Asparagus is a nutritious and tasty side that brings a pop of color and gorgeous texture to the table.
- Biscuits: If you’d rather not make cornbread (although this Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is super yummy!), maybe biscuits are more your style? This easy recipe for Southern Buttermilk Biscuits is just right.
Storing and Reheating Leftover Red Beans and Rice
Leftovers get even better the next day. Store your red beans and rice in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 5 days, and enjoy!
Does This Dish Freeze Well?
Yes, red beans and rice is a freezer-friendly meal. Just cool, and then freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Easy Red Beans and Rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 12.8 ounce package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
- 3 cans, 15 ounces each red beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 ham hock
- 1 pound smoked ham, diced
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped, plus extra for serving
- 1 jar pickled okra, for serving, optional
- Louisiana hot sauce, for serving, optional
- 1 cup cooked white rice
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot, and cook the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic for 5 minutes, until tender.
- Stir in the salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf, and creole seasoning. Cook for one more minute.
- Add the sausage, beans, Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, ham hock, and smoked ham to the pan. Stir and let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, or longer, if desired. Add more broth as needed.
- To serve, either stir the rice into the beans, or put a couple of spoons of rice in a bowl, and top with red beans. Garnish with hot sauce and/or pickled okra to taste.
- Serve with cornbread, if desired.
More Great Southern Recipes
- Southern Chicken and Biscuits
- Dirty Rice
- Granny’s “Gulf” Gumbo
- Best Beer Bread
- Chicken Fried Steak
- Best Banana Pudding
- Jiffy Corn Casserole
- Easy Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
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