Vegan Red Beans and Rice

$7.40 recipe / $1.23 serving

If you don’t live in Louisiana, you might not know that we’ve got a big carnival going on right now. Parades, marching bands, crazy costumes, and (of course) beads are daily sightings for the two weeks preceding Mardi Gras. It’s all gotten me in the mood for some classic New Orleans food—Red Beans and Rice!

I made a classic version of Red Beans and Rice way back when this was just a baby blog, so I thought it was time to revisit this deliciously filling and inexpensive dish. While I absolutely looove pork products, I thought it would be fun to try a vegan version. To make up for the loss of andouille sausage’s smoky flavor, I added a heaping dose of smoked paprika (that stuff is magic!). Making sure there was a healthy amount of herbs and spices also helped keep the batch flavorful. A sprinkle of fresh green onions on top adds a final oomph of flavor and then I’m in red bean heaven. It’s so filling, so flavorful, and so real. The recipe is simple and requires only good, simple ingredients. That’s the way I like to eat.

Keep in mind that this is not a fast dish. The longer you cook it the better it gets. I cooked mine for 3 hours, but you don’t want to go any less than 2 hours, or else your beans won’t be soft. Also, I soaked my beans over night, so you’ll want to plan this at least a day ahead. It’s worth it. Promise.

As an afterthought, I stirred a spoonful of coconut oil into one of my bowls and it added that lovely, velvety, rich flavor that you can only get from saturated fat (usually provided by the pork). So, if you still feel like you’re missing that pork derived richness, try adding  a lil’ coconut oil.

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

4.8 from 19 reviews
Vegan Red Beans and Rice
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Total Cost: $7.40
Cost Per Serving: $1.23
Serves: 6-8 (about 10 cups total)
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 medium yellow onion $0.52
  • 1 medium bell pepper $0.97
  • 4 stalks celery $0.50
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 1 lb. dry red beans $1.59
  • 6 cups vegetable broth $0.78*
  • 1 tsp thyme $0.10
  • 1 tsp oregano $0.10
  • 1 whole bay leaf $0.15
  • ½ Tbsp smoked paprika $0.15
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.05 (10-15 cranks of a mill)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper $0.02
  • 6 cups cooked rice $1.04
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced $0.79
Instructions
  1. The night before, Place your beans in a large pot and fill with enough cool water to cover the beans by a few inches. Place the beans in the refrigerator to soak over night.
  2. When you're ready to cook, finely dice the celery, bell pepper, and onion, and mince the garlic. Cook the celery, bell pepper, onion, and garlic in a large pot with the olive oil over medium heat until softened (5-7 minutes).
  3. Drain the soaked beans in a colander and rinse with fresh, cool water. Add the rinsed beans to the pot with the vegetables. Also add the vegetable broth, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, smoked paprika, some freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  4. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a full boil over high heat. After it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow the pot to simmer for at least two hours. Make sure the pot is simmering the entire time, increasing the heat if needed. Stir the pot occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Keep the lid in place the entire time to keep the beans from drying out.
  5. After two hours (or longer if desired) the beans should be soft and tender. Mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. This will thicken the pot and make the classic, creamy texture of the dish. Remove the bay leaf and allow the pot to simmer for about 30 minutes more (after smashing) to help it thicken.
  6. To serve, add a scoop of red beans to a bowl and top with a scoop warm, cooked rice. Sprinkle sliced green onions over top and add a dash of hot sauce if desired.
Notes
*I use Better Than Bouillon brand soup base to make my broth.

 

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

 

Step by Step Photos

Soak Beans

The night before, soak one pound of red beans in the refrigerator. Add the beans to a large pot and then add enough cool water to cover the beans by about a few inches (they’ll absorb water as they soak, so make sure to enough water to keep them covered as they expand). If you didn’t presoak your beans, you can use the “quick soak”  method, but that still takes at least an hour.

Trinity

When you’re ready to begin, finely dice four stalks of celery, one bell pepper, one onion, and mince four cloves of garlic.

Saute Trinity

Sauté the vegetables in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until they are soft (about 5-7  minutes).

Add Beans

Drain the soaked beans in a colander and rinse with fresh water. Add the rinsed beans to the pot with the vegetables.

Broth and spices

Also add 6 cups of vegetable broth, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp oregano, 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika, 1 whole bay leaf, some freshly cracked pepper (about 10-15 cranks of a mill), and a pinch of cayenne (I like it a little more spicy, so I added 1/4 tsp). Give the pot a good stir, then place a lid on top and bring it up to a full boil over high heat. Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for at least two hours (with lid), stirring occasionally. Make sure it’s simmering the whole time, turning the heat up slightly if necessary.

Smash Beans

After a minimum of two hours, the beans should be soft enough to smash with the back of a large spoon. Smash a good portion of the beans until they begin to take on a thick, creamy consistency. You could use an immersion blender instead, but just make sure not to purée the entire pot. You want some whole beans in there. Let the pot simmer for another 30 minutes or so after smashing the beans to let it thicken a little more.

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

Serve the beans with a scoop of warm, cooked rice over top and a sprinkle of fresh, sliced green onion. A splash of hot sauce is also a nice touch – the vinegar in the hot sauce helps bright everything up and gives a kick of flavor.

73 Comments

  1. kzobes says:

    daaang gina! this was so good. My mom has a little bit of a bean phobia (not even kidding) so after I got married and we were too poor to buy much meat we started experimenting with beans as a substitute. We mostly use black beans so I was excited to find a tasty-looking recipe to try with a different kind of bean. My boss lived in Louisiana for school and he told me I couldn’t make this without meat so we added some turkey sausage at the end. I didn’t know what to expect from this at all, and it was so good! Even without the sausage I know this would be bomb. Your blog is by far my favorite and most-used for recipes!

    • Hahaha, “Dang Gina!” :) Next time try cooking the sausage first and using the sausage grease to cook the onions/bell peppers etc. You’ll have even more flavor! :)

  2. Simone says:

    OMG I made this for dinner yesterday! First item made from your blog. It was absolutely delicious!!!!!

  3. Emma says:

    Mine ended up SUPER runny so I improvised and just mixed the rice in. Turned it into a soup type thing. Still very yummy! but I’d love to figure out how to make it thicker. It was probably because I used canned beans and didn’t adjust the liquid content…will do it for next time!

  4. joya says:

    AMAZING! I am making this for the 2nd night in a row. Its sooooooo yummy. I could eat this all month

  5. oaklandgal says:

    if my family won’t eat green peppers, any suggestions on what to substitute? Can’t wait to make this!

    • I think I’d just leave them out. :)

    • oaklandgal says:

      Made the recipe today following another commenter’s suggestion. We decided to have this dish too late for the 12 hour soak, so I soaked the beans for about 4 hours, then used a pressure cooker for 40 minutes, then 10 minutes on simmer. As advised, I left out the green peppers. I used “Better than Bouillon” vegetarian base, to make the broth. We added andouille sausage for the meat-eaters in our midst. I do think the smoked paprika was the secret ingredient! THIS DISH WAS A HIT with everyone — which rarely happens. thank you!

    • This has so much going on, they probably won’t notice. just don’t tell them, hehehe.

  6. Tamara says:

    I made this recipe exactly as is, and it is so, so good. Thank you for sharing this recipe, even the non-vegans in my life love it. I am also applying your coconut oil trick to other dishes and want to thank you for that one too!

  7. J.D. says:

    I made this last night with a lot of alterations, and it was delicious! Thank you so much for sharing! It’s always nice to have a “base recipe” when I’m not familiar with how to make a certain dish. I always let my creativity run wild, but without this as the basis for it, I would’ve been lost — so thank you! :)

  8. linz says:

    Thanks for the great recipe. My family loves this! Your site has been wonderful:-)

  9. NiceSpice says:

    When recipes talk about beans, I’m often confused about which variety is used. Now we should use “red beans”. Are these kidney beans or azuki beans? In the picture of the beans soaking, they have the shape of kidney beans, but not the red colour, so are they some rare variety of bean?

    • Kidney beans are what you’d want to use. There are light and dark kidney beans, also large and small kidney beans, so that might be why they look different to you. We have a type of red beans here in Louisiana that are simply labeled as “red beans” and not kidney beans, although I suspect they are a variety of kidney. They are not adzuki beans, though.

  10. AnneinColo says:

    Yum! Sounds so good!

    In the area of substitutions for pork, Linda Watson of “Cook for Good” suggests tahini. I tried it in some pintos I made for a veg friend of mine this weekend and it gave the beans a slightly nutty flavor and a great mouth feel.

  11. Oh how I love this recipe. It’s now a staple in our house. It’s one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten! I use canned black beans or whatever I have on hand. It does take time to cook down, but by the end of the cooking time it’s a nice stew-like consistency. Also, the first time I made it I had no celery, so I added 1/2 tsp celery seed, not knowing if that would help…it’s amazing with it! I increase the spices to heaping and use a vegetarian stock that’s beef-flavoured.

    Thank you so much for all the great meals — I live off this website (and I’m vegan, so that’s a compliment to how adaptable your other recipes are)!

  12. Stormy says:

    Made this tonight and it was AMAZING!! The smoked paprika really made it taste like the traditional non-vegan version, which my husband meat-eating husband liked. I wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe, it was absolutely perfect! Not to mention it makes enough to feed a small army! Thanks!!! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes, so glad I found your blog via Pinterest :)

  13. Genevieve says:

    First, I tried this with 2-3 carrots last week in place of celery and it was fine in a pinch. :)

    Second, the hubs is from NOLA and this is our new fav recipe! Any suggestions to make a vegetarian jambalaya? We are joining a CSA for summer and things like jambalaya and stir fries seem like great options to use up the veggies!

  14. This looks fantastic! Quick question – as an educated guess, how many cans would I use if I only wanted to use canned beans?

    • Probably about 3, but then you’ll need to adjust the liquid content too, since the beans won’t be absorbing any.

  15. How do you think this would work with red lentils?

    • I don’t think they would work because of the way they break down as they cook. You’ll probably end up with mush. :)

  16. Michelle says:

    I made this recipe yesterday as a side dish with some tortilla chips. I used black beans instead of red beans since that is what I had on hand but it was DELICIOUS!

  17. Bethany says:

    This is a new staple of mine now…so yummy!

  18. Love this recipe! (Should say love the “idea” of this recipe since I haven’t made it yet!) Making the fiance go and grab celery and peppers ASAP while I let the beans soak for tomorrow nights vegan feast. A little late to the Mardi Gras party but this way I can pick up the beads left behind :-)

  19. Hooray! My findings are in. I only had 1/2LB of dry beans, so made a half batch. Beans soaked for 4hrs while I shopped for veggies (and made a large lunch of Spanish rice and vegan taco salad (appetiser, see)). I followed the recipe exactly, dividing in half, but I used 3.5 cups stock, the extra to make up for the shorter soaking time. I brought the beans close to the boil, put the lid on the pressure cooker, leaving the heat on high until the first whistle. Then I immediately turned the heat down to medium low and let the pressure cooker do its thing for exactly 40minutes (my dog hates the pressure cooker and spent the entire time outside sulking). I took the pan off the heat, used the quick pressure release method to get the lid off, mashed a portion with the masher, and simmered on low for about 10 minutes. I didn’t need any salt as the vegetable stock infusion I use is fairly salty. Made my rice while cooking a vegan GF cornbread, and Bob’s yer uncle! It was great!

  20. Need to make this for dinner tonight, but didn’t realise I wanted it ’til just now! Gonna try a 3 hour soak and cook it in the pressure cooker. Will keep track of timings and report back. Hopefully you’ll be able to add a rapido version!
    Paul

  21. Nikki says:

    I’m going to try this very soon. Here’s hoping my CSA box has lots of ingredients I need next week. Thank you for the recipe!

    You *can* make kidney beans in a slow cooker, but you should boil them for 10 minutes on the stove first to avoid the tummy issues Beth mentioned. That’s the route I’ll go.

  22. Elizabeth Dotson says:

    Made ths yesterday for Fat Tuesday. AMAZING!!!!!! My husband even went back for seconds. My 4 year old and 1 year old ate it too. Will be making again!

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