Ahhh, red beans and rice. This classic dish has been filling hungry bellies on a dime for centuries. It’s rich, flavorful, has a TON of fiber and protein, makes a ton of freezer-friendly leftovers, and is basically a budget cook’s dream. But these classic Louisiana Red Beans and Rice do take a little time to cook, so plan this one for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when you’ll be chillin’ at home. Your house will smell amazing and you’ll have food for the whole week!
Originally posted 3-14-2010, updated 2-16-2020. If you prefer the old version, download it here.
Are Red Beans and Kidney Beans the Same Thing?
Nope! They’re both red, but they are two different beans, but you can use either one in this recipe. Scroll down to my step by step photos after the recipe to see a photo of red beans and kidney beans side by side.
Do I Have to Soak the Red Beans Overnight?
No, there are other options. There are two other “quick soak” methods, but both still take an hour or more. To read more about other methods of soaking your beans, read How to Soak Your Beans from Camellia Beans.
If you’re looking for a recipe for Red Beans and Rice using canned beans, check out my “Quickie” Red Beans and Rice.
What Kind of Sausage Should I Use?
Traditionally, red beans and rice is made with Andouille sausage, which is a smoked pork sausage originating from France, but also popular in Louisiana. If you can’t find Andouille sausage, you can use any type of smoked pork or beef sausage that is available to you.
Is Red Beans and Rice Spicy?
It can be. The heat level in this recipe will depend on the type of sausage you use and how much cayenne pepper you add. The Andouille sausage I used had a “medium” spice level, and I used 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, so my red beans were moderately spicy. Use a mild sausage and no cayenne pepper to make your red beans mild.
Is Red Beans and Rice Healthy?
“Healthy” is a very subjective term, but I will say that this classic dish is packed with fiber, protein, and vegetables, which to me makes a quality meal. It is a little high on sodium, but the amount of salt you add at the end of the recipe is totally within your control. If you want to reduce the saturated fat, simply drain the fat from the andouille sausage before adding the vegetables to the pot. And lastly, you can always swap out the white rice for brown rice for even more fiber and nutrients!
Can I Make it Vegetarian?
I have successfully made a very delicious pot of red beans and rice without the smoked sausage. To see how it’s done, make sure to visit my recipe for Vegan Red Beans and Rice. (It’s automatically vegan because the only animal product in the recipe is the sausage.)
How to Freeze Red Beans and Rice
As with any food, you want to chill your cooked red beans and rice as quickly as possible after cooking to avoid food safety issues. I recommend dividing the red beans and rice into single portions before refrigerating. This will make it cool down faster, and you’ll already have single portions that can be reheated quickly in the microwave straight from the refrigerator, or freezer. Once the red beans and rice are completely chilled, you can transfer them to the freezer for long term storage (about 3 months).
Louisiana Style Red Beans and Rice with Sausage
- 1 lb. dry red beans ($1.49)
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.08)
- 14 oz. Andouille sausage ($3.79)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
- 1 green bell pepper ($0.69)
- 3 ribs celery ($0.46)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.20)
- 1 tsp dried oregano ($0.10)
- 1 tsp dried thyme ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.03)
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
- 2 bay leaves ($0.60)
- 6 cups water ($0.00)
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley ($0.20)
- 1 Tbsp salt, or to taste ($0.10)
- 1.5 cups long grain white rice (uncooked) ($0.93)
- 3 green onions ($0.22)
- The night before, add the dry beans to a large bowl with double their volume in water. Allow the beans to soak in the refrigerator overnight.
- When you're ready to start cooking, slice the sausage into rounds. Add the cooking oil and sliced sausage to a large pot and cook over medium until the sausage pieces are browned. Remove the cooked sausage with a slotted spoon to a clean bowl. Place the cooked sausage in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Mince the garlic.
- After removing the cooked sausage, add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the pot. Sauté over medium heat, allowing the moisture from the vegetables to help dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the pot as you stir.
- Add the smoked paprika, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, black pepper, and bay leaves to the pot. Stir and cook for one minute more.
- Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Add them to the pot along with 6 cups water and give the pot a brief stir to combine the ingredients.
- Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring it up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the pot boil for one hour, stirring occasionally. Replace the lid every time you stir.
- After boiling for one hour, the beans should be tender. Begin to smash the beans with the back of a spoon against the side of the pot. Continue smashing the beans and letting the pot simmer without a lid for 30 minutes to thicken the pot.
- While the beans are simmering for their final 30 minutes, cook the rice. Add the rice and 3 cups water to a sauce pot. Place a lid on top, turn the heat on to high, and bring it up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the rice rest for 5 minutes without removing the lid. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.
- Once the red beans have thickened, add the cooked sausage back to the pot along with 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley. Stir to combine. Taste the red beans and add salt to your liking. Start with 1 tsp and add more as needed. I used 1 Tbsp total (3 tsp).
- Serve the red beans in a bowl topped with a scoop of rice and a sprinkle of sliced green onions.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Red Beans and Rice – Step By Step Photos
Depending on where you live, you may find one type of red bean or the other. You can use small red beans or kidney beans (dark or light) for this recipe. You’ll need one pound of dry beans for this recipe.
Soak the beans in water (make sure to use twice as much water as beans) overnight. If you forgot to soak your beans, use one of the other methods described in this article. (this photo is after the beans have been soaking overnight)
This is the Andouille sausage that I used. This happens to be a 14oz. package, but if yours comes in any size between 12 and 16oz. that will also work. If you can not source Andouille sausage, you can use any other smoked pork or beef sausage.
Slice the sausage into rounds and add them to a large pot with 2 Tbsp cooking oil. Cook over medium heat until the sausage is well browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a clean bowl and place it in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the recipe. If you want to reduce the fat in your red beans, you can drain off most of the fat left behind by the sausage. I left the fat in, though, because it’s super flavorful!
While the sausage is cooking, dice one onion, one green bell pepper, and about three ribs of celery. This trio of flavors (onion, bell pepper, celery) is called “holy trinity.” But I also like to add four cloves of garlic, so mince those up as well.
Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic to the pot after removing the sausage. Sauté the vegetables over medium until the onions are soft. Use the moisture from the vegetables to dissolve the browned bits of meat off the bottom of the pot as you stir.
Once the vegetables have softened, add the Cajun seasoning (2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, and about 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper) and two bay leaves. Cook and stir for about a minute more.
Drain and rinse the soaked red beans, then add them to the pot with 6 cups of fresh water.
Give the pot a brief stir to distribute the spices and other ingredients. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring it up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the beans simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.
After boiling the beans for one hour, the beans should be tender but the pot as a whole will still look pretty watery. To thicken the pot, begin smashing the red beans against the side of the pot with your spoon. Smash the red beans and let it continue to simmer without a lid for an extra 30 minutes. I stood and smashed my beans for about 10 minutes, and let it keep simmering for an extra 20 (30 min total).
While the red beans are in their final 30 minute simmer, cook your rice. Add 1.5 cups long grain white rice to a sauce pot with 3 cups water. Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to high, and allow it to come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the pot rest for an additional 5 minutes without removing the lid. Fluff the rice with a fork just before serving.
After smashing and simmering for a bit longer, the red beans will have thickened quite a bit. They’ll continue to thicken even more as they cool a bit.
Finally, add the cooked Andouille sausage back to the pot along with about 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley. Stir to combine. Taste the red beans and add salt to your liking. You will need at least SOME salt to make the flavors come out in this dish. I added 1 Tbsp for the whole pot, but I suggest starting with 1 tsp and adding more to your liking.
Serve the red beans with a coop of cooked rice on top, and sliced green onion sprinkled over top!