Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
October 17, 2022 | Updated on April 11, 2023

This Easy Red Beans and Rice recipe is a classic Louisiana dish made easy with red beans simmered in a rich stock of herbs, cajun seasoning, and andouille sausage. Enjoy this as a delicious side dish or main course.

Either way, you’ll want to sop it up with a slice of this homemade Cornbread with Honey Butter!

close up view of a bowl of red beans and rice in a bowl

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Authentic red beans and rice is a staple of Creole cuisine. Traditionally, it was made on Mondays, when people would do laundry. Since red beans and rice is a meal that can stew for hours with little supervision, it was the perfect meal. Sunday’s leftovers would go into the pot, hence the ham hock used in this recipe.

Today, southern red beans and rice can be enjoyed any day of the week! Cooked low and slow over a few hours, this beloved dish is perfect for a cozy day spent at home. Red beans and rice is comfort food at it’s best!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Budget-friendly. This hearty meal includes ingredients you probably already have stocked in your fridge and pantry. And you can freeze leftovers to enjoy throughout the week and beyond.
  • Simple. This is such an easy red beans and rice recipe. All you need is a little time and patience to let the beans soften and the flavors meld.
  • Delicious. Although it’s a simple, classic dish, it’s bursting with complex flavors from fresh vegetables, herbs, and a variety of seasonings. This is the best red beans and rice recipe by far!
a bowl full of red beans and rice

Ingredients You Will Need

This section details what you will need to make this recipe, the use of each ingredient, and substitution options. For the exact measurements, see the recipe card below.

  • Beans – You can use either these red beans or these kidney beans, depending on your preference. Either protein will be a tasty addition to rice.
  • Seasoning and Spices – I used a smoky, spicy blend of kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne, and Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning.
  • Butter & Olive Oil – Cooking the veggies in this, releases their flavor.
  • Meat – I used audouille sausage and smoked ham hock but you can use any meat you’d like. Smoked turkey necks and turkey sausage are often used.
  • The Holy Trinity –  This is a medley of yellow onion, celery and bell peppers. It’s commonly used as the base in Cajun dishes. (I add garlic for even more flavor.)
  • Herbs – I added fresh thyme and dried bay leaves, which serve to tenderize the beans. It also adds a fragrant element that elevates the dish.
  • Chicken stock – I prefer to use a low sodium variety as this gives you more control over seasoning with salt at the end.
  • Garnish – For presentation (and taste) I used scallions, Italian parsley and a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper.
red-beans-and-rice

Brining Beans

Dried beans need to soak overnight so they can soften and cook faster the next day. Soaking also results in a creamier texture and more flavor. While there are a few different ways to soak beans, I brine them.

Brining is the process of soaking beans in water with a low concentration of salt. Adding just a bit of salt is better than soaking the beans in plain water because it improves the texture of the bean and makes them prime for cooking.

You will notice that the beans will hold its texture after cooking and you can hold off on seasoning with salt until after the beans have cooked.

I find that when I brine beans, I typically add very little (if any) kosher salt for flavor. For this recipe, I brine the beans (4 quarts of water + 1 tablespoon kosher salt) overnight.

all of the ingredients to make red beans rice in individual bowls and containers

Watch How to Make It

How to Make Easy Red Beans and Rice

  1. Soak Beans: The night before, place beans in a medium size mixing bowl then sort and discard any shriveled, broken or split beans.
  2. Add water and kosher salt. Cover with a towel and leave beans to soak overnight.
  3. The next day, drain and rinse beans well. Set aside.
  4. In a dutch oven (or heavy bottom pot) over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and ½ tablespoon olive oil. Once butter melts, add andouille sausage and cook until both sides are browned, about 10 minutes. Remove cooked sausage and place in a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Cook the trinity: Add the remaining butter and olive oil to the dutch oven. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper and sauté over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until onions are transparent. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  6. Add cayenne, black pepper, Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning, and thyme, and cook for 1 minute. Next, add beans, sausage, ham hock, chicken stock, water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cover pot, leaving a little crack, and cook for 2-2½ hours or until beans are soft.
  7. When beans are fully cooked, remove and discard bay leaves. Next, remove the ham hock and 1¼ cup of beans only from the pot. Smash beans with a fork, then return to the pot. Discard ham hock bones and fat. Shred the meat and add back to the pot. Stir and season to taste with kosher salt and cajun seasoning, if needed.
  8. If mixture is too thick, add up to one cup more of hot water, stir and season to taste, if needed.
  9. Serve with long-grain rice and garnish with chopped scallions, parsley and a few dabs of Diamond Crystal hot sauce.
side by side images of sliced andouille sausage being seared in a pot snd the trinity being sautéed
side by side images of andouille sausages combined with onions, celery and green peppers and the second image of the same pot with soaked beans and ham hock added

Tips Tricks and Customizations

  • Be sure to use smoked meat. As this adds tremendously to the flavor of the beans. If you don’t want to use ham hocks, smoked turkey wings or neck is fine.
  • Brine the beans. Soaking beans overnight makes for faster cooking time and increased digestibility. Brining enhances the flavor and also preserves the shape of beans during cooking.
  • Check on the beans. Although the recipe outlines 2-2½ cook time, occasionally check and stir beans for their doneness.
side by side images of the process of making red beans and rice

Frequently Asked Questions

What goes well with red beans and rice?

If you want to keep it simple, you can enjoy this as a full meal with a side of Cornbread with Honey Butter. If you make this as a side, you can pair it with fried pork chops or fried catfish for a delicious southern supper.

Top a bowl with a few dabs of this hot sauce, for a little kick.

How do you thicken red beans and rice?

Remove 1¼ cup of cooked beans. Mash them with a fork then return them to the pot. This will thicken the dish without adding any other ingredients.

Are red beans and kidney beans the same?

Although both are a reddish hue, they are two different kinds of legumes. Kidney beans are plumper with thicker skin. Red beans are much smaller and have a nutty flavor. However, both pair perfectly with rice so either would be great for this New Orleans red beans and rice recipe.

How to store leftovers?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. If you want it to last longer, chill the red beans and rice in the fridge before placing it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

closeup view of red beans and rice

Looking for More Southern Cuisine?

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easy-red-beans-and-rice-recipe

Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe

5 from 7 votes
Red Beans and Rice is a classic Louisiana dish made easy with red beans simmered in a rich stock of herbs, cajun seasoning, and andouille sausage. Enjoy this as a delicious side dish or main course.
Prep Time 8 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • 5 quart dutch oven

Ingredients

Brining Beans

  • 16 ounces red beans or kidney beans, preferably Camellia brand
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Red Beans and Rice

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 16 ounces Audouille sausage, sliced ½-inch thick diagonal cut
  • 2 cups yellow onion, diced
  • ½ cup celery, finely diced, packed
  • 1 cup bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup garlic, minced
  • 1 pound smoked ham hock
  • teaspoons black pepper
  • ⅛-¼ teaspoon cayenne, if sensitive to heat only add ⅛ teaspoon
  • teaspoons Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning, plus more to taste
  • tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups chicken stock, low sodium
  • 5 cups water, plus 1 cup more, if needed

To Serve

  • Long grain rice, cooked

Garnish

  • Scallions, chopped
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

Instructions

  • Soak Beans: The night before, place beans in a medium size mixing bowl then sort and discard any shriveled, broken or split beans.
  • Add water and kosher salt. Cover with a towel and leave beans to soak overnight.
  • The next day, drain and rinse beans well. Set aside.
  • In a dutch oven (or heavy bottom pot) over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and ½ tablespoon olive oil. Once butter melts, add andouille sausage and cook until both sides are browned, about 10 minutes. Remove cooked sausage and place in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Cook the trinity: Add the remaining butter and olive oil to the dutch oven. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper and sauté over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until onions are transparent. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add cayenne, black pepper, Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning, and thyme, and cook for 1 minute. Next, add beans, cooked sausage, ham hock, chicken stock, water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cover pot, leaving a little crack, and cook for 2-2½ hours or until beans are soft, stirring occasionally.
  • When beans are fully cooked, remove and discard bay leaves. Next, remove ham hock and 1¼ cup of beans only from the pot. Smash beans with a fork, then return to the pot. Discard ham hock bones and fat. Shred the meat and add it back to the pot. Stir and adjust seasoning with kosher salt and more cajun seasoning, if necessary. **Between brining beans, ham hock, and sausages, not much kosher salt should be needed.**
  • If mixture is too thick, add up to one cup more of hot water. Stir and season to taste, if needed.
  • Serve with long-grain rice and garnish with chopped scallions, parsley and a few dabs of Crystal hot sauce.
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14 Comments

  1. Michael Jackson says...

    5 stars
    This was my second attempt at red beans and rice! Your recipe was heads and shoulders over the first recipe. I used. Your cooking instructions and measurements were spot on!
    I’m convinced this is the best red beans and rice I’ve made and I owe it you!
    I will be looking to you for other recipes!
    Thanks Ms. Mobley-Arias

  2. Demetre Holder says...

    5 stars
    I incorporated elements of this recipe with my mother’s recipe and it was incredible! The depth of the flavor was so complex.

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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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