Traditionally a dish that takes all day, this simplified version of the Louisiana classic can be ready in a little over an hour. This Easy Red Beans and Rice recipe is the ultimate budget, pantry and freezer-friendly dish that really satisfies!
"This. Is. Fantastic! I was looking for a new quick version to replace my old recipe which was quick and easy but lacked flavor complexity. This recipe 100% achieved that flavor!"
Why This Recipe is a Keeper!
Red Beans and Rice is one of our favorite meals! However, because the traditional method takes the better part of a day, I often do this simplified beans and rice recipe that is ready in a little over an hour.
Although it doesn't take as long as the classic version, Easy Red Beans and Rice is long on flavor!
This red beans and rice recipe is also:
- A great way to utilize ingredients already in your pantry.
- Freezer-friendly so you can freeze any leftovers or make a double batch and have it ready in your freezer for quick meals.
- On the healthy side with loads of fiber and protein.
- Easy with no difficult cooking techniques!
Origin and History of Red Beans and Rice:
More Creole than Cajun, Red beans and rice has been a Monday tradition in Louisiana since the 19th Century. It was common for families to have ham for Sunday dinner and red beans and rice extended the ham's value into the week by using up leftovers along with the ham bone for added flavor.
Back then, Monday was customarily laundry day in New Orleans. Doing the laundry was no easy task and took all day so a pot of red beans with the leftover ham and ham bone could simmer away while the women did the laundry.
How to Make This Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe:
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this recipe along with how to prep. See the red beans and rice recipe card below for the exact quantities.
- Onion, Celery and Green Bell Pepper: This vegetable combination consisting of one or two parts onion, one part celery and one part green bell pepper is a variation on traditional French "mirepoix" referred to as "the holy trinity" in Louisiana cooking. It's essential to traditional red beans and rice, Creole, Cajun and New Orleans-style cooking in general.
- Cajun Seasoning: Although red beans and rice is more Creole than Cajun, I usually use Cajun seasoning because it's got more kick. Cajun seasoning typically has a variety of ground pepper such as white, black and cayenne along with paprika, onion, celery, and garlic. Creole seasoning is milder and is more of an herbal medley consisting of oregano, bay leaf, basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and paprika.
- Vegetable Broth: My preferred brand of vegetable broth is Kitchen Accomplice Reduced Sodium Concentrate. May also use chicken broth.
- Andouille Sausage: Our preferred brand is Johnsonville which is readily available at most grocery stores. You can also use smoked pork, turkey, beef or even vegetarian sausage along with the more traditional ham and ham bone in this recipe.
- Red Beans: Although kidney beans are sometimes used in this classic dish, I prefer actual red beans. Red beans and kidney beans are often confused with each other however they are not the same type of bean. When you compare the two the visual differences are immediately apparent. Kidney beans are one of the largest beans while red beans are smaller and have the classic oblong shape. While both are red, kidney beans have a darker, more crimson shade and red beans are more pinkish.
- Rice: I used brown rice but use your favorite!
- Gather and prep all the ingredients.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5-7 minutes or until it softens up.
- Add the celery and green bell pepper and continue cooking another 5-7 minutes or until everything is becoming melty soft.
- Add the garlic, herbs and spices and give them a stir. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, 10-15 seconds.
- Add the sausage and cook briefly.
- Add the tomatoes, water to rinse out the can, broth, beans and Worcestershire.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes until reduced and thickened.
- Add hot sauce to taste. Or, serve the hot sauce on the side so each diner can fire up their own serving.
- Add salt and black pepper to taste and parsley.
- MAKE AHEAD: Can be made 1-2 days ahead of time. Cool thoroughly and refrigerate.
That's it! This Easy Red Beans and Rice recipe is a quick version of the New Orleans classic!
Chef Tips and Tricks:
- Adding dried spices early (such as the thyme and Cajun seasoning in this recipe) so heat is applied directly allows them to "bloom." They'll be more flavorful than just adding them to liquid or sauce.
- Unless canned beans are specifically "reduced sodium," the liquid they're canned in can be quite salty. You always want to drain and rinse the beans well under running water. Removing that salty cooking liquid will give canned beans a fresher, cleaner taste.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Although beans and rice alone lack certain essential amino acids, the combination of the two creates a complete protein. Beans and rice are among the oldest foods known to humankind. They're economical to purchase, easy to grow, are plentiful, filling and when uncooked store well for a long period of time at room temperature.
Serve with cornbread, coleslaw, southern-style green beans or my Easy Braised Southern Greens or Cool and Creamy Potato Salad.
Yes, absolutely! Get everything started to the point of simmering then transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or Low for 6-8 hours.
If you have other meats you want to use I recommend smoked sausage such as kielbasa, diced ham, bacon or even smoked pulled pork.
What goes well with red beans and rice? These!
- Easy Braised Southern Greens
- Cider Vinegar Braised Cabbage Wedges
- Roasted Cabbage Steaks with Mustard Vinaigrette
- Spicy Sauteed Kale with Andouille Sausage (or use bacon)
- Skillet Charred Green Beans with Chipotle Goat Cheese Butter
More New Orleans and Louisiana-inspired recipes!
Get all my New Orleans-inspired recipes here! New Orleans-Inspired Recipes for a Taste of the Big Easy
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Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe
- 3 tablespoons canola oil - or vegetable oil
- 1 large onion - chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper - seeds and membrane removed, chopped
- 2-3 stalks (ribs) celery - finely chopped (you want about the same amount as green bell pepper)
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning - (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 can (15-ounce) tomato sauce - + ¼ cup water to rinse out the can
- 2 cups vegetable broth - or chicken broth
- 3 cans (15-ounce each) red beans - drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 package (14-ounce) Andouille sausage - sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- Hot sauce - to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley
- 3 cups cooked rice
- Heat canola oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring often until the onion is beginning to soften.
- Add the green bell pepper and celery. Continue cooking another 5-7 minutes stirring often or until all the vegetables are softened.
- Add the garlic, Cajun seasoning, thyme and bay leaf. Cook briefly, 10-15 seconds.
- Add the sausage and cook that briefly, 10-15 seconds.
- Add the tomato sauce, water from rinsing the can, broth, beans and Worcestershire.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 25-30 minutes or until thickened.
- Add salt, black pepper and hot sauce to taste. Add chopped fresh parsley. Serve over hot, cooked rice.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
Just made tonight. FANTASTIC!! I followed exactly except I accidentally added an extra cup of broth but still came out incredible. Will add this to my rotation.
Hi, Cote, Thanks so very much and glad you enjoyed!
Looks great! Can’t wait to try!
Thanks so much, Patricia!! Hope you enjoy and please come back here with a comment or review for other readers. Thanks again!!
Lee Bickford says
This. Is. Fantastic! I was looking for a new quick version to replace my old recipe which was quick and easy but lacked flavor complexity. This recipe 100% achieved that flavor! I subbed in one can of black beans for one of the cans of red beans, added some frozen corn, and subbed a yellow bell pepper (it's what I had on hand). Absolutely delicious! I'm wishing I'd made a double batch so I'd have some leftover to freeze. Next time! Thanks sooooo much for this!
Hi, Lee, Thanks so VERY much!!! You really made my day! This is one of our favorite meals so glad you enjoy as much as we do. Thanks again!!