Indulge in the flavors of the authentic Creole culture with this Louisiana Red Beans and Rice recipe. Red kidney beans, smoked ham hock, andouille sausage, bay leaves, bell pepper, celery, and onion are cooked with Creole spices and served with white rice.
Red beans and rice, folks, it’s more than just a recipe to me – it’s a love story. You see, New Orleans holds a special place in my heart. It’s where my husband and I tied the knot right in the heart of the French Quarter. So, this dish is like a culinary keepsake, a reminder of those vibrant streets and the love we celebrated there.
When I go to a Creole or Cajun restaurant, there’s no need to flip through the menu. I’m zeroing in on red beans and rice. It’s not just a meal; it’s my litmus test for good eats. Do they use kidney beans? How about the smoked sausage – is it on point? The texture, gotta be creamy. The broth, savory and spiced to perfection. And, of course, the beans should steal the show, with more of them than rice on the plate. These details matter when you’re chasing the best red beans and rice recipe experience.
This recipe isn’t just about food; it’s about experiencing the soul of New Orleans in every mouthful. And if you’re a fan of Southern comfort food, you absolutely can’t miss this. Trust us, one bite, and you’ll be transported to the bustling streets of the French Quarter, the vibrant jazz scene, and the rich culinary traditions of the Big Easy.
Bonus! If you’re short on time but still craving amazing flavor, we have Instant Pot and Crockpot red beans and rice recipes that are both very popular! Simply toss all the ingredients in your slow cooker, set it, and forget it!
What is Red Beans and Rice?
Red Beans and Rice is a comfort food dish that comes from Louisiana’s Creole tradition. It’s made with red kidney beans, bell pepper, onion, and celery, Creole spices (thyme, cayenne pepper, bay leaf, etc.) and pork bones (typically left over from Sunday dinner), all cooked together slowly in a pot and served with white rice. Meats like andouille or tasso are also frequently used.
Red Beans and Rice holds a significant place in African American culture, the African diaspora, and the broader world of Black foodways. It is a dish that resonates deeply with the history, heritage, and soul of the Southern United States and beyond.
Many enslaved Africans brought their knowledge of rice cultivation and preparation to the Americas, where rice became a crucial crop in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia. This culinary connection between Africa and the New World laid the foundation for rice-based dishes like this.
The use of beans and rice in combination also has deep roots in African cuisine and throughout the Caribbean, where variations of red beans and rice are found in countries like Jamaica, Haiti, and Cuba.
As Africans adapted to their new surroundings in the Americas, they incorporated local ingredients and cooking methods, creating a unique fusion of African and American cuisines. This fusion reflects ingredients like kidney beans, ham hock, and spices, influenced by African and Southern American traditions.
Red Beans and Rice is also a symbol of resilience and resourcefulness. During challenging times, families turned to this dish because it was affordable, nourishing, and flavorful. It provided comfort and sustenance in the face of adversity.
In many Black families and communities, this dish has become a beloved tradition. It’s often served on Mondays, a practice that has its roots in historical laundry day schedules. This tradition has persisted as a way to celebrate community and togetherness.
- Smoked ham hock
- Chicken bouillon
- Bay Leaves
- Serrano chiles
- Dried red beans (kidney beans)
- Andouille sausage
- Bell pepper
- Creole seasoning (e.g. Tony Chachere)
- Cooked rice, for serving
- Parsley and green onion, for garnish
Kidney Bean vs. Small Red Bean
So, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between kidney beans and small red beans? Well, these two are like cousins in the dried bean family, but kidney beans are bigger and they come in different shades of red, from dark to light. Small red beans are smaller and rounder with a deeper red color.
Kidney beans tend to be a bit creamier when you cook them, making them ideal for Louisiana style red beans and rice. Small red beans are on the firmer side and have a bit of an earthy taste. They’re often called Caribbean small red beans.
You can use both these beans in different recipes, but for authentic red beans from Louisiana, kidney beans are the way to go.
The Holy Trinity of Creole and Cajun Cooking
Celery, green bell pepper, and onion make up the Creole and Cajun mirepoix, better known as the “holy trinity.” Like mirepoix, a combination of two parts onion, one part celery, and one part carrot, the “holy trinity” of Creole and Cajun cuisine consists of equal parts celery, green bell pepper, and onion.
What is the difference between Creole and Cajun Seasoning?
Creole Seasoning and Cajun Seasoning are both popular spice blends used in Louisiana and Southern cooking. They have their unique characteristics, and the choice between them can depend on personal taste and the specific flavors you desire for your dishes. Here’s a brief comparison:
Creole Seasoning: Creole Seasoning has a well-balanced and versatile flavor profile. It includes ingredients like salt, red pepper, black pepper, chili powder, garlic, and other herbs and spices. It offers a blend of spiciness, saltiness, and savory notes.
Cajun Seasoning: Cajun Seasoning is known for its spicy and bold flavor. It typically includes ingredients like salt, red pepper, black pepper, and garlic. It’s often appreciated for its kick and heat.
Here are some alternative ingredients you may want to use in your recipe:
- Smoked Meat: Tasso, neck bones, and pickled pork are common substitutes for ham hocks. For a non-pork option, smoked turkey legs, turkey wings, or turkey tails can be used.
- Roasted Chicken Base or Bouillon: If you don’t have chicken base or bouillon powder or cubes, you can substitute with homemade or store-bought chicken broth or stock. Instead of water, use chicken broth or stock.
- Chiles: Substitute with jalapeño or any other mild chili pepper if you prefer less heat. Adjust the quantity to your spice preference.
- Butter or Oil: You can use oil or a non-dairy butter substitute if you prefer or have dietary restrictions
- Sausages: If you want a substitute for andouille sausages, you can use other types of spicy or smoked sausages. For a vegetarian option, you can use plant-based sausages or omit them entirely.
- Beans: Red beans can be substituted with small red beans.
- Seasoning: If you don’t have Creole seasoning, you can use Cajun seasoning or make your own spice blend by combining paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, and black pepper. Adjust the proportions to suit your preferred level of spiciness.
How to Make
Step 1: Make the Broth: In a big pot, combine 10 cups of water, smoked ham hocks, chicken base (or chicken bouillon powder), bay leaves, serrano chiles (for some spicy heat), and garlic. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Let it simmer for 1 hour.
Step 2: Add the Beans and Sausage: After an hour, toss in your dried red beans, andouille sausage, and Creole seasoning. Take taste test of the broth. If it needs a bit more flavor, add extra chicken base (or bouillon) and Creole seasoning. Let it simmer for another 30 minutes.
Step 3: The Holy Trinity: While your beans are simmering away, grab a large skillet and melt some butter over medium-high heat. Throw in the celery, bell pepper, and onion, and sauté until they’re tender, about 6 minutes. Add sautéed veggie to the pot of red beans. Put the lid back on and let it simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the beans are tender, and the ham hocks are falling apart. The broth should be thick and creamy.
Step 4: Time to Serve: Grab your bowl, load it up with a scoop of rice, and then ladle those flavorful red beans on top. Don’t forget to spoon some cooked sausage on top. Finish it off with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and sliced green onions for that extra pop of color and freshness.
What to Serve
I’m all about the beans with just a little bit of rice, no extras – that’s my main dish. But I get that some folks mix it with other dishes. Collard greens, fried chicken, fried catfish, and cornbread, with a dash of hot sauce, are all popular Southern choices.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Red beans and rice is one of those recipes that always tastes amazing the next day. Simply allow the beans to cool to room temperature (but do not leave them out at room temperature for more than 2 hours). Transfer any leftovers into an airtight container and store in in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Freezing (optional): If you want to store them for a longer period, consider freezing. Place in a freezer-safe container or a heavy-duty freezer bag, and label with the date for reference. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
Use the microwave or stovetop to reheat. Place a portion in a microwave-safe dish, cover, and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until it’s heated through. Alternatively, transfer the beans to a saucepan or skillet, add a splash of water or broth to prevent sticking, and heat over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until it’s heated to your liking.
Commonly Asked Questions
The spice in this dish primarily comes from serrano chiles and Creole seasoning. To make it milder, use fewer serrano chiles or opt for a milder chili variety. For more heat, add extra serrano chiles, jalapeno, or habanero. You can also adjust the amount of Creole seasoning you use.
This recipe does not call for soaked beans. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
You can also try the Quick Soak Method: Just bring 10 cups of water to a boil and add 1 pound of dried red beans. Boil for about 5 minutes. Then, remove from heat, cover, and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour. Rinse before cooking.
Camelia Beans gets into the do’s, don’ts, myths, and more of soaking dried beans; we found it very helpful.
The best type of rice to serve with Louisiana Red Beans and Rice is typically long-grain white rice. This type of rice is slightly fluffy and pairs well with the creamy, flavorful red beans. If you prefer a healthier option with more fiber and a nuttier flavor, you can use brown rice. It takes a bit longer to cook, so plan accordingly. Basmati rice and Jasmine rice also have unique flavor and texture.
Yes, we have a modified version of this recipe for a slow cooker.
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Indulge in the flavors of the authentic Creole culture with this irresistible Louisiana Red Beans and Rice recipe. Red kidney beans, smoked ham hocks, andouille sausage, bay leaves, bell pepper, celery, and onion are cooked with Creole spices and served with white rice. And if you’re short on time, don’t worry – there’s a crockpot version for a hassle-free taste of New Orleans in your own kitchen.
- 10 cups water
- 2 smoked ham hocks
- 2 tablespoons chicken base (or 1/4 cup chicken bouillon powder)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3–4 serrano chiles, left whole with stems removed (optional, for spicy flavor)
- 1 head of garlic, chopped
- 1 pound dried red beans (kidney beans)
- 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into coins
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning (e.g. Tony Chachere)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- Cooked rice, for serving
- Chopped parsley, for garnish
- Chopped green onion, for garnish
- Combine water, ham hocks, chicken base, bay leaves, serrano chiles, and garlic in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, dried beans, andouille sausage, and Creole seasoning. Taste the broth and adjust, if needed, with additional chicken base (or bouillon) and Creole seasoning. Return to a simmer, cover, and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute celery, bell pepper, and onion until softened, about 6 minutes.
- Add the vegetable mixture to the pot of red beans. Cover and continue cooking for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender and the ham hocks are falling apart. The consistency of the broth should be thick and creamy.
- Serve the red beans with a scoop of rice and garnish with parsley and green onions.
- Serving Size: 6
- Calories: 650 kcal
- Sugar: 7g
- Sodium: 750mg
- Fat: 28g
- Saturated Fat: 8g
- Carbohydrates: 65g
- Fiber: 15g
- Protein: 33g
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