Some of the best comfort foods come right out of New Orleans and this dish certainly tops the list. Hearty red beans simmered in a delicious broth with Creole spices served over cooked rice. Lip-smacking good, and perfect for game day or chilling at home.
This is a classic Louisiana dish I’ve been making for longer than I can remember. Hands down, I’d choose a mound of red beans and rice any day of the week over a bowl of gumbo.
I have long prepared this dish following the traditional Creole method of using dried beans, which meant soaking the beans overnight and simmering on the stove for hours. Somewhere along the way, though, I went rogue and started using canned beans. The ground surely shifted when my long lineage of Cajun relatives turned over in their graves as I opened the first can of beans.
Truth is, using already prepared canned beans is so much quicker and easier than its dried counterpart. Sure, using dried beans creates an amazing texture and flavor for red beans and rice. With a few tricks, though, you can render the same consistency and taste using canned beans.
To achieve the brothy taste you get when simmering ham hocks and dried beans the old-fashioned way, I use chicken broth instead of water. I also mash some of the beans before tossing into the pot to create that thick, rich texture. That’s really all there is to it. These two little adjustments when using canned beans, along with some good Cajun spices, is all that’s needed to prepare a delicious pot of red beans.
This dish is always a favorite for gatherings, on game day, and chilly days. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.
- Go big or go home. That’s my motto when cooking a pot of red beans, which is why I use my Large Stainless Steel Stock Pot to prepare this dish. It’s the perfect size for a big pot of beans, and it cooks evenly without sticking on the bottom.
- The secret to creating the perfect rich, texture for this dish is to mash up a can of beans. I recommend using a hand masher like this Stainless-Steel Mix N’ Mash — it’s called the world’s greatest for good reason.
- It’s impossible to serve a bowl of red beans and rice without, well, rice. For the perfectly cooked and best rice ever, be sure to use a tabletop Rice Cooker & Warmer — you won’t be sorry.
- This is a hearty dish, and you don’t need to add much to the meal. I recommend either cornbread or, my favorite, crusty French bread with real butter.
- If serving a crowd, make the beans ahead of time (up to two days beforehand). Store in an airtight container until ready to reheat and serve. To reheat, simply add beans back to the pot and simmer on low. The sauce will thicken, so you may need to add a splash of water while reheating.
- I do not recommend cooking this dish in a slow cooker; however, I do use the slow cooker to keep the beans warm. After cooking on the stovetop, pour the cook beans into the slow cooker and turn to the lowest setting. This is an ideal way to serve for buffets or potlucks.
- Remember to have hot sauce on the table when serving this dish. Try Crystal Hot Sauce or Franks Red Hot for authentic Cajun flavors.
- If you’re using a rice cooker with warmer, no need to worry about storing these leftovers. Rice will stay warm for 12 hours or more in these nifty appliances. Store leftover beans separately in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Easily reheat in the microwave or on a low setting on the stovetop. You may need to add a splash of stock or water if the sauce is too thick.
- If you have lots of leftovers, consider freezing for a future meal. Freeze cooled beans and rice separately in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to six months. When ready, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then microware to desired temperature, usually three to four minutes.
- I’m not a sommelier, but I know what I like. And with this dish, I love the crisp, slightly sweet flavors of Chateau St. Michelle Riesling. Start with a glass and finish the bottle. Yep, that’s exactly how I do it.
- Nothing better than an ice-cold beer with your bowl of red beans and rice. A pale ale or IPA are fan favorites; however, any cold beer is good. And it’s even better when served in a Frozen Cooling Pint Beer Glass!
- As you might guess from the name, the key ingredient in this recipe is red beans. Red beans and kidney beans are not the same. Red beans are smaller in size with a milder flavor that pairs well with the stronger flavors of the sausage and hams. I use Bush’s Best® Red Beans, which is available at most local markets or online. If needed, red kidney beans are a wonderful substitute.
- For true southern cooking, use authentic andouille sausage. Made with pork and a combination of dried herbs and spices, Andouille has tons of flavor that goes so well with red beans. Aidells Cajun Style Andouille Sausage and Manda Andouille are good options. If you can’t find this popular Louisiana sausage, any type of smoked pork or beef sausage is the next best choice. If using an alternative to andouille, you may want to add about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the beans to make up for the spiciness you’re missing from the andouille.
- There’s lot of choices when it comes to ham. My favorite is already diced cooked ham that I find at my local market. It’s already cooked and cut up, which makes it so much easier to prepare. Other good options are to use up any leftover ham or diced smoked ham.
- Warm, fresh cooked rice is an absolute must for this dish. I recommend Nishiki Medium Grain Rice or Botan Calrose Rice. Both are plump, medium grains that soak up the thick gravy and tastes remarkable with red beans. I promise you’ll taste an incredibly tasty difference over other types of rice.
- I use lard when making this dish. Yes, good old-fashioned lard, which I think gets an unfair bad rap. When used in moderation, lard is as healthy as olive oil and adds an amazing flavor to dishes like this one. You’ll always find a tub of Goya Refined Lard in my pantry, and I do recommend it for this recipe. However, if you’re not up to it, real butter is the next best option followed by vegetable or canola oil.
- There’s not a lot of seasoning needed when making red beans, even though the results are quite flavorful. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning has the right combination of flavors that work wonderfully in this recipe. A teaspoon or two of Tony’s is all you need. Yummy!
If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a comment and star rating below. It’s always refreshing to hear how others like a recipe, find success with it, or tweak to suit. I’d love to hear from you!