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What happens in New Orleans shouldn’t stay in New Orleans if it’s as delicious as Red Beans and Rice. Learn how to make weeknight Red Beans and Rice in just 40 minutes (that tastes like it’s been simmering all day).

Red beans and rice in a frying pan.

While Red Beans and Rice is a Monday tradition in many homes and restaurants in New Orleans, the origin story actually begins during Sunday supper. On Sunday, man cooks would roast ham, and come Monday, the leftover ham bone would be put to use alongside red beans to simmer low and slow all day until dinner.

The classic preparation calls for red beans, ham and perhaps other pork products, vegetables, herbs, and spices which bubble down into a creamy, savory stew to serve over rice.

The combination of rice and beans is not unique to Louisiana, of course. For centuries, cultures across the globe have turned to beans and rice as affordable, filling, and nutritious fuel.

My rendition of Red Beans and Rice packs a hint of Cajun flair to give a nod to those New Orleans roots. And in true melting pot fashion, I added some of my Midwestern flair with smoked sausage (although andouille will do, too). Now it’s your turn to put your signature on this classic comfort food dinner.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Red Beans and Rice Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for red beans and rice.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Andouille sausages or smoked sausage: If you can’t find these link-style sausages, Italian sausage can work in a pinch. Or channel a New Orleans native and cook the beans along with a ham bone or ham hock.
  • Canned kidney beans: If desired, substitute dry kidney beans for canned. In Step 2, add 1 ½ cups dried kidney beans and add 7 cups chicken broth and 7 cups water. Increase simmering time to 2 to 2 ½ hours. WARNING: If you substitute dried kidney beans, you MUST pre-soak them and boil them for at least 10 minutes. (See “Recipe FAQs” for more background about why this is essential.)

Step-by-step instructions

  1. To cook the beans, In a large skillet over low heat, cook the sausage until just brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Andouille sausages being cooked in a frying pan.
  1. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain if necessary.
Andouille sausages with onion and peppers being cooked in a frying pan.
  1. Add beans, tomatoes, oregano, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Simmer uncovered until flavors meld, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Andouille sausages, beans, onion and peppers being cooked in a frying pan.
  1. To cook the rice, meanwhile heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and cook until rice is lightly toasted, about 1 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add water and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, leave covered and on burner, and allow rice to continue to cook, about 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork.
White rice in a silver saucepan.
  1. Season beans to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (I like 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper). Serve over rice, passing hot sauce for serving separately.
Red beans and rice on a round plate.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes eight (1-cup) servings of Red Beans and Rice. Add a side of Collard Greens and a basket of Cornbread to pass around the table to complete your dinner menu.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Upgrade your garnish game: In addition to hot sauce, consider topping your Red Beans and Rice with sliced green onions, chopped fresh parsley, or chopped fresh oregano.
Red beans and rice in a frying pan.

Recipe FAQs

Do I have to soak the beans first?

  • Soaking beans before cooking is not required. However, you can cut about 30 minutes off the cooking time if you pre-soak the beans.
  • Should I toss the soaking liquid?
  • Yes, I recommend pouring the soaking water down the drain. Some people say it’s a waste of water to throw away the soaking water. Others say if you keep the soaking water, it adds a sour taste. I agree with the latter and recommend tossing the soaking water, but it’s up to you.
  • Should I salt the beans before cooking?
  • Yes, salt the beans before cooking them. You may have heard somewhere that the universe will implode if you add salt to beans before they are completely cooked. However, if you read Kenji López-Alt’s information in his book, The Food Lab, he did some side-by-side testing and determined that salting beans before they are cooked is fine. In fact, doing so helps prevent the beans from exploding (see page 256 in his book).
  • Are kidney beans toxic?
  • Kidney beans contain phytohemagglutinin, a type of lectin that is very toxic at high levels. You MUST pre-soak dried kidney beans and hold them at boiling point (212 degrees Fahrenheit) for at LEAST 10 minutes. This means you should never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker. You won’t know for sure if the slow cooker reached boiling temps and held it for 10 minutes. Better to be safe than sorry!
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    Red beans and rice in a skillet.

    Red Beans and Rice

    What happens in New Orleans shouldn't stay in New Orleans if it's as delicious as Red Beans and Rice. Learn how to make weeknight Red Beans and Rice in just 40 minutes (that tastes like it's been simmering all day).
    5 from 1 vote
    Prep Time 10 mins
    Cook Time 30 mins
    Total Time 40 mins
    Servings 8 servings (1 cup each of beans and rice)
    Course Side Dish
    Cuisine American
    Calories 485

    Ingredients 

    For the beans:

    • 1 pound Andouille sausages or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices (see note 1)
    • 1 medium onion chopped
    • 1 green bell pepper chopped
    • 1 clove garlic minced
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans drained (see note 2)
    • 1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes undrained, chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the rice:

    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 3 cups long-grain white rice
    • 4 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

    For serving:

    • hot sauce for serving

    Instructions 

    To make the red beans:

    • In a large skillet over low heat, cook the sausage until just brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
    • Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain if necessary. Add beans, tomatoes, oregano, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Simmer uncovered until flavors meld, about 10 to 15 minutes.

    To make the rice:

    • Meanwhile heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and cook until rice is lightly toasted, about 1 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
    • Add water and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, leave covered and on burner, and allow rice to continue to cook, about 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork.

    To serve:

    • Season beans to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper (I like 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper). Serve over rice, passing hot sauce for serving separately.

    Recipe Video

    Notes

    1. Andouille sausages or smoked sausage: If you can’t find these link-style sausages, Italian sausage can work in a pinch. Or channel a New Orleans native and cook the beans along with a ham bone or ham hock.
    2. Canned kidney beans: If desired, substitute dry kidney beans for canned. In Step 2, add 1 ½ cups dried kidney beans and add 7 cups chicken broth and 7 cups water. Increase simmering time to 2 to 2 ½ hours. WARNING: If you substitute dried kidney beans, you MUST pre-soak them and boil them for at least 10 minutes. (See “Recipe FAQs” for more background about why this is essential.)
    3. Yield: This recipe makes eight (1-cup) servings of Red Beans and Rice. Add a side of Collard Greens and a basket of Cornbread to pass around the table to complete your dinner menu.
    4. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1cup each beans and riceCalories: 485kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 16gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 955mgPotassium: 297mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 82IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 1mg
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    Comments

    1. I only have a few changes to this excellent recipe.

      Add celery so we have the classic Cajun/Creole “holy trinity”, and do not use the tomatoes. Use a smoked ham hock in addition to the andouille rather than instead of the andouille. That’s it. :)