Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

I’m probably one of only a few home cooks who has ever reduced a recipe for Red Beans and Rice to writing.  Most recipes like these are created and passed on stove-side by moms, dads, grandparents and other relatives.  And while the general ingredients and instructions are neatly tucked away in their memory banks, the specifics rarely make it to paper.  That’s typical of many family recipes.  But as I’ve said before, it’s important to get these culinary treasures down on paper so your kids and grandkids can at least have a roadmap to follow when they’re ready to start cooking on their own.  Although I’ve finally committed my recipe to ink, I’m keeping the “Wite-Out” close at hand.  I never know when the spirit might move me to add a little more of this or substitute some of that.  Red beans are so flexible and forgiving, it’s hard to leave well-enough alone!

Camellia Beans

Camellia Beans

My ideal pot starts with Camellia red kidney beans.  Camellia Brand® is a New Orleans company specializing in beans, peas and lentils.  I know I’m partial, but their products, especially their dry red beans, are second to none.  They just cook up softer and creamier than any other brand.  If you can’t find them in your area, you can order them online or simply use your favorite brand.  For maximum flavor, I infuse the beans with the Trinity (onions, celery and green bell pepper), a generous mix of spices and a bunch of pork.

Pickled Pork

Pickle Meat

Pickle meat (brined pork shoulder also known as pickled pork), and andouille sausage are my top pig picks, but a leftover ham bone, smoked ham hocks and any good quality smoked pork sausage make respectable substitutes.

One thing to keep in mind when cooking dried red beans–they’re really hard!  So they need to soak (this will also reduce the cooking time by about a third).  If you skip this step, you may end up with a mess of mealy beans and starchy broth.  Simply stick them in a bowl of cold water and let them sit overnight.  If you’re in a hurry, quick-soak them by placing the beans in a pot of cold water and boiling them for about three minutes.  When the three minutes are up, take the pot off the fire, cover it and let the beans sit in the cooking water for one hour.  I don’t drain my beans after they’ve soaked.  I pour the beans and the “bean liquor” into the pot with the rest of the ingredients to take advantage of that intense red bean flavor that leaches out while they’re soaking.  This goes against conventional wisdom, but it works for me.

Oh, one last thing.  Cooked red beans improve with time.  The longer they sit in the refrigerator (within reason of course) the tastier and creamier they’ll become.  So if they’re cooked on Sunday, the day most of us tend to have a little more time to prepare slow-cooked meals like these, they’ll be perfect on Monday.  That’s the day Red Beans and Rice are customarily eaten in New Orleans.

Seasoning Mix

Print Recipe

Print Recipe

3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon black pepper

Red Beans and Rice Recipe

1 pound dried red kidney beans (preferably Camellia Brand)
2 tablespoons bacon fat or canola oil
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced thin
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound pickle meat (pickled pork)
8 cups water
5 cups cooked rice

Rinse beans thoroughly to remove excess dirt; pick over for stones.  Place beans in a large bowl; cover with cold water and soak overnight.  In a large, heavy pot, heat bacon fat or canola oil.  Add sausage; sauté  until brown on both sides.  Add onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic; sauté until tender.  Add seasoning mix; stir.  Add soaked beans and liquid (“bean liquor”), pickle meat and water.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring often, until beans are tender.  Add additional water, if needed, to keep beans from scorching.  Towards the end of the cooking time, mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon (this will help create a creamy consistency).   Adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Serve over hot cooked rice with lots of French bread and hot sauce options.  Serves 8-10.


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18 Responses
  1. Charlotte says:

    when adding water to cooking beans, does it matter if its hot or cold water? my grandmother always said to add boiling water if they were cooking down too low.

    • Genet says:

      I always add luke warm water from the tap and usually crank the heat up a bit to get the pot back to temp. Although your grandmother’s idea sounds like a good one in that it keeps the temperature of the pot steady! I may have to try that next time!

  2. Danielle says:

    Thank you for a wonderful website! I usually cook my red beans from the company with the seasonings included in the package. For this years’ Easter dinner I decided to use Camellia”s and needed help with creating the seasonings. Your website was invaluable. However, I am going to use a slower cooker so I hope it is oky for me to skip the overnight soaking part of your directions. This message is from LA transplant living in Los Angeles.

    • Genet says:

      Hey Danielle,

      Thanks for the kind words! The slow cooker is a great tool for cooking dried beans and you should
      have no problem getting them creamy by cooking them longer in the slow cooker as opposed to soaking them
      overnight. Happy Easter!

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  4. Dave says:

    I’m a lover of red beans. I’m going give yours a try. From the spices and amounts, it looks like the recipe will turn out pretty mild. Have you tried increasing the heat level? Results?

    • Genet says:

      The seasonings are well-rounded. But because I started feeding this recipe to my kids when they were babies, I had to control the heat. I did that by adding a really spicy andouille sausage. When they were younger, I kept their servings andouille-free! Now that they’re older, they love eating it with the andouille. If you use a mild smoked pork sausage, by all means crank it up with the cayenne!

  5. Barry Begault says:

    My red beans recipe is similar but I have 4 stalks of celery, the whole bulb of garlic, and I add a can of tomato sauce in my mama’s recipe.
    My mama would add the tomato sauce to her beans for a little extra flavor and it thickens the sauce. Since then I have talked to Cajuns here in Katy, Texas that use ketchup in their recipes.
    I use a crockpot to cook my bean in and soak my beans overnight in the crockpot. There is the battle whether to use the soaking water or discard and use fresh. I use the soaking water because they retain some flavor.
    Pickle pork cannot be found in Texas so I usually order from Cajun Grocer (12 lbs at a time) or when I go visit family in Metairie I’ll raid the local Winn Dixie. I’ll either use Andoullie sausage also or a pork and venison sausage locally obtainable here from Chappelle Hill.
    My wife was brought up in Houston and when she tasted my red beans she was hooked. At one time I wanted to cook a pot of red beans and my wife asked if we had any pickle pork. We didn’t and she said “nevermind then”. Once you New Orleansized someone it’s difficult to have it any other way.
    I don’t add much heat in the way of seasoning to my beans. Just enough for a little after burn. My three year old grandson doesn’t like real spicey foods. “I just like a little spicey, paw paw.”
    I have a New Orleans Oyster dressing recipe on line that has been getting rave reviews. It also is a New Orleans holiday favorite.
    Le bon temps roule cher, let the good times roll!

    Barry Begault

    • Genet says:

      Thanks for sharing your story Barry! You know, my mom squirts a little ketchup in her red beans. I followed her recipe for years, then “broke out on my own.” My family is the same as your wife when it comes to pickle meat. I know better than to make a pot of beans without it! I too stock up on that pork (and many other homegrown items) each time I go home. Glad to hear you’re sharing your culture with Katy, Texas and keeping traditions alive within your own family! By the way, where can I find your Oyster Dressing recipe online? I’d love to compare!!

  6. Barry Begault says:

    Hey Genet!
    Big Oven is where my New Orleans Oyster dressing is located. (See Link Enclosed)
    Katy Texas is now coming of it’s own with Savoie meat products! Yeah team! The local grocer, HEB, now carries Savoie pickled pork and other Savoie products like sausage, and yes Andouille sausage is included in that along with Savoie’s multi pack of sausage that has four different flavored sausages in one package. They also carry Savoie tasso. The price is also about the same as I’d pay at the Winn Dixie on Airline Hwy near my daughter’s house.
    Now I don’t have to bring a cooler to haul a dozen or so packs of pickle pork back to Katy. My wife’s daughter was six when we married and she’s 27 now and a dyed in the wool Cajun cook, since that’s what she was raised on. She squealed with glee that Savoie pickle pork was available locally and Andouille sausage, which are my first picks for red beans. (Actually ask my wife and their her ONLY picks for red beans!)
    Have a look at my oyster dressing. It’s pretty unique and all family. It takes a half a day or so to prepare. I usually prepare it the weekend before Thanksgiving and then freeze it until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and transfer it to the fridge.
    Later Gator!

    Le bon temps roule cher!

    Barry (The KatyCajun)

    • Genet says:

      That recipe sounds delicious Barry! I love the addition of the ground beef. Will need to try it sometime soon. So glad to hear Savoie products have made their may to Katy. I have several packages of their tasso and pickle meat in my freezer and I know how important it is to have the right products on hand. Keep cooking your culture!!

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  8. Barry Begault says:

    Here is my neighborhood famous chicken and sausage jambalaya. I cheat on this a little but it’s good and only takes about an hour to prep and cook.

    Barry’s New Orleans
    Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
    by Barry Begault
    This is my Texas adapted version. It is easier and quicker to prepare and you will NOT have any leftovers. I forego the whole chicken like my mama and use cooked fajita chicken strips. Tyson is the best, but any good quality fajita chicken strips works well.
    • 1- 16 oz. package cooked fajita chicken strips chopped to bit size (Tyson is good) (more if desired)
    • 1 lb. Chappell Hill pork and venison sausage cut into 1/8 inch rounds (or a good smoked sausage)
    • 2 cans diced tomatoes (garlic and onion seasoned is best)
    • 2 large bay leaves
    • 1 large onion chopped
    • 1 large green bell pepper chopped
    • 4 stalks of celery chopped
    • 1 whole large garlic minced
    • ½ tablespoon black pepper
    • ½ tablespoon salt
    • ½ tablespoon Cajun seasoning
    • 2 to 2-1/2 cups raw rice
    • 4 cups chicken broth (to cook the rice in)
    • 1/8 teaspoon Bijol seasoning. (It’s a Cuban seasoning in a yellow shaker)

    Cooking Instructions
    1. In a large stew pot sauté the vegetable over medium heat until onions are translucent.
    2. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken, sausage, and all the seasoning.
    3. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often then leave on simmer (low) stirring occasionally until the rice is cooked in the next step.
    4. Cook the rice according to package directions in the chicken broth. I like to use Bijol to give the rice a nice yellow appearance. I use a rice cooker but pot cooking is also ok.
    5. When the rice is cooked, turnoff the stew pot and fold the rice into the mixture in the stew pot until blended well and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes to absorb the goodness.
    6. Adjust seasoning to taste fold the mixture one more time and serve with a nice green salad and French bread.
    Most Cajuns cook their rice in the stew pot with the mixture; I find the rice tastes better cooked separately and folded into the mixture and the rice doesn’t get as mushy. Feeds about 8 normal people or 4 hungry Cajuns!! Enjoy!!

  9. Barry Begault says:

    Thanks Genet! Hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving also.

    Le bon temps roule cher!


  10. Barry Begault says:

    ‘People’ say that New Orleans cooking is high in calories. I make a Cajun Chicken Pasta that my wife absolutely loves and it has a white gravy and she normally doesn’t eat white gravy. Anyway, the last time I made CCP, I did the calories on every thing used, then divided by 10 the number of 1 cup servings and was surprised how low the calorie content actually was.
    Calories in Cajun Chicken pasta
    Amount Per Piece Total
    Chicken Tenders 13 46 598
    Bell Peppers (green, Red) 24 2 48
    Mushrooms 21 cup 21
    Half and Half 1.5 Cups 315 cup 471
    linguine 12 oz. 610 610
    butter 5 tsps. 102 510
    Tony Chacheres 5 tsps. 0 0
    10 cups per cup 225.8
    Servings (1.5 Cups) 338.7 Per serving

    I figured we had 1.5 cup servings and at 338.7 calories, that’s lower than most diet frozen meals!

    I have been going in on all my recipes and calculating total calories in the entire meal, then divide by how many portions I get out of them. True, probably the fat content of some of my meals would scare Weight Watchers to death, but still, FRESH IS BETTER. I know my salt content is way less that most Lean frozen lunches.
    I like to cook during the week and weekends and prepare what we don’t eat into lunches usually can freeze them well. Red beans is fabulous even after being frozen for a few months. Just when you nuke the meal, and about 1/2 of water because freezing dries out the meal some.


    • Genet says:

      It’s all in moderation, right? I think the traditional French preparation of many of our classic dishes, especially those that begin with a fried protein and are laced with a rich cream sauce push the caloric boundaries. But I believe most New Orleans are like mine and eat plenty of grilled chicken and seafood and lots of fresh vegetables. I do believe it’s important, however, to be true to our traditions and our taste buds by cooking the classics in the classic way.

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