Red Beans and Rice

It’s almost Mardi Gras so get your beads ready, or your boobs. I’m not really into that so I’ll just be at home stuffing my face with red beans and rice with sausage, maybe occasionally showing Chris my boobs just for kicks.

Red beans and rice is possibly the most New Orleans of New Orleans cooking. Traditionally made on Mondays with the leftover Sunday ham, nowadays it’s often served with sausage or a pork chop on the side.

My recipe is good for vegetarians, though, because it gets its flavoring from the Holy Trinity of celery, onion, and bell pepper plus smoked paprika rather than ham hocks. Fry up some sliced andouille or other sausage to serve on the side for meat-eaters.


Red Beans and Rice

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5 from 3 reviews

New Orleans classic

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Yield: 6 1x


  • 1/2 pound kidney beans, soaked overnight in 6 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 12 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Hot buttered rice to serve


  1. Drain the beans from their soaking water and rinse.
  2. Put into a large pot with 4 cups water, onion, celery, and bay leaves. Cover pot.
  3. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1 to 1.5 hours, or until beans are soft.
  4. Add bell pepper, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Use a large spoon to mash some of the beans against the side of the pot to make a creamy gravy.
  6. Serve over buttered rice.


Make sure the vegetables are diced fine. They should not be recognizable in the finished dish.

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  1. Great Stone Face on February 17, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Yep, we’ve walked the length of Bourbon Street. The last time was in January 2010, a couple of days before the Saints beat the Vikings to win the NFC championship. What people will do to get a string of beads! Originally, the street may have been named after the French dynasty, but now it’s more likely named after the distilled spirit of choice.

    I liked this recipe. Very tasty. Ham hocks are not my favorite — tasty, but too gluey. Diced-up country ham would be nice. Andouille would be great with it. Kielbasa, too. Any smoky meat, really. If you’re serving it to a non-pork eater or someone avoiding salt or processed foods, then some smoked turkey would be good. A meaty wing or a leg. With a smoked turkey wing or leg, though, I’d cook it with the rice and beans and not on the side. Hmm, rice + beans + smoked meat + scrambled egg + warmed flour tortilla = Mardi Gras Breakfast Taco!

    • Hilah on February 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      That breakfast taco idea sounds so good! With lots of hot sauce. Good thing I still have some beans and rice in the fridge…

  2. Rachael Macry on February 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    oh Hilah. Why did you use kidney beans? Red beans and rice is made with red beans… I’m jus’ sayin’!! RB & R is a staple in my house, I buy mine at HEB. Yours looks tasty, even with the wrong beans, but really they are quite different.

    • Hilah on February 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      RACHAEL! I DON’T KNOW!!! 😛
      I’ve just always made them with kidneys, and in fact never even thought to use the actual beans labeled “red beans” I see at the HEB! I like the creaminess of the kidney beans, though. Do you get that with the red beans?

      • Randy on February 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm

        Mashing some of the beans against the side of the pot makes just about any pot of beans creamy. Maybe to be safe and not tell any lies, I should say that it works with pinto, black, red and cannellini.

  3. Randy on February 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    One my absolute favorite cookbooks is La Bouche Creole by Leon Soniat who, for years, wrote a food column for the Times-Picayune. Not only are the recipes fantastic, but he also prefaces each recipe with wonderful stories about how his mother and grandmother made each dish. The recipe for red beans and rice mentions how Monday was washing day when his mother had two big pots sitting over open fires in the backyard. One was for the clothes, the other for the red beans.

    I’ve always felt a slight twinge of guilt because Soniat was adament that Creoles never put the andouille sausage in the beans, but serve it on the side, but I put it into the beans as they cook.

    As luck would have it, I usually do my laundry on Fridays. I do mine in a washer and dryer. Which is just as well, because I don’t have a backyard and open fires are against apartment rules. Anyhow, I’m going to make your recipe this afternoon so I’m off to the store to buy the beans and andouille. I hope I can find actual red beans but they are getting harder to find. I should probably buy regular white rice, as well, but I’ve started buying 10 pound bags of basmati rice at an Indian store and use it for everything.

    • Great Stone Face on February 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Great story, Randy! In a previous worklife, I worked on guest farmworker issues, many of them from the Caribbean. Heaven help a farmer who served black beans to a worker who came from a red bean island, or vice versa!

    • Hilah on February 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Yes! I heard that too, about washing day being Monday. I wonder how that came to be the standard washing day.
      Let me know if you were able to find red beans. Pretty sure they are at my HEB regularly.

      • Randy on February 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm

        I’m just about the only gringo customer at my HEB, so I had to buy frijoles rojos pequeños. 🙂 Seriously, though, the only beans labeled “red beans” in English on the shelves were the ones where “red beans” is prefaced with “Cajun” and followed by “and rice”, include a seasoning packet and cost 3 times what the beans alone would. Oh, wait. I’m being unfair. Aged products always cost more. The beans are usually older than I am.

        When my Cajun aunt made red beans and rice in California back in the Sixties, she used kidney beans. Years later, when she moved back to Beaumont, I visited her and she was using the smaller red beans. I made a joke about things supposedly being bigger in Texas (I still lived in California and had never seen real red beans before).

        • Great Stone Face on February 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm

          Randy, why don’t you skip the H-E-B middleperson and just shop at a Latin supermarket. Austin must be swimming in them. Here in the DC area, I always get my Asian foods at Super H Mart or Wegman’s, not at Giant Food or Safeway.

        • Hilah on February 22, 2012 at 9:16 am

          Ha! It’s true. But to be fair, Zatarain’s RB&R aren’t half bad if you mix in some good sausage. I had a roommate once who pretty much lived on that. That, and vodka. 😉

  4. Randy on February 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Oh, wow! I just noticed the print button! And it includes the picture in the print version. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Christopher on February 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      Glad you noticed, Randy! Glad you like it.

      I got your comment about 5 minutes after turning it on. It’s only on the new recipes right now, but will be rolled out through the entire site over the next few days.

  5. Libby on February 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    A few things:
    I have been LOOKING for a good red-beans and rice recipe. I’ve only recently dipped my toe into the pool of dried beans instead of canned. This looks like deliciou-city. Get it? A city of deliciousness? A tiny city… I digress.

    Secondly, I tagged you in a blog game even though my boyfriend said you were too cool for it.

    • Hilah on February 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      Hi Libby!
      First, Yay! I hope you like this recipe. They are super good.
      Second, not too cool! Not too cool! But real busy right now. I do so enjoy love reading your writing though, just FYI.

  6. tscarborough on February 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Monday is washday because Saturday is bath day, and after Sunday morning dancing at Fred’s in Mamou you only have enough money to buy beans and rice…

    • Hilah on February 22, 2012 at 8:51 am

      Ha! 😀 Not sure if you’re serious but that’s a great explanation either way.

  7. Donny on February 29, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Do you have to use water, or can you substitute beef or chicken stock to give it a difference of flavor?

    • Hilah on February 29, 2012 at 10:01 am

      You can use stock, but try to use a sodium-free (homemade or store bought) since salt at the beginning of cooking can prevent the dried beans from softening.

  8. larry kimball on August 27, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Hey Hilah, stuck my neck out and wrote Bobby Flay about you on facebook, about being a candidate for The Next Food Network Star. Might get you some more good name recognition anyway. You have quality recipes and great videos. Let The World Know!

  9. Mitchster on February 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Hilah, the recipe in your book is a little different than this one. Why?

    • Hilah on February 13, 2013 at 9:01 am

      No particular reason. Just two versions. The one in the book is an older recipe I came up with to try and replicate the ones at Popeye’s fried chicken chain. The one here I think is a little more authentic. Both are good!

      • Mitchster on February 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

        Ah. Cool. Just wondering. I was halfway through making the one in the book and then looked at this one and noticed it’s a bit different. Thanks.

  10. Janet Cameron on July 2, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Hilah, quick question and I don’t know where to post it: I’ve been using this recipe for my Louisiana-born husband and he loves it. But he insists that I saute the veggies in a bit of bacon grease before adding the beans and water. It comes out wonderfully tasty but since I don’t cook bacon all that often I was wondering how long one can keep bacon grease in the refrigerator; a few weeks, a few months, or what? Thanks!

    • Hilah on July 2, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Oh yes, it’ll last several months in the fridge, Janet. I just store it in a glass jar with a tight lid.

      • Janet Cameron on July 4, 2014 at 8:41 am

        Thanks! That’s a relief to know. Going to make a batch today. 😉

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