It’s Mardi Gras time again! I’ve been craving vegan red beans and rice ever since last weekend, when my husband and daughter left me alone for some much needed quiet time while they went back to New Orleans for the first parades. They came home with loads of beads, doubloons, stuffed animals, and MORE beads, and I was left longing for my favorite childhood food, Red Beans and Rice.
Growing up in southeast Louisiana, I ate a lot of red beans and rice; in fact, Mondays were red beans and rice days in the school cafeteria, and while other kids complained about them and made fun of their lowly appearance, I secretly loved red beans. After all, the cafeteria ladies made real Louisiana red beans, highly seasoned and so well-cooked that it was hard to tell where the beans ended and the sauce began. My Alabama-born mother, on the other hand, cooked something she called red beans but wasn’t. Oh, there were beans and they were red, each one fully intact and separate from its fellow beans in a bland sauce. This was not real Louisiana red beans and rice.
When I grew up and got my own kitchen, I was determined to cook my red beans the way they were supposed to be cooked: all mushy and full of spice. The first recipe I ever tried was from Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. It called for six large ham hocks and a pound of andouille sausage and wound up taking two Dutch ovens to hold it all. I’d never cooked a ham hock before, and it was impossible to find andouille sausage in southern Illinois, where I was in grad school, but I made do with Polish sausage. The recipe turned out knock-your-contacts-out spicy, but I loved it. It was real, melt in your mouth red beans.
That was many years and a couple of lifetimes ago. Over the years I adapted the recipe, first to reduce the amount of meat (I had no love for the ham hocks) and finally to eliminate it entirely. In the process I lightened up the recipe, made it easier to follow, and made it all fit into one pot.
Update March 5, 2019: I’ve updated the recipe to include Instant Pot instructions. This recipe is a little tricky in the IP because beans vary, and some can take longer to get soft than others. I’ve included a really long “quick soak” in the IP directions so that the beans are practically cooked before you add other ingredients. You will still have to play it by ear a little when it comes to getting the beans’ gravy thick enough. I would allow at least 2 hours to make this from start to finish.
Real Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
- 1 pound dry red beans (if you’re in Louisiana, only Camellia brand will do)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 very large onion about 2 cups chopped
- 4 ribs celery
- 1 large bell pepper about 1 1/2 cups chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4-1 teaspoon red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons chopped chipotle pepper, canned in adobo (this is not traditional but lends a smoky taste; substitute another tsp. of Liquid Smoke seasoning or 1/4 tsp. oc chipotle powder if you prefer)
- 1/2-1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke or smoked salt to taste
- cooked rice to serve
- Cover the beans with water 2 inches over beans and soak overnight. Or, bring beans to a boil for one minute, remove from heat, and soak for at least an hour. Drain beans and rinse.
- Put the beans back in the pot and cover them with water 2 inches above level of beans. Put over high heat to begin cooking while you prepare the other ingredients.
- You’re going to want to chop the garlic, onion, celery, and bell pepper very finely, and the fastest and best way to do this is in a food processor. I throw the 4 peeled cloves of garlic in first, and then add the onion, quartered, and pulse until finely chopped. Add this to the pot on the stove, and then do the same thing with the celery and bell peppers, adding each to the beans. Add the remaining ingredients, except the rice.
- When the beans reach a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring every now and then, until they are completely tender and falling apart. This can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending upon the age of your beans. (Add more water as necessary to keep them hydrated.) When they are completely tender, add more salt to taste, and check the seasonings. Add any additional spices you want, and cook for at least 10 more minutes, until sauce is thick and beans are disintegrating. Remove the bay leaves, and serve over rice.
Instant Pot Instructions
- Check over the beans and discard any debris. Rinse them well and put them in the Instant Pot and add water until 2 inches above the beans. Put the top on, make sure the valve is set to Pressure, and select the pressure cooking setting. Set the time to 0. (This will allow the pot to come to pressure and then turn off. If your pot doesn't allow this, set it to 1 minute.) Once the pot has finished cooking, allow the pressure to come down naturally for 20 minutes and then carefully open the valve to release the pressure.
- Carefully drain the beans and put them back into the pot. Add 4 cups of water and using the Sauté setting on Medium, begin heating the water while you prepare the vegetables.
- You’re going to want to chop the garlic, onion, celery, and bell pepper very finely, and the fastest and best way to do this is in a food processor. I throw the 4 peeled cloves of garlic in first, and then add the onion, quartered, and pulse until finely chopped. Add this to the pot on the stove, and then do the same thing with the celery and bell peppers, adding each to the beans. Add the remaining ingredients, except the smoke flavoring and rice.
- Cancel the sauté setting, put the lid on the pot, and make sure the valve is set to Pressure. Use the high pressure setting and set it for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up, carefully turn the valve to release the pressure.
- Make sure all the beans are tender; if they're definitely not done, you need to return them to pressure for a minute or two. Usually the beans will be well-done at this stage and just need to cook uncovered for a while to soften up and boil off some of the liquid. Use the sauté setting on low to cook the beans, stirring every few minutes, scraping the bottom well, until the liquid has thickened to a gravy consistency. How long will depend on your beans and how much extra liquid you had. (If something strange has happened and you have too little liquid, do add some.)
- When the liquid is thick and the beans are mostly falling apart, check the seasoning and add the Liquid Smoke or smoked salt and additional salt and other seasonings to taste. Remove the bay leaves and serve with rice.
Nutritional info is approximate.
Throughout this whole procedure, you should have a nice glass of wine. The spirit of Mardi Gras will not be stopped! Throw me something, Mister! Et laissez les bon temps rouler! 🙂
Looking for more vegan Louisiana recipes? Try these:
Mirliton and White Bean Stew
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
Chickpea Gumbo (guest post at Veggie Venture)
Spicy Collards and Black-eyed Pea Soup
Creole Black-eyed Peas
Gumbo z’Herbes with Cajun Tempeh Bacon
Black-eyed Pea Gumbo
Stuffed Eggplants and Not-So-Dirty Rice
Patty Pan Squash Stuffed with Cajun White Beans
…and many more in the Louisiana recipes section
Please Pin and share!
UshaSeptember 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm
I would love to make this (a variation on the rajma and rice that I make often)…a question though: can I do this in the pressure cooker? (I haven’t cooked slow beans forever…since most Indians can’t imagine not using a pressure cooker for beans!) If you think it would ruin the taste, I’ll try it the long way. Please let me know. And thanks for the recipes…made your lite Goddess dressing today (had no tahini, so threw in 2 tsp almond butter…worked very well). Your site is proving a godsend since we just started the ETL 6 week plan. Thanks!
PS: My 15-year-old vegetarian daughter seems to be switching to vegan because she wants everything we are eating!
Susan VoisinSeptember 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm
I think it will be fine in the pressure cooker. I just haven’t taken the time to figure out the timing or amount of water (usually less than stovetop cooking). Please let me know how you like it!
UshaSeptember 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm
I ended up doing the beans slow-cooked, and I think they were super fresh and well-soaked, because they were tender in just over an hour! I made it in a wide stockpot, so I think 2 inches of water above the level was a bit much and I baled out some of the liquid near the end and strained back the bean solids back into the stew. The flavor was lovely, I think…the adobo is key to that smoky heat. My daughter rated it a little below the rajma version (I think when there’s a cultural parallel so close to the main ingredients, one ends up comparing and ‘missing’ flavors such as cumin, coriander, ginger, etc.) I thought it was authentic and delicious (without meat, of course). Thanks, Susan. By the way, happy to share any Indian recipes with you…many of the traditional recipes from vegetarian Kerala dishes are vegan.
NeenaNovember 8, 2013 at 5:27 am
For the Louisiana Red Beans recipe, here in the philippines what we do is grind the red beans even befor we soak and cook them. Sure way of gettin ’em soft and mushy.
Thanks for your recipes. we really love them.
Pat O'NealSeptember 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm
Yum yum yummy!
I followed recipe using adzuki red beans. I also added Tofurkey andouille meatless sausage. I know it adds fat too but so good. This dish will be made again anytime I need to remember the good time I had in New Orleans this year. Delicious!
MichelleSeptember 28, 2014 at 11:13 pm
Amazingly good on a fall day! We ate them with loads of hot sauce, rice and your oven roasted okra and oven fried green tomato. Thanks for a delicious recipe!!
FionaOctober 30, 2014 at 1:02 pm
This was really yummy! I already had cooked kidney beans, so I just added 1 cup water and 1/2 of the rest of the ingredients (omitted celery) and simmered for 20 minutes. Added extra hot sauce. Super yum! Thanks!
ShannonFebruary 17, 2015 at 6:48 am
This was a complete disaster. I need help to figure out what I did wrong. I soaked the beans overnight and actually until 2pm when I started cooking. I think at first I put the heat too low after I boiled the beans, but then at 5 when I realized the beans were still hard, I adjusted the temperature to medium heat. By 8 they had not disintegrated and were actually still quite firm and it still looked more like a soup than a sauce. Is there a secret I’m missing? This is only my second stab at cooking dried beans and the first time didnt go over well either even though those cooked all day in the crockpot. Any tips would greatly be appreciated.
Susan VoisinFebruary 17, 2015 at 7:25 am
I’m so sorry you had trouble with this recipe. There are so many variables in cooking beans that it can be tricky. The age of the beans (how long since they were harvested, NOT since you bought them), the hardness of your water, and your altitude–all of these can affect the amount of time it will take for beans to soften. Beans can be so old that they will never soften, so it’s important to buy fresh, but then how do you know how fresh they are? If you can, buy from places that sell a lot of beans, such as health food stores or direct from bean companies.
orthohawkJanuary 30, 2016 at 10:18 pm
All the crockpots I’ve ever had/used, the high setting gets things to the boiling point within in a couple hours. My tips:
1. Use filtered water if you don’t have a water softener.
2. Don’t add salty or acidic ingredients until the beans are soft!
3. After soaking (the boil-and-soak method gets rid of the most gas in my experience), put ’em in the crock and cover with water and turn it to the high setting. After it starts to boil, let it boil for at least 15 minutes (to get rid of the toxin that Susan mentioned above) and then turn the crock to low.
After 8 hours on low (or sooner depending on the temperature of each setting on your particular cooker), smoosh some of the beans on the bottom (or else instert a stick blender and “pulse” 2 or 3 times) ; 2 more hours usually gets them to the wonderful creamy state we all know and love. Stir every couple hours, or else you’ll end up with a 4-inch slab of bean mush topped with about an inch or two of watery broth.
Pat O'NealFebruary 17, 2015 at 9:11 am
If you don’t already have one I highly recommend cooking beans in a pressure cooker. This amazing device cuts down the cooking time for dried beans significantly. I looking at the $60 I spent for mine as an investment in healthy eating in less time.
Candice GriffinFebruary 17, 2015 at 9:14 am
I will try smoked paprika in this recipe to add to the smokey flavor. Hope it works. Liquid smoke sketches me out a lil.
MattMarch 31, 2015 at 5:53 pm
Hey Susan, I made this last night and the taste was fantastic but the color was much duller than what I see in your photos (mine was closer to a cream color than deep red). Any suggestions?
Susan VoisinMarch 31, 2015 at 8:40 pm
Wow that’s weird, but I’ll bet it’s just a difference between the beans we used. If it tasted good, don’t worry about it.
MarcieApril 6, 2015 at 5:10 pm
Every time I make beans (there are some exclusions…re-fried & black come to mind) my DH always compares them to his maw-maws. And of course they never measure up. I’ve asked, and it’s always answered she just cooked them up. So I’d all but given up. A few weeks ago I was craving red beans and rice – but being from California, that meant a packet of Mahatma Red Beans and Rice, which I no longer eat. I can’t tell if they’re vegan, but they are pretty processed so I avoid. And knowing Susan has never let me down (my carnivorous family BEGS me to make the green bean casserole every holiday – no one believes it’s vegan – they’re in denial) I headed for this recipe. I about fell of my chair at dinner when DH couldn’t get enough because they tasted almost exactly like he remembered! Who knew it was red beans and rice all this time. I ordered some Camellia red beans and we’re having this again tonight. Thank you Susan, my 19 year search has finally ended.
CameronJuly 12, 2015 at 3:50 pm
Okay, so I feel like I’ve been cooking/preparing this for two days…oh wait! I have! I was skeptical because the flavors didn’t seem to be melding. And then, at the three hour mark of cooking all the ingredients together…BINGO! Perfection. I added some Cajun seasoning and a can of fire-roasted tomatoes (in my pre-three-hours-panic). Insanely good.
KatieDecember 13, 2015 at 4:20 pm
I am making this tonight for my husband that is from Covington. We used have Jambalaya or Red Beans and Rice every Sunday for dinner before we went vegan. I was so excited to fimd your recipe amd look forward to having this tonight!
Susan VoisinDecember 13, 2015 at 4:31 pm
I hope you enjoy it! Say hi to your husband. I’m from Hammond, just down the highway. 🙂
KristinJanuary 9, 2016 at 4:09 pm
I’ve made this as prescribed, and it’s FANTASTIC. Wouldn’t change a thing. Wouldn’t change a thing, unless, of course, I didn’t have all the ingredients. That’s what happened today. I had some dried kidney, pinto, and pink beans, all begging to be used up. I also (don’t hate me!) didn’t have any bell pepper. Added some carrots (and extra water..those beans had been hanging out a LONG time) and it came out great. Point is, the recipe, seasonings, and cooking method stand the true test of time and substitutions. Nothing better than a big pot of warm, home-cooked beans on the stove!
KristinJanuary 9, 2016 at 4:19 pm
Oh, and PS. It’s become pretty habitual to take a page from your White Bean and Garlic Stew with anything I’m cooking for an hour or better, to just throw a whole head of peeled garlic cloves in at the start of cooking. We always end up digging through the pot and trying to find those little bits of deliciousness. I may or may not have used two heads in this. I probably did. 🙂
LaurieFebruary 9, 2016 at 10:14 am
I’m going to make this tonight.i haven’t soaked my brand yet, but I find soaking is not necessary when I cook the beans in my Instant Pot. I have a fantastic recipe for vegan (seitan) andouille sausage, so I’ll throw some of that in when simmering to thicken. I can hardly wait for dinner!
MartyJuly 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm
Made this last night with a couple changes its so good will save and make again.
JillDecember 31, 2016 at 2:17 pm
I’m making this for New Year’s after a friend requested it, since I made it a few years back. Thank you for everything you have done for us over the years, and Happy New Year and best wishes from San Francisco!
PattKMarch 31, 2017 at 11:37 am
I just ordered some Camellia beans because I was hungry for red beans and rice. I had forgotten about this recipe and am so glad I rediscovered it! This comfort food brings back fond memories of high school Mondays at school in the Garden District. It’s never too late to laissez les bon temps rouler!
LindaApril 1, 2017 at 6:48 pm
Apparently I’m the only one confused about syep 3 in the directions. It says tho add all the chopped veggies and rice to the pot of beans and continue cooking,but then later it days to serve over rice.
The ingredient list only days cooked rice. Any particular type?
Susan VoisinApril 1, 2017 at 10:00 pm
It was supposed to say to add all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the rice. Somehow that word got left out. You are the first person to mention it, so thanks!
You can use any rice you like. I like brown.
JuliaApril 16, 2017 at 11:47 am
I love this recipe! I basically follow the recipe, but put everything in a crock pot with less water-maybe an inch or less above the beans if they’ve been soaked. 🙂
EMarch 1, 2018 at 12:35 pm
Have you made your red beans and rice in the Instant Pot? If so, what changes did you make to the original recipe?
I cook everything that I can in an Instant Pot! This question comes from a Louisianian.
KatieMarch 31, 2019 at 12:02 pm
I already soaked my beans over night but was planning on making in the IP. I read your note about the long “quick soaking’ method to make sure the beans were practically cooked before adding the other ingredients. If mine are already well soaked, should I still do that step to reduce total cooking time? Thanks.
Susan VoisinMarch 31, 2019 at 7:00 pm
Oops, sorry I just saw your question! You don’t need to do the quick-soak if your beans are already soaked. If you do both, they’ll probably need less cooking time.
AnnabelMarch 20, 2020 at 8:13 pm
I just ran out of liquid smoke making some vegan bacon bits last week. Your recipe got me inspired to get on Amazon and order some more! I know I’m going to love the smokiness and spice in this recipe.
AlyneMay 24, 2020 at 1:54 pm
This is my favorite red beans and rice recipe! L!iving in Houston, which is kind of a sister city to New Orleans with many Louisiana transplants, I’ve eaten a lot of red beans and rice.cooked by friends, restaurants, and me. This one tops them all. I make mine in the IP. I also usually save a cup or so as a base for bean dip. Thanks, Susan, for this and all your other great recipes. I’ve yet to find one I don’t like.
LauraJanuary 30, 2021 at 9:58 pm
Thank you for these great recipes, good luck, we’ll be thinking about you…
lauraFebruary 15, 2021 at 12:48 pm
Hi! I made this years ago but am now wondering if this step- 1/4-1 teaspoon red pepper- is red flakes or cayenne?
thanks for great recipe!
Laura in LA
Susan VoisinFebruary 15, 2021 at 2:39 pm
Cayenne, but flakes would work, too.
PatriceMay 25, 2021 at 4:55 pm
Just found your blog and enjoying reading the recipes. I am in the process of making the red beans. Should the pot be uncovered or covered while it simmers for 2-3 hours?
Susan VoisinMay 25, 2021 at 10:17 pm
It works either way. If you leave it uncovered, you’ll probably need to add water.
Lisa KovachJuly 11, 2022 at 9:29 am
I am going to make this recipe, like today, can’t wait! Question: you show how many carbs, protein, etc., are in it, but do not show a serving size. . . ? My husband and I log every bite we take, so we need serving size. Thanks!
Susan VoisinJuly 11, 2022 at 10:18 am
The serving size will fluctuate depending on how much water you use. The best way to know if\s to make the recipe and then decide it equally into the number of servings listed. You could use a measuring cup or a scale. My servings are generally pretty large.