As a Louisiana girl, I consider slow-cooked red beans and rice part of my cultural heritage, as much a part of my childhood as climbing too high in the live oak trees and eating watermelon at the picnic table in the back yard. I know from experience that it takes all day to make good red beans, and I would never try to convince you otherwise. Except, well, maybe I am about to do just that.
The trouble is, I get cravings. I start remembering the spicy, creamy red beans of my childhood and I want some–right now. But red beans is not a spur-of-the-moment, impulse kind of dish. You have to plan for red beans, putting them on to soak the night before and then cooking them the next day for no real set amount of time, just as long as it takes until they start to break down into a creamy goodness. It’s not fast food, nor should it be. Except when you’ve got a craving.
Truth be told, there’s a guilty secret that many Louisiana home cooks share, and its name is Blue Runner Cream Style Red Beans. For years when I needed a quick dose of Louisiana cooking, I’d open a couple of cans of Blue Runner beans, sometimes adding extra “trinity” (onions, bell pepper, celery) or tomatoes, sometimes just heating and eating them on a pile of fresh-cooked rice.
For something out of a can, Blue Runner beans are pretty damned good. I used to be able to buy them here in Jackson, and then suddenly I couldn’t. When I went home for visits, I would often bring cases of them back to Jackson with me, but my supply always seemed to run out too quickly. So in the absence of Blue Runners, I started thinking about making my own fast-food red beans using regular canned beans, and after a couple of attempts, I think I’ve finally gotten it right.
Before you do this at home, there is something very important (and kind of scary) that you need to know about canned red beans: Many–or even most–brands add sugar to their kidney beans, making them unfit for this recipe. The first time I made this, I used the light red kidney beans I had in my pantry, and I couldn’t stand the sweet taste they lent to the dish. So I went in search of unsweetened red beans and had a harder time finding them than you would think. Both the store-brand (Kroger) and the national brand (Bush’s Best) contained sugar and dextrose.
Finally I found two cans in Kroger that were sugar free, their Simple Truth Organic Dark Red Kidney Beans and a can marked simply “Red Beans.” Of the two, the Red Beans are the most like the Camilla brand red beans that are used to make Louisiana red beans and rice, and they’re what I used in this recipe. Dark red kidneys are larger and have a tougher texture, and they can be used if that’s all you can find, but use the ones marked Light Red or just Red Beans if you can find them. Just please, avoid the sugar.
I can’t promise that these vegan red beans and rice will be as authentic as slow-cooked red beans, but they will be good. Of course, if you’ve got the time, please give my Real Louisiana Red Beans a try. They’re the real deal, as close to New Orleans as you’re likely to get without doing some traveling.
More Louisiana Recipes
Vegan Sausage and Mushroom Etoufee and more from my Louisiana Recipes section
Vita’s Vegan Gumbo at Vita’s Vegan Ventures
Cajun-spiced Dirty Rice from Lisa is Cooking
Cajun Lentil Patties at Cajunlicious
Easy Red Beans and Rice
- 1 medium onion
- 1/2 green pepper
- 2 ribs celery
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 15-ounce cans red beans (no sugar added) drained and well-rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt optional or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 - 1 teaspoon red pepper cayenne, to taste
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce plus more to serve
- Smoked salt or Liquid Smoke seasoning (optional)
- cooked brown rice to serve
- Begin heating a large, non-stick pot over medium-high heat as you use the food processor to chop the vegetables:
- Cut the onion into quarters and pulse it in the food processor to mince; add it to the heated pan. Cut the pepper into quarters and chop it finely in the processor; add it to the pan. Cut the celery into 2-inch long pieces and chop it and the garlic in the processor; add it to the pan.
- Stir the vegetables well and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cook until soft, about 6-10 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking, rinse the beans well. Put half of them (1 1/2 cans) into the food processor with half of the can of tomatoes. Process until all the beans are coarsely chopped, just short of pureed.
- When the vegetables are soft, stir in the blended beans, remaining whole beans, remaining tomatoes, and all seasonings except smoked salt. Cover tightly, reduce heat to very low, and cook for at least 30 minutes. Stir every 5 or 10 minutes and add water as needed to keep beans moist but not soupy. Like regular red beans, these taste better the longer they cook, so consider 30 minutes the bare minimum and cook them longer if you can, adding water as necessary.
- Just before serving, sprinkle with smoked salt or a little Liquid Smoke. Stir well, and serve atop rice with more hot sauce on the table.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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karinMarch 18, 2013 at 8:58 am
i wanted you to know that this recipe has become an absolute STAPLE in my family over the last few months. i’ve moved into a vegan diet, and some of my family has as well.
my father suffered a major heart attack about 18 months ago, resulting in open-heart surgery for 5 bypasses. he has since done an amazing job “cleaning up” the way he eats… and for a total mid-western, meat and potatoes guy, it hasn’t been easy.
on days where i make food for my house and my parents, he’ll often request your red beans and rice. i’m always more than happy to supply!!
thanks so much for being a resource,
i’ve loved everything i’ve tried!
karin in OH
Susan VoisinMarch 18, 2013 at 9:23 am
I’m so glad to hear that your father likes the recipe and that he is doing so well with his diet. Thanks for sharing!
lovemyfamilyApril 5, 2013 at 10:05 am
This was pretty good. I added some chorizo seitan and put it in tortilla shells. My kids ate the rice but not the beans, but that is them being picky. I just chopped up the veggies really small and didn’t food process them cause I like stuff chunky. I let it cook on low for a full hour and it needed that long too, I had no idea red beans were so stubborn, I don’t use red beans usually.
hillary stringerMay 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm
delicious, just delicious! and so easy to prepare, thanks!
SarahJune 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm
This is o e of my family’s favorite recipes. The only thing I do different is I add 1tsp of file (fee-lay) powder (a southern cooking season) and I actually do it all in the crockpot! I love that I can throw it in and at the end of the day we have a yummy dinner that’s easy. We just cook the rice when we are ready to eat!
MarisaJune 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm
This turned out so amazing.
I made ours with homemade beans and we love the add of Liquid smoke.
Will be making this again.
YogaBrittaJune 22, 2013 at 6:35 pm
I have been making your slow recipe for a few years now and I’m really looking forward to trying these ones for dinner tonight.
AlexNovember 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm
I can’t believe there’s sugar in kidney beans over there! Even the 21p cans I buy a ton of here have beans, water and maybe some sort of thing like ascorbic acid, which isn’t particularly scary. I may be British, but I love red beans and rice so I’ll have to give this a go when I get a craving! Thanks 😀
firstname.lastname@example.orgNovember 4, 2013 at 10:17 am
This recipe makes a lot of beans so would this freeze well?
Susan VoisinNovember 4, 2013 at 10:20 am
Yes, if you wrap them up tightly (so that there is no air at the top of the container), they’ll freeze just fine.
KatieNovember 4, 2013 at 10:31 am
I’m new to the vegetarian world–I’m moving toward vegan but one thing at a time. 🙂 Regardless, without your recipes I would be starving or eating really crappy tasting food! My family (who doesn’t realize they too are moving in the same direction) LOVES the meals too! Keep up the great work!
Susan VoisinNovember 4, 2013 at 10:34 am
Wow, Katie, I’m so happy to hear that! Congrats on going vegetarian and moving toward vegan! I’m happy to be able to help. 🙂
DaveNovember 5, 2013 at 2:01 am
Wonder if using smokey chipotle hot peppers in lieu of liquid smoke would work?
Alice NelsonNovember 5, 2013 at 9:38 pm
Thanks for giving me the link for the meatloaf recipe. Will try it and make it again for Thanksgiving if I like it. Have never not liked any recipe that I’ve tried from you. Thanks again
Marian GleasonNovember 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm
We had this for tonight’s dinner and Bill insisted on having seconds. It is YUMBO, Susan, and definitely a keeper! I’ll be sharing this recipe on FB so my friends can enjoy the recipe too. 😀 Many thanks for all you do for us!!!! xxMarian
sommerDecember 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm
This easy red beans and rice were soooo good!!Blending half is a stroke of genius! I’m on a dairy free/yeast free diet so this was fab!! Thank you!
Jarod LojeckDecember 12, 2013 at 10:27 am
I have become very fond of home canning with a pressure canner. I’m going to play with your recipe a bit as see if I can make it in such a way that it cooks and cans at the same time. I’ll let you know how it turns out. It might be an even faster way to get your fix and retain the home cooked taste.
Susan B.December 19, 2013 at 8:34 am
I live in Jackson, too. Kroger does carry Blue Runner, just not all of them, and in the Creole/Cajun section and not with the regular beans. My usual Kroger at Castlewoods doesn’t, but the one at Dogwood does. Two questions, I would like to use this recipe but use the creamed beans instead of creaming the whole ones, can I straight substitute these? There are also two varieties on the shelf, “original” and “spicy New Orleans style”. I’ve never bought the NOLA style, but didn’t know if you had any comment about them.
Susan VoisinDecember 19, 2013 at 8:44 am
Thanks, Susan! I’ll have to see if my Kroger carries them, and if not, take a drive out to Dogwood.
I use the regular Blue Runner and the New Orleans style interchangably and don’t notice much difference honestly. The NOLA style may be a touch spicier, but since I like things very spicy, my palate isn’t sensitive to subtle changes in spices.
I’ve never used BR beans in this recipe because basically this recipe is trying to take regular canned red beans and turn them into BR. So if you use BR beans in this, you’re essentially doubling the spices (adding these seasonings to the ones BR already contains). Being a spice lover, that wouldn’t bother me, but it might overdo the spicyness for other people. Dies that make any sense?
Susan B.December 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm
Yes, thanks. Sounds like I could use half BR and half regular, same veggies, but ditch the spices? In the past have used canned and Zatarain’s seasoning if not making all from scratch, so just having to think a little…. decided I didn’t need to be using the Zatarain’s anymore….
JuliaJanuary 4, 2014 at 8:04 pm
I just tried to print off your “Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe” and ended up with your whole bloody blog printing off…….could you make it more user friendly….like some way that a person could print off JUST the recipe. …would keep more trees alive!
JuliaJanuary 4, 2014 at 8:07 pm
I apologize….I see that you actually did have a “Print Recipe” that I missed…..sorry….poor trees!
Lisa LFebruary 7, 2014 at 7:46 am
Hi! I was looking for a quick kidney bean with rice recipe and I decided to do your recipe because I had all the ingredients… But I noticed that my cans of beans had sugar in it. I did it anyway (because now I have to eat them, I won’t throw them away ) and it was simply delicious. But thanks to your blog, I am now aware of the problem of sugar in cans of beans and from now on I will buy only sugar free ones. (and my dish will be even bettef in the future). But my next move is to make your real Louisiana beans recipe and I bet it will be fantastic. Thanks for sharing those recipe. I already saved this one in my small EDF list (easy/delicious/fast).
Lisa LFebruary 7, 2014 at 7:58 am
After a second look I just noticed that the sugar in the can I used is the natural sugar of the beans. Not added. Pheww! That’s why it was so good 🙂
WillFebruary 28, 2014 at 11:29 am
I made this last night, used sriracha but otherwise stuck to the recipe, thanks it was delicious!
KcallaMarch 4, 2014 at 7:50 pm
Wow! Just ate our Fat Tuesday dinner to celebrate Mardi Gras, but this recipe will certainly become part of our regular rotation. I was “generous” with the spicing but otherwise followed recipe. Used the liquid smoke at the end as recommended. Served with rice and steamed Kale. What a great dinner. Reminded us so much of our young adult years Louisiana and Mobile, AL, the homes of Mardi Gras. Thank you for an innovative technique, that made all of the difference. We also sought out the Kroger beans mentioned. Thanks, so much!
KMay 13, 2014 at 10:47 am
I made this and it was great! Let everything cook for an hour total. Left out the liquid smoke since we don’t like things too smoky. I LOVE how easy this was, with throwing all the veggies in the food processor. Everything just melted together into such a beautiful sauce. I couldn’t believe how creamy it was. Loved it with some Frank’s hot sauce on top. Definitely will make it again!
JenMay 27, 2014 at 4:38 pm
These are awesome!! Thank you for sharing 🙂
GilSeptember 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm
I have always been conditioned as a Native La. man never to eat anything like Red Beans out of a can. My dear grandmother would probably give me a few lashes if she were still here, lol. However as you mentioned, sometimes you just can’t wait. I rarely have the time to make a decent pot with work, commute and all. Plus my wife not being native to La., I honestly am not ready to try hers yet. Being in Pennsylvania, it’s next to impossible to find things from home like Camelia Beans, Community coffe and other goodies. Camelia is THE best brand of beans to use, IMO. Thank you for sharing this canned version.
MNovember 2, 2014 at 5:35 pm
I’ve had a hankering for red beans and rice for the past few days, and this recipe really hit the spot. We didn’t have any bell pepper or paprika and so omitted the pepper and substituted chili powder for the paprika. Turned out absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing.
SyminthaNovember 6, 2014 at 7:45 pm
I just made this dish and it is so delicious. My daughter isn’t Vegan and she really likes it as well. It’s very flavorful which I love. I haven’t mastered the use of spices yet, but I’m working on it. I used organic everything in my dish. So good, thanks for the recipe.
BarbaraDecember 4, 2014 at 4:32 am
This is delicious and so easy! I prepared it up to the simmer step in the morning. When I got home from work I put it back on the stove while the rice cooker was doing its magic. Plenty for dinner and leftovers for lunches. Thanks for sharing!
JanellJune 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm
I’m diggin’ this recipe! We used leftover canned red beans and canned tomatoes already on hand. Skimmed through your recipe and used all the ingredients, but instead of blending we did a quick rough dice. Not super creamy, but cooked down pretty well and had the desired flavor effect.
LindaDecember 28, 2015 at 3:14 pm
Beautiful! This cooked up beautifully, especially paired with brown rice, and was perfect for a chilly day.
By the way, I forgot to use the liquid smoke at the end, but with the smoked paprika and hot sauces I used it wasn’t missed. Totally yummy AND easy! Thank you!
KCallaMarch 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm
I left a comment about how wonderful this recipe is a year or so ago. Still Fabulous!
Today I doubled the recipe and, to go along with that, used one Tablespoon each of the Smoked Paprika, Thyme and Oregano. But just one teaspooon of cayenne (enough for me – huband loves his hot sauce, though) Really great again.
***want to share that Krogers/Dillons has changed the label photo and graphics on their Red Beans, but does still carry them here. So glad.
Thanks again for another great recipe. Served tonight with Southern Style greens made in my Instant Pot.
AlApril 3, 2016 at 9:53 pm
I really want to try this recipe but 41.2 grams of sugar seems super high for a serving….is this correct?? And what ingredient is that amount of sugar coming from?
Susan VoisinApril 3, 2016 at 10:13 pm
41.2 is the amount of carbohydrates. The sugar is 7.6.
alex p.February 24, 2017 at 12:33 pm
Easy Red Beans and Rice recipe. Wow, totally delish, totally easy. Serving at a party tonight, i’m sure i’ll have to share the recipe! thanks! i didn’t make any changes, and it was perfect! as i repeat it, i may adjust … but not changing it a bit, is a done deal, i mean , meal!
Aimee B.March 5, 2019 at 8:59 pm
Still can’t rate your recipes for some reason, but this gets a 5 out of 5. Made this for dinner tonight for Fat Tuesday, and it was a hit with my entire family. I’m a lazy cook, so I streamlined the instructions, lol! I used a blend of frozen bell peppers/onions and omitted the celery (didn’t have any). I dumped everything in my slow cooker and set it to low all day. When it was done I simply pureed some of it with my imersion blender. Perfect!! Thank you for a great simple recipe. I’ll be adding this to our regular rotation.
Aimee B.March 5, 2019 at 9:05 pm
I forgot to say that I added some sliced Field Roast sausages to our bowls. It was super good that way.
DeserayDecember 27, 2019 at 8:41 pm
Just want to THANK YOU for your site! It has been MANY years that we have continuously come back to the Easy Red Beans and Rice recipe!! It is just so darn delicious, even my kids can’t resist!! We don’t change a thing on the recipe. In fact, this recipe has inspired our family to use smoked paprika in many other dishes! My son now sprinkles it on his breakfast eggs!!
Odette BraggDecember 31, 2020 at 7:45 am
I made this last night, and it was delicious. We aren’t big fans of spicy, but this was just enough without the cayenne (which I realized that I didn’t actually have). Any tips for making it in the crockpot?
ShaJune 12, 2021 at 2:30 pm
In Wales (UK) and never been to the USA but the one place I’d love to go to is Louisiana! My partner would be hunting for vinyl in New Orleans and I’d be in the esoteric establishments. The only change I made, as not in the USA, was to use a tin of plum tomatoes. I also used extra hot sauce and no salt. The longer it cooked the better it tasted. My partner really loved it. Next time I’m trying the “Real Louisiana” version. Thank you so much for the recipes as they are a very useful resource.
KarenMarch 19, 2022 at 7:53 am
Discovered this recipe while searching for a plant based meal for a Mardis Gras dinner. This was delicious and soooooo easy. It’s now in our regular rotation. Blending the tomatoes and beans is magic!