This easy red beans and rice recipe is packed full of flavor, with seasonings, tender ham bone, and smoked sausage on a bed of rice.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, I’m about to show you how to make a humdinger of a good old country meal. Remember when I showed you that easy-peasy ham glaze and told you to save your ham bone? Well pull that puppy out, we’re ’bout to fix us some supper!
This easy red beans and rice recipe is a classic Southern main dish. So, besides the aforementioned ham bone, what else do you need to make it? Red beans (or kidney beans), smoked sausage, onion, a bay leaf, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, seasoned salt, salt, and black pepper. Oh yeah, it’s going to be SO flavorful.
Now, when I say this is an easy recipe, y’all know I’m not kidding. We start the night before by sorting and soaking our beans. Then the next morning, we add them to a pan with all of the ingredients except for the sausage. Let that simmer for several hours while you go about your day. Add the sliced sausage about an hour before serving. When the beans are oh-so-tender and your kitchen smells oh-so-delicious, it’s time to serve our red beans on a bed of cooked rice. Yep, that’s all there is to it.
Keep scrolling for suggestions to make this easy red beans and rice recipe work for you and your family. Plus, I’ve included some serving ideas too. Because y’all, there’s nothing quite like red beans and rice with a side of cornbread to soak up that deliciously flavorful broth that’s been simmering all day.
Okay, I’m getting hungry just thinking about this recipe, so let’s get cooking so we can get eating!
- A big old ham bone
- Red beans
- Smoked sausage
- Bay leaf
- Minced garlic (Jar, fresh, or dried garlic)
- Cayenne pepper
- Seasoned salt
- Salt and black pepper
How to Make My Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe
Sort through your beans and place them in a large pot. Cover them with water and let them sit overnight.
What is “sorting beans,” you ask?
Well sometimes (oftentimes actually) when you get dried beans you’ll find tiny stones in them amongst the beans. This is just one of those things. I mean, beans are grown in the dirt and stones happen. You just pour a few into your hand, make sure there are no stones, and then pour that handful into your pot and repeat.
In the morning the soaked beans will look like this.
Now drain off that water.
Here is what we have left, placed back in the same large stockpot.
They lost a little of their redness. Guess they needed a bath.
Add in all of your other ingredients, including the big old ham bone.
Now fill that pot with water.
Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer for several hours or until tender.
I put mine on in the morning when the kids leave for school and simmer them all day long. You don’t have to cook them that long but it gives you a nice rich broth if you do. I recommend soaking that up with cornbread or just stirring it into your rice when you eat it.
I just slice my sausage a bit and add in about a cup or so about an hour before serving.
You can use more or less depending on what you have on hand.
You can also leave it out entirely if you like.
Another option is to use weenies to save money.
This is how it looks after I’ve cooked it down to a nice thick liquid all day.
Remove your bay leaf and then make your rice.
For this tutorial, I’m just using some brown boil-in-the-bag rice.
Serve your red beans atop the hot, cooked rice.
Dive in and be thankful for the good sense to enjoy the simple things in life.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat them in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating as above.
- Traditional red beans and rice has you using small red beans, but some folks can’t find those and just use kidney beans. Either one will work just fine so you just grab what you see first or use what you have on hand. Any sticklers for tradition who tell you that you are doing it wrong can go get their supper in a drive-through somewhere while you and yours enjoy the delicious food you’re gonna turn out.
- Here are some recipe variations:
- Add an extra dash of cayenne pepper if you want it to be spicier.
- Use any kind of smoked sausage like turkey kielbasa sausage or Andouille sausage. Another option is cooked bacon bits.
- Add some extra veggies like 1 chopped green bell pepper or 3 diced celery ribs.
- Add a can of diced tomatoes or chopped whole peeled tomatoes for a more Louisiana-style red beans and rice dish.
- Omit the ham bone if you don’t have one on hand or substitute it for a smoked ham hock instead.
- Instead of white rice, use brown rice, quinoa, or couscous.
- Use Cajun seasoning or Creole seasoning instead of seasoned salt.
- Substitute the water for chicken broth, beef broth, or vegetable broth.
- Add a garnish: chopped fresh parsley, chopped green onion, chopped fresh cilantro, or hot sauce.
- Add 2 teaspoons of dried thyme or dried oregano.
- Skip the soak and simply use canned red beans or canned kidney beans instead.
What is traditionally served with red beans and rice?
Red beans and rice is a versatile recipe that you can enjoy as both a main meal and a side dish. It’s often enjoyed alongside other Southern favorites, such as:
- Buttermilk biscuits
- Blackened pork chops
- Collard greens
- Fresh fried corn
- Mashed potato salad
- Barbecue meat (like beef brisket, pulled pork, or baby back ribs)
- Steamed vegetables like zucchini and squash
- Roasted vegetables
- Southern fried chicken
Do you cook beans covered or uncovered?
You want to cover your red beans before cooking and simmering so that none of those delicious flavors escape and the water doesn’t evaporate.
Is red beans and rice healthy?
Red beans and rice is a classic comfort food dish that’s actually relatively healthy. It’s packed full of protein thanks to the beans, ham bone bits, and sausage. The only other ingredients are the onion and seasonings.
Are red beans and kidney beans the same?
No, red beans and kidney beans aren’t the same. Kidney beans are actually much larger than red beans.
Can I make red beans and rice in the slow cooker?
Absolutely! For crock pot red beans and rice, follow all of the directions. However, instead of putting the ingredients into a large pot, put them in the slow cooker and cook them on low for 6 to 8 hours. Then follow the remaining directions, like adding the sausage an hour before serving, removing the bay leaf, and cooking the rice according to package directions.
Can I make red beans and rice ahead of time?
Yep, prepare the red beans and rice according to the directions. Then once cooked and cooled, store it in an airtight container in the fridge up to 2 days ahead of time. Once you’re ready to serve, reheat it on the stovetop.
Check out these other recipes:
- 1 ham bone (with a little meat remaining)
- 1 bag small dried red beans (about two cups)
- 1 chopped small onion
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 heaping teaspoons seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 dash of cayenne pepper or more to taste
- 1 cup sliced smoked sausage
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- cooked rice
- Sort beans (look through them all and make sure there are no small stones) and place them in a large pot. Cover with water and let them soak overnight.1 bag small dried red beans (about two cups)
- Drain off the water and cover with water again, adding several more inches over the top. Add all ingredients except for the sausage.1 ham bone (with a little meat remaining), 1 chopped small onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 heaping teaspoons seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 dash of cayenne pepper or more to taste, 1 bay leaf (optional)
- Bring this to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for several hours or until beans are done. The longer you simmer, the thicker and more flavorful your broth will be.
- About an hour before serving, stir in the smoked sausage.1 cup sliced smoked sausage
- Serve over hot rice, cooked according to package directions.cooked rice
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Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.