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NEW ORLEANS RED BEANS AND RICE

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Authentic New Orleans red beans and rice is loaded with flavor! This traditional Monday dinner features small red beans, andouille sausage, and the Cajun Holy Trinity: onions, bell peppers and celery.

If you love southern baked mac and cheese, New Orleans Jambalaya, and buttery Jiffy cornbread, you’ll enjoy this dish from the Pelican State. I’m sharing the voodoo of this Louisiana favorite!

PIN NEW ORLEANS RED BEANS AND RICE

Serving of NOLA Red Beans and Rice in a blue bowl next to Louisiana hot sauce.

HISTORY OF NEW ORLEANS RED BEANS AND RICE

While in New Orleans, I attended cooking classes to learn more about authentic Cajun recipes, cooking methods, and food history.

There’s a rich long-standing tradition surrounding Louisiana red beans and rice. This nostalgic symbol of New Orleans became a phenomenon at the turn of the 19th century.

Customarily, laundry was done on Mondays. It was an all-day chore. Clothes were boiled, wrung with a hand crank, and hung on a clothesline. For Monday’s dinner, home cooks were looking for an easy no-fuss meal.

Red beans and rice was the perfect solution. It was a great way to use the leftover pork bone and ham from Sunday night’s supper. Sautéed veggies, meat and spices were added to pre-soaked beans. The unattended pot was left simmering on the stove while chores were being completed.

Today, in many traditional NOLA households, red beans and rice is still served on Mondays. But this dish is also enjoyed other days of the week. It’s featured on the menu of some of the city’s best restaurants.

My favorite place to eat authentic red beans and rice is Pat O’Brien’s restaurant and bar in the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter.

Staub black cocotte with red beans next to white Staub cocotte with white rice.

INGREDIENTS FOR RED BEANS AND RICE

All that’s needed for this NOLA favorite are a few meaty ingredients, common veggies, spices, and pantry staples.

To achieve the signature flavor of NOLA red beans and rice, it’s important to use all 3 pork products listed below.

  • New Orleans Camellia brand dry red kidney beans, or El Mexicano brand red beans (frijol rojo)
  • Chicken broth
  • Water
  • Olive oil (or bacon grease)
  • Chopped ham (or Louisiana tasso or bacon)
  • Onions (yellow, white, or red)
  • Green bell pepper
  • Celery
  • Garlic cloves
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly-ground
  • Smoked paprika (omit if using tasso)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ground sage
  • Dried thyme or fresh thyme
  • Dried oregano
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh Italian parsley
  • Andouille smoked sausage – fully cooked, not raw (or pickled pork)
  • Smoked ham hock
  • Apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Long-grain white rice or Jasmine rice
  • Butter
  • Green onions, for garnishing
  • Tabasco Sauce or Crystal Hot Sauce, for serving
Ingredients for New Orleans Red Beans and Rice laid out on a white rustic tabletop.

INGREDIENT FAQ

  • ARE RED BEANS THE SAME AS REGULAR KIDNEY BEANS? Not quite! Red beans are smaller, about the size of pinto beans. The skin of regular kidney beans is too chewy and their flesh is too mealy for this recipe. If you don’t have access to Camellia beans, look for small red beans in the Hispanic section of the supermarket: El Mexicano brand red beans (frijol rojo). They cook up creamy, and their skins are tender.
  • WHAT IS LOUISIANA TASSO? Often used in Cajun recipes, tasso is “almost” like ham. Rather than coming from the hind leg of a hog, it’s from the hog’s shoulder. Used for seasoning a variety of dishes, it’s heavily-spiced, smoked, and cured. It provides depth of flavor with a peppery kick! This specialty of south Louisiana is difficult to find in other states.
  • WHAT IS PICKLED PORK? It’s pork shoulder pickled in vinegar. Outside Louisiana, this Cajun ingredient is very hard to find.
  • DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REGULAR PAPRIKA AND SMOKED PAPRIKA: Regular paprika is made from the ground flesh and skin of dried red peppers. Smoked paprika is from peppers smoke-dried over an oak fire then crushed. It’s often called Spanish paprika.
New Orleans red beans in a black Staub cocotte after simmering for 2 1/2 hours.

How to make red beans and rice

This is a quick, simple no-fuss recipe. It starts the evening before, and finishes up the next day. Here’s how to prep for this tasty dish.

RECIPE PREP: Add 4 quarts water and 3 tablespoons salt to a large pot. Whisk to combine. Add beans to the pot and let them brine for 8 to 24 hours.

THE NEXT DAY: Drain and rinse beans in a colander, then return to the pot. Pour chicken broth and water over the beans. Bring to a simmer.

HOW TO MAKE RED BEANS

Follow these easy step-by-step instructions for authentic New Orleans red beans and rice!

  • STEP 1: Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add chopped ham. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • STEP 2: Add onions to the skillet. Sauté until onions become tender and transparent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add bell peppers and celery. Season with salt and black pepper. Sauté until tender. Add smoked paprika, cayenne, thyme, sage, basil, oregano and bay leaves. Stir them in. Transfer sautéed veggies to the simmering pot of beans.
  • STEP 3: Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Sauté sausage and ham hock until brown. Transfer meat and their juices to the pot. Add a splash of vinegar.
  • STEP 4: Simmer beans uncovered for 2 1/2 hours or until tender, stirring occasionally.
4-images showing how to make red beans and rice, step by step.

STEP 5: Remove ham hock and bay leaves. With a large spoon, mash 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Add parsley. Simmer 15 minutes longer until creamy. Add a splash of vinegar.

BEFORE SERVING: Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired. If beans are too thick or dry, stir in 1/4 cup water at a time.

HOW TO MAKE RICE

About 35 minutes before meal time, prepare the rice.

Don’t follow the instructions listed on the package of rice. The ratio of rice to liquid is usually listed as 1 to 2. Instead, we’ll make this NOLA recipe with less water. The result will be tender fluffier rice! Here’s how.

Ingredients for making white rice and a Staub cocotte on a rustic white tabletop.

RECIPE PREP: To produce fluffy white rice, we need to rinse off the starch. Place rice in a strainer. Rinse grains until the water runs clear.

DIRECTIONS FOR WHITE RICE

  • STEP 1: Melt the butter in a small pot.
  • STEP 2: Add rice to the pot. Sauté until rice becomes fragrant and translucent. Add water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • STEP 3: Reduce the heat to low. Cover pot with a lid. Allow rice to simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until water is absorbed.
  • STEP 4: Remove pot from heat. Wrap lid of the pot in a kitchen towel. Place towel-wrapped lid back on the pot. Let the rice sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes to steam. Fluff with a fork.
4-image collage showing how to make white rice for red beans and rice recipe.

HOW TO SERVE THIS DISH: Ladle red beans over cooked white rice. Garnish with green onions and a bit more minced parsley. Enjoy this Monday tradition while clothes are drying on the line! Serve with Tabasco Sauce or Louisiana Crystal Hot Sauce. Enjoy with a side of corn bread.

EXPERT TIPS FOR RECIPE SUCCESS

Red beans and rice is heart and soul of New Orleans’ cooking. It’s hearty, smoky and meaty. The beans are creamy. It’s important to cook this dish right!

  • WHAT SIZE POT FOR THIS RECIPE? A 7-quart Dutch oven.
  • BEST BEANS FOR THIS RECIPE: For authentic red beans and rice, use Camellia brand dry red kidneys from New Orleans. It’s a NOLA tradition! These red beans were first sold in the famous French Quarter Market.
  • HOW TO SORT BEANS: Transfer beans to a clean kitchen towel. Sort through them looking for beans that are broken or shriveled, tiny rocks and debris. Discard rejects. Rinse sorted beans under running water.
  • WHY BRINE THE BEANS? Brining softens the skins so they don’t crack open as they cook. It also seasons the beans all the way through. Brining helps makes this dish extra tasty!
  • QUICK-BRINE METHOD FOR BEANS: In a time crunch, add beans to heavily-salted water. Bring the pot of beans to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.
  • CANNED BEANS IN A PINCH: If you need to get dinner on the table fast, use canned beans. But there will be a very noticeable difference. The texture will not be as silky and creamy, and the beans will not be as flavorful.
  • FRESH THYME: If you have thyme growing in your garden, use fresh herbs instead of dried.
  • BELL PEPPER SUBSTITUTE: Reach for a poblano chile. It’s not a typical ingredient for this NOLA recipe, but it’s an awesome substitute and so darn tasty!
  • TIPS FOR EXTRA SPICE: Turn up the heat with a few shakes of Crystal Hot Sauce, or Tabasco Pepper Sauce. Or add a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes.
Red beans and rice served on a dinner table along with Louisiana hot sauce.

MORE RECIPES TO MAKE ASAP

If you loved Louisiana red beans and rice, then you’ll also enjoy these delicious recipes. They’re perfect offerings on a Southern table.

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Serving of NOLA Red Beans and Rice in a blue bowl next to Louisiana hot sauce.

NEW ORLEANS RED BEANS AND RICE


  • Author: Denay DeGuzman
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 Hours 45 Minutes
  • Total Time: 3 Hours 15 Minutes
  • Yield: 5 Servings 1x

Description

This is an authentic recipe for New Orleans red beans and rice. Serve this NOLA favorite with corn bread. Enjoy it on Monday after the laundry is done, or any day of the week!


Scale

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS FOR RED BEANS

  • 1 pound Camellia brand dry red kidney beans, sorted over and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or bacon grease)
  • 3/4 cup chopped ham (or Louisiana tasso or 5 slices thick-cut bacon with rendered fat)
  • 1 medium onion (yellow or white), finely diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 large celery rib, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly-ground
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (omit if using Louisiana tasso)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (no stems)
  • 12 oz Andouille sausage – fully cooked not raw, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (or pickled pork shoulder)
  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 1 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, divided
  • Tabasco Sauce or Louisiana Crystal Hot Sauce, for serving

INGREDIENTS FOR RICE

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice (or Jasmine rice), for serving
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/22 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions, for garnishing

Instructions

RECIPE PREP

  1. Add 4 quarts water plus 3 tablespoons salt to a large pot. Whisk to combine. Add rinsed, sorted beans to the pot. Let beans brine overnight, or 8 to 24 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse beans in a colander. Return beans to the pot. Pour chicken broth and water over the beans. Bring to a simmer.

HOW TO MAKE RED BEANS

  1. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add chopped ham. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add onions to the skillet. Sauté until onions become tender and transparent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add bell peppers and celery. Season with salt and black pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add smoked paprika, cayenne, thyme, sage, basil, oregano and bay leaves. Stir them in. Transfer sautéed veggies to the pot of beans.
  3. Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Sauté sausage and ham hock until brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer meat and their juices to the pot. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vinegar.
  4. Simmer beans uncovered for 2 1/2 hours or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove ham hock and bay leaves. With a large spoon, mash 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Add parsley. Simmer 15 minutes longer until creamy. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar to brighten the flavor. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. If beans are too thick and dry, stir in water 1/4 cup at a time.

HOW TO MAKE TENDER FLUFFY RICE

  1. About 35 minutes before serving, prepare the rice.
  2. Place rice in a strainer. Rinse until the water runs clear.
    To produce a fluffy white rice we need to rinse off the starch.
  3. In a small pot, melt the butter.
  4. Add rice to the pot. Sauté until rice becomes fragrant and translucent. Add water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  5. Reduce the heat to low. Cover pot with a lid. Allow rice to simmer for 20 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove pot from heat. Wrap the lid of the pot in a kitchen towel. Place the towel-wrapped lid back on the pot. Let the rice sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes to steam. Fluff with a fork.

HOW TO SERVE RED BEANS AND RICE

Add a serving of white rice to a bowl (or wide-rimmed pasta bowl). Ladle the beans over the rice. Garnish with sliced green onions and a bit more minced parsley. Enjoy this Monday tradition while your clothes are drying on the line! Serve with Tabasco Sauce or Louisiana Crystal Hot Sauce. Enjoy with a side of corn bread. 


Notes

  • WHAT SIZE POT FOR THIS RECIPE? A 7-quart Dutch oven.
  • BEST BEANS FOR THIS RECIPE: For authentic red beans and rice, use Camellia brand dry red kidneys from New Orleans. It’s a NOLA tradition! These red beans were first sold in the famous French Quarter Market.
  • HOW TO SORT BEANS: Transfer beans to a clean kitchen towel. Sort through them looking for beans that are broken or shriveled, tiny rocks and debris. Discard rejects. Rinse sorted beans under running water.
  • WHY BRINE THE BEANS? Brining softens the skins of the beans so as the they cook they don’t crack open. It also seasons the beans all the way through.
  • QUICK-BRINE METHOD FOR BEANS: In a time crunch, add beans to heavily-salted water. Bring the pot of beans to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.
  • MORE INFO ABOUT THIS NEW ORLEANS RECIPE: Further tips are included in the body of the post, along with helpful step-by-step recipe images.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Louisiana, Cajun

Keywords: New Orleans Red Beans and Rice, Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

NEW ORLEANS RED BEANS AND RICE > join the conversation

When was the last time you made a trip to NOLA? What were your favorite foods? Did you have a chance to try authentic New Orleans red beans and rice? Share your thoughts below!

15 thoughts on “NEW ORLEANS RED BEANS AND RICE”

  1. I love Cajun food and this recipe was done right! I’ve never cooked with tasso before so that was a new experience but always add ham hocks to whatever I can. This turned out just like I remember red beans and rice tasted in N.O.

    Reply
  2. Such a wonderful place to attend cooking classes! I used to live on the gulf coast and miss being so close to New Orleans. All these flavors and the recipe are amazing!

    Reply
  3. Mmm. I love big flavors. I’ve tried these beans in restaurants, but I haven’t made them myself yet. I’m sure this will taste even better if it’s homemade!

    Reply
  4. Comfort in a bowl. Some super tips included in the recipe – I’m looking forward to making it this week.

    Reply
  5. I am always up for great rice recipe. I do love the combination of beans and rice. This will be a hit on the dinner table. I can hardly wait to make this!

    Reply
  6. What a delicious recipe! It’s always great to know history behind dishes so thanks for including that in your post. It was interesting to read.

    Reply

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