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Watch this quick video to see how I make the recipe:
Ahhh Red Beans and Rice. This humble Creole dish is one that I've been enjoying since I was a little kid. Considering that I grew up in the South, have a father who was born in Louisana and that I'm from a family with 5 kids, it makes complete sense that this dish made a regular appearance in my mom's dinner rotation. It's budget-friendly, easy to cook, makes a lot of food with enough for leftovers, and surprisingly was a dinner that 5 picky kids wouldn't complain about. And I still love it so much to this day!
Since this dish is one that I've literally been eating for decades, I thought it should be here on the blog - I love having all of my favorite recipes in one spot that I can easily refer to year after year. If you've had red beans and rice before, consider this post a reminder of how good they are and perfect for the fall and winter. And if you've never had this goodness, well, the time has come for you to try some good ol' Cajun-style red beans and rice!
Ingredients for red beans and rice
- Mirepoix - typically in Louisiana, a mix of veggies called the "holy trinity" is added to red beans and rice and includes bell pepper, celery, and onion. However, your girl here isn't a fan of onion, so we are going to use red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and celery to get a good aromatic flavor.
- Seasonings - every Southern pantry needs a good Cajun seasoning blend, and Slap Ya Mama is the one that I love (thanks mom and dad for introducing me). You will also need some minced garlic and a couple of dried bay leaves.
- Sausage - to make this dish healthier, I either choose smoked turkey sausage or chicken andouille for this recipe. Both are delicious! But it's easy to omit the sausage and just make the dish vegetarian since beans are high in protein and so satisfying on their own.
- Red Beans - dark or light dried red kidney beans are traditionally used in red beans and rice. They are so affordable!
- Rice - my rice of choice is always brown basmati rice when I can find it, and regular basmati in a pinch. I love that it cooks faster than plain rice, and it's easy to cook on the stovetop.
- On this side - I LOVE love love to serve red beans and rice with a side of braised collard or turnip greens. It's the ultimate Southern comfort food combination!
Making red beans and rice in the Instant Pot, slow cooker, and on the stovetop
The nice thing about this recipe is that you have multiple options for cooking it, depending on the equipment and amount of time that you have. I've included detailed instructions for each method in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here is a general overview:
- Short cooking time - the quickest way to cook red beans and rice is by far in the Instant Pot. With 40-60 minutes of cook time and about 30 minutes to come to pressure, you are looking at getting the red beans and rice cooked and on the table in just under 2 hours. I love the texture of the beans and sausage when cooked with this method.
- Medium cooking time - the stovetop is the way to go when you can soak the beans overnight and have about 3 hours to hang around the house while this fragrant meal simmers casually in your favorite big pot. I'm looking at you Sunday afternoon. Beans have such a creamy texture when thoroughly soaked and simmered slowly over a gentle heat. This is also the best method to avoid overcooking your sausage.
- Long cooking time - if you don't have time or forget to soak your beans, and also if you want a dish that can just be forgotten about all day until you get home from work, use the slow cooker! Depending on how hot your slow cooker cooks, the unsoaked dried beans will take anywhere from 6-9 hours to cook through completely. I don't love the texture of meats left in the slow cooker for long periods of time, so consider sauteing the sausage and adding it to the cooked beans at the end if that is also a concern for you.
No matter which method you choose, I highly recommend taking the extra step to saute the veggies, sausage, and seasonings in some oil before you add the beans and water to the cooker or pot. This develops such great flavor and is always an essential step for me that only takes a few minutes more.
Cooking dried beans: to soak or not to soak?
While dried beans can cook really well in the Instant Pot or slow cooker without pre-soaking, anyone that suffers from intestinal discomfort when eating beans may wish to soak them overnight. This makes the beans easier to digest and discarding the water they were soaked in removes some of the compounds that cause the discomfort. As you will see in the recipe below, I soaked my beans for 2 hours before cooking them in the Instant Pot. For me, this yields a creamy bean and cuts down on the time needed to pressure cook a bit.
Freezing red beans and rice
For those of us who love freezer meals (and why wouldn't you?), this dish is perfect for putting leftovers into a freezer-safe container and tucking away for enjoying later on a busy night! I also like to divide into single-portion meal prep containers so that we have the option to take a freezer meal to work. This recipe yields enough for serving 8-10 people, so you most likely will have plenty of leftovers to enjoy! I tend to only freeze the red bean portion and cook a batch of fresh rice once I've thawed and reheated the beans.
Other Southern-inspired favorite recipes
- Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Southern-Style Pasta e Fagioli
- Whole Grain Buttermilk Cornbread
- New Orleans-style Barbecue Shrimp with Grits
- Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes
- Suprise-Inside Pimento Cheese Tartlets
Are you ready to make these Red Beans and Rice? I’m so excited for you to try this recipe. Once you get the chance to make it, please let me know how it turns out for you! Leave a comment and rate the recipe below. This will help me with the creation of future recipes! I’d also love to feature your creation in my monthly newsletter, so you can upload a photo to Instagram or Twitter with the tag @sweetcayenne5 to be featured!
Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
- Oil, for sauteeing
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced with seeds and core removed
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced with seeds and core removed
- 16 ounces (1 pound) smoked turkey sausage or andouille chicken sausage, sliced into rounds then halves
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon Slap Ya Mama cajun seasoning (a good substitute is Tony Chachere's)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 16 ounces dried red kidney beans, soaked for 2 hours **(see notes)
- Water** (see notes)
- Basmati rice for serving, cooked according to package directions
- Optional garnish: Louisiana hot sauce and sliced green onion
Instant Pot Instructions (use beans soaked for 2 HOURS):
- Set the Instant Pot to “saute” mode for 10 minutes. Add a bit of oil to the bottom of the pot once it is warm. Add celery and bell peppers, and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey sausage and garlic, sauteing for a few minutes more. Add the cajun seasoning and bay leaves. Press “cancel” on the Instant Pot. Add the beans and 5 cups of water. Place the lid on top and turn the knob to “sealing.” Cook on manual high pressure for 40 minutes. Once done, carefully quick release the pressure, using a towel on top to help absorb the steam.
- Remove the lid and stir. Serve hot over cooked basmati rice. Garnish as desired with hot sauce and sliced green onion.
Slow Cooker Instructions (use UNSOAKED beans):
- Place a skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of oil to the bottom of the pan once it is warm. Add celery and bell peppers, and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey sausage and garlic, sauteing for a few minutes more. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add the cajun seasoning, bay leaves, beans, and 8 cups of water. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours until the beans are tender and creamy on the inside. Remove the lid and stir. Serve hot over cooked basmati rice. Garnish as desired with hot sauce and sliced green onion.
Stovetop Instructions (use beans soaked OVERNIGHT or QUICK SOAKED):
- Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I use a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add a bit of oil to the bottom of the pan once it is warm. Add celery and bell peppers, and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey sausage and garlic, sauteing for a few minutes more. Add the cajun seasoning and bay leaves, stirring to combine. Add the beans and 6 cups of water (or more; you need enough to cover the beans by 1 inch). Increase heat to medium-high to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 1 ½ - 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy and tender.
Once this meal is cooked, it freezes beautifully! Simply place the cooled red bean mixture in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a pot on the stovetop. Cook some fresh rice to serve with the beans.
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