Cajun Red Beans and Rice is a classic Louisiana dish piled high with comforting, southern flavours. Healthy and packed with a spicy kick, this vegetarian rice and beans combo goes great with your favorite proteins, like sausage, chicken, or shrimp.
Beans & Rice: The Universal Dish of Life
The combination of red beans and rice, or, of any pulse with any grain, is a common practice all over the world and has been for centuries -- and with good reason. Both grains and beans, in all of their varieties, are inexpensive staple foods that sustain many people. Together, they taste good, keep well, and pack maximum nutrition. Plus, both rice and beans are super easy to cook! You can use leftover rice and canned beans or learn how to cook beans and rice yourself for a delicious, homemade dinner.
Origins of Cajun Beans and Rice? Wash Day!
Cajun red beans and rice is a classic Louisiana dish. Traditionally, Monday was the day to eat these beans, because Monday was wash day, and the beans could simmer all day on the stove with little attention from the cook, who was busy with the washing. Aren’t we all happy that we don’t have that problem now? Having to spend a whole day scrubbing clothes is nobody’s idea of a good time. But I’m happy that this traditional dish was born of that craziness and is still around today.
Here's What You Need to Make Cajun Red Beans and Rice
- Veggies: Like any dish, you can always pick and choose your favourite vegetables to sauté and add to your red beans and rice. I used a small diced onion, green onion, diced bell pepper, and diced celery stalk for this recipe.
- Beans: You will need drained red kidney beans, and you can use canned or make your own. I’m using canned red kidney beans today as a time saver. If you want to add more diversity to the dish, you can mix and match the types of beans you include.
- Rice: Use long-grain brown rice to keep the dish more healthy.
- Cajun seasoning: You can buy a packaged Cajun Spice mix or you can easily make your own.
- Hot sauce: If you want to turn up the heat, you can always add Franks or another hot sauce (even peppers) before serving.
- Other ingredients: Minced garlic, vegetable oil, salt, reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
How to Make Cajun Red Beans and Rice, Step By Step
This easy red beans and rice recipe, packed full of mouthwatering Cajun spices, can be ready and on the dinner table in less than 45 minutes. Serve with your favourite protein or simply enjoy this meal-in-itself.
Step 1: Cook the Veggies
Heat your oil over medium-high in a dutch oven or large saucepan. Once the oil is hot, add chopped onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery. Sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are softening.
Step 2: Make it Cajun
Add in the Cajun seasoning and salt, stirring until fragrant, for about 2 minutes. With all spices, I recommend adding in a little bit at a time and then seasoning to taste.
Step 3: Add Red Beans and Rice
Stir in the beans, stock, and rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.
NOTE: Cook time will vary with rice. Use the package directions on your rice.
Step 4: Allow to Cool and Serve
Remove from heat and let your red beans and rice sit, covered, for about 10 minutes, before fluffing with a fork and serving. Stir in hot sauce if you want even more heat, and garnish with green onion.
For Optimum Beans and Rice Nutrition: More Beans Than Rice
The key to optimum nutrition with a beans and rice combination is to use more beans than rice. The beans are the superfood here. Another key: Use brown rice, rather than white rice. If brown rice alone doesn’t thrill you? You won’t notice the difference when it’s cooked in a flavourful dish like Cajun Red Beans and Rice. This dish is often cooked with sausage, like chorizo, or andouille, and you can easily add that, or even chicken or shrimp, if you like.
Leftovers and Storage
Store your red beans and rice in an air-tight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. If making ahead, red beans and rice actually freezes really well! Just be sure to give it enough time to thaw before serving.
Variations of red beans and rice are common throughout the Caribbean, (try Coconut Red Beans & Rice) Central and South America, and in the American south, especially Louisiana. I’ve always loved the flavours of that region and like to cook with Cajun spices.
Cajun Red Beans and Rice
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion diced (about ½ cup
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 796 ml can red kidney beans drained
- 1 cup reduced sodium vegetable or chicken stock
- ½ cup long grain brown rice
- 1 tsp hot sauce optional
- 1 green onion thinly sliced
- Heat oil over medium high in a dutch oven or large saucepan.
- Add onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery. Cook about 3 minutes, until vegetables are softening
- Add Cajun seasoning and salt, stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes
- Stir in beans, stock, and rice.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30-45 minutes until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.*
- Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, before fluffing with a fork and serving.
- Stir in hot sauce, if using.
- Garnish with green onion.