Red beans and rice recipe is a classic Southern comfort food, rich in flavor and nutrients. Made with red beans, rice, and smoked ham hocks, this dish offers a tasty, hearty meal perfect for any occasion.
This guide will walk you through the steps to prepare and cook red beans and rice and provide valuable tips and tricks for the best results.
⬇️ Table of Contents
Red beans and rice is a classic dish from Louisiana that can be made with ham hocks and Andouille sausage. It's a hearty, filling dish perfect for any time of year.
Red beans and rice are two of the world's most eaten foods. Beans are high in protein, and rice is high in fiber, which combines the two main building blocks needed to be healthy.
Have you heard all the talk about bone broths and stocks lately? The amazing health benefits? We are using one today, Beef stock.
Or, you could use homemade chicken stock or even good old water.
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans
- 2 smoked ham hocks (about 1.5 to 2 pounds)
- 1 link Andouille Sausage (smoked sausage)
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 4 cups water or chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup chopped green onions (scallions)
- Hot sauce, for serving (optional)
- 1 tablespoon🧈 Butter. Or beef marrow butter is a by-product of making homemade beef stock. The bone marrow butter sets up at the top of the pot when the beef stock completely cools down. The beef marrow butter is ready for the next day for use. Or use regular butter.
How to Soak Dried Beans
- Rinse the dried beans (kidney beans) in a colander under cold water, removing any stones or debris.
- In a large bowl, add the soaked beans and enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Soak the beans for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- After soaking, drain and rinse the beans, then set aside.
Time-saving tip: Use canned beans; rinse them off under cool water.
How to Cook the Rice
- Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer under cold water until the water runs clear.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the rice and 4 cups of water or chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 18-20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and set aside.
What to Do with the Ham Hocks
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
- Add the smoked ham hocks and cook, turning occasionally, until they are browned on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Remove them from the pot and set them aside.
Cooking the Red Beans
- In the same pot, add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery (holy trinity). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Stir in the soaked and drained kidney beans, browned hocks, Louisiana style smoked sausage (Andouille Sausage ), creole seasoning / cajun seasoning, and bay leaves. Pour enough water into the pot to cover by about 2 inches, and cook beans to absorb the flavors.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed to keep the beans submerged.
- When the beans are tender, remove the ham hocks from the pot. Discard the bay leaves. Let the ham hocks cool slightly before removing the meat from the bones. Shred the meat and returned it to the pot.
- Season the cooked red beans with salt and pepper to taste.
You can always substitute with canned red beans (cooked kidney beans).
What to Serve with Red Beans and Rice
Serve the red beans over cooked rice, garnished with chopped fresh parsley and green onions. Offer hot sauce on the side for those who prefer an extra kick of spice. Red beans and rice pairs well with a variety of dishes, including:
- Cornbread or crusty French bread, perfect for sopping up the flavorful sauce
- A simple green salad with a tangy vinaigrette dressing
- Sautéed or steamed green vegetables, such as collard greens, green beans, or okra
- Fried plantains or sweet potatoes for a touch of natural sweetness
How to Store Leftover Red Beans and Rice
Properly storing your leftover red beans and rice will ensure it stays fresh and delicious for future meals. Follow these steps to store your leftovers:
- Allow the red beans and rice to cool to room temperature.
- Separate the beans from the rice, storing them in separate airtight containers. This will prevent the rice from becoming soggy.
- Refrigerate the leftovers within 2 hours of cooking. They will last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
- To reheat, place the desired portion of beans in a saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. If the beans have thickened, you can add a splash of water or broth to thin the sauce. Warm the rice in a separate saucepan or in the microwave.
Additional Tips for Perfect Red Beans and Rice
To ensure your red beans and rice with ham hocks turns out perfect every time, consider these additional tips and tricks:
Variations and Substitutions
- If you don't have access to ham hocks, you can substitute smoked turkey legs or andouille sausage for a different smoky flavor.
- For a vegetarian version, omit the ham hocks and use vegetable broth instead of water. You can also add smoked paprika for a hint of smokiness.
- To add some heat, try including a diced jalapeño or a few dashes of cayenne pepper, or habanero.
- Different rice options, like brown rice, basmati,
Cooking Red Beans in a Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker
- Pressure Cooker: If you're short on time, you can make instant pot red beans and rice using a pressure cooker. Follow the steps for sautéing the vegetables and browning the ham hocks, then transfer everything to the pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 30-40 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally before opening the lid. Check the beans for tenderness and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Slow Cooker: To cook red beans and rice in a slow cooker, start by browning the ham hocks and sautéing the vegetables as described in the instructions. Transfer everything to the slow cooker and add enough water to cover the beans and ham hocks by about 2 inches. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours, until the beans are tender.
- For an authentic New Orleans experience, serve red beans and rice with ham hocks as a Monday night supper, a tradition dating back to the city's early days when laundry was done on Mondays, and a slow-cooking pot of beans provided a convenient meal.
- Turn your red beans and rice into a festive Mardi Gras dinner by adding colorful sliced bell peppers or a sprinkling of purple, green, and gold edible glitter on top of the dish.
- Create a Southern-themed dinner party by pairing red beans and rice with other regional favorites like gumbo, jambalaya, or shrimp and grits.
Watch How To Make
Red beans and rice with ham hocks is not only delicious but also nutritious. It provides a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, making it a satisfying and healthy meal option. Here's a general nutritional breakdown per serving:
- Calories: 550 kcal
- Protein: 32 g
- Carbohydrates: 77 g
- Fiber: 13 g
- Fat: 14 g
Keep in mind that these figures are approximate and may vary depending on the specific ingredients used and portion sizes.
Red beans and rice with ham hocks is a protein-packed meal, thanks to the combination of beans and meat. This dish provides a complete source of essential amino acids, making it an excellent option for those looking to include more plant-based proteins in their diet without sacrificing taste.
Fiber and Digestive Health
Red beans are rich in dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps maintain a healthy gut. Fiber can also help you feel full for longer, making this dish a satisfying option for those watching their calorie intake.
Vitamins and Minerals
This dish is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, potassium, and magnesium, which are vital for maintaining overall health.
Do I Need to Soak the Red Beans Before Cooking?
How Should I Store Dried Beans?
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📖 Recipe Card
Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Ham Hocks
- 16 oz Kidney Beans
- 16 oz Small Red Beans
- 2 Smoked Hamhocks
- 1 medium Poblano or Bell Pepper (chopped) Or Bell Pepper
- 2 cups Beef Stock vegetable or chicken stock will work
- 2 Femur Beef Bones Cooked with the beans, adds a nice presentation with cross-cut femur bones to use for plating.
- 8 cups Water
- 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
- 1 large Onion (chopped) small dice
- 4 stalks Celery (chopped)
- 2 Cooked Rice Jasmine rice is classically used
Cooking The Beans
- Preparing the two types of beans: first, rinse the beans off under cold water and wash the vegetables.
- The vegetables need to be chopped to a small to medium size. They will get cooked down in size with the beans. Chop the vegetables to a size you enjoy thinking about the finished dish and mouth feel.Veg:In a small pot, sweat the vegetables with 3 tablespoons of butter and allow the vegetables to release their natural waters. To add a depth of flavor, cook the vegetables until they have browned nicely, to the point the vegetables begin to start to caramelize.Also, the browning of the butter is suggested before adding the vegetables. But be careful not to burn the butter. Butter has milk solids in it and they can ruin the dish with the flavor of burnt milk. To brown the butter: butter over medium heat in a small sauce pot until the butter smells nutty in aroma and becomes amber in color.Once the vegetables are cooked, then transfer them to a large stock pot and add the 2 types of rinsed beans.
- Then add the Hamhocks, Andouille sausage, Beef Bones, minced Garlic, Beef Stock and Water.2 Cups of Beef or Chicken Stock8 Cups of Water1 ½ pounds/ 12oz Andouille sausage (amount shown in image)Femur Bones - as many as are needed for plating1+ large Tablespoons of minced Garlic
- Tip: Our suggestion is to cook the beans with the ham hocks and the femur bones, then around the mid-cooking point remove half of the beans. Make sure to cover the removed beans with some of the cooking liquid, or risk the beans drying out. To finish, return the beans to the main cooking pot to rewarm before serving.Cook the beans for 3 to 4 hours on the stovetop partly covered so a small amount of liquid can escape. If you cook the beans for the entire 4-hours the beans will be very soft. Some people love them this way.Note: If you're using a bunch of beef femur bones, clean them beforehand. Boil them in a pot of water to remove impurities.
- After 2 plus hours, the beans will be soft to the touch. The longer cooking time is for the hammocks to soften and release the meat from the bone. Think of it like braising a pot roast. Longer is usually better in the way of softness. The beans become a natural thickening agent from releasing the natural starches.If you would like the dish to be thicker the trick is to smash a few of the beans against the side of the pot. The split beans will mix with the stock and water and thicken. This is a traditional method of thicking red beans and rice.
- Complete guide to cooking rice on the stovetop, using the Instant Pot, a Rice Cooker the Oven and a Microwave. The link is above the recipe card and in the Note section below.