Red Beans and Rice Recipe

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This traditional New Orleans dish is still a Monday staple in Louisiana homes.
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Red beans and rice recipe - classic louisiana dish
Red Beans and Rice at Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans

Monday was historically the "wash day" for the week in New Orleans. Traditionally, the woman of the house would cook a pot of red beans while she tended to laundry duties because the meal required little hands-on attention. The beans would be seasoned with the left-over hambone from Sunday's traditional ham supper.

Today, the dish is a staple in homes and restaurants around the state.  It is a common Monday special in both fine dining and casual eateries.  

While Monday isn't necessarily wash day anymore, we know they can be hectic with getting the week started.  Try this recipe to ease yourself back into the work week, while impressing your family and friends.

Red Beans and Rice Recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon drippings
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound boiled or baked ham cut, into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 ounces smoked sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted through, soaked overnight and drained
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 8 to 10 cups water
  • Cooked white rice

Method of Preparation:

Heat the oil/drippings in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, cayenne, black pepper and thyme for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, ham and sausage and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the beans, garlic, and enough water to cover the contents in the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 2 hours. Add more water if the mixture becomes dry and thick. Mash about half of the mixture against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon to add thickness. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours. The mixture should be creamy and the beans soft. Add more water if it becomes too thick. The finished product should be soupy, not watery. Remove the bay leaves and serve over cooked white rice.

Serve as a main dish or add grilled sausage or a piece of fried chicken on the side to round out the meal.