Monday, May 4, 2009

Homemade Southern Red Beans and Rice

Homemade red kidney beans made with dried beans, and slow stewed with the Trinity, bacon, smoked sausage and a good ham bone or ham hock if you have one, served over hot rice. Served here with a pan seared pork chop and Southern green beans. Heavenly.

Homemade Southern Red Beans and Rice

Monday. Wash Day. Red Beans and Rice day.

Back in the day at least, that was the way that it was, and the tradition of eating red beans & rice on Mondays, either for lunch or dinner, carries on down here in the south, even if nobody’s doin’ laundry.

For the homemaker who did not know the modern conveniences we have today, every day had its own task. Thursday was the day for grocery shopping, Saturdays were often spent doing the baking, and laundry was almost universally done on Mondays back then. As a physically grueling job, with hand wringin' and basket haulin' and hangin' everything outside to dry, and no man around to borrow muscle strength from, this duty most suited Mondays because after a day of rest on Sunday, the physical strength would definitely be needed. We sure have it made these days I tell ya!

Sunday supper was generally one that could be placed in the oven to slow cook while the family was at church, and very often down south, that would be a large ham that could also be used for multiple meals. That ham bone would become the central seasoning ingredient for a pot of red beans and rice, a dish that could slow simmer on the stovetop for hours with little monitoring but for an occasional stir, perfect for wash day. These days that could be ham, or maybe even smoked sausage, bacon or any combination of the three.

Down here in The Deep South, the premium dried beans for any pot of red beans & rice are, in my opinion, Camellia brand beans. I can't imagine not using Camellia brand, at least not in this part of the country, and while you can even order them online directly from the company website, if you don't have them, don't fret over it. Just use what you got! A lot of people think there is no difference in brands or generics but I have to disagree. Camellia brand beans are always consistently creamy and they just cook up better. I can tell the difference.

These days home cooks are more likely to prepare a pot of homemade red beans and rice on Sunday, when time is more at leisure, and have the leftovers on Monday. Truth is, that's perfectly fine, and maybe even better because a pot of cooked red beans, like a good gumbo or chili, will only improve over time, so leftovers are actually even better. Before you refrigerate them though, stir in a little extra stock or water because they will thicken substantially overnight. Adding extra liquid when heating them up will work, but it will also dilute the flavor, so add it in before you refrigerate them. The heat level will intensify as well as they sit, so do keep that in mind if you are cooking these a day ahead.

While I did my laundry over the weekend and only finished it up this morning {and have the sore muscles today to prove it} well, today seemed just perfect for a pot of good ole red beans and rice. Scoop the beans over hot, cooked rice and serve with hot buttered French bread, or pistolette yeast rolls or better yet, a big honking slice of hot buttered southern style skillet cornbread - cooked in a greased up screamin' hot cast iron skillet, so the bottom is all full of crunchy yumminess. I'm telling ya, this is some delicious goodness. Add a slice of pound cake for dessert and enjoy!

If you have a hankering for some red beans and rice but don't have the time to do the dried beans, check out that shortcut version I told you about - it's a pretty darned good, speedy substitute that really does taste like you cooked 'em all day, I promise! My recipe for skillet red beans and rice is a little different variety, but it's also very good. Be sure to check it out too!

Here's how to make my Homemade Red Beans and Rice.

I use the speed cook method for my beans most of the time, mostly because I can never remember to soak them the night before. Rinse and sort beans and place into a deep pot, adding water to cover beans plus about an inch or so. Do not add any seasonings or salt! Bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes uncovered, turn off heat, cover and let soak for one hour. Drain and set aside in a large pot.

In a separate skillet, cook the bacon until lightly cooked and still limp. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery to the bacon and sauté the veggies until tender. Add the garlic, black and red pepper, basil and bay leaf into the vegetable mixture and let seasoning meld with the veggies for about 3 minutes, stirring. Transfer to the pot of beans.

Meanwhile slice sausage - you can slice them in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch or just cut them into larger chunks, as pictured below. Add oil to skillet you used for the veggies and lightly brown the sausage. Transfer to the bean pot.

If you have any leftover ham chunks, cut those up too, brown them and add them in. If you have a ham hock or two, or a ham bone, throw that in too. Add 2 quarts of fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cooked uncovered for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

You'll want to cook them until they transform from soup, to a creamy pot of beans that are tender and slightly thickened. If you need to thicken them up more, just remove about a cup of the beans and mash them with a fork, returning them to the pot. Serve over hot, cooked rice and garnish with sliced green onion, if desired. Pass hot sauce at the table. I served these below over rice, with a pork chop, seasoned with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning and pan seared in a little olive oil and Southern style green beans and cornbread on the side.

Recipe: Mary's Homemade Southern Red Beans and Rice

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 2 hours | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 pound of dried, Camellia brand red kidney beans
  • 1/2 pound of bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large stalk of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste, optional
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil
  • 1 package (14 oz.) smoked sausage or andouille sausage, ham bone, ham hocks, ham chunks, or any combination
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, optional
  • Kosher salt to taste, if needed – BUT ONLY AT THE END!
  • Hot, cooked rice
  • Sliced green onion, for garnish, optional
  • Hot sauce, for the table

Rinse and sort beans and place into a deep pot, adding water to cover beans plus about an inch or so. Do not add any seasonings or salt! Bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes uncovered, turn off heat, cover and let soak for one hour. Drain and set aside in a large pot.

In a separate skillet, cook the bacon until lightly cooked and still limp. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery to the bacon and sauté the veggies until tender. Add the garlic, black and red pepper, basil and bay leaf into the vegetable mixture and let seasoning meld with the veggies for about 3 minutes, stirring. Add the bacon, veggie & seasoning mixture to the pot of beans. Meanwhile slice sausage in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch chunks, or cut into larger chunks. Add oil to skillet you used for the veggies and lightly brown the sausage.  Transfer to the bean pot. If you have any leftover ham chunks, cut those up too, brown them and add them in as well as any ham hocks or ham bone you have.

Add 2 quarts of fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cooked uncovered for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until beans are tender and slightly thickened. When beans are just about done, slide in a half stick of butter. The butter adds richness to the beans and makes them just super delish, but is totally optional if you want to leave it out. They are good without it. If you need to thicken them up more, just remove about a cup of the beans and mash them with a fork, returning them to the pot. Serve over hot, cooked rice and garnish with sliced green onion, if desired. Pass hot sauce at the table.

Cook's Notes: Do not add any salt until the end, and then only if it needs it. There is some salt present from all the meats involved, so taste and adjust your seasonings toward the end of cooking, adding salt here if needed. I very often find that the pot needs no additional salt at all. Taste, add salt if needed, taste again and adjust seasoning as needed.

For the slow cooker version, click here.


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Recipes Out Too!

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Posted by on May 4, 2009

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  1. Wow--I was born and raised in Louisiana and I have never put butter in my red beans--everything else is pretty much the same recipe I use--I am going to try the butter soon. I think I'll make red beans and rice one day this week. I just love your recipes--they taste like home! Thanks for your blog. Sheila in NC

  2. Thanks Sheila! I love hearin' that!!

    I have no idea why I decided to do that the first time - but it was so good I have done it ever since and that was a looooooong time ago. I mean butter, really... how can ya go wrong??!! ;)

  3. *sigh* it's laundry day here. Every single monday. . .This recipe sounds great Mary! I can't wait to give it a try.

  4. Everything on this site (even the pictures) are the antithesis of my vegan/raw food attempts. Blast you! It all looks soooo good, too.

    Thanks for entering my Becca cosmetics giveaway. I'll pick a winner in nine days when I return from Los Angeles. Be sure to check back in.

  5. MT so sorry! Such is the life of the southerner. Have a safe trip and thanks for stoppin' by.

  6. Believe it or not, I found red kidney beans at Walmart under their Great Vlaue brand name. I was scared to try them, but guess what? They are every bit as good as Camelia. Talk about a present surprise! I love fresh red onions sprinkled on top too!

  7. Oh I don't know Katherine! I'm such an old dog - think I'll stick with Camellia brand cuz that's the only kind I've ever been pleased with - unless it gets to a point that I have to switch for some reason!

    I'm not real snobby about brands but for a few things, that's why you'll see mention of name brands in some of my recipes. Not to say my brands are the best or the only ones to use in my recipes, but just that those are the ones that I used and prefer in that particular recipe. Sometimes I actually do use generics!

    And me? You know I'm all for red onion for sure. That sounds pretty good to me!

  8. Being from the Pacific Northwest originally, and the high Nevada desert now.... red beans and rice are not a staple. I love southern cooking tho, so I'm going to give these a try!!

  9. Debbie - please come back and let me know what you think!

  10. Mary,
    I made the red beans and rice yesterday. I have to say they were the best I have ever made. I am 45 and have been married almost 26 years so that is a lot of meals I have cooked--and red beans and rice is one of the staples. I now have a new favorite. My daughter had a favorite saying for her favorite food when she was small--tasteable--well this recipe is very tasteable. Everyone loved it. Thanks again. Sheila in NC

  11. Yay Sheila! Thanks so much for coming back to let me know. That always means the world to me.

    Tasteable... I LIKE that word!!

  12. I don't like red beans, so I substituted pintos, cooked them as your recipe states,wasn't sure about the butter, but decided to try it anyway, OMG! was glad I did! It was wonderfulicious!

  13. Glad you enjoyed the recipe Donna! I know that butter seems crazy, but it sure is good.

  14. Glad you enjoyed it Ariel! Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and leave a comment - I really appreciate that!

  15. Love red beans & rice! This is the classic version, it's funny how many different versions are out there. My grandmother & mother are from New Orleans and the only thing different in their recipe is the sausage. They never put sausage in their beans. Mo-mo didn't put butter in the beans on the stove, but there was butter on the table so you could add it to your own. I live in East Texas now and once someone asked me if I ever put crab boil in my beans...crab boil!!!!

  16. Maybe you may want to add a twitter button to your blog. Just bookmarked the site, but I had to make this manually. Simply my 2 cents.

  17. I've never tried crab boil in my red beans but hey, might be worth a try to see what it tastes like!

    To the person looking for my Twitter button, there's a join button for Twitter in the very top upper left hand sidebar, and each post as two tweet buttons if you want to share that post on Twitter - one at the top & one at the bottom. Hope that helps!

  18. I'm leaving for several hours, so I got to the last cooking step and moved it into the oven on low to slow cook it while I'm out and about. I'll let you know how it goes!

  19. Afternoon Mary,

    Boy, you really brought back some memories of my Grandma Daisy, doing her wash on Monday's in her ringer washer she never did want to get rid of , ironging on Tuesday's, she ironed everything, even her bras, sheets, & pillow cases. Mend on Wednesday, (she never wore pants, made her dresses and belts, and wore aprons everyday), Churn on Thursday (Not!), Clean on Friday, Bake on Saturday, Rest on Sunday.

    She had embroidered dish towels for each day of the week! Remember those????

    Yeah, I guess I'm old but don't tell nobody!!!!

    Have a good day Mary, enjoy those red beans and rice!!


  20. I do remember those Joyce! I love that old schedule. Need to put myself on one. Guess I could blog on Thursday instead of churning!! ;)

  21. I made this last night and I have to tell you, it was the BEST red beans and rice! We all loved it. I have one of those funny words for food too. Yummafied...I told the kids they had to wait for the food to cook a little more and get all yummafied. They said it was well worth the wait. This was the first time I have used one of your recipes but it will surely not be the last. Thank you!

  22. Thanks Deborah & love your funny word too! Glad y'all enjoyed the red beans & I really appreciate you taking the time to come back and comment about the recipe - thank you!

  23. Thanks for sharing this dish. I've been having the hardest time making my red beans taste good. From now on this will be the way I do it! My husband ate 2 plate fulls, and my 3 year old son ate every bit of his too! Thanks again! :)

  24. Oh Vickie, I'm so glad & you're very welcome!! Glad they enjoyed the red beans!!

  25. Love your recipes! My wife and I are going to try some in the next month, around the time of my birthday.

    Someone who knows the folks who started Popeye's told me they use minced pepperoni in their red beans and rice to give it its distinctive taste. Have you ever heard of that?

    Anyway, we both love your site, and really appreciate all the work you've put into it. There's no food like Southern food!

  26. Hi Rob! Thanks so much. Pepperoni? That's a new one on me! I can't say that I've ever detected that flavor in their red beans myself, but hey who knows!

  27. Greetings from Houston!
    Growing up, my mother cooked nearly every night and I was raised on traditional southern food. Red beans were a staple in our house. Now that I have my own family, I cook very similarly to my mother with one exception-I have switched red beans and rice recipes! Yours is so much better, but lets keep that between the two of us.
    Thanks for the awesomeness that is this recipe.

  28. Thank you Allison! My husband loves these beans too - and your secret is safe with me promise!! :)

  29. Made this for dinner today, and it was awesome. It had just the right amount spice from the cayenne and the down home sausage i used. It was just delicious. Plan on making this for the rest of my life. I got a while too because I'm only 22.

  30. Thanks Bree! Glad you enjoyed the red beans & so happy to see someone your age loving the kitchen too! This recipe for red beans is one of the site favorites & has converted quite a few folks over to this method believe it or not! My husband loves them done this way, so besides the occasional shortcut version, I have kept with this method for years! Thanks for taking the time to come back and comment - I appreciate that!

  31. I made these for dinner tonight and it was big hit!! Taste amazing! I used beef bacon and beef smoked sausage and they gave the beans a great flavor! This was my first time making red beans from scratch and this will be the only recipe I use from here out. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome! I like the idea of beef too, interesting!!

  32. my god we love this i think it sure be a law for this it is so goooooood i live these recipies

  33. I Love these Red Beans and Rice. I have not used basil but I do use bacon, ham hocks and sausage.Try serving them with Fried Pork Chops, Cole Slaw, Corn Bread, Peach Cobbler and Tea. LOVE IT...Try not to hurt yourself :-)

  34. How long would I cook it if they beans are fully cooked?

  35. ok. Thank you. I like this recipe better. I just figured it would be easier and faster if I precooked my beans.

    1. This recipe will work for precooked beans, you'll just have to make some adjustments in the cooking time and process.

  36. Made these tonight - cooked 3 hours in order to get it to look creamy like yours. The fat floating on top I think keeps the steam from escaping, so it won't reduce enough in 2 hours.

    That being said this was ABSOLUTELY delicous! My first attempt at red beans and rice.

    Loving your site.

    1. Thanks so much! I'm guessing you probably just needed a slightly higher simmer on them is all but with practice you'll have them cooking faster in no time.

  37. Made these and they were good. Using your recipe from now own. I always use Camellia dried beans and Conecuh small link sausage.

    1. Thanks Dalton! Some folks say the bean doesn't make any difference, but I think it does!

    2. I've tried other brands and they just are not as good as Camellia. Use their red beans, navy beans, and black eyed peas. Thankfully, a local sore here in Podunk carries them.

      Have been using Conecuh sausage for at least 25 years. They are everywhere now, but used to only find them at Kroger.

    3. Just found your website tonight as I was looking for a broccoli cheese rice casserole and went with yours which was amazing! So you got bookmarked and I looked forward to trying many more of your recipes =) On the bean debate though, I felt compelled to share a little jewel that my dad found while he was traveling. Note I am a Louisiana man who enjoys cooking. While I dont discriminate about brand or whatever on most things, some things grown in certain places are just better.. Like Vidiala Onions, or West Carroll tomatoes. Something in the soil here just makes our tomatoes just a little tangier, gives em that extra zing! Now on to the point, the beans my dad found =) Anasazi Beans, it's a type of red bean grew by Native Americans in the 4 Corners area in Colorado. Not sure how my dad came across them exactly but dang! They are good! The only way I know to get them is by ordering them online from We usually order em in 10 pound sacks, and I promise not here advertising blah blah. Lover of cooking just trying to share a little jewel I found. I work on the ambulance and when I made them for my partner he was like wow! What are these beans? Great site Mary and hope you give em a try and let me know what you think. I got some Jalepeno Deer Sausage in the freezer just waiting to try this recipe here! Haha!

  38. Cooked this recipe last night exactly as written and it was awesome. Even better today when I warmed up the leftovers.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe & yep, I do agree... like gumbo, red beans are even better the next day! Thanks so much for stopping back by to let me know you enjoyed them!!


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