Red Beans and Rice

A Louisiana classic, red beans are slow cooked with smoked ham shanks, onions, celery, bell peppers, and spices. Served over rice, it's flavorful and filling.

Cajun style Red Beans & Rice
Elise Bauer

Something tells me we're not the only ones who get excited over beans and rice. Do you?

Rarely a week goes by that we don't have beans of some sort or another, and my mother's chili beans with rice are a staple around here.

My father found a recipe in our local grocery store (Raley's) circular for a Cajun red beans and rice using smoked pork shanks. Given my dad's love affair with all things pork, he couldn't wait to make it.

Traditional Louisiana red beans and rice also uses Andouille sausage which we did not add, but you could if you wanted. There was plenty of flavor, and plenty of meat, with the smoked shanks.

Creole style Red Beans and Rice in a bowl
Elise Bauer

Red Beans and Rice: Creole or Cajun?

That's not an easy question to answer. Red Beans and Rice is a southern Louisiana/New Orleans staple, and both Creole and Cajun cooking are native to Louisiana. Creole cooking often uses tomato, and Cajun cooking uses tomato sparingly. This recipe does not add tomato—although several commenters mention they add tomatoes when making red beans and rice.

It also contains the Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking: celery, onion and green bell pepper. So perhaps this red beans and recipe is closer to Cajun style than Creole style, although you can use either Cajun or Creole seasoning to flavor it.

More Cajun and Creole Recipes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Red Beans and Rice

Prep Time 20 hrs
Cook Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Bean soaking time 8 hrs
Total Time 30 hrs 45 mins
Servings 8 servings

If you have access to ham hocks and not shanks, you may want to make up the difference in meat (hocks have much less meat) with sausage. Just take 1/2 pound of Andouille sausage, slice, brown first before adding to the beans with the ham shanks.

If you do not eat pork, you might try making this with smoked turkey sausage, in which case I would replace some of the water with chicken stock.

If you don't have Cajun or Creole seasoning, just skip it and add some thyme (fresh or dried), a bay leaf (in with the beans and shanks in Step 2), and a little paprika.

Recipe adapted from "Something Extra", winter 2009 issue, Raley's and Bel Air Markets.


  • 1 pound dry small red beans

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds meaty ham shanks

  • 4 cups water

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery

  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning, or to taste

  • Tabasco sauce, to taste

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Cooked white rice (from about 3 cups raw rice)


  1. Soak the beans:

    Place dried beans in a large bowl and cover them with cold water by a couple of inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. (You can quick soak them by putting them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them, covering them by 2 inches, then letting them soak for two hours.) Drain.

  2. Cook the beans with ham, garlic, onion, water:

    Place beans, ham shanks, garlic, chopped onion, and water in a large (8-quart) pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.

  3. Separate the meat from bones:

    Remove ham shanks from the pot to a dish. Let cool slightly then shred the meat away from the bones. Return the meat back to the pot.

  4. Add the vegetables and seasonings:

    Add the celery, bell peppers, Worcestershire and seasonings. Cover and cook for another hour or until the mixture gets thick.

    Season to taste with Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.

    Serve over rice.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
323 Calories
1g Fat
69g Carbs
8g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 323
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 410mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 69g 25%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 17mg 83%
Calcium 37mg 3%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 322mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.