Red Beans and Rice

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.

  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 1 lb dry small red beans
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs 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 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of Cajun or Creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's or Zatarains) or to taste*
  • Tabasco sauce**
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked white rice (from about 3 cups raw rice)

*If you don't have access to packaged 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
**We used a combo of Chipotle Tabasco sauce and regular Tabasco, could also use cayenne pepper


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 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 Remove ham shanks, separate 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 vegetables, seasonings, cook until thick: 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.

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  • Ken

    OMG, I made this with a very few tweaks, delicious. I used 1 cup of stock made from pigs feet. Modified
    Home made piri Piri seasoning that I had on hand, added cumin & thyme.
    An absolutely delicious dish.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe.


  • Pam Rogers

    Excellent! Added cilantro and cooked it only about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Added a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar too.


  • Michelle Wolfley

    For those of you who say not to pre-soak the beans, remember that some us live in high elevations. You MUST pre-soak beans if you live in higher elevations, otherwise they never become edible, no matter how long they are cooked. I made pinto beans once with raw beans. I very carefully followed the recipe my daddy gave me and cooked them in the crockpot for 12 hours. In the end, when I poured them into the garbage, it sounded like a machine gun spraying bullets. They were still hard as pebbles. I agree with the longer cooking times to layer the flavors, but some of us still have to soak our beans, preferably overnight. Great recipe, Elise! I did omit the Worcestershire, and do most of my seasoning at the end of cooking. My friend from Louisiana gets homesick sometimes and knows he can request red beans and rice from this girl in Nebraska and feel comforted. I thank you for this blessing I can share!

  • nonney

    No No and No’!!!
    No Worcestershire!! (where’s that from?)
    No cajun spices- that’s just salt and fake flavorings!
    No tabasco – until after you plate it.
    You MUST cook the seasonings FIRST!! Do Not Throw Them In the Water with the Hamhocks. That is 100% a sign of someone not fron Lousiana and round here, that would be considered Crazy Talking … lol. Saute them in olive oil or butter first! This locks in the flavors. People put all those unnatural saltly spices in food when they dont have time to develop the layers of flavorings. Unless you like heat, add Tabasco. Soaking the beans overnight just makes them cook faster. Drain out that water. Start with new water. What people get wrong all the time with cajun food is they over spice it with heat. I grew up in NOLA & Red Beans. It’s flavorful but not hot.
    I put in 1/4 cup of Olive Oil (makes them creamy) and tons and tons of dry Italian seasonings (the more the better) in addition to the above freash seasonings. We eat it with brown rice to make it healthier, but traditionally it’s white rice.

  • Barry Begault

    As far as tomatoes in red beans, our family recipe calls for a 8 0z can of tomato sauce. Lots of New Orleanians put catsup in their beans. We have always used tomato sauce.
    Most of the recipes for red beans are fairly standard. I probably put more garlic and celery in mine that most. I also chop my veggies a little courser since the kids have grown up. I like the crunch of the veggies.

  • !Queen

    This recipe with ham hocks is the absolute bomb!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dave

    tomatoes vs no tomatoes?

    This seems like one of the main divisions for red beans and rice. I’m not from Louisiana but it seems to me from researching is that that tomatoes are an often used ingredient in Creole cooking compared to Cajun where its use was traditionally more sparingly. Since red beans are a Creole dish wouldn’t tomatoes be acceptable? Secondly, as red beans are a home spun recipe wouldn’t the ingredients list differ from household to household including whether or not to use tomatoes? Also in the olden days it would have depended on the season and whether tomatoes were readily available. No?

    • Rami

      NO tomatoes in a New Orleans style red bean that I have ever heard of or have eaten. A tomato in jambalaya yes, beans no. I have a pot on as I type. I was going through Pinterest and saw this recipe so I thought I’d read it. I’m always interested in the different versions of what people call “New Orleans” style food. I am born and raised in NOLA and by no means am I an expert on its food, but to my up bringing, Wendy has the recipe to a “New Orleans” style red bean. The only thing I would recommend differently is that after it comes to a boil, reduce to low and cook for 3-4 hours or longer if needed. Keep adding water as they thicken. Mine have been on for 4.5 hours now on low….. and the only seasoning I used is an onion and salt. I have pickled pork meat and sausage in them. Wendy is also correct that it’s a Monday favorite across south LA. Old traditions die hard here. Years ago when there were no washing machines, everyone washed clothes on Monday. Since it took all day to do the laundry, they needed a meal that could basically cook itself. They would put a pot of beans on in the morning and by dinner they would be nice and soft. They would also be nice and creamy. LONG and SLOW is the secret to soft and creamy red beans that is New Orleans style. Add dashes of Tobasco once you have made your plate if you want that extra kick of spice, but I have never heard of a tomatoes in a New Orleans style red bean. But hey, in NOLA anything goes so maybe someone added tomatoes to their recipe???? Serve over rice with French bread, a biscuit or even cornbread.


    Well, if you’re from New Orleans, Mondays are Red Beans and Rice days. Every Monday, every kitchen in New Orleans and suburbia has a pot of beans cooking. I have to say, I make one of the best dishes of RB&R ever! Its easy, and you don’t need a lot of spices, You don’t need to soak them, either. Here goes: 1lb Red Kidney Beans (has to be Kidney Beans, Camilla brand is the best), In a large pot of water with about 8 to 10 cups of water and a little salt, boil over a high heat. Boil for a couple of hours. Keep adding water as it evaporates, keeping about the same amount at all times. Chop an onion, a tablespoon or garlic, about three to four stalks of celery, and 1/2 lb bacon. Cook bacon in a fry pan until its done, not crispy, but where you can see through the fatty part. To that, add the onion, celery, garlic and sautee together until the onions are transparent. Slice up some Eckerage Keilbasa smoked sausage into little discs and add to the fry pan. Cook this together with the rest until the sausages get hot. Dump everything into the pot of beans. Add to that three Bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 2 to 3 more hours. They get better and better the longer you cook them. You’ll see the beans breaking down and the “water” will be a nice creamy sauce. Cook your rice (Jassmine is my favorite), Serve the Red Beans over the rice, scooping up the smoked sausages as many as you want. THAT’S THE WAY TO MAKE IT. ITS EASY! JUST DON’T LET IT BURN, SO KEEP STIRRING AND MAKE SURE YOU’VE GOT WATER IN THERE. YOU WON’T HAVE TO PUT ANYMORE WATER AFTER YOU ADD THE SEASONINGS. ENJOY!!!

  • stefanie

    this is really goood im so glad i made this dish this is a 5 star meal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! a must try


  • Cindy In Florida

    Several times a year we make domestic mission trip with 12 – 20 others and do the cooking.

    This year I used this recipe multiple times.
    On the first full day of the trip I usually put a fully cooked spiral cut ham in the crock pot for dinner. I save the juices from the pot and use it 2 or 3 days later in the red bean recipe in place of some of the water. Other than that I follow the recipe exactly.

    I have to print out multiple copies of the recipe because everyone always wants to take the recipe home with them.

  • Laurel

    I wonder what it would taste like without the ham and just with a mixture of sweet and spicy sausage instead?

  • epigirl

    add stewed tomatoes, use kidney beans, actually you top the beans with rice not like in the picture and i make mine with no meat and about 30 mins before its done i add 2 tsp of sugar to work with the stewed tomatoes. everyone love RBNR

  • George

    Try add some tomato sauce to the recipe.It does wonders for my red beans and rice recipe I learned from my Mom. Use extra ham shanks too! Yum-mo!

  • Shana

    I made tonight and it is fantastic… Dinner for tomorrow.. I did add in an extra tsp of Tony C seasoning, 2 tsp of beef bouillon, 2 packages of cilantro y tomato seasoning.. FANTASTIC for my FIRST BEAN DISH I COOKED MYSELF!!!! yep the 1st one that came out great

    • Hollypeno

      Cilantro in red beans n rice?!? Negative.

  • Lan

    Thank you for this recipe! I made a pot for a crawfish boil we hosted and the beans were a hit! I used ham hocks and andouille because I couldn’t find shanks and it turned out great.

  • Randi Lynne

    I made this tonite in addition to the dinner I fixed so that I would have food to eat for the rest of the weekend. This is delicious and very budget friendly. I used salted pork because it is what I had on hand. I removed the pork pieces and took all the fat off after simmering for 1 hour. Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Ricarda

    I wonder if I can substitute the ham shanks with Kielbasa (by Hillshire Farms) I can’t find the ham shanks anywhere around here!

    Sure, it won’t be the same, but it should still be good. Use a pound of kielbasa, cut up the sausage and brown it first. Then add to the beans in step 2. ~Elise

  • Linda7

    It’s way less stressful to do the final “long” cooking is in the oven, about 350 degrees, covered. No need to worry about sticking or boil overs. Of course, this is more inviting prospect in the winter.

  • Caleb

    We made this but did not care for it. It was easy to make and we had a ton of left overs. Not one of our favorites.

  • Jessica

    I made this last week, but the night I made it I wasn’t feeling well. So I made up about 6 servings with rice and sausage and froze them for lunches. My husband called me today at lunch to tell me how delicious it is.
    Thank you for this recipe!!

  • Sr. Deb

    I am native Louisianian but now a missionary sister, and I move a lot. Mama mails me Camelia red beans so I can survive. I have had to adapt to local ingredients wherever I am.

    In Mexico, I couldn’t get bell pepper at the local market! I had to use a variety that was spicy but not like fire. It was also in Mexico that I learned to roast plum tomatoes on the griddle, puree them, and add to the beans to give them a boost since I had no pork and could not bring myself to use chicken.

    I do make meatless red beans sometimes. Red beans should not be a “tomato-y” dish, so you have to be careful, but I do add diced Contadina tomatoes in lieu of pork. I just drain them first–in fact I press them to get as much of the juice out as I can.

    Cajun culture has always been one to take what comes and adapt it. Like the Borg! We absorb other influences and are changed by them. My family has “absorbed” Venezualan by marriage. Now we add a little cumin to our red beans. Try it.

  • TexasT

    OK, the kids and I survived for years on RB&R and I can gar-un-tee you that the best rice to use is from Ellis Stansel out of Louisiana. I think they have a website now, but when I tried to order online – they were missing the “submit” button! Love ’em anyway and ordered by snail-mail!

    We use Tony Cachere’s seasoning, a big old meaty ham hock, popcorn rice and usually negate any of the health-value by putting either shredded sharp cheddar cheese on it, or a big dollop of sour cream … LOL!

    Thanks for the reminder that we’ve survived our “Lean Times” but are missing the comfort of our RB&R Days …

    Traci in Texas

  • kay

    I have three children, all grown, two of them married. All I have to do, if I miss them is say either “Pot roast,” or “Red beans and rice,” and they’re at home at the appointed time.

    My recipe is similar to yours. I use andouille sausage, ham and leftover cooked chicken, which I generally have at any given point. I season with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, a little garlic, pico de gallo con limon seasoning, gumbo file powder, and Pepperdoux hot sauce. I also use a can of Ro-Tel diced tomatos and green chiles.

    It’s wonderful with brown rice, too.

  • Daddy Disbarred from the Kitchen

    I don’t know what I did wrong, but my children will never eat red beans and rice after I “stunk up the house”. I soaked the beans overnight (24 hours). I did add a couple more cups of water, because the ham hocks (2 lbs) were nowhere near being in the water. After a couple of hours of cooking though, the kids (upstairs) were holding their noses. I’m clueless on what went wrong.

    Did you cook the beans in the soaking liquid? Or did you remember to drain the beans, before adding back more water for cooking? If you soaked the beans that long and then cooked the beans in the soaking water, then that might be the problem. Should always drain the beans from the soaking liquid before cooking. If that’s not it then I’m afraid I have no idea what might have caused the stinkyness. ~Elise

  • clsilva

    Hi Elise! Great recipe. Beans and rice are an important staple in our house. We sometimes use Bob’s Red Mill 13 bean soup mix. It is a really good mix. I also add some chopped fresh garlic and a can of fire roasted tomatoes. If we are going to add meat, we LOVE to add Emeril’s chicken and apple sausage. It adds a nice sweetness to the spicy of the beans. We also like ours over brown rice.

  • z

    There’s a similar item in India called “rajma chawal” – usually popular with punjabis and northern India. It’s nice food though. Hot red beans with rice. Perfect on a hungry weekend.

  • Amanda-generations old red beans from cajun country

    Red Beans

    -start with a dark roux
    -add green onions (whites only) and simmer
    -add 1 pack andouille sausage ( I use Richards)
    once sausage is brown add ham hock and fill pot half way up
    -cook ham hock for 1 hour and then take out and take meat off and throw meat back in pot
    -add 1 pack of red beans. cook for about 3 hours (depending on how creamy you want it)
    -about 15 minutues before serving add green onion tops
    -add tabasco as needed
    -serve with cornbread

    * some people prefer their sausage to be served on side instead of cut up into the beans

  • Tammy

    Here is the best kept secret that I recently discovered this year for minimizing digestion problems associated with eating beans. (BLOATING, etc….) When soaking beans add a tsp. of ground ginger to the soak water. Drain and rinse before cooking. When I cook any bean recipe, I add a couple pieces of crystallized ginger, cut in small pieces to the recipe, we have not had a problem with the effects from eating beans since, and it does not change the flavor in any way.

  • Nancy Long

    This sounds pretty good, but my husband is from New Orleans and the following is one of his favorites.

    Red Beans & Rice with Sausage
    6 to 8 servings – Serve with salad and French bread or Cornbread

    2 lbs. Dried red kidney beans
    3-4 tablespoons bacon drippings
    2 large onions, chopped
    1 large green pepper, chopped
    2 stalks celery, chopped
    4 large garlic cloves, minced
    1 ham hock (abour 1-2 pounds)
    salt to taste
    freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    cayenne pepper to taste
    1/2 teaspoon dried leaf marjoram
    2 bay leaves
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 (12-oz.) beer
    2-3 lbs. smoked sausage
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    hot cooked white rice
    12 green onions, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup minced, parsley,preferably flat-leaf

    Sort through beans; discard any discolored one. Cover beans in cold water and soak overnight. Rinse beans and set aside.

    Heat drippings in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. When drippings are hot, add onions, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are wilted. Add rinsed beans, ham hock, salt, black pepper, cayenne, marjoram, bay leaves, sugar, beer and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer until beans are soft and juice has thickened, about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more water, if necessary. Discard bay leaves.

    Prick sausage with a fork. Heat oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add sausage; cook, turning often, until browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

    To serve, spoon rice on each plate; ladle beans with liquid over top. Place a sausage on each plate. Sprinkle with green onions and parsley.


  • Mar

    I just made this the other day! Instead of ham hocks I used some cubed ham that I froze from Xmas leftovers.

    I didn’t have an cajun seasoning, so I used lots of pepper, paprika, some bay leafs, a dash of cumin and some bottled ‘steak seasoning’.

    I also like to grab a potato masher and mash a little bit of the beans, it makes it a bit thicker.

  • Loulou

    I’ve been using lardons and smoked sausage to get the smokiness that this dish deserves.
    Now that I have finally found ham shanks here at our local butcher (they were there all the time, I just never noticed them!) I’ll be trying this version. Thanks!

  • Kandan

    Just as a note: To make them a little creamier you can add a small hunk of lard. You can quickly boil your beans and let them sit for a faster soak rather than pouring boiling water over them. You can also crock pot them all day for a creamy effect without having to soak them. When we pre-soak we use the liquor as part of the water needed. We sometimes get lazy and use Blue Runner canned beans; I’m not sure you can find those everywhere. I’m a New Orleans transplant and red beans remind me of home. We use many sorts of meat. The easiest is plain smoked sausage. Red beans are commonly cooked on Monday, either because it is laundry day and there is not much time to cook or you have blown your pay check by the time Monday rolls around and you can’t afford any thing else, (all depends on who you ask.)

  • Jean Prescott

    Good, good recipe, Elise. Pretty much the way my South Louisiana-reared Dad used to make them. He liked salt pork for his seasoning; cut it into lardons and then simmered it in a bit of water first to get rid of some of the saltiness. As for the bacon rice krispies someone noticed in your rail, I don’t know about them, but I found a site that sells baconnaise, bacon flavored mayonnaise…a real product. Truly. And bacon salt. Unbelievable. Oh, as for the gassiness. I think if you get lots of fiber (and I do mean lots) in your diet, beans won’t backfire on you. Gotta eat ’em more often than once or twice a month, though.

  • Ryan

    Alton Brown added some pickled pork, I guess its traditional. I haven’t tried it myself:

  • Theresa

    Is there a way you can recommend to cook the beans, so, they are not so gassy? I know you can add Epazote in the last 15 mins of cooking, but it can add a bit of turpentine like taste.

    Just make sure you discard the soaking liquid. I’ve heard epazote does help, but that would give the dish a decided Mexican flavor, fine if that’s what you want. ~Elise

  • Wes

    A ham bone is why they invented Red Beans and Rice! Waste not, want not!! Throw the ham bone in there and let it cook until the meat falls off the bone. Delish!! Plus, I never make Red Beans and Rice without Andouille! It just ain’t right ;-)

  • Sudu Roy

    I make a veg version with onions, ginger, bay leaves, cumin powder and chopped cilantro. It makes a very satisfying dinner. But they do give me a lot of bloating and gas (if you know what I mean!LOL!) I do soak the dry beans overnight and pressure cook them and then simmer with the condiments. Do you have any tips?

    Make sure you discard the soaking liquid, that will help with the gas. And there’s always Beano. ~Elise

  • Acher

    Oh yum. One of my favorites. I use thyme and bay leaf in addition to the cajun seasoning- it gets me the closest to the beans that I have eaten in New Orleans. I LOVE Joe’s Hot Stuff cajun seasoning (which I buy in mass quantity when I am in New Orleans). And as for hot sauce? Gotta be either Crystal or Louisiana!

    Since its 7 below here in Chicago this morning, I think tonight sounds like a great night for a pot of beans!

  • Ranee @ Arabian Knits

    I’m assuming I could use smoked pork chops in this. What do you think?

    I think that would work fine. ~Elise

  • Danny

    As like Mindy’s Mom, I’ve used smoked turkey wings or drumsticks as a substitute for Ham Hocks or Ham Shanks. You might try substituting the “15 bean soup” medley of beans instead of the small reds. It makes for different textures as the smaller beans thicken the dish. I’d throw the flavor pack away and follow your recipe.

  • Jill, The Veggie Queen

    So many bean lovers it the world might actually help save the planet. They are oh so good and so good for you.
    I’ll have mine without the pork, please.

    If I were to do a vegetarian version I would include chipotle chile, either powdered, chipotle Tabasco, or chipotle in adobo, for the deep smokey flavor. ~Elise

  • Mindy

    My mom frequently uses smoked turkey drumsticks instead of pork when she makes her beans (very similar to this). They’re great over rice with some Tabasco or Trappey’s pepper sauce–the combination of heat and vinegar gives them a great flavor.

    Smoked turkey drumsticks would be a great substitute. Thanks for the suggestion. ~Elise