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Red Beans on top of white rice with fried chicken
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4.72 from 38 votes

Red Beans and Rice Recipe (Better Than Popeyes!)

This recipe is a southern staple! They are so creamy and flavorful, with the perfect smoky Cajun spice! 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Southern
Servings: 8
Calories: 398kcal
Author: Karen


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic minced
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
  • about 7 cups water
  • 1 pound dry red beans rinsed*
  • meaty ham bone or ham hock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups hot cooked rice or more


  • Prep your veggies: chop the onion, bell pepper, and 2 stalks celery. I like to chop the ends of the celery (so that some of the leaves get chopped also) instead of pulling off the stalks. Whichever way you choose will work!
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Once it is hot and shimmering, add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery. Saute for 6-8 minutes, until the onions start to become translucent.
  • Mince 2 tablespoons garlic. In a small bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoon sage, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, and 1 tablespoon sugar.
  • Add the garlic and spices to the pot and saute for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
  • Add about 7 cups of water and 1 pound of rinsed red beans. Add the ham bone or ham hock. Add 2 bay leaves.
  • Stir it all together over high heat until it comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to a low simmer, so that it is just barely bubbling. 
  • Cover with a lid and keep it at a low simmer for 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours. About halfway through the cooktime, either remove the lid or tilt it so that the beans can vent. 
  • After 2-3 hours, taste the beans. They should be tender and flavorful. If they are at all dry or chalky, keep cooking. 
  • Add another half teaspoon or so of salt, or to taste. Add more Cajun seasoning to taste. 
  • Remove the ham bone and bay leaves. Chop any meat left on the bone and return the meat to the beans. Discard the bone. 
  • Serve with hot rice. See notes for a basic recipe!


*You can also use dry kidney beans if you can't find red beans.
Basic rice recipe: For this amount of beans, I like to use about 3 cups of DRY rice:
  • 3 cups dry white rice
  • 4 and 1/2 cups water
  • scant tablespoon kosher salt (2 and 1/4 teaspoon if using table salt)
  • 2-3 teaspoons garlic ( I added the jarred kind)
Add 3 cups dry rice to a medium pot. (You're supposed to rinse it and I never do...oops.) Add 4 and 1/2 cups water. Add the salt and garlic. Bring to a boil over high heat with the lid on. Once it boils, lower the heat to low. Do not remove the lid. Let cook for about 15 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Turn off the heat and put the lid back on and let steam in the pot for another 5-10 minutes.


Calories: 398kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 508mg | Potassium: 893mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 4mg