Vegan Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

posted in: Creole-Cajun, Main Dishes, Recipes | 2


I’ve been craving Louisiana red beans and rice for a good while. Even though I grew up eating Creole and Cajun food and there was always a copy of River Road Recipes (this edition, I believe) in our Florida kitchen, I had never made any from scratch myself, and I wanted to get this recipe just right. I looked up close to a dozen recipes from my cookbooks and the internet. One thing I noticed is that the quick recipes using canned beans all called for red kidney beans, while the ones from scratch-cooked beans nearly all called for small red beans, which are not the same thing. The small red beans are creamier than kidney beans, for one thing. The package of small red beans will be labeled just that: “Small Red Beans.”

I took a picture of the two kinds, with black beans alongside for scale.


I’ve always heard that the small red beans were the only correct ones to use.  However, some of the seemingly authentic recipes called for cooking kidney beans from scratch instead of small red beans. Were these recipes wrong? Did the author call for kidney beans because they were writing for a part of the world that might not be able to find the small red beans? Honestly, it seems like either one is fine. I even found a scan of a recipe from the New Orleans Times-Picayune from 1900 calling for kidney beans. People do seem to have strong opinions favoring one or the other. I do – I like the small red beans. But I say you should try both and use the one you like the best. The only consensus is that the beans should be very fresh, and you should eat them on Monday.

Sausage isn’t absolutely necessary for red beans and rice, but I grew up eating them that way and I think it’s a nice extra. For a vegetarian version, any seitan sausage will be fine, but if you can get your hands on some, the Tofurkey Andouille is the way to go. It’s rich and peppery and just the right touch here.

Smoked paprika is not an authentic ingredient, but it’s delicious in a vegetarian version.  If you make this without sausage, add a bit more to taste, and maybe a bit more salt too.

I am sending this to My Legume Love Affair. MLLA was created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and is now overseen by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen. This month’s host is Princy of Spicy Foood.

(Note: this is not a sponsored post; I purchased the Tofurkey sausage. I’m glad I did – it’s good!)

Vegan Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 pound small red beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 stalks celery, diced (about a cup)
  • 1 large green pepper, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup red wine (I used cheap Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 to 4 links sliced vegan sausage, such as Tofurkey (7 to 14 ounces)
  • 2 cups long grain rice, cooked according to package directions
  • hot sauce, such as Tabasco


The night before you plan to make these, sort and rinse the beans. Soak in enough water to cover by an inch or two.

The next day, drain the beans and set aside. Heat the olive oil to medium in a large pot with a lid. Sauté the onion, celery, and green pepper until the onion is tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the beans, red wine, and the 4 cups of water. Bring to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the bay leaves, black pepper, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. (Hold off on the remaining ingredients for now.) Cover and cook for an hour or until the beans are tender.

Remove a cup or so of the beans and mash well, either with a fork or a blender, and transfer back to the pot. Conversely, you can puree the beans just a bit with a stick blender, but be careful not to overdo it - you just want add a bit of creaminess while leaving most of the beans whole. Add the oregano, thyme, salt, and sausage. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve over rice. Have hot sauce on the table for those who like it hot.

(Recipe updated 10/18/2013)





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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for this great recipe, I’m going to try it! Where is the rice? I don’t see it mentioned anywhere but the recipe name. Thank you.

    • Oh, I guess I never thought to write about the rice in the recipe itself! There are only two of us, so I just made a bit, and then froze the rest of the beans and sausage for later.

      I’ll calculate how much for the whole recipe and add it in this afternoon.

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