Mom's New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Every year for my birthday, I would ask for my mom's red beans and rice. They're comforting, creamy and so well flavored. Everyone who tries them loves them. My mom swears the secret is a cup of pickle juice.Katie Macdonald

Food52 Review: Featured in: 10 Slow-Cooker Recipes Made for Fall TV Binges.The Editors

Serves: 9 to 12
Prep time: 1 hrs
Cook time: 4 hrs


For the red beans:

  • 1 pound red kidney beans (my mom uses Camellia brand)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic, more to taste
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup pickle juice (dill or sweet)
  • 5 to 8 whole bay leaves
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced in 1/2 in sections
  • 1 smoked ham bone with meat (many stores will sell ham bones with some meat on them; ham bone will greatly improve the taste of red beans)
  • 1 pound smoked ham cut in cubes (Look for this in meat section, sometimes called "pickled pork" but it won't have a bone with it)
  • 1 tablespoon Cavender's Greek Seasoning

For the rice:

  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 splash olive oil
In This Recipe


For the red beans:

  1. In a large heavy pot, empty bag of red kidney beans; remove any dirt if there.
  2. Wash beans by rinsing in water and discard water. Add fresh tap water to cleaned beans so that water covers them by 2 inches.
  3. Put lid on and bring to a boil, then lower temperature to simmer for 1 hour and then turn off. Beans should be softened.
  4. Add all above remaining ingredients and add enough water to cover all ingredients by an inch.
  5. Bring back to a boil then immediately to a low simmer. It may take 3-4 hours on simmer for the beans to be ready to eat. The longer you keep them on a low simmer, the creamier they will get. You must stir the beans regularly so they don't burn.
  6. Slow-cooker variation: If you soften the beans first, you could then put them in a Crock-Pot with all the other ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours, stirring every so often so it doesn't burn.
  7. Freeze any leftovers and they are good for at least 4 months in the freezer.

For the rice:

  1. Prepare 1 cup of long grain brown rice. (2 cups water to each 1 cup rice plus good shake of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil), bring to boil then put on simmer for 15 mins or until done.

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Reviews (20) Questions (0)

20 Reviews

Anton January 1, 2019
The red bean recipe feeds nine to twelve. One cup of rice isn't nearly enough.
Bella95 December 18, 2018
Slow cooker warning. <br />Hi all just wanted to pass on that it's dangerous to cook red beans in a slow cooker as the temperature doesn't get high enough. They can be finished off in one but they need to be boiled first because of a toxin they contain.<br />
Author Comment
Katie M. December 18, 2018
Interesting! I didn't know that—I'll have to look into it.
Mary December 9, 2018
How would you do this in an instant pot?
marilu October 8, 2018
Yum! This really hit the spot. At first, I was a little worried about what the strong flavor of dill pickle juice would be like in here, but I don't really detect it at all. It just helps to balance out the richness of all that smoked meat for me. So delicious. Thank you!
Author Comment
Katie M. October 9, 2018
Yay! I'm so happy you liked it!! 😊
Ben J. September 24, 2018
I'm not sure why this is featured in slow cooker recipes. Seems like you are using a pot on the stove and not a slow cooker.
Author Comment
Katie M. September 24, 2018
Hi Ben—This recipe was developed for the stove, but if you soften the beans first you could then put them in a crock pot with all other ingredients and kept on low simmer for about 8 hours and it should not burn. (I would still stir it every few hours). Thanks!
cosmiccook September 23, 2018
Red beans are one of my all-time dislikes growing up in New Orleans! I especially loathed them AFTER they were frozen and defrosted. I love all other beans, just not them. This photo doesn't look like any RB&R I've ever seen or had though. The pickle juice makes sense given we always had pickled pork meat in ours. That's why a vinegar-based hot sauce is de-rigueur!
cosmiccook January 1, 2019
You need to cream some of the beans to get the consistency correct. Also, three pounds of meat to 1 lb. of bean ratio is off. Smoked ham is very different from pickled pork (usually the trotter). You can search for Camellia Red Beans for the visual and recipe. The "trinity' is typically used--Onions, Celery & Bell pepper--along w garlic. Blue Runner canned RB&R is a close second. As I stated previously I just don't care for Red Beans.
cosmiccook January 1, 2019
Also never heard of using a greek seasoning. That's a head-scratcher. Cavenders isn't a name I recognize. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning if you're going that route, or Paul Prudhommes' seasonings.<br />
Johnny B. September 23, 2018
Do you have the nutritional info for the recipe?
SailNE September 12, 2018
Where can I find Cavender's Greek Seasoning?<br />
Author Comment
Katie M. September 12, 2018
My mom typically gets it at our local grocery store, but it's also available on Amazon!
Alexis A. July 24, 2018
Can I use canned beans?
Author Comment
Katie M. July 24, 2018
Hi Alexis! My mom has used canned beans in a pinch—I know it won't need *nearly* the cook time—although, I find it doesn't have the same creaminess. Let me know how it works for you!
Jane D. June 16, 2018
brown rice in 15 minutes?<br />are you a kitchen witch or a magician?<br />enquiring minds want to know!
Another NOLA expat here, and I am excited to try this "secret" recipe as well! But I have the same question about the brown rice. Are you using instant brown rice? Or did you mean to write white rice?
gandalf June 11, 2018
When I cook brown rice, it usually takes about an hour to cook; perhaps you use a different type of brown rice, or perhaps I am just missing the boat by overcooking my brown rice?<br /><br />I ask because I often cook dried cranberry beans with chopped bacon and brown rice in this fashion: After soaking the beans overnight and discarding the stale water, I cook them for an hour then in fresh water; then I add the chopped bacon and brown rice, and cook at a simmer for another hour. This gives me rice at the correct consistency. <br /><br />When I cook long-grained white rice, by contrast, it usually takes about 12-15 minutes. Any thoughts on this disparity? (Didn't mean to hijack this thread, either.)<br /><br />As a former resident of NOLA, I love good red beans and rice!
Author Comment
Katie M. June 12, 2018
Hey there! I realized I confused my mom's recipe with what she told me over the phone—we typically eat with with brown rice, but her original had white. I'll change in the recipe!