Authentic Red Beans and Rice is a soulful New Orleans dish that starts with the Cajun Holy Trinity – a delicious blend of diced onion, celery, and green bell pepper. You then add “the pope,” some diced garlic, and cook delicious red kidney beans with spices and chicken stock – with a leftover ham bone or ham hock in a huge pot for hours until the beans are tender and creamy.

It is one of my favorite meals to make, and I love to make a huge batch because leftover red beans are even better than when they are fresh.

For best results, be sure to start with dry beans that you soak in water, then rinse and drain – not canned beans, and always use Camellia Large Red Kidney Beans – those are the best!

A collage of images showing side dishes for red beans and rice - fried catfish, fried okra, and collard greens.
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Red Beans and Rice were typically made in Louisianna on Mondays, which used to be known as “laundry day.” A large pot of red beans can cook low and slow to develop that signature thick texture all day while laundry gets done – then leftovers can be eaten for the rest of the week. Just be sure to stir them every once in a while to make sure that they don’t burn or get stuck to the bottom of the pot! (These days, you don’t have to wait for laundry day – red beans and rice can be made any day of the week.)

What to Serve with Red Beans – The Basics

I’m going to start with the essentials. Red Beans are just not complete without these basics on the dinner table:

  • Cajun Seasoning or Creole Seasoning
  • Hot Sauce – For those seeking an extra kick, a drizzle of Louisiana-style hot sauce over the red beans adds a tangy and spicy element.
  • Diced Pepperoncini Peppers
  • Pepper Vinegar – My husband swears by Trappey’s Pepper Vinegar. If we are out, we use the juice from a jar of pepperoncini peppers.
  • Green Onions

White Rice

Rice is obviously included in the dish – Red Beans and Rice, but it is a crucial element, so I had to include it. I like to make white rice in my Instant Pot while the red beans are finishing up cooking. (You can also make green onion rice to add a pop of flavor.)

A bowl of white rice on a marble background with a green napkin and a spoon.
How to Cook Perfect Instant Pot White Rice
5 from 2 votes
It's never been easier to cook white rice. Learn to make perfect, buttery, and fluffy white rice in the instant pot or pressure cooker in 20 minutes or less.
Instant Pot White Rice

Andouille Sausage

We always add sausage to our red beans. I prefer to use a spicy andouille sausage, but my husband likes to use smoked sausage. My favorite brand of Andouille is Veron’s, and our favorite brand of smoked sausage is Double D’s.

They can both be bought at Rouses in Louisiana. I also like Savoie’s Andouille Sausage, and it is more readily available outside of Louisiana – we can buy it in Tennessee. Adding sliced or chopped sausage to red beans and rice will make it a little more filling. (And also more delicious.)

Cornbread

Cornbread is a classic Southern side dish that pairs perfectly with Red Beans and Rice. The sweetness of a sweet cornbread helps to balance out the spicy flavors in red beans. For a twist on classic southern cornbread, you can bake individual cornbread muffins. Individual golden cornbread muffins are perfect for sopping up the rich flavors of New Orleans red beans.

A cast iron pie pan with baked golden brown southern cornbread in it with a slice on top.
Southern Cornbread
4.88 from 31 votes
Made with cornmeal and buttermilk, this Classic Southern Cornbread Recipe brings out the naturally sweet flavor of corn without adding sugar. Cooked in a cast iron skillet with bacon drippings – it will please even the toughest critics.
Southern Cornbread Recipe
A cast iron skillet with slices of cornbread in it.
Sweet Skillet Cornbread Recipe
4.85 from 33 votes
Sweet Cornbread made in a cast iron skillet is the perfect accompaniment to any meal. This cornbread is sweet, crumbly, buttery, and has a perfect crisp to the edges.
Sweet Cornbread Recipe

French Bread

If you don’t want to make anything, you can purchase a loaf of French bread.

Honey Butter

Honey butter is a rich and delicious way to really take cornbread over the top. (I love to whip my honey butter to make it light and fluffy.)

A spoon dipping into a bowl of honey butter.
Easy Honey Butter (Whipped)
5 from 2 votes
Honey Butter is creamy, dreamy, and one of my absolute favorite condiments to make. Take it over the top by whipping it with an electric mixer – then top it with a pinch of salt. It is the perfect finishing touch for just about any dish.
Honey Butter Recipe

Best Side Dishes for Red Beans

My Classic Red Beans and Rice recipe is a hearty and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed as a main dish on its own, but if you’re looking to complement the meal, here are a few options for delicious side dishes to make it a complete meal:

Collard Greens

Collard greens (or mustard greens and turnip greens) are another classic Southern side dish that is a great complement to Red Beans and Rice. The bitterness of the collard greens helps to cut through the richness of the dish, and everyone loves collard greens.

A bowl of southern collard greens on a metal rack with a yellow towel.
Southern Collard Greens
4.91 from 33 votes
This Southern Collard Greens Recipe is the best side dish recipe. A perfect soul food recipe cooked low and slow with bacon, onions, a ham hock, and garlic.
Collard Greens Recipe

If you are low on stove space, you can make your collard greens in an Instant Pot!

A bowl of Instant Pot collard greens.
Instant Pot Collard Greens
5 from 20 votes
Collard Greens made in an Instant Pot are a shortcut to Southern perfection. What normally takes hours on the stove is ready in less than an hour using a pressure cooker. Made with bacon, onions, ham, and garlic – these collard greens couldn't be more delicious.
Instant Pot Collard Greens Recipe

A Tasty Side Salad

If you’re looking to balance out the richness of traditional red beans and rice, consider serving a simple salad on the side. My Royal Street Salad is a chopped blue cheese and bacon salad that is modeled after the signature salad from Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans and will really bring some authenticity to your meal.

A bowl of royal street salad and two slices of buttered french bread.
Blue Cheese Salad (Royal Street Salad)
5 from 3 votes
Crispy romaine lettuce, crunchy bacon, and blue cheese in a flavorful, zesty homemade dressing, this Royal Street Salad is perfect as an appetizer, side, or quick lunch idea.
Chopped Blue Cheese Salad Recipe

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Fried Okra

Fried okra is also known as Southern popcorn – it adds little bites of crunch to balance out the creamy red bean dinner.

Cornmeal crusted fried okra draining on a paper towel.
Crispy Fried Okra
4.97 from 26 votes
This Fried Okra is dredged in buttermilk and breaded in a flour & cornmeal coating that's loaded with flavor. Fried until crispy in peanut oil, it’s an addictive Southern appetizer, snack, or side dish.
fried okra recipe

Fried Squash

Fried squash slices draining on a paper towel.
Southern Fried Squash
4.88 from 8 votes
Southern Fried Squash is a summer delicacy. Fresh yellow squash and zucchini are dredged in buttermilk, breaded with flour and cornmeal, and fried until they are golden brown and crispy. It is such a delicious way to cook summer squash and is the perfect summer side dish.
Fried Squash Recipe

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes
It’s unthinkable to pass up a plate of fried green tomatoes in the South, and it’s easier to learn how to make this Southern recipe than you think. Get the recipe for classic fried green tomatoes.
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Hush Puppies

Hush Puppies Recipe
The BEST Hush Puppies Recipe you’ll ever taste! Light and fluffy balls of cornmeal are fried to perfection and drizzle with spicy honey!
View Recipe

Garlic Bread or Garlic Toast

A hand holding buttered garlic toast over several slices on a wooden board.
Garlic Toast
5 from 2 votes
Looking for the ultimate garlic toast recipe? This recipe is packed with garlic flavor, rich buttery goodness, and perfect garlic bread that is tender on the outside and fluffy inside. Best of all, it can be whipped up in just 10 minutes!
garlic toast recipe

Coleslaw

Balance the richness of tender red beans with a side of creamy coleslaw. The refreshing crunch of cabbage, carrots, and a tangy dressing creates a delightful contrast that complements the velvety texture of the beans.

Creamy southern coleslaw (shredded carrots & cabbage covered in mayonnaise) up close.
Classic Southern Coleslaw
4.94 from 15 votes
This Creamy Southern Coleslaw recipe is one of my favorite side dishes. The sweet, tangy dressing combined with the fresh, crunchy cabbage is so simple, yet so flavorful.
coleslaw recipe

Corn on the Cob

Add a touch of sweetness to your meal with buttered corn on the cob. The juicy kernels provide a burst of freshness that harmonizes beautifully with the savory depth of the red beans. I like to make corn on the cob in my Instant Pot while my red beans are cooking.

four cooked ears of corn in a silver bowl with orange flowers
Instant Pot Corn on the Cob
5 from 3 votes
There is no easier way to make Corn on the Cob than in an Instant Pot. It is quick, easy, and so reliable – the corn always comes out so tender and crisp.
instant pot corn on the cob

Fried Corn on the Cob

Fried corn on the cob is a unique way to add a crunchy element to red beans and rice. It is sweet but refreshing in between bites of rich red beans and rice.

Pieces of deep fried corn on the cob on a white plate.
Fried Corn on the Cob
5 from 4 votes
Deep fried corn on the cob is a delicious twist on a classic summer favorite. This Southern-style dish is made by coating fresh corn in a Cajun seasoned batter and then deep-frying it to golden perfection. The result is a crispy and crunchy exterior that gives way to juicy, tender corn kernels bursting with flavor. 
Fried Corn on the Cob Recipe

Slow Cooker Southern-Style Green Beans

Cooked for hours in a slow cooker or quickly in an Instant Pot, Southern green beans are an easy way to add a flavorful vegetable side dish to your meal.

A bowl of southern style green beans cooked in a crock pot with ham, bacon, and red bell peppers.
Crock Pot Southern Green Beans
5 from 16 votes
These Crock Pot Southern Green beans have so much flavor – they are a family favorite. They are the perfect easy side dish for any holiday menu.
Crock Pot Southern Green Beans
A white bowl of southern green beans and bacon on a gray background.
Instant Pot Southern Style Green Beans
4.85 from 19 votes
It's hard to beat that cooked all day with smoky meat flavor of Southern Style green beans. They are melt-in-your-mouth delicious and are ready in less than an hour.
Instant Pot Southern Green Beans

Cajun Corn Maque Choux

Creamy maque choux in a bowl with a metal serving spoon.
Corn Maque Choux
5 from 5 votes
Corn Maque Choux is a classic Cajun side dish that is creamy, flavorful, and has just a little bit of heat. The smoky bacon grease softens the corn as it mixes with the Cajun spices, and the end result is a delicious Southern side dish.
Corn Maque Choux Recipe
A collage of images showing side dishes for red beans and rice - fried catfish, fried chicken, and cornbread

Main Courses to Serve with Red Beans

If you aren’t serving your red beans as a main course, they also make a great side dish for these tasty dishes.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken served with a tangy sauce is a delicious main course. A side dish of red beans is like taking a trip to Popeye’s without having to leave the house!

A white dish with crispy fried chicken tenders on it.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders
4.94 from 43 votes
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders are marinated in seasoned buttermilk, breaded in seasoned flour and panko breadcrumbs, and fried in peanut oil until golden brown and crispy. They are absolute perfection.
Fried Chicken Tender Recipe

Southern Fried Catfish

two fried catfish filets on a red and white towel
Southern Fried Catfish
4.90 from 28 votes
Southern Fried Catfish is a staple in every Southern kitchen. You can’t beat freshly caught catfish filets, dredged in perfectly seasoned cornmeal breading and fried until the inside is perfectly tender and the outside is a crisp, golden brown.
fried catfish recipe

Pork Chops

Barbecue Pork Chop Recipe
Barbecue Pork Chop Recipe
This recipe for Barbecue Pork Chops is cooked on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet but tastes as if they were just grilled in your backyard. BBQ pork chops can be pan-seared or baked.
Pork Chop Recipe

Fried Shrimp

A blue basket of crispy fried shimp with a small bowl of tartar sauce.
Deep Fried Shrimp
5 from 1 vote
Perfectly battered and fried to a golden crisp, these succulent shrimp make for a mouth-watering appetizer or main dish. Deep-fried shrimp are crispy and delicious, and pair perfectly with homemade tartar sauce.
Fried Shrimp Recip

Shrimp Po-Boys

A fully dressed crispy fried shrimp po boy on a blue plate with crispy french fries.
Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy
5 from 1 vote
A Fried Shrimp Po' Boy is a classic sandwich from New Orleans, Louisiana, that features crispy fried shrimp nestled inside a piece of French bread – fully dressed with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and sliced pickles.
Fried Shrimp Po Boy Recipe

Hot Dogs 

Yeah, sounds weird right? But for kids or people that don’t like spicy food, hot dogs are a great option to serve with red beans and rice in place of hot sausage.

Grilled green onion sausage.
Grilled Green Onion Sausage
5 from 1 vote
Green Onion Sausage is a surprisingly delicious appetizer or party favor for your next barbecue!
View Recipe

When it comes to serving Authentic New Orleans Red Beans, the right pairings can really elevate your dining experience.

Whether you opt for classic combinations, bold and spicy accents, fresh and bright complements, or Southern comfort additions, these side dishes will beautifully enhance the flavors of your red beans and rice, transporting your taste buds to the vibrant streets of New Orleans. Prepare to indulge in a feast that captures the heart and soul of Creole cuisine.

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Hi, I'm Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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