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!
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.)
Table of Contents
- What to Serve with Red Beans – The Basics
- White Rice
- Andouille Sausage
- French Bread
- Honey Butter
- Best Side Dishes for Red Beans
- Collard Greens
- A Tasty Side Salad
- Fried Okra
- Fried Squash
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Hush Puppies
- Garlic Bread or Garlic Toast
- Corn on the Cob
- Fried Corn on the Cob
- Slow Cooker Southern-Style Green Beans
- Cajun Corn Maque Choux
- Main Courses to Serve with Red Beans
- Fried Chicken
- Southern Fried Catfish
- Pork Chops
- Fried Shrimp
- Shrimp Po-Boys
- Hot Dogs
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
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.)
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 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.
If you don’t want to make anything, you can purchase a loaf of French bread.
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.)
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 (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.
If you are low on stove space, you can make your collard greens in an Instant Pot!
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.
Share on FacebookShare with friends
Fried okra is also known as Southern popcorn – it adds little bites of crunch to balance out the creamy red bean dinner.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Garlic Bread or Garlic Toast
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cajun Corn Maque Choux
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 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!
Southern Fried Catfish
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.
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.