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Looking down on a plate of traditional red beans and rice next to fresh thyme.

New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

An incredibly traditional New Orleans red beans and rice recipe. Use whatever seasoned pork you can find locally. And be sure to mash the cooked beans against the sides of the pot for the creamiest, most authentic plate of red beans. 

  • Total Time: About 3 Hours (2 to 4 hours inactive)
  • Yield: 12, 6-ounce servings 1x


  • 1 pound of small red beans or red kidney beans*
  • 2 to 3 quarts of water or chicken stock (8 to 12 cups)
  • 1 smoked ham hock, tasso pork, or pickled pork
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
  • 14 ounces or 1 package of andouille or smoked pork sausage, cut  cross-wise into ¼-inch slices
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 to 4 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (remove the seeds and white pith)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher or flake salt
  • Lousiana hot sauce such as Tabasco or Crystal, optional
  • Cooked long-grain white rice, for serving


  1. Prep the sausage, trinity, and aromatics.  Slice the sausage and chop the onion, celery, and green pepper into quarter-inch pieces. Mince the garlic, and tie about ten fresh thyme sprigs together with butcher's twine (if you like).
  2. Cook the sausage and trinity. In a stock pot, dutch oven, or shallow pan if you're using a crock pot, sauté the sausage over medium heat. Cook the slices to a deep golden brown on each side (try to flip the pieces only once). Brown in batches, as needed, then set it aside. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the onion, green pepper, and celery. Cook gently, stirring and scraping up the fond (bits left from browning the sausage), until the vegetables soften. Add the garlic and cook until it's fragrant (about a minute) stirring constantly to keep it from burning.
  3. Simmer the beans. Add the red beans, water, ham hock, bay leaf, salt, thyme sprigs, and browned sausage to the pot. Bring the water to a very strong simmer. Then turn down the burner to maintain a gentle bubbling (tiny bubbles breaking the surface steadily). Cook for two to four hours over low heat, stirring occasionally until the beans are tender. In a crock pot, the beans take about four hours on high. Small red beans take longer to cook than red kidney beans. Add more water as necessary to keep the level slightly above the beans. Cover the pot to prevent excessive evaporation of the cooking liquid. Beans are done when they are creamy and tender to bite (taste a few to know). 
  4. Shred the ham. Remove the ham hock, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Pull the meat off the ham hock, shred it, and return the meat to the pot. Chop larger pieces of ham with a knife.
  5. Mash a portion of the beans. With a wooden spoon, mash enough beans against the side of the pot to thicken the liquid. You can also remove a cup of the beans and blend them with a little cooking liquid (but be sure not to blend any of the sausages).
  6. Taste and season. Remove the ham hock, bay leaves, and thyme stems. Add the ground spices and taste the beans. Add more salt a little at a time if necessary (it probably won't be with all the salty pork). 
  7. Serve over long-grain white rice. Pick the leaves off of any reserved thyme sprigs for sprinkling on the plates. Serve the red beans on a plate or shallow bowl with the white rice set in the middle (for a truly authentic experience). Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and hot sauce, for a spicier dish. 


On Buying Beans

Any authentic, traditional recipe for Cajun, Creole, Louisiana, or New Orleans red beans and rice should mention Camellia's brand red kidney beans. And the brand's darker, nutty, incredibly creamy small red beans. But the latter can be hard to find outside the Southeast. So substitute your favorite dried red kidney beans or order the Camellia brand online. 

Soaking Beans

If you want your beans to cook faster, soak them in plenty of water overnight, then drain. But you don't have to soak beans, and if you don't their starch will seep out into the cooking liquid and create a more velvety liquid.

On Making a Roux

Growing up we added a little flour to the sausage drippings to make a roux, then stirred it into the beans to thicken them. I leave it out because you can accomplish the same creaminess by mashing or blending some of the beans a the end of cooking. And without flour, red beans are safe for a gluten-free diet (a need in our house). But for creamier beans without smashing, stir in a tablespoon of all-purpose flour to the fat left in the skillet after browning the sausage. Then cook it for three to four minutes over medium heat before adding the water, beans, etc. 

On Cooking Vessels

This one-pot red beans and rice method makes for easier cleanup. But to speed up the process, you can first begin simmering the red beans, water, ham hock, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs in a large pot. Then in a skillet or large sauté pan, brown the sausage and then sweat the vegetables. Add the sausage and trinity to the pot with the beans as you go.

  • Author: Chef Christina
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 to 4 hours (20 minutes active)
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: One-Pot
  • Cuisine: Creole
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • Serving Size: 6 ounces
  • Calories: 408
  • Sugar: 4.8 g
  • Sodium: 567.7 mg
  • Fat: 15.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 61.7 g
  • Fiber: 11.5 g
  • Protein: 15.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 32.7 mg

Keywords: new orleans red beans and rice recipe, traditional red beans and rice recipe, red beans and rice with sausage