Vegan Red Beans and Rice

Posted at 5:39 pm on June 13th, 2006

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This recipe is based loosely on my grandma’s, minus the “pickle meat” and sausage.


  • 1 lb dry red kidney beans (2½ cups)
  • water
  • 5 cloves of garlic (2 Tablespoons minced or crushed)
  • 1 big onion or a couple little ones (2 cups diced)
  • 1 large sweet pepper (1 cup diced)
  • 3 or 4 ribs of celery (1 cup diced)
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice


Sort the beans to remove rocks, bad beans, etc. Soak them in enough water that the level of the water is twice as high as the beans. Drain and rinse them, replace the water, and bring them to a boil. Be sure to stir them frequently, or they’ll stick and burn.

Meanwhile, crush or mince the garlic and finely dice the onion, pepper, and celery. When the beans have been boiling for about an hour, add all those things. Stir it all together, and add just enough water to cover everything.

Let the pot return to a boil, then reduce the heat and add all the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice.

Simmer, again stirring frequently, until the beans reach a thick, creamy consistency. The green of the celery and sweet pepper will gradually become more subdued, and the whole mixture will eventually be a light brown. If the mixture starts getting too thick before it turns creamy enough, stir in some more water, a tiny bit at a time. (A little goes a long way.) Add the lemon juice a few minutes before turning off the heat.

I like to serve them over brown rice. A good serving proportion is one scoop of rice covered in a scoop and a half of beans.


Here are a couple alternate approaches to making this recipe:

Slow Cooker

After sorting, soaking, and rinsing, just barely cover the beans with fresh water. Cook on low for about 4 hours, stirring about once every one or two hours, until the beans are cooked enough to be edible. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to cook on low for another 4 hours, again stirring now and then, until it reaches a consistency you like.

Bean Mix

I make this recipe a lot, so instead of measuring out all the spices each time, I make a “bean mix” by combining the spices ahead of time:

  • 3 Tablespoons thyme
  • 1½ Tablespoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin

Use 1 Tablespoon of bean mix in place of those ingredients in the original recipe.


Red beans and rice freeze well, including the leftover rice. Portion it out into serving-sized containers with the rice on the bottom, covered with beans. This helps protect the rice from freezer burn, and if you reheat them in the same container using your microwave’s defrost feature, the layer of beans on top also keeps the rice from drying out.

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© Thomas Peri