This recipe for Quick Red Beans and Rice is as quick and easy as it is satisfying! Bacon (or sausage), onion and lots of spices transform canned beans into a pantry dinner worth getting excited about.
Red beans and rice is a simple yet satisfying meal. But, if you don't have time to soak and cook dried beans, you can still enjoy this comforting and hearty dish! This recipe for Quick Red Beans and Rice comes together in a hurry using canned kidney beans and a few other basic ingredients.
While I cannot claim that this is an authentic recipe by any means, I can say it is absolutely delicious, super easy, and I think you will really love it!
What you'll love about this recipe:
- You need a total of 30 minutes or less to pull an entire dinner together
- Even though the cooking time is short, this recipe is packed with hearty flavors thanks to the spices and smoky richness of the bacon.
- These red beans have a thick, satisfying gravy thanks to the addition of tomato paste, that mixes so well with fluffy white rice!
Here's what you'll need for this easy and quick red beans and rice recipe:
- Canned kidney beans
- Onion and/or bell pepper
- Bacon: sausage is the usual go-to for red beans and rice, but I really love the smoky, rich quality bacon adds. You can definitely substitute whatever meat you have in the house. See the next section "Substitution ideas" for more discussion on alternatives.
- Seasoning: you'll need salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cumin and coriander. If you don't have some of these, see the next section for some other ideas!
- Tomato paste: this really does wonders to thicken up the sauce!
- White rice: I prefer long-grain rice for this dish; I had jasmine on hand so that's what I used this time. Any type of white rice you've got in your pantry should work!
I love this recipe because it's versatile. If you don't have all of the ingredients I used, you can use what you do have and it will still taste great.
I had to make adjustments myself - I usually make this recipe with one onion and one green bell pepper. But, I couldn't get any bell pepper this week. So, I just used two onions instead! This will work the other way also: if you don't have any onions, just double up on bell pepper. You could also add in celery to fill in for missing onion or bell pepper.
As I mentioned in the Ingredients section above, the recipe calls for salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and garlic powder. Now, I'm assuming you have salt in your pantry. But, if you don't have one of the spices I listed, there's a couple things you could do.
First, if you are only missing one, you could simply add a little bit more of each of the other spices to make up the difference. Or you could try subbing in one of these other spices instead: paprika (bonus points for smoked paprika!), chili powder, Cajun seasoning, dried thyme.
If you don't have bacon, or you're not a fan, you can substitute a few different things. The most obvious substitute would be sausage - any kind would work, although andouille would be especially nice.
Fresh (uncooked) sausage
If you have uncooked sausage, remove it from the casing and saute it just like you would for bacon, stirring frequently and breaking it up into chunks with a wooden spoon or spatula. You may not need to cook it quite as long as the recipe calls for the bacon - just as long as it's brown and the fat has rendered out.
Depending on how fatty the sausage you have is, you may not need to drain out any grease either. I like a little bit of grease personally!
Pre-cooked or smoked sausage
If you want to use sausage that is already cooked (like andouille), just cut the sausage up into slices and brown it in the pan, then proceed with the other steps in the recipe. You don't need to actually cook the meat, just get a nice color on the outside and you're good to go.
Other meat substitution ideas
Ok, so you don't have bacon or sausage but you still really want to make this recipe. Now what? Here are some other wild ideas I had: cubed ham, shredded leftover pork roast, cut up hot dogs? Why not! Anything that gives a little bit of a meaty taste will add a lot to the dish.
If you're using meat without a lot of fat in it, just add some oil to the pan first to help the meat brown before moving on to the next step of the recipe. Again, if the meat you're using has already been cooked, all you need to do is get some nice color on the outside.
I like using white rice for this recipe because it cooks fast enough that the whole dish can be ready in 30 minutes or less. And I prefer the fluffiness of long-grain rice, but you can use any type of white rice you like!
You can also use other types of rice, like brown rice or wild rice. Or, substitute any grain you have in the pantry! Quinoa, farro, and couscous come to mind. But just remember, if you are subbing in another grain besides white rice, check the package directions ahead of time to see how long it takes to cook. You may have to start cooking the grain early so you can time everything to be ready at once.
Here are a couple quick tips to help you make this recipe perfectly the first time:
- While the bacon cooks, some nice crusty brown spots should develop on the bottom of your pan (especially if you aren't using a non-stick pan!). These are flavor gold mines! Once you add the liquid to the pan, these brown bits will start to loosen. Help this along by scraping them up with your wooden spoon. This will really add some deep flavor to the finished dish!
- When you're finished cooking the bacon, you will need to drain out the excess grease. But, I like to leave a little bit in for extra flavor and richness! Here's how much I like to leave behind:
- The finished dish should have a sauce that's nice and thick, like this:
- If your sauce is too thin, just let it simmer gently on the stove for a little bit longer, stirring frequently.
- If your sauce is too thick, stir in some extra water. But go slow and add only a little bit at a time so you don't overdo it and end up with a too-thin sauce!
I hope you like this recipe for Quick Red Beans and Rice. If you’ve tried it, please let me know what you thought about it in the comments down below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see more delicious recipes from Nibble and Dine!
Quick Red Beans and Rice
An easy and quick recipe for red beans and rice using canned kidney beans and bacon for extra richness and smoky flavor. Ready in only 30 minutes!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 5 - 6 servings 1x
- Category: main course
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: American
- 2 cups (uncooked) white rice, preferably long grain
- 12 ounces bacon
- 2 medium onions (or 1 onion and 1 green bell pepper)
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (see notes for discussion of how much salt to add)
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- 2 cans kidney beans, undrained
- ½ cup water
1. Start preparing the white rice according to the directions on the package. If the rice is ready before the beans, just turn the burner off and let the rice sit with the lid on until ready to use.
2. Chop the bacon into large chunks. Heat a large (12") skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally with a spatula or wooden spoon, until the bacon is browned and most of the fat has rendered out. This should take about 9 - 10 minutes. If the bacon is browning too quickly, turn the heat down.
3. While the bacon is cooking, dice the onion (and bell pepper, if using).
4. Once the bacon is cooked, drain most of the grease, leaving about 1 - 2 tbsp. in the pan (leaving some grease in the pan is optional but I recommend it!). Return the pan to the heat and add the chopped vegetables, plus the salt, pepper, and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes or until the onion begins to soften.
5. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook for another minute, stirring the paste around so it is evenly incorporated with the other ingredients and no lumps of tomato paste remain.
6. Add the water and two cans of undrained kidney beans to the pan. Scrape up any brown bits stuck to the pan with your wooden spoon or spatula. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Turn down the heat if necessary to maintain the gentle simmer.
7. Taste the beans and add more salt and/or pepper if needed. Serve in bowls over the prepared white rice.
I used kosher salt for this recipe, which is coarser than fine-grain salt. If using fine salt, you will likely need less than the 1 tsp. called for. The amount of salt you need also depends on how salty your bacon is (or other type of meat if substituting), and your personal tastes. You may want to start with less salt, then add until the dish is seasoned to your liking.
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