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Kenji’s Red Beans and Rice


Kenji's Red Beans and Rice

A plain old pot of boiled beans may seem like a boring meal, but once you start adding exciting flavors to it, it’s anything but. This recipe should be familiar to anyone who has visited New Orleans, where every Monday, the Creole cooks flavor their beans with smoky sausage, onion, celery, bell pepper, and spices. You can even add hot sauce to your bowl—if you dare! This recipe tested well with Kids Advisory Board member Owen, who is a native Louisianan, so we know it’s good.
Prep Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

kitchen gear

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife (adult needed)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Can opener
  • Strainer or colander
  • Large Dutch oven or pot with lid
  • Heatproof spatula
  • Pot holders


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound smoked turkey sausage (such as andouille or kielbasa), cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage (if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving (Kenji likes Crystal or Frank's)


  • Put the Dutch oven on the stove, turn the heat to medium-high, and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened and are just starting to brown around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the cayenne pepper, sage (if using), and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the beans, water, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil (you’ll know it’s boiling because you’ll see little bubbles breaking at the surface), then turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has thickened and turned creamy, about 20 minutes. If the pot starts to look dry before the stew turns creamy, add another cup of water and continue simmering. Repeat as necessary until your desired level of creaminess is achieved.
  • Fish out the bay leaves and throw them away. Now taste the beans. Do they need a pinch more salt, cayenne, or black pepper? If so, add it and then taste again. Serve the red beans over steamed brown rice with a dash (or more) of hot sauce, if you like.


J. KENJI L PEZ-ALT is the author of the children’s storybook, Every Night Is Pizza Night. He’s also the chef/partner at Wursthall, Chief Culinary Advisor at Serious Eats (, a New York Times columnist, and the author of the New York Times best seller The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. You can follow his work on Twitter or Instagram (@kenjilopezalt), or watch him cook one of his recipes on “Kenji’s Cooking Show” on YouTube ( Kenji lives in San Mateo, California, with his wife and daughter.
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