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Cajun-Style Vegan Red Beans and Rice

These Cajun-Style Vegan Red Beans and Rice are a healthy version of the traditional Louisiana dish, but are still just as satisfying and flavorful! 

These Cajun-Style Vegan Red Beans and Rice are a healthy version of the traditional Louisiana dish, but are still just as satisfying and flavorful!

Cajun-Style Vegan Red Beans and Rice

If there’s one thing Louisianians can agree on, it’s that we love food. You can see this deep love reflected unquestionably in the way that literally every single event we have revolves around food. Wedding? Buffet time. Mardi Gras? By all means, let’s eat all the king cake we can stuff in our faces. Just ran a 5K downtown? No worries, there’s surely lots of beer and fried food waiting for you at the finish line.

If you’ve ever visited New Orleans or somewhere else down here in the deep South, then you certainly already know all this. Your Southern friend or host probably made you a huge feast when you visited, and the highlights of your trip were without a doubt all the delicious restaurants you visited. In Louisiana, we love to love, and we love hard. But most importantly, we show love with our food. And hot damn, do we know how to cook.

Hands down, the food down here is some of the best in the world. Not just at your fancy restaurants, but in family homes across the state, where home-cooking is respected and well-loved. There are lots of vegetable gardens and people making their recipes from scratch. But a lot of the amazing home-cooked Cajun recipes I grew up with are not vegan-friendly. So my friends, we’re going on a mission to veganize all my favorite Cajun recipes! Today’s mission? Vegan red beans and rice. OMG this was so good, I can’t even deal.

a pot of cajun style red beans

How to Make Vegan Versions of Classic Cajun Recipes without Sacrificing Flavor 

Yes, you’ve read it right. I have found a way to still enjoy the dishes I grew up on as a vegan! It is, in fact, possible to recreate these meaty, cheesy, dishes without the animal-based meat and cheese. And you know what? You can recreate them in a way that they retain all the big, bold flavors you expect in your cajun food – no sacrifices.

To start, there are SO many delicious plant-based meat and dairy alternatives now that are truly delicious. But you don’t even have to use these kinds of plant-based alternatives to maintain all the flavor. I truly believe all the magic in Cajun food is in the spices and fresh herbs. Oh, and the caramelized onions. ALWAYS caramelize your onions.

So with this batch of vegan red beans and rice for example, all of the big bold flavor comes from paprika, thyme, parsley, and hot sauce. A traditional red beans and rice recipe would be made with sausage. You could use a plant-based sausage if you’d like, but honestly, we just don’t need it here! Oh, and of course we build the foundation for those flavors by starting with the holy trinity (onion, bell pepper and celery). No meat needed!

My hope is that I can share these vegan versions of my favorite Cajun dishes to inspire people all over the world to have a bite of good Louisiana cookin’ at home. And to prove to you that you CAN make delicious, southern food full off love, without the meat, seafood and dairy.

a spoon of dried red beans

a spoonful of uncooked brown rice

Ingredients for Vegan Red Beans and Rice

I was honestly shocked when I tried my first bite of this batch of Cajun red beans; they tasted exactly like my childhood bowl of red beans and rice. It’s truly all in the spices!

Without the sausage, this Cajun dish transforms into a hearty, satisfying, healthy meal full of fiber, whole grains, plant-based protein, and flavor, of course!💃🏼 Specifically with winter coming up, it’s the perfect warming dish to enjoy on a cold night snuggled on the couch.

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this vegan red beans and rice recipe:

  • Red kidney beans. We’re using dried beans, so make sure to soak them overnight!
  • Oil. Any kind you’d like!
  • Vegetables. We’re using a yellow onion, green bell pepper and plenty of celery and fresh garlic.
  • Fresh parsley. I highly recommend using fresh parsley in this red beans and rice recipe as it really brightens things up!
  • Hot sauce. Use your favorite! But I would of course recommend Louisiana hot sauce 🙂
  • Spices. Like I said before, it is truly all in the spices for this recipe! You’ll need dried thyme, paprika, cayenne, a couple of bay leaves (yes, they make a difference!), salt and pepper.
  • Vegetable broth. You can use a store-bought broth, bouillon or homemade.
  • Brown rice. Brown rice contains more fiber and higher amounts of micronutrients compared to white rice as it retains the bran and germ of the grain, so I often like opting for brown rice. But white rice is also delicious, so use what you like!
  • Liquid smoke. This is optional, but it really takes the flavors in these red beans and rice to the next level.

a bowl of cajun red beans and rice

How to Make Cajun Red Beans and Rice Vegan-Friendly

Cajun red beans and rice are pretty simple to make. Since we’re using dried beans, you do need to remember to soak them the night before. You’ll also need to be patient with the cook time, but the recipe is pretty hands-off once you’ve got the beans simmering!

These red beans and rice start with the holy trinity. In Cajun cooking, that means onion, bell pepper and celery. You’ll want to finely dice your vegetables and sautee them until they’re tender and slightly browned, which should take about 10 minutes. Next add in all your fresh garlic cloves and continue to cook for a minute or two until fragrant. Then, add in your parsley, hot sauce and seasonings. Give everything a good stir until all the veggies are coated evenly in the spices and continue to cook for a minute so that the spices have a chance to toast.

Time for the beans! Add in your soaked red beans, bay leaves and broth. Bring everything up to a boil, then cover the pot, lower the heat to a simmer and let it go for about an hour and 15 minutes. While the beans are simmering away, you can prepare your rice separately.

Once your hour and 15 minutes are up, remove the lid and continue to let the Cajun red beans simmer for another 15 minutes. Finally, remove them from the heat and scoop about a quarter of the beans into a blender or food processor and blend them up until smooth. Return the pureed beans to the bot, add the liquid smoke if you’re using it, and mix it all up.

Time to eat! Serve your beans with a big scoop of rice, a sprinkle of fresh parsley, and maybe an extra drizzle or two of hot sauce.

a bowl filled with brown rice and cajun style red beans

More Vegan Cajun Recipes

I would love for you guys to try this authentic recipe for Cajun red beans and rice so you can enjoy true Louisiana cookin’ in your own home – vegan style! I promise, this recipe won’t let you down.

If you get to try these red beans and rice and are wanting more vegan Cajun recipes, check out some of these other classics that I’ve veganized!

a bowl of red beans and rice topped with fresh parsley

Print
How to make:

Cajun-Style Vegan Red Beans and Rice

These Cajun-Style Vegan Red Beans and Rice are a healthy version of the traditional Louisiana dish, but are still just as satisfying and flavorful!

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
2 hours
Total Time:
2 hours 10 mins
Author:
Emilie
Yield:
6 1x
Rating: 4.9 from 54 reviews

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry red kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 2 medium stalks celery, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 32-ounce container vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups dry brown rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

Instructions

  1. Drain the kidney beans; set aside.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, add oil. When hot, add onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook until vegetables are tender and slightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic; cook for one more minute, until fragrant.
  3. Stir in parsley, hot sauce, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper; stir to evenly coat the vegetables in the spices. Cook for one minute.
  4. Pour in kidney beans, bay leaves and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil; cover, lower heat and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove lid; let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
  5. While the beans are cooking, prepare rice according to package directions.
  6. When the beans are ready, scoop about 1/4 of the beans in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth. Return to pot; add liquid smoke (if using). Stir
  7. Serve beans with a scoop of rice and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

 

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