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Treat yourself to this New Orleans-style Vegan Red Beans and Rice recipe for a taste of Cajun cuisine! Red kidney beans are flavored with Southern spices and slow-cooked for an authentic smoky flavor then topped with spicy pan-fried vegan sausage for the best meatless dish over rice.

Red beans and rice in a white bowl

This recipe was written on April 27, 2015. It was updated with additional recipe information on April 17, 2024.

This red beans and rice vegan dish is the ultimate savory comfort food! It is bursting with aromatic spices, a touch of liquid smoke, hearty vegetables, tender kidney beans, and flavorful vegan sausage, making it a satisfying alternative to the traditional meat-based dish. The rich supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and protein allows you to nourish your body while also enjoying the flavors of a New Orleans red beans and rice recipe! 

For those who have a harder time digesting beans, I provide a solution so you can enjoy red beans and rice with no meat worry-free! This red beans recipe includes instructions for properly soaking the beans, which makes them much more tender and flavorful than their canned cousins.

If you have a hard time digesting beans, I suggest including kombu, a mineral-rich seaweed, in the pot of cooking beans to reduce the raffinose sugars – which are the culprit for gas and digestive problems (source). The kombu will also help you absorb more of the beans’ nutrients (source). For more vegan bean recipes, try my sweet potato bisque with crispy white beans, coconut black bean stew, or authentic vegan black eyed peas.  

ingredients for red beans and rice on a white counter

Ingredients

Red Kidney Beans: This vegetarian red beans and rice recipe calls for high-quality dried beans soaked before cooking. You can use canned rinsed and drained red kidney beans in a pinch. 

Celery: Choose fresh celery stalks with a crisp texture and vibrant green color for the best flavor. Alternatively, you can substitute celery seeds for celery salt for a similar flavor. 

Yellow Onion: Opt for firm and unblemished onions. Alternatively, swap for Vidalia or sweet onions to add a slightly sweet flavor. 

Green Bell Pepper: Adds a pop of green and crisp flavor to the vegan beans and rice. Swap for red or yellow bell peppers or a mix of colors for added color and flavor.

*Together, celery, onion, and green bell pepper make up the Holy Trinity––the foundational base for most Creole and Cajun cooking.

onions, celery, and green pepper on a plate

Garlic: Choose plump and firm garlic bulbs with tight skin. Alternatively, use pre-minced or jarred garlic for easier prep. 

Kombu: Adds depth of flavor and richness and makes the beans more digestible. Use a high-quality brand of kombu seaweed strips

Vegetable Bouillon Cubes or Paste: Use a low-sodium option if added sodium concerns you. Alternatively, you can use bouillon paste or swap the bouillon cubes for vegetable broth. My favorite vegetable bouillon paste is Better Than Bouillon.

Dried Herbs: Whole dried bay leaves and dried thyme give this vegan red beans recipe the best aromatic flavor with subtle earthy and floral notes.

Spices: Smoked paprika and Cajun seasoning add the perfect amount of spice to this dish. Use your favorite brand of Cajun seasoning like Slap Ya Mama or make your own (recipe in my cookbook).

Liquid Smoke: Look for liquid smoke made from natural vegan ingredients, with no added flavors or preservatives. 

Vegan Sausage: I recommend using the Field Roast brand in the Smoked Apple or Italian Sausage flavors. Alternatively, you can use your favorite meat-free sausage. 

Parsley: Fresh parsley adds a tasty fresh herbal flavor to the vegan rice and beans. Use Italian flat-leaf parsley or curly parsley depending on your preference. 

Oil: Choose a neutral oil such as light olive oil or avocado oil to sauté the vegetables and vegan sausage. Alternatively, you can use grapeseed or canola oil, another neutral oil, or vegan butter. If you’re oil-free, use warm water to sauté.

Rice: Any variety of brown or white rice rice works in this recipe. I love medium-grain brown rice, but you can use any sized grain and variety.

How to Make Vegan Red Beans and Rice

  • Soak kidney beans. Rinse dry beans and remove any debris. Drain, then soak in water for 8 hours. I don’t recommend soaking longer than that or it can slow the cooking time.
  • Sauté Vegetables. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 4-6 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add Beans. Add the pre-soaked beans and 8 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Simmer Beans. Once the pot is at a boil, add the kombu, bay leaves, and thyme. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer uncovered for about 90 minutes. Check halfway through to skim off any foam that may form on the top and add extra water if needed.
  • Prepare Rice. While the beans are cooking, make your rice following the package instructions. 
  • Pan-fry Sausage. When the rice is almost cooked, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and fry the sliced sausage until browned on both sides. 
  • Spice Beans. When the beans have finished cooking, remove them from the heat and stir in the bouillon, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and Cajun seasoning.
  • Add Sausage. Stir the vegan sausage into the beans then serve over rice with a garnish of parsley.
cooked red beans in a white dutch oven pot

Recipe Pro-Tips

  • Test a bean for doneness. You’ll know the beans are done cooking by the texture. Take one bean from the pot and press it gently between your fingers or on a cutting board; it should hold its shape but yield to pressure. They should be tender but not mushy. Cook time may vary depending on the quality and age of your beans.
  • Gradually add the liquid smoke. The flavor of liquid smoke can be quite strong, so add it a little at a time and taste as you until the intensity of smokiness is to your liking. 
  • Double up on bouillon cubes. I like to use two bouillon cubes for a more flavorful and salty broth for this red beans and rice recipe with no meat. If your brand is extra salty or you prefer a less savory flavor, just add 1 cube.
  • Add some heat. Make this Cajun red beans and rice vegetarian dish extra spicy by increasing the amount of Cajun seasoning, adding cayenne pepper or hot sauce, using a spicy vegan sausage, or including diced jalapeños.

Serving Suggestions

Meatless red beans and rice is a complete meal served over rice, or pair it with other Southern-inspired side dishes for a full spread, like some of our favorite recipes below!

red beans and rice in a white bowl

Storage Directions

  • Refrigeration: Allow red beans and rice without meat to cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. 
  • Freezing: Store leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 2-3 months. 
  • Reheating: Reheat in a pot or skillet with a splash of water or broth to restore the moisture until heated through or in the microwave. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, you can meal prep this red beans and rice vegetarian dish for easier lunches or dinners throughout the week. Make the recipe then allow it cool before transferring them to an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Or you can freeze in a freezer-safe container for 2-3 months. I recommend storing the beans and rice separately.

Can I make this recipe in an Instant Pot?

Yes! Follow the outlined recipe, sautíng the aromatics in the Instant Pot on the sauté setting. Then add the beans, kombu, bay leaves, thyme, and enough water to cover the beans by a centimeter, and the veggie bouillon cube. Cancel the sauté setting and secure the lid on the Instant Pot. Pressure cook the beans on high for 15 minutes.

Once they have finished cooking, allow the pot to naturally release pressure for another 15 minutes before quick pressure release. Always follow the instructions for your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. Add the seasonings then stir in the pan-fried vegan sausage. Serve over rice.

More Vegan Comfort Food Recipes

4.61 from 28 votes

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

By: Jenné
This New Orleans-style Vegan Red Beans and Rice is the ultimate comfort food! Loaded with Cajun flavors and hearty ingredients, this flavor-packed meatless dish is a filling, nutritious, and delicious meal.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

  • 4 tbsp light olive oil or avocado oil , divided
  • 2 cups celery, diced (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans, rinsed, picked through, and soaked for 8 hours
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 4-inch strip of kombu, optional
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1-2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke, plus more to taste if desired
  • 1 tsp cajun seasoning, plus more seasoning blend if your brand doesn't contain salt
  • 2 cups rice, white or brown
  • 12 oz vegan field roast smoked apple sausage or vegan Italian sausages, sliced
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped

Instructions 

Stovetop Instructions

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. If you're oil-free, heat 3-4 tablespoons of water instead.
  • Add the celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt to the pot. Sauté for 4-6 minutes, or until the onions become tender.
  • Add the pre-soaked beans and 8 cups of water to the pot.
  • Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the kombu, bay leaves, and thyme.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the water come to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 90 minutes. Check the beans halfway through the cooking time to skim off any foam that formed on the top and add any extra water as needed.
  • While the beans cook: make the rice according to the package instructions.
  • When the rice is almost cooked, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced sausage and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, or until the sausage is golden brown.
  • Check a few beans for doneness at the end of the simmering time. Add additional simmering time as needed to achieve a tender and easy-to-chew texture. When the beans are done, remove them from the heat and stir in the bouillon, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and Cajun seasoning.
  • Taste the beans. If desired, stir in a second bouillon cube. I usually do 2 cubes but it can depend on your preferences and the brand of bouillon.
  • Stir the cooked vegan sausage into the beans.
  • Serve the red beans over rice and garnish with parsley. Serve hot!

Instant Pot Instructions

  • Set the Instant Pot to the sauté setting. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Once heated, add the celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt. Saute for 4-6 minutes, or until the onions are tender.
    Add the beans, kombu, bay leaves, and thyme to the sautéed veggies. Add enough water or vegetable broth to cover the beans by a centimeter. If you are using water, add the veggie bouillon cube to the water. 
    Cancel the sauté setting and secure the lid on the Instant Pot. Pressure cook the beans on high for 15 minutes. Once it has finished cooking, allow the pot to naturally release pressure for another 15 minutes before quick-releasing the remaining pressure.
    While the beans pressure cook, prepare the rice according to the package directions. Cook the sliced sausage in 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until golden.
    When the pressure has released from the Instant Pot, stir in the smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and Cajun seasoning. Season to taste with more salt or bouillon. Stir in the vegan sausage. Serve over rice. 

Notes

Storage Directions
  • Refrigeration: Allow red beans and rice without meat to cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. 
  • Freezing: Store leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 2-3 months. 
  • Reheating: Reheat in a pot or skillet with a splash of water or broth to restore the moisture until heated through or in the microwave. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. 
Recipe Pro-Tips
  • Test a bean for doneness. You’ll know the beans are done cooking by the texture. Take one bean from the pot and press it gently between your fingers or on a cutting board; it should hold its shape but yield to pressure. They should be tender but not mushy.  Cook time may vary depending on the quality and age of your beans.
  • Gradually add the liquid smoke. The flavor of liquid smoke can be quite strong, so add it a little at a time and taste as you until the intensity of smokiness is to your liking. 
  • Double up on bouillon cubes. I like to use two bouillon cubes for a more flavorful and salty broth for this red beans and rice recipe with no meat.
  • Add some heat. Make this Cajun red beans and rice vegetarian dish extra spicy by increasing the amount of Cajun seasoning, adding cayenne pepper or hot sauce, using a spicy vegan sausage, or including diced jalapeños. 
  •  
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Jenne

I’m a Georgia Peach living in Los Angeles (by way of NYC), with an insatiable love of sweet potatoes, travel, animals, and cooking. On Sweet Potato Soul you’ll discover hundreds of delicious and easy-to-make vegan recipes.

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31 Comments

  1. This was fantastic Jenne’. Instead of the Field Roast sausages, which I do enjoy; I added browned chopped tempe. Super yummy, filling, and ohhhh sooo comforting. Keep it up! 🙂

  2. Thank you!! Kombu is a sea vegetable. Here’s a link to it via Amazon: https://amzn.to/1X3gbKp
    If you don’t want to buy kombu, then it’s okay to skip. The purpose of it in this dish is both to add a little flavor from the sea, and to make the beans easier to digest. Still, it isn’t necessary 🙂

  3. Not believing that before I found your site this morning I was soaking red beans to make a “dirty rice” for our dinner! I don’t have access to the vegan sausage so I am sort of thinking about doing the same as Chioma and using the coconut milk (which I have) and the dino kale (which is growing in my garden!). We shall see! So excited to connect with your blog!

    1. Hi Deborah! I’m so happy you found my blog 🙂
      I think it would be great like Chioma recommended. Now I want to make that for myself! Let me know how it goes.

  4. I am heading out the door to Mom’s Organic market to get the ingredients and making this today!

  5. Just made this with some toast in stead of rice, delicious! When I saw the thyme in the ingredients list I was a bit surprised, but it was so good!! Was planning on saving some for later this week, but think I am going to help myself with a second serving!

    1. Oh lovely!! Thank you so much for letting me know. I’m craving this goodness right now 🙂

  6. I love red beans and rice. My brother in-law got me hooked on them during one of my stays in New Orleans and now I make them for my family. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. Aren’t they the best?! My dad makes them really well too. He’s the one who got me hooked on Camellia beans 🙂 xo

  7. I love red kidney beans. Growing up in my Panamanian household no meal was complete without red kidney beans or lentils. I can’t wait to try this recipe and the photos are on point– which means that little bowl on the side inspired you well! 🙂

    Zadry
    http://www.curvesalamode.com
    #BLMGirl

    1. Hey Zadry! I’m loving hearing about all these other varieties of red beans & rice. I had no idea it was a popular dish south of Louisiana!!
      Thanks, I’m glad you like my pics. I’ve been working really hard to get them better. A snack always helps 🙂

      xoxo my fellow #BLMGirl <3

  8. I like to make kidney beans/red beans with a coconut milk broth (vs boullion) and add a rich, dark green leafy veggie to it (like collard or dino kale). Augment the flavor with a strong chile (which is dampened with the coconut milk). Option to add a faux meat if desired (I’m partial to BBQ soy curls :)) or just enjoy the beans and rice as is….I have honestly had times where I’m out of rice and opt to eat the beans solo or over a piece of toast. #thatsinglelife

    1. Sounds delicious! I’ve been planning on soaking my last bag of red beans to cook for coconut curry. I’m going to have to add those dark leafy greens and chile. Sounds gooooooood!