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Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

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Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice is chock full of smoky sausage (add chicken or ham too), delicious creole cajun spices, veggies and healthy red beans. Perfect for Mardi Gras, or anytime you need some delicious comfort food! Vegetarian option too!

I am all about easy, healthy, filling meals; especially with two teenage boys in the house! I love fast foods, no, not the golden arches type; I’m talking easy meals you can make or assemble lickety-split!

Like Honey Bourbon Chicken, Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken, Cheesesteak Sandwich or these heart Sloppy Joes Recipe.

Top down shot of a pretty soup bowl filled with Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice, with a rustic spoon and a sprig of parsley.

But sometimes, I like it slow cooked, like when I am running kids to activities, PTO meetings, or just don’t want to be bothered to think about dinner-time. And this red bean and rice recipe in the crockpot fits that description perfectly!

I adore slow cooked meals or croc kpot meals; there is something about walking in the house after being gone all day and smelling dinner ready and waiting as you walk in the door.

Image of pretty cream bowl filled with white rice and red beans in a sauce for slow cooker red beans and rice.

Red beans and rice in a crock pot IS that meal! Don’t misread anything here, I love my Instant Pot, am infatuated with 30 minute meals, but I am not about to throw out my crockpot!

Large bowl filled with white rice and red beans and kielbasa sausage for Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice.


Are these authentic red beans and rice? Honestly, I have no idea, I have never lived in the south, but I sure have a lot of friends who do and besides; my family really, really likes this meal. So does it really matter if it’s not purely authentic?

Substitutions in Red Beans and Rice in a Crock Pot

I am all about customizing flavors, spices, meats to what our family will eat! Our tagline is Make It Yours! For instance, the original recipe from Kylee Cooks, calls for smoked boneless pork chops and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

I wouldn’t even know where to start looking for smoked pork chops (though you can replace with ham) and I am way too big of a spice wimp to use an entire teaspoon of cayenne pepper! Her recipe is great, probably much more authentic, but that’s what I am saying! Make it yours!

Ingredients and Suggestions

Below are the main ingredients, you can of course get the entire ingredient list, quantities and how to make this delicious Red Beans and Rice by printing the recipe at the bottom of the post.

  • Yellow Onions | I typically buy sweet onions, but use whatever you have!
  • Celery | adds a bit of flavor and nutrition when caramelized with the onions.
  • Garlic | Fresh is best, minced for great flavor, but in a pinch you could use jarred minced garlic.
  • Dried red beans | rinsed and sorted* (dried kidney beans, adzuki, pink or even black beans may be substituted, see FAQ below for how to incorporate as well as using canned beans)
  • Smoked Sausage | andouille, kielbasa or other smoked sausage works great!), sliced into ½” slices (I use organic kielbasa or smoked sausage and usually double the amount cause everyone fights over the sausage)

  • Smoked ham chunks | or other smoked meat (optional)
  • Chicken breasts | whole (optional), you can add these towards the end of cooking then shred and mix in.
  • Creole or cajun seasoning | now this is what gives this the authentic red beans and rice vibe!
  • bay leaves | these little jewels add so much flavor!
  • dried thyme & Cayenne pepper to taste, up to 1 teaspoon (I do a couple shakes)
  • Cooked rice (white or brown) | to serve with the red beans.
Process shots for slow cooker red beans and rice, L-R Onions, Celery and oil in slow cooker bottom, Adding minced garlic to veggies, Adding rinsed red beans to crockpot and finally adding smoked sausage to the crockpot.


Rinsing we’ve got! Dump dry beans into a sieve and rinse with water! But the sorting, even the back of the package just says “sort”. So I did some research and here’s what I discovered.

During the packaging, debris can find its way into the beans, remove any sticks, rocks, dust or other debris, obviously! But also be on the lookout for funny smells (probably moldy), mold, shriveled beans, broken pieces, weevils (ew!), etc. If only some shriveled and broken beans they should be fine, just toss (sort) those out. If you smell something off, find something crawling or see any fuzzy beans, throw out (or return) the entire package. Once I have rinsed my beans, I toss onto a sheet pan and “sort” them.


  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil (or if you have a slow cooker to stove insert, do this in your insert)
  • Saute onions, celery until translucent and slightly golden, toss in garlic for the last minute until fragrant.
  • Add spices to onion mixture, stir for a minute to bloom the spices.

PRO TIP | You may skip the sauteing step and toss the raw onions, celery, garlic and spices directly in the crockpot, but for me it’s worth the time, as it blooms the flavors and adds depth to the dish.

Process shots of making Slow cooker Red Beans and Rice; L-R sausage, beans, veggies, spices in slow cooker, 2) adding water to the crockpot, 3) All ingredients covered in water) 4) Crockpot set to low for 10 hours.
  • Place all ingredients (except rice) into crockpot (slow cooker).
  • Pour about 6 cups water, enough to cover everything by about ½ inch.
  • Stir to mix everything, cover and set slow cooker on high between 6-8 hours or on low between 8-10 hours.
  • If making red beans and rice with chicken, add chicken breasts to crockpot about 4 hours before serving.
  • Remove bay leaves
  • To thicken, use a potato masher and mash some of the beans, stir and cook an hour longer or so.
  • Taste before serving, adding additional sea salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Serve red beans over bowls of cooked rice (white or brown)
Adding chicken breasts to partially cooked crockpot of red beans and rice 2) close up image of cooked red beans and rice 3) mashing beans to thicken; 4) serving Red Beans and Rice with wooden spoon.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use dried black beans?

Yes, rinse and sort just like the red beans, and cook as planned for a delicious version of Slow Cooker black beans and rice!

Can I use canned beans in slow cooker beans and rice?

Of course, drain and rinse your preferred beans. Try canned black beans, kidney beans, or if you can find them, canned red beans. Reduce crock pot time to 6-8 hours.

Do you have to soak red beans before cooking in a crock pot?

The beauty of cooking beans in a slow cooker is you don’t need to soak the beans beforehand. Rinse and sort the beans as per directions. Red kidney beans are the exception here. For dried red kidney beans, always soak first and then boil for 20 minutes before preparing in the slow cooker, this makes them more digestible, or just use canned kidney beans! 🙂

How do you thicken red beans in a crock pot?

My thickening method just requires a potato masher, get in there and mash some of those red beans, then allow it to slow cook an hour longer. If that’s still not thick enough for you, combine 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch into equal amounts cold chicken broth or water, slowly stir into the red beans and rice in the crock pot, and cook for another hour.

Vegan or Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice in Slow Cooker

This is a super simple recipe to adjust to be vegetarian!

  • Replace half or all the water with vegetable broth — try my crazy good Magic Mineral Broth for healthy, great flavor.
  • Omit chicken, sausage kielbasa and ham.

And if you happen to be looking for other fun, Creole types of meals for Mardi Gras coming up, then this meal would be perfect or this Instant Pot (or Stovetop) Jambalaya! Both guaranteed to please!

Pin for Slow Cooker Healthy Red Beans and Rice and easy slow cooked meal, image of slow cooked red beans and white rice in a bowl with a rustic spoon.

Be sure to share this recipe for slow cooker red beans to your favorite social channel (see below)! And if you tried it, leave a comment!

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  1. 5 stars
    This made the house smell amazing! Was great to come home to on a cold night. We didn’t add the ham or the chicken; likely will add chicken next time just for variety. Makes a lot!

  2. 5 stars
    This is our kind of comfort food! This reminds me of my husband’s late aunt. She loved serving this dish and we never got the recipe. We’re all set now. Thank you!