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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!

You will also love this Crockpot London Broil, Outback Potato Soup Recipe (Slow Cooker or Stovetop), these tender Cheesesteak Sandwich or a hearty Sloppy Joes Recipe.

Bowl filled with slow cooker red beans and rice with andouille sausage, ham and smoked chicken.

I adore slow cooked meals or crockpot 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.

A large bowl filled with tender red beans and rice and sausage.

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!

Authentic Louisiana 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!

Key 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.
Close up of red beans and rice in slow cooker.

What does it mean to sort and rinse beans?

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 with regard to sorting beans.

Fresh Tips for Sorting Dried Beans

  • 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.

How to Make Slow Cooker Beans and Rice

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.

You may skip the sautéing 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.

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.

How to Marinate Chicken in Liquid Smoke

If desired, soak boneless chicken breasts or thighs in a solution of water and 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (your flavor choice) for 1-4 hours in the fridge. It adds a wonderful, smokey flavor to the red beans and rice.

Add chicken breasts to slow cooker a few hours before it's ready to serve.

How to thicken red beans and rice in the slow cooker

To thicken, use a potato masher and mash some of the beans, stir and cook an hour longer or so. If you want it a lot thicker, combine 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch into equal amounts cold chicken broth or water. Slowly stir into the red beans and rice mixture, cover and cook an additional 30-60 minutes.

Taste before serving, adding additional sea salt and pepper, if needed. Remove bay leaves as you uncover them.

Serve red beans over bowls of cooked rice (white or brown).

What to serve with red beans and rice?

Classic sides to serve with red beans and rice are an ice cold beer and some corn bread, but there are some other delicious recipes you might consider that are part of Creole cuisine.

Red beans and rice in bowl with sausage, ham and chicken.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use dried black beans for red beans and rice?

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 to you thicken red beans and rice?

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.

Red beans and rice in a bowl with a serving spoon.

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! And be sure to serve with these easy Mini King Cakes!

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.

More Creole or Louisiana Inspired Recipes

I hope you loved this recipe for slow cooker red beans and rice — if you did, would you share your creation on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest? And be sure to comment below!

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Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and comment below the recipe!

Kathleen Pope, The Fresh Cooky.

About Kathleen Pope

Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer

Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.

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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!