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This vegetarian red beans and rice recipe is budget-friendly meal with ingredients that are accessible in most supermarkets. Zesty and nutrient-dense, it’s full of veggies, legumes, and Cajun spices.

Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice | Vegan Red Beans and Rice Recipe
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48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children (nearly one in five children in America)—lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. They live in food- insecure households and as a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year.


A bit about food access and hunger

A sobering truth is that while most people we know are blessed with the ability to eat whatever we want whenever we want, millions of people around us are not. It’s easy to put on the Pinterest-tinted glasses and create a happy world where everyone eats veggie enchiladas and drinks green smoothies — but the truth is, many Americans simply don’t have the resources or access to get to even half of the veggies in a trendy green drink.

Alex and I are thankful to know people who are passionate about combating food access and hunger in our country, and it’s an issue we are naturally interested in as well, as people who care deeply about food and nutrition. So we couldn’t be more pleased to be joining with our inspiring friend Nicole to use today’s post to raise awareness in a campaign called Food Bloggers Against Hunger (and, check out the link to see the 200 other food bloggers that have joined in the effort! So cool.).

Millions of Americans who participate in the nation’s food stamp program are limited to an average of $3 or $4 per person each day to supplement their food budget. And since government subsidies generally focus on products like soy beans, wheat, and corn instead of fresh produce,  most affordable food is often the unhealthiest.

Vegetarian red beans and rice

With that in mind, today we’re sharing a budget-friendly meal with ingredients that are easily accessible in most supermarkets. This take on Red Beans and Rice can be made on a budget, for about $4 per person. But even better, it’s very delicious and nutrient-dense: full of veggies, legumes, and Cajun spices that pack a large amount of flavor into some humble ingredients. It also works for various special diets, including dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian.

The ingredients in this vegan red beans and rice recipe are simple: onion, celery, green pepper, tomatoes, and red beans. What makes the zesty flavor is the homemade Cajun spices: cayenne, paprika, oregano, and thyme. And if you can handle the heat, the finishing touch is the hot sauce! We ate our vegetarian red beans and rice with brown rice, but any type of rice will do. If you have a rice cooker or Instant Pot, it’s perfect to throw in the rice while you make the remainder of the recipe.

Related: Cuban Black Beans with Rice and Brown Rice Recipes

Looking for vegan recipes?

This Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice recipe is also vegan! Here are a few of our favorite vegan recipes:

This recipe is…

This Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice recipe is vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, plant based, dairy free and naturally sweet.

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Red Beans and Rice

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5 from 8 reviews

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


This vegetarian red beans and rice recipe is a budget-friendly meal with accessible ingredients. Zesty and nutrient dense, it’s full of veggies and Cajun spices.


  • 4 cups cooked brown rice (use How to Cook Rice or Instant Pot rice)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans red kidney beans (3 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley, to garnish
  • Hot sauce, to garnish


  1. Cook the rice according to package instructions.
  2. Dice the onion and celery. Dice the pepper. Mince the garlic.
  3. In a large saucepan (or dutch oven), warm the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, celery, and pepper for 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes more; watch the pan to avoid burning the garlic.
  4. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the red beans. When the vegetables are ready, add the beans, diced tomatoes with their liquid, and vegetable broth. Stir in the cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, thyme, 2 bay leaves, kosher salt, and a few grinds of pepper.
  5. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Meanwhile, roughly chop the parsley leaves.
  6. When simmering is complete, remove the bay leaves and serve the beans over rice. Garnish with chopped parsley and hot sauce.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Cajun

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Ellen Lee says:

    Hands down, the BEST red beans and rice recipe! So good, and I’ve made many different recipes for this meal. I serve it topped with cut up scallions and sour cream. Mmm mmm. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Teresa says:

    This recipe is awesome!! I used Rotel and it was just the right amount of spicy. I also served it with Cilantro Lime Rice and it was great!

  3. Ellen says:

    This is my favorite RB&R recipe. And I’ve made many. I definitely put my own spin on it, but I use every single ingredient in the recipe, just in varying quantities. I also mix the cooked rice in before serving. It is delicious!

  4. Ellen Lee says:

    I’ve been making red beans and rice for years and years. Your recipe is, hands down, my favourite! My family loves it too. We add chopped tomatoes atop the finished meal, along with a dollop of sour cream. I also add a few splashes of Cholula sauce. The changes I make: 6 cloves of garlic, double green pepper, double celery, double the beans, double all spices except cayenne (which I use half, as family is sensitive to spicy), double canned tomatoes, and I use red onions. I know it seems like I just double the recipe, but I make the 4 cups of rice, and, after the simmering, I add the rice to the mixture. It’s sooooo good! Thank you for sharing this recipe, and many others I definitely will make…

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thank you!

  5. Tim bedwell says:

    Can you make the beans in advance and freeze in individual portions? I’m a 1 person household.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:


  6. Taryn says:

    This was a great recipe, I felt the beans were a little loose after simmering so I smashed some up with a potato masher, worked like a charm. Thanks!

  7. Katie says:

    So I know this recipe is old now but I just found it and it’s delicious!
    I made it exactly as written and served it with some Impossible sausage. Thank you for posting it!

  8. Renee Mahdavi says:

    Started “Meatless Mondays” a few months ago and have been looking for interesting vegetarian options. Happened upon your website and am delighted to tell you that the house if filled with the amazing aroma of this red beans (and rice) recipe. Been simmering for about 30 minutes now and I can already tell this is going to be great. Thank you so much!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      You’re welcome! :)

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