Fast food at home: Popeyes-style red beans and rice

A Popeyes restaurant (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A Popeyes restaurant (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) /

Do you love Popeyes red beans and rice? Here is our attempt at recreating this classic side at home, with an optional addition of chopped smoked sausage.

Red Beans and Rice is perhaps the best thing on the menu at Popeyes. Sure, they’ve got great fried chicken, buttery biscuits, and a chicken sandwich worth lining up around the block for (not that us lowly Canadians have gotten to enjoy it yet), but this classic side is on another level entirely. It’s one of Creole cuisine’s most iconic dishes: a rich and porky stew of soupy red beans served atop rice, and the sort of thing that has made Popeyes a cut above your standard fast food restaurant.

Now, I haven’t ever worked at Popeyes and I don’t know their exact recipe, but their take on the dish seems to be a rather simple one. There’s no holy trinity, no meat, and not really much involved cooking time. It does take a little while to simmer down to the right consistency (thick, but still somewhat runny), but this dish can easily be prepared and left to simmer while making, let’s say, some fried chicken. Or not, it’s certainly filling enough on its own.

I’ve added some cooked smoked sausage to give it a little more heft, but it’s totally optional. Other bony, rich, smoked, or salted pork cuts like roasted bones (the traditional base), trotters, smoked hocks, or even leftover ribs (yum) would be welcome additions.

The bacon grease, or lard, is somewhat important to achieving the richness that red beans and rice should have. You can substitute a different cooking oil, but the result just won’t be the same.


  • Two cans red kidney beans, juices included
  • 1 medium large onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2-4 tbsp bacon grease or lard (feel free to use other cooking oils, but don’t come crying to me about the results)
  • 1 ¼ cup water (more if needed to keep the soup from getting too thick)
  • Creole seasoning to taste (1 tbsp for me, and Tony Chachere’s is the gold standard)
  • 1-1½ cups long-grain rice
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • ½ tsp and 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • OPTIONAL: Cooked smoked sausage (Andouille if you can get it), chopped to your liking


Dice onion finely and add to hot ¼ cup of grease or lard. Cook on medium-high heat until the onions begin to soften, turn heat down to medium, then cook until they have begun to darken but are not fully caramelized, stirring occasionally. The heat should not be so high as to make the onions dry out and become stuck to the pan.

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Add Creole seasoning and garlic, cook for a few more minutes, then add beans and water. Bring to a simmer (this dish can get very hot while not appearing to be boiling very hard, and you really don’t want to get splattered by it) for about 1 hour. While the beans simmer away, lightly puree with an immersion blender or mash some with the back of a wooden spoon. You still want there to be chunks of beans, but not very much. Stir in the smoked sausage shortly before finishing, so that it does not become rubbery in the pot.

Meanwhile, cook your rice (including 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of butter) and serve underneath the finished red beans. If you’re feeding guests or just want to take it to that next level, put a pat of butter on top of each bowl just before serving.

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Do you love red beans and rice? Are you going to give this recipe a try for yourself? Tell us what you think in the comments.