Canned small red beans are stewed in a rich, smoky, and flavorful broth in this simple but satisfying stewed red bean recipe. Pair with garlicky roasted green beans and rice for a balanced vegan meal.
I'm sharing this recipe to show you that simple bean recipes can be flavorful and satisfying. This recipe features red beans stewed in savory, rich seasonings similar to my vegetarian jambalaya and Instant Pot red beans and rice.
They actually remind me a bit of baked beans. They are paired with garlicky roasted green beans and white rice for a simple but delicious lunch or dinner.
I made this recipe because I wanted to take a break from black beans, which are also great in bowls and with rice, but get a little repetitive. Red beans have a great creamy texture and soak up a lot of flavor.
- Flavors: These red bean bowls use flavors inspired by Cajun cooking, with herbal notes from thyme and the classic holy trinity ingredients of onion and celery.
- Cook time: The best beans are stewed for at least an hour to really capture the flavors of the broth, but the reality of weeknight meals is that you can get away with stewing them for just 15 minutes.
- Balanced and versatile: Green beans, rice, and beans make the perfect balanced bowl. You can add avocado for healthy fats or veggie sausage for a little extra protein.
- Nutrition notes: These bowls are vegan as-is, gluten-free optional, and nut-free.
The liquid that the red beans are stewed in is built on many different layers and flavors. Don't be intimidated by the long ingredients list, it's likely you have most of these ingredients already on hand.
- Red beans: I use small red beans for this recipe. I cook dry beans in my Instant Pot, but the easiest option is to use canned beans. One 15 ounce can yields 1.5 cups, so you will need two cans for these bowls. Light red kidney beans or charro beans are also good options.
- Green beans and sliced garlic cloves are roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper for a simple but ultra-flavorful way to cook green beans. Choose string beans/snap beans or haricot vertes.
- Celery and sweet yellow onion create the flavor base of the beans. Any kind of yellow onion works, but I usually go for sweet yellow when they are in season for an extra touch of sweetness.
- Tomato paste, diced tomato, and Worcestershire sauce add depth and umami flavor. Choose anchovy-free Worchestershire sauce; many store-brand Worcestershire sauces are accidentally-vegan. Choose roma tomatoes for their rich flavor and low water content.
- Smoked paprika, regular paprika, cayenne pepper, and dry thyme add heat, smokiness, and herbiness.
- Rice: I use long grain white rice, but any kind works here.
How to make
Stewed red beans are made by cooking beans over an extended period of time in a flavorful liquid/broth. Like I mentioned earlier, you don't have to stew the beans forever for this recipe but the longer they do stew, the more flavorful they are.
- In a medium stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil until hot. Add diced onion and celery and saute until golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the tomato, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook another 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is aromatic.
- Stir in the spices, toasting them for 30 seconds to deepen their flavor. Add the remaining ingredients: vegetable broth, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and the drained and rinsed red beans.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a low simmer and cover. Simmer for at least 15 minutes and up to several hours. Check every so often to stir and add additional broth as needed.
- Gluten-free option: Worcestershire usually contains gluten. You can omit it entirely or replace it with an equal amount of tamari for a similar umami flavor.
- Different beans: I do think this recipe is best with red beans or kidney beans, but you can technically use any kind of beans. Chickpeas would be my first choice, then cannellini beans or white kidney beans.
- Extra protein: I usually serve this with sauteed meatless sausages, like the kind from Tofurky or Field Roast. It's best cooked separately. I tested a version of this recipe with the sausage cooked with the other ingredients and it dissolved and got mushy.
- These beans are so good on a loaded sweet potato instead of rice. I got tired of having the same leftovers with rice and switched things up by baking a potato in my oven, then topping with a drizzle of tahini and the beans.
- Sauce: I think that the liquid the beans are stewed in is flavorful enough to count as a sauce, but I know that some people prefer actual sauces with grain bowls. A simple tahini drizzle is a great addition, or you can use my tahini goddess dressing.
- Serving: While not required, I find it almost impossible to serve this without vegan cornbread muffins or a slice of vegan cornbread. Cast iron drop biscuits or buttermilk biscuits are another great option.
- Leftovers: Refrigerated leftovers in a closed container. Best within 3-4 days.
- Freezing: The beans freeze well. I haven't tried freezing the green beans. Freeze the red beans for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
- Reheating: Reheat individual servings in the microwave in ~2 minutes. Reheat the red beans on the stove-top over medium heat until warmed through.
Looking for more bowls?
If you like this recipe, you'll love my stewed great northern beans, which use a similar cooking method.
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Stewed Red Beans
Stewed Red Beans
- 2 15 ounce cans small red beans drained and rinsed; equal to 3 cups of beans
- 1 tablesoon olive oil or other neutral oil of choice
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion medium diced
- 3 stalks celery medium diced
- 1 medium Roma tomato cored and diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced; adjust to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teasoon dry thyme
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (no anchovies)
- 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar light also works
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Roasted Green Beans
- 12 ounces green beans ends snapped off
- 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper or use freshly ground black pepper
- 2 and ½ cups cooked white rice
- 14 ounce plant-based sausage diced and sautéed according to package instructions (optional!)
- In a medium stock pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Once hot, add diced onion and celery. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the diced tomato, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook another 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is aromatic. Stir as needed.
- Stir in the thyme, smoked paprika, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Toast for 30 seconds, stirring continuously.
- Add the remaining ingredients: vegetable broth, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and the drained and rinsed red beans.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a low simmer and cover. Simmer for at least 15 minutes and up to several hours. Taste for salt and pepper before serving.
Roasted Green Beans
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Layer a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the green beans on the sheet pan. Toss with oil, garilic, salt, and pepper.
- Spread the green beans out so that they aren't overcrowded or overlapping.
- Roast at 425F for 14-16 minutes, until golden and tender.
- Either saute the sliced sausages in a pan over medium heat until browned on both sides, or cook according to package instructions.
- Put together the bowls by dividing the rice, beans, and green beans between each bowl.
- For the rice: I cook rice in my Instant Pot, but you can use quick-cook rice, frozen rice, or cook rice on the stove. On the stove: Bring a medium pot with 4 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add 2 cups of well-rinsed rice and salt to taste. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Start checking the rice at the 15-minute mark. It may take up to 25 minutes for the water to fully absorb.
- Veggie sausage: This is completely optional. I like to add it for extra protein and flavor. Field Roast Apple Sage sausages are my go-to, but Tofurky Italian sausages is another good option.