Slow-Cooked Red Beans

Slow cooked pot of spicy red beans.

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When it comes to red beans, it seems that the larger kidney bean gets most of the attention.  Of course this could possibly be due to the classic red beans and rice, “an emblematic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine“.  To be honest, red beans and rice is normally our go to dish for red beans.  However, sometimes I like to cook up the small red bean.  It’s more tender than the kidney bean and has a sweeter, more delicate flavor, in my opinion.

This red bean recipe yields a flavorful bowl of tender beans that’s savory, spicy and quite versatile. As with most beans, we love to eat these as just a bowl of beans with some cornbread or tortillas and maybe a topping or two. But you could also add them to salads or soups, serve them on top of a bowl of rice, or wrap them in a tortilla and smother with red chile.  Lots of possibilities…

Like most dried beans, the small red bean does take a long time to cook if cooked on the stovetop or in the oven. However, you could speed up the process by using a pressure cooker, or use the slow cooker for a long cook, but non-interactive process.  Most of the time I choose the pressure cooker for dried beans, but sometimes, I just want to enjoy the pleasure of a slow cook that allows me to baby my pot of beans for a few hours – stirring and tasting, adjusting the seasoning for that perfect bowl of beans.  This recipe provides just that.  If you don’t want to do a slow cook, then check out the Kitchen Notes on cooking them in the pressure cooker.


Slow-Cooked Red Beans

Slow cooked pot of spicy red beans. Small red beans, slow-cooked with a few vegetables and spices. #redbeans #beans @mjskitchen

Slow cooked pot of spicy red beans.
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Slow-Cooked Red Beans Recipe
15 mins
2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 45 mins
A spicy red beans dish that makes a complete meal with just a tortilla or cornbread, or served over rice or wrapped in a burrito and smothered with red chile. 

Since this recipe uses dried beans, there is a 4 hour brine.  After that you have about a 10 minute prep and 2.5 - 3 hour slow-cook.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Dried Beans, soups & stews
Yields: 6 servings
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 2 cups dried red beans*
  • Water
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
Bean Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings or olive oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 6 – 8 cups water / vegetable or beef broth* (1:1)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ - 1 tsp. New Mexico red chile powder*
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. dried Mexican or regular oregano
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes with liquid
  1. Dissolve 1 Tbsp. salt in about 4 cups water.
  2. Add the dried beans. If the water doesn’t cover them, add more water.

  3. Brine for 4 hours.

  4. After 4 hours, drain and rinse.
Cooking the beans
  1. In a large Dutch oven, melt and heat the bacon drippings or oil over medium heat.
  2. When hot, add the onion and bell pepper. Reduce to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

  3. Turn the heat back up to medium and add the garlic. Saute’, stirring constantly, until the edges of the onion start to brown.

  4. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Continue to cook until the wine has evaporated, stirring constantly.

  5. Add 6 cups of the water/stock, the rinse beans, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium low simmer. Cover.
  6. Simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally.

  7. After 2 hours, stir in the can of tomatoes with its liquid.

  8. Continue to cook, covered, until the beans are tender. Stir and taste occasionally. Adjust seasoning if needed.  If the liquid gets too low, add 1 cup of liquid at a time as needed.

    Slow cooked red beans |
  9. Once done, remove from heat.  You could serve immediately, or let rest for an hour or two, or cool, then refrigerate overnight and eat the next day.

When serving, you can use one or two of the toppings listed in the Kitchen Notes or just eat with a side.
Serve with flour tortillas*, crackers*, or cornbread*.
Kitchen Notes

Dried Red Beans* - For this recipe use the small red beans, not the large kidney beans.  You can substitute black beans, navy beans, pintos or bolitas.


Liquid - A 1:1 of water to a tasty broth (vegetarian or beef) adds a lot of flavor.  The broth could be a fat-free beef stock or a beef broth made with hot water and a broth paste. We use  Better than Bouillon beef broth paste. 


Stirring occasionally - When cooking beans on the stove top it is important to stir the bean throughout the cooking time. Stirring helps the beans to cook evenly along with keeping the pot covered.


Red Chile Powder - Amount depends on your heat tolerance or how hot you want your beans. I find that 1 tsp. of a medium to medium hot New Mexico red chile powder adds a little heat to the pot, but not too much.   If you don't have a NM red chile powder, then substitute your favorite red chile, keeping in mind the heat level. 


Vegetarian / Vegan Version - Use oil to saute' the aromatics, and water and vegetable broth for the liquid.


Suggested Toppings - Red Chile (from pods or powder), chopped green chile, diced onion, or cheese.


Suggested Sides - Cornbread, Crackers, Corn Tortillas, or Flour Tortillas


Other suggested meals - Serve over rice, wrap in a flour tortilla and smother with red chile, add to a salad or Budda Bowl, and when you just have a few left, add to a pot of soup.


Pressure-cooked red beans - Complete the brine and Steps 1-4 of "Cooking the Beans".   For step 5, add the rinsed beans, 6 cups liquid, seasoning and tomatoes. Pressurize the cooker and then cook on a medium pressure for 8 - 10 minutes, depending on the age of the beans. (Older beans need to cook longer.)   Release the pressure.  Taste the beans for doneness and seasoning.  Adjust seasoning if needed and, if not quite done, cook for another 30 minutes or until the beans reach the desired tenderness.



If you find the cook time to be different than the recipe’s, there are a few factors that cause this:

  • Age of Beans – The older the beans, the longer they take to cook.  In the fall, try to buy beans from the current year to get the freshest beans that have a longer shelf life.  But be careful, because the opposite is also true – the fresher the beans, the faster they cook.
  • Elevation – Unless you’re using a pressure cooker, you should expect the beans to take longer at higher elevations.  Remember that I live above 5000′; therefore, if you live at sea level, the cooking time may decrease.
  • Soaking time – Most of the time, a longer soaking time can shorten the cooking time; however, I find it can also cause the beans to fall apart easier.
  • Temperature at which you cook the beans – Obviously, the higher the temperature, the faster they’ll cook, but you’ll also have to stir more often.  A medium low simmer yields a nice slow-cook and one that you can stir occasionally rather than frequently.


Slow cooked pot of spicy red beans.


For more bean recipes, click on this link for a list of bean recipes in MJ’s Kitchen.


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35 Responses to “Slow-Cooked Red Beans”

  1. Sissi December 27, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

    What a beautiful bean dish…. I’m such a fan of kidney beans… I also love the huge white ones (butter beans???). These two are my favourite, but I find kidney beans more versatile: they are equally good in the Western way as in Indian spices!
    Your dish sounds like something I must add to my red bean repertoire! Thank you so much for the soaking tip. I had no idea about the time’s impact on beans falling apart.

    • mj December 29, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

      Thanks so much Sissi! I have found that for the smaller beans, like these small red beans, black-eyed peas and black beans, an overnight soak breaks them apart making them too easy to overcook. I stick pretty much with the 4 hour brine on all beans now and it works MUCH better. By the way, I’ve never tried this recipe with kidney beans so the cooking times might be longer. These smaller reds, cook quicker.

  2. Soni December 16, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

    Love kidney beans and I can imagine the deliciousness when slow cooked with wine!!I need to try it 🙂

    • mj December 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

      Thanks Soni! Since you do love kidney beans, you should really love these smaller red beans. Sweeter and more tender.

  3. Jane December 15, 2017 at 7:49 am #

    Made this recipe last night. These were the best beans I’ve ever eaten. Delicious recipe.

    • mj December 17, 2017 at 11:56 am #

      WOW! Thanks so much for your feedback!!! I’m thrilled that you liked them so much! You made my day Darlin!

  4. Lydia December 14, 2017 at 7:08 pm #

    Thanks for the quick response MJ. And yes I have the sausage
    I even found the “Slap yo mama” seasoning. I live in Ruidoso and can’t always find the things I need.
    Looks like I’m set right down to the 🌽 bread
    Thanks for your help

    • mj December 14, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

      You’re most welcome! That’s funny…I used some Slap Yo mama seasoning in my shrimp and grits tonight. 🙂

  5. mj December 13, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

    Hey Lydia, Thank you so much for your wonderfully nice comments! IN reference to the red beans and rice, many of the recipes you find do call for kidney beans, but not all. My Louisiana cookbooks say you could use either, so personally, I think you’d be just fine with the smaller red beans because yes, there are “red” “beans”. 🙂 What’s more important is the andouille sausage. Were you able to find that? With the smaller beans, I would just slice the sausage a little thinner than I would with kidney beans. Hope this helps!

  6. Lydia December 13, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

    Hi MJ,
    I have been meaning to ask you the following question for a while now and I have been lazy. D day is almost upon me so I best get on the stick and ask.
    Can I use the small red beans for a supposedly authentic Cajun recipe for red beans and rice.
    I sent my grandson to the store to pick up items for that purpose and this is what he came back with. ( Red is red and beans are beans, right. lol )
    Do I need to go back to the store and get the larger red kidney beans in order to ensure a successful end result?
    Love your recipes and being Hispanic I look forward to them and your informative blog that you send.
    Thank you so much for your labor of love.

  7. Amy (Savory Moments) December 13, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    These red beans look perfect! Spicy, tender, and all-around yummy!

  8. Easyfoodsmith December 12, 2017 at 7:27 am #

    Absolutely delicious!!

    • mj December 12, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      Thanks Taruna!

  9. Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today December 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    These are simple recipes I adore. I’ll try it, thank you for sharing.

    • mj December 10, 2017 at 9:38 pm #

      Thanks Marta!

  10. Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) December 9, 2017 at 5:49 am #

    Your beautiful photo has me craving a pot of beans. And I must admit, I’m pretty sure I always grab for those larger red beans. I’ll have to pay more attention and try this smaller variety.

    • mj December 10, 2017 at 9:38 pm #

      Thanks Lea Ann! I think you’ll be surprised at the difference in flavor and definitely texture.

  11. Kelly@InspiredEdibles December 7, 2017 at 9:01 am #

    I agree, a bowl of beans works beautifully on its own!. So satisfying and delicious – I love that these are savory too. Non-interactive process, heeheeh – love that, first time I’ve heard it in the kitchen context. Makes sense but I think I like the babying approach too – there’s something soothing and meditative about the tending, tasting process. Is there a particular type of wine you like to use here? Bet it adds some gorgeous flavor – never thought to use it with beans. Great idea!

    • mj December 7, 2017 at 10:16 am #

      “Non-interactive” – I just couldn’t come up with a better way to put it. 🙂 Over forty years ago (longer than you can relate too) we got a crockpot for a wedding present. I tried it a few times and each time, I kept wanting to pick up the lid and stir, taste and smell. The instructions said “never pick up the lid”. I hated that! Plus, and I don’t know if it’s true with the slowcookers today” – everything I cooked in the crockpot came out tasting the same. Therefore, it became a garage sale item. LOL Cooking is relaxation and yes, meditative. I hand knead bread for the Zen of it. Love hands-on cooking .:)

      For the red wine, I had some leftover red table wine, but any wine would work. I added some of the same wine to a beef and vegetable soup last night and, even though it’s just a little bit, it does add a richness to the dish that’s hidden, but there.

  12. Evelyne CulturEatz December 6, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

    I did not even know red beans come in different sizes lol. A very tasty bean recipe, great for the weather.

    • mj December 7, 2017 at 10:09 am #

      Beans come in all sorts of sizes and it’s always fun finding a new one. 🙂

  13. Liz December 6, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    I need to try these red beans as I’ve never been a huge fan of kidney beans! This recipe is the perfect way to test them out!!

    • mj December 7, 2017 at 10:09 am #

      I think you’ll like these much better than kidney beans. We do. 🙂 Thanks Liz!

  14. Katerina December 6, 2017 at 3:38 am #

    Another one winner recipe for my slow cooker! Thanks!

    • mj December 7, 2017 at 10:08 am #

      It you do slow cook these, please let me know how it goes and your method of slow cooking dried beans. I don’t have a slow cooker so it’s hard for me to know for sure how this recipe works in one. Thanks!

  15. Deb|EastofEdenCooking December 5, 2017 at 11:23 am #

    This is a splendid winter recipe, hearty and flavorful, just what we need on a cold evening. I’m considering an Instant Pot and this recipe would easily adapt to that type of cooking.

    • mj December 5, 2017 at 8:04 pm #

      Thanks Deb! I’m sure it would work great in an Instant pot. Let me know.

  16. Angie@Angie's Recipes December 4, 2017 at 10:57 pm #

    So very yummy and comforting! I love that you have used some red wine there..must be extremely flavourful.

    • mj December 5, 2017 at 8:03 pm #

      Thanks Angie! Red winw is very complementary with red beans.

  17. John/Kitchen Riffs December 4, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    Love beans! And cook them ALL the time. Rarely cook red beans by themselves, though. Wonder why I don’t? They have such good flavor — I need to do that more. Terrific dish — thanks!

    • mj December 5, 2017 at 8:01 pm #

      Thanks John! I don’t eat red beans as much as pinto and black, but every time I do, I wonder why. They are so good!

  18. Debra Eliotseats December 4, 2017 at 4:49 pm #

    These look delicious!!!!!!

    • mj December 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

      Thanks Debra!

  19. A_Boleyn December 4, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    Based on the ingredients, it sounds like a tasty dish.

    • mj December 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

      Thanks Ann!

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