In Louisiana, red beans and rice is a tradition.
You can’t go there and not order it, though you will be luckiest if you get invited to have it with a local in their home.
Much like every down-home dish, everyone has their own twist on this classic Cajun meal.
While you’ll see it served any day of the week for just about any meal, red beans and rice came about as a way to use up leftover Sunday meats on Mondays.
Mondays were the traditional day for doing the wash, and while that has changed, the love for red beans and rice goes on and on.
In its most basic form, red kidney beans get simmered up with seasoned vegetables alongside some form of pork, plus plenty of herbs and spices.
Fluffy white rice serves as the bed for this homey creation, a rich and comforting dish that you will adore with every bite.
Some say red beans and rice is the soul of New Orleans. You can take this spirit and run with it in your kitchen no matter where you live though.
But you might be wondering what to serve with red beans and rice.
After all, if you stop by the famous Popeye’s chicken chain, you’ll see it as a side dish. In Miami, you’ll find it as a side too.
So what do you do when you make it your main squeeze?
For side dishes for red beans and rice, keep reading to see how you can fill up your dinner table or make your Mardi Gras party a truly Louisiana-style experience!
What Goes with Red Beans and Rice?
Ready to fill your belly with red beans and rice? Here’s what goes with red beans and rice to make it an even heartier meal!
1. Fried Green Tomatoes
If you love tomatoes but have yet to have the southern traditional side dish of fried tomatoes, you will kick yourself for waiting so long to get your taste!
We love this mouth-watering side dish like nothing else.
They’re crispy on the outside and nice and tender inside.
You can even put them in a sandwich if you so desire, but on the side of red beans and rice, these just win.
They made a movie about them too (ok, it was about more than fried green tomatoes but hey, Kathy Bates is in it and that’s a classic film).
Fried green tomatoes are easy to make and even easier to eat.
Marissa at Pinch and Swirl has a truly spectacular recipe to help you make them.
2. Best Simple Tossed Green Salad
Red beans and rice is such a robust dish, you should think of serving something light alongside it.
Naturally, salad fits that bill.
Though sometimes salads can be a bit boring if you keep making the same one all the time.
There are tons of salad recipes out there that surely look and taste amazing.
But with a dish like red beans and rice, simplicity is best.
Still, it’s not very inspiring to shake out a bag of mixed greens and pour store-bought dressing on top.
It works, but if you want something that has everyone eating their veggies.
Check out the salad Tiffany has for you at Crème de la Crumb!
3. Cast Iron Cornbread
Now, for all you carb-lovers out there, we have to recommend a classic southern side…cornbread!
Honestly, it goes with pretty much any southern dish you could ever make.
Some people love sopping up that saucy goodness with the cornbread too or even crumbling on top of their big bowl of red beans and rice.
Cornbread is easy enough and if you’ve got a cast iron skillet, you’re on your way to making it the traditional way.
Food Wishes has an easy video for you on how to cook up this classic side!
4. Southern-Style Biscuits
Another carb-loaded side that you can dish up with red beans and rice is the iconic southern-style biscuit.
Sure, you pop open one of those store-bought cans and get baking, but you can make your very own homemade biscuits in just 30 minutes.
Why serve the ones you love food filled with preservatives?
Chances are, you’ve got everything you need in your pantry to bake these up right now. Still not convinced?
Julie at Bread Booze Bacon takes you through it step by step for your own perfectly-baked homemade biscuits!
5. Spicy Collard Greens
Collard greens are a southern side we’ve also recommended for other meals before.
But we insist upon it with your red beans and rice.
You really should always serve a green veggie with every meal.
Of course, this one typically comes topped with bacon.
If you have any vegetarian or vegan guests, you can leave out the bacon and animal-based broths to accommodate them with ease.
Collard greens should have a little kick to them. After all, that is the southern way!
Christin at Spicy Southern Kitchen has a great recipe that can be adjusted to your favorite level of spiciness!
6. Savory Black Pepper and Gruyere Beignets
Another fun treat you have to get when you visit New Orleans are those beignets.
It’s a fried dough dessert with powdered sugar.
Oh, but what happens when you take that concept and turn it savory?
You get an unrivaled side dish to trot out at your party or even for a humble dinner with your red beans and rice.
We love the idea of taking this sweet treat and making it a side dish for your meal with savory components.
One that immediately made us salivate was the creation from Joanne at Eats Well With Others because all that cheesy gruyere stole our hearts.
7. Okra Jalapeno Fritters
When it comes to southern sides, okra and tomatoes are a common sight.
And there’s nothing wrong with serving okra this way.
After all, it’s tradition!
But if you want something more hand-held that’s easy for guests to snatch up at parties, turning your okra into crispy fritters is the way to go.
Add some jalapeno to kick up that spice factor and you will be left with a plate of crumbs in just seconds.
Perhaps you might want to double or triple the recipe just to be sure you get a bite too.
Jackie at Syrup and Biscuits will help you master the art of making fabulous fried okra fritters!
8. Fried Okra Salad
Would you like to eat more salads but still want something fried to serve with your red beans and rice?
Make a fried okra salad and all your problems will be solved.
While frying isn’t the healthiest technique, you can use your air fryer to lighten things up.
Even baking the okra to a crisp can help.
Mixed with a bounty of fresh and brightly-colored bell peppers and tomatoes, you’ll have a beautiful presentation plus all the textures and flavors will make it disappear fast.
Karyl’s Kulinary Krusade has this fantastic recipe that you’re going to want to make again and again!
9. Cajun Seasoned Roasted Vegetables
Ok, ok. That’s a lot of fried goodies on our list.
If you’re hoping to serve something healthier with your red beans and rice, there’s nothing like roasted veggies.
Just dump your freshest vegetables into a casserole dish and wait it out with the baking time.
It’s a very hands-off dish that just requires your vegetables to be fresh and topped with Cajun seasoning.
Sometimes serving side dishes really IS that simple!
Julia at The Roasted Root shows you how to get this one going in the oven so you can take time for yourself.
10. Cajun Corn Maque Choux
Don’t worry your pretty little head about pronouncing it.
Though for reference because we can see you sitting there trying to sound it out, it’s “mock shoe.”
Call it what you want though because this is one Louisiana side dish you need to try with your red beans and rice.
True that you could serve corn on the cob, we love going that extra mile to make your meal more authentic.
Basically, it’s like a southern succotash dish, one that you can easily make for a crowd of hungry friends and family in just about 30 minutes.
Chula at Pudge Factor has a wonderful recipe that you’ll definitely make again.
11. Cajun Roasted Potatoes with Creole Dipping Sauce
If you think serving bread with red beans and rice is a bit much, maybe something naturally starchy is more up your alley.
Potatoes are always a good go-to side for red beans and rice, but giving them a Cajun-style makeover will be the perfect touch for your meal.
Interactive meals with dips are fun too because kids love dunking things.
For any picky eaters at your table, Cajun roasted potatoes will please every palate.
It’s also nice for any vegetarians or vegans joining you at the table.
Though with this tasty recipe from Danelle at Let’s Dish, the dip isn’t vegan-friendly but the potatoes are amazing even by themselves.
12. Easy Southern Ratatouille
Want something that can easily help you sneak in more veggies to your red beans and rice meal?
Make a Southern-style ratatouille!
We love that you can twist this iconic dish into something sublimely southern.
Use the bounty of fresh veggies available to you to churn out a delicious side in only 35 minutes.
If you really want to boost the flavor in a more Cajun direction, add Cajun seasoning!
Stacey at Southern Bite has all the details!
13. Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Skewers
Whether you’re having a party or not, food on a stick makes any meal more fun.
That’s the case with shrimp and sausage skewers.
Dressed with Cajun seasoning and served with a spicy sriracha dip, you’ll have a great party appetizer or extraordinary side dish to your dinner.
It’s a totally hands-on experience that everyone will love with juicy shrimp and tender slices of andouille sausage, a truly perfect pairing.
Chungah at Damn Delicious has such a wonderful recipe for it that you’ll be trotting it out again for your holiday party appetizers!
14. Seafood Stuffed Potatoes
Why not go all out when you make your red beans and rice?
Incorporate a Louisiana staple like crawfish tails along with some shrimp, combine it with cheese, and put it into potatoes.
If that doesn’t get you swooning from the start, you can even dump some lump crab meat into the mix.
This one is sure to satisfy all your cravings for something rich, something with cheese, and something with seafood.
Brittany at Coop Can Cook has a recipe that looks just like heaven!
15. Shrimp and Crab Dip Stuffed Tomatoes
For those of you that love the idea of stuffing something but want to keep the meal from becoming too heavy, using tomatoes as your vessel might just be the ticket.
Tomatoes are fresh, juicy, and light, and with shrimp and crab stuffed in them, they’ll be, well, gone!
You can make these with smaller tomatoes for appetizers, especially for a party table, or you can stuff larger tomatoes for a smaller, more intimate gathering like with your family.
Either way, Joanna at Jo Cooks will help you get this one on the table in just 20 minutes!
What to Serve with Red Beans and Rice: First Things First
If this is your first time making red beans and rice, these tips will help you do it like a true Louisiana native!
Use dry kidney beans
Canned beans might be more convenient, but dried beans are cheaper. Plus, they don’t have all that extra sodium in them.
You will need to soak the beans for a minimum of 4 hours though it’s better if you soak them overnight.
Make sure you rinse them and strain too to get rid of any little particles.
If you do throw caution to the wind and use canned, choose a brand that has no salt added or reduced sodium.
Don’t add any additional salt when cooking.
If it’s not as salty as you desire, you can add it afterward.
Add sausage if you use ham hocks
Ham shanks are definitely preferred. In fact, those from New Orleans will tell you to use pickled pork.
But if you don’t know where to get that, you can make your own version using ham shanks.
In the absence of that, you can use ham hocks but because they’re less meaty, you’ll want to add sausage.
Andouille sausage will add the best flavor though any sausage spiced the way you like it can work too!
Use turkey sausage if you don’t eat pork
Love the sound of red beans and rice as comfort but don’t eat pork products?
No problem! You can simply use smoked turkey sausage (check out these leftover smoked turkey recipes for more ideas), or even chicken sausage.
You should replace some of the required water in your recipe with chicken stock to make up for the lack of simmering ham hocks and shanks though.
Keep the sausage large
Regardless of what your sausages are made from, since they’ll be cooking so long, you should leave them in large sections to make them taste their best.
You can also add them midway through the cooking time.
It can be vegetarian or vegan friendly too
Red beans and rice is such an adaptable recipe that you can make it sans any meats.
Use vegetable stock instead and to add a bit more flavor, add just a hint of liquid smoke to your red beans.
One thing you must know about red beans and rice is that your rice MUST be nice and white and fluffy.
It would be a travesty to serve mushy rice.
If you aren’t sure how to make rice the right way, you can go ahead and cheat with those boil-in-bag numbers, though the best way to make rice is in a rice cooker.
You’ll never mess it up, plus you can also use it to steam eggs, potatoes, and other things (you can even make a cake!) so it’s a good idea to put one in your kitchen.
When all is said and done, red beans and rice can become a new tradition in your home kitchen.
Whether you eat all the meats, only eat some of them, or you don’t eat them at all, red beans and rice is very easy to adapt to your dietary requirements for a meal you’ll enjoy again and again, even if it’s not Monday night.
The sides you choose to pair with it can help set the mood for your meal too.
Red beans and rice can be a healthy and warming choice in the winter months paired with salad for good measure.
Or if you need comfort foods, one of those down-home sides should do the trick.
Whatever you’re hankering for, you can be sure that filling your table with these side dishes for red beans and rice will satisfy all your guests!
What to Serve with Red Beans and Rice
- Green Tomatoes
- Green Salad
- Southern-Style Biscuits
- Collard Greens
- Gruyere Beignets
- Jalapeno Fritters
- Okra Salad
- Roasted Vegetables
- Cajun Corn
- Roasted Potatoes
- Southern Ratatouille
- Sausage Skewers
- Seafood & Potatoes
- Shrimp and Crab Dip
- Choose your desired Red Beans and Rice side dish recipe.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create a tasty Red Beans and Rice side to complete your meal!