This vegan red beans and rice recipe is Cajun comfort food at its finest! Between soft carbs and tasty Southern spice, this dish is an incredibly satisfying vegan version of a traditionally non-vegan dish. With my recommendations, you can make it much quicker than other recipes, and in one pot!
Vegan Substitutes for Red Beans and Rice
Liquid smoke, vegetable broth and vegan sausage make the perfect substitutes for animal-based sausage and broth. And frozen or microwave-ready rice will save you tons of time.
It’s one of my (non-vegan) husband’s favorite dishes I make for him! He studied in New Orleans and loves the Cajun style of the dish, especially on cold nights. We love to pair it with the best fiction books about New Orleans.
Best Ingredient Recommendations
Before we get to the recipe, I want to note the Louisiana-based ingredients we recommend based on my husband's time living there:
- We highly recommend Amazon's Choice Crystal, Louisiana's Pure Hot Sauce. We believe this particular type of hot sauce is a "must" for this dish because it provides a ton of complex flavor with only a bit of heat, whereas other hot sauces are more focused on heat than complex flavor. When you use Crystal, you can really amp up the hot sauce to get the extra flavor while also not making it too hot at the same time. (Check the price on Amazon.)
- We highly recommend Amazon's Choice Tony Chachere's Original Cajun Seasoning, which also originates in Louisiana, and is a great mix of spiciness and saltiness. (Check the price on Amazon.)
- We usually use Tofurky Original Sausage in the Kielbasa flavor, which is similar to the Andouille sausage traditionally used. (Check the price on Amazon.)
For the most authentic style dish, use these specific ingredients. You can buy easily buy them on Amazon via the above links!
And, before we get to the recipe, below are answers to frequently asked questions about red beans and rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, Popeye's red beans and rice dish is not vegan. It is reported to contain fish and/or pork fat.
No. Per Zatarain's, their red beans and rice are vegetarian, but not vegan.
No. Per Uncle Ben's, their red beans and rice are vegetarian.
- 6-8 cups cooked basmati or other long grain white rice (I use frozen or packaged / microwaveable rice to cut down on time.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 package vegan sausage, grilled or pan fried
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, sliced into 1-2 inch strips
- 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons cajun seasoning
- 3 cans red beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon mild hot sauce, or 1 teaspoon of a spicier hot sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 drops liquid smoke
- salt and pepper, to taste
- green onions, thinly sliced
- hot sauce, drizzled
- Optional: sliced and toasted French bread, served on the side
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot or Dutch oven and add onion, green pepper and celery. Stir until tender, for about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste, garlic and Cajun seasoning for about 1 minute.
- Stir in red beans, vegetable stock, hot sauce, liquid smoke and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover, then continue to simmer until reduced into a thick gravy, for an additional 15 minutes.
- While the red beans are simmering, cook rice according to package instructions and set aside.
- While the red beans are simmering, grill or pan fry the vegan sausage. Slice thinly and set aside.
- Using a wooden spoon, mash some beans repeatedly until sauce is thickened, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Stir in vegan sausage.
- Serve in bowls, with scoops of rice, and garnished with green onions, hot sauce and/or French bread.
- We recommend Crystal, Louisiana's Pure Hot Sauce, which is mild and thus, a real crowd-pleaser.
- We recommend Tony Chachere's Original Cajun Seasoning, which also originates in Louisiana and is a nice mix of spiciness and saltiness.
- We usually use Tofurky Original Sausage in the Kielbasa flavor, which is similar to the Andouille sausage traditionally used.
- The end result should be thick in consistency like gravy and, while it should be somewhat reduced, it should not be totally reduced. The extra broth will be soaked up by the rice and/or bread upon serving, like a curry.
This recipe is one of our absolute favorites for a comforting dinner. I hope you enjoy the added smoky and Cajun flavors as much as I do!
Best Southern Cuisine Vegan Cookbooks
Also, since this is a blog “where books meet lifestyle,” I am pairing this recipe with the following related cookbooks for more like this recipe:
Related Vegan Dinner Recipe Posts
If you enjoy vegan food, check out more of my simple vegan (and mostly gluten-free) recipes: