Smoky Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

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This Smoky Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice recipe is loaded with up melt-in-your-mouth vegetables that are tender and packed with flavor.

vegetarian red beans and rice

If in the US, I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day. Sure feels like it switched from rainy spring to hot hot hot sunny summer vibes overnight for us Midwesterners. Most of the flowers in my neighborhood are shriveling fast and I picked as many as I could this weekend to enjoy their colors before the summer heat drops them and leaves all the bushes just lush green.

At the beginning of May, I made it a goal to post more entree and meal type recipes around VV as I was starting to notice my go-tos are breakfast and sweets recipes. Since then I’ve posted about Chorizo-Spiced Chickpea Fajitas, Vegetarian Spring Curry Ramen, and Green Tomato Stacks. And today I’m here with one of our all time favorite Sunday night meals: Red Beans and Rice! I started making this beyond easy recipe two winters ago when I saw Guy Ferrari (you know, the guy with the great hair) make it on a Food Network special. He managed to take a relatively simple item (beans) and pack them with an extraordinarily amount of flavor – we were hooked from the first bite. Since making it that first time, I’ve adjusted this recipe dozens of times until I found the perfect balance of savory, spice, and texture.

The secret ingredient in this vegetarian red beans and rice recipe is chipotle peppers in adobe sauce; they are smoky, spicy, and my go-to when wanting to add an extra depth of flavor to any soup or stew. You only use one or two in recipe so lay the remaining out, leaving space between each pepper, on a parchment lined baking sheet and stick in the freezer until frozen. Then wrap the peppers in that parchment paper, transfer to a sealable freezer bag, and stick into the freezer. Freezing the leftover peppers guarantees you’ll always have them on hand when needed and it cuts down on waste since you never actually need that entire jar in one sitting.

The other thing that makes this vegetarian red beans and rice recipe so flavorful is that the beans cook in the spices for several hours. I know, that sounds like a long time to make dinner but I promise it’s all hands-off time. You could be simmering the beans in the background while you go off and read a book, do some laundry, take a nap with your pup, or chill out with some Guy Ferrari television. It’s my favorite recipe to make on a Sunday afternoon when I know I’ll be around the house lounging for a few hours.

Last but not least, keep in mind that salt slows down the cooking process for beans and could even make them tough so resist the urge to add it until after they’ve cooked.

Smoky Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice recipe below:

vegetarian red beans and rice vegetarian red beans and rice vegetarian red beans and rice vegetarian red beans and rice


Smoky Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice
This Vegetarian Red Beans & Rice recipe is loaded with vegetables that cook down with the beans so they end up melt-in-your-mouth tender and packed with flavor. / Recipe adapted from Guy Ferrari's
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Shelly Westerhausen
  • 1 pound dried red beans , soaked in water in the fridge overnight
  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 large onion , diced
  • 2 medium carrots , diced
  • 3 celery stalks , diced
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 bunch kale , rinsed and torn, with stems removed
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (depending on your heat preference), chopped
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp . dried oregano
  • 1 tsp . chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp . red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 bay leaves (mine was huge so I only used 1)
  • 1 Tbsp . tamari sauce
  • Salt / Pepper , to taste
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • Micogreens or green onions , for garnish
  1. Drain and rinse beans that have been soaking over night and set aside.
  2. In a large dutch oven or saucepan, heat peanut oil over medium heat.
  3. Add diced onions, carrots, and celery and cook until softened, five to seven minutes.
  4. Add, add in garlic and saute for another thirty seconds.
  5. Add in kale, chipotle peppers, paprika, oregano, chili powder, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, drained red beans, and 8 cups water.
  6. Bring to a boil, let boil for five minutes and reduce heat so that the beans are at a low simmer (medium-low).
  7. Add water as needed and cook until the beans are tender, about and hour and a half to two hours.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in the tamari. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  9. To serve: divide the rice and beans between four bowls. Garnish with micogreens or green onions. Serve right away.

vegetarian red beans and rice



Shelly is the creator of Vegetarian Ventures. She is also the Creative Director of Driftless Magazine and likes to wear wolf shirts, drink peppermint tea, and dance to Stevie Nicks.



  1. Reply


    June 1, 2016

    I’ve never tried chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, I need to find them and try this recipe, seems so delicious!!

  2. Reply


    June 1, 2016

    Your photos, seriously! These look so great, all sauced and luscious and spiced beautifully. If I have red kidney beans lurking around in my pantry, I’m soaking them tonight so I can make these soon. Also, have you seen that photo of Guy photoshopped with normal hair/facial hair? Strangely awesome:

  3. Reply


    June 1, 2016

    Freaking out over this recipe right now – these look SO good! Also, the link that Laura posted above made me laugh out loud…Guy Ferrari is such an interesting human being. Glad you’re posting more “main” recipes! I’m a sucker for breakfast/sweets too though, so I get it. Whatever it is, it’s allllll good! xo

  4. Reply


    June 1, 2016

    Thanks for the tip on freezing chipotles! I always end up freezing whatever’s left of the jar but only typically get one more use out of them.

  5. Reply

    Traci | Vanilla And Bean

    June 2, 2016

    Pure comfort and a favorite around here. Although, I love your inclusion of kale and the umami tamari. One’s gotta have a bit of color, right? I couldn’t agree more about chipotle in adobo. My pantry is never without it. Ever! Just beautiful!

  6. Reply


    June 16, 2016

    Am I missing the point where you add the beans? I don’t see it in the steps. I’m assuming with the kale and water?

    • Reply


      June 16, 2016

      Hey Elsa! Yup – with the kale, water, and spices! “Add in kale, chipotle peppers, paprika, oregano, chili powder, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, drained red beans, and 8 cups water.” Hope that helps! Let me know how it turns out if you make it!

  7. Reply

    Ceylon Pure

    June 22, 2016

    Looks yummy!

  8. Reply


    July 29, 2016

    YES this was good! Added a red pepper just to use it up. Perfect recipe, thanks!

  9. Reply

    Stephanie Fronk

    August 29, 2016

    First time on your site, not a vegetarian, but I just needed to comment to tell you your photos are beyond gorgeous. That ingredient pic is so perfect. #FoodStagingGoals

    • Reply


      September 14, 2016

      I love comments like this! Thank you for stopping by, Stephanie, and for the kind words! 🙂

  10. Reply

    Hayley Barnes

    October 24, 2016

    Hi Shelly! This looks amazing — wondering if you would adjust the cook time / amount of water if using canned red beans (I already have some of those in my pantry). Thanks! 🙂

  11. Reply

    Amado Diaz

    December 5, 2016

    Thank you for this fantastic recipe. I am attempting to follow a vegan lifestyle and your website is inspiring me.

  12. Reply


    January 16, 2017

    Thanks for the recipe, chipotle is an ingredient that I hadn’t thought of and it added a lot! You might consider specifying the small kidney beans (available at Mexican, Asian and Creole groceries). I think that it makes a difference. Beautiful web site.

  13. Reply


    March 8, 2017

    Yum! I made this for dinner last night and it was sooooo good! I made a few changes so it didn’t quite look like your end result, but it still tasted fabulous! Thanks!

  14. Reply


    May 25, 2017

    This is insanely delicious. I have been advised to convert to primarily Vegan + GF diet and I was NOT happy about it. But this is something I’d make even if I planned on eating steak 14x a week. It’s THAT GOOD. My 2 year old is crazy for it, too. Thank you for giving me hope!

    • Reply


      May 26, 2017

      So glad that these are helping your transition into a vegan lifestyle!

  15. Reply


    May 26, 2017

    Cooking them now but not sure whether to put lid on while it cooks on low??

    • Reply


      May 26, 2017

      I don’t cover them but do check on them to add more water if needed. Hope that helps!