Smoky Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

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

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overhead of red beans and rice

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 red beans and rice recipe two winters ago when I saw Guy Fieri (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 spice and texture.

dried beans

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.

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 Fieri 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.

vegetarian red beans and rice ready to serve

What’s Needed for No-Meat Red Beans and Rice?

To make this vegetarian red beans and rice recipe, you’ll need the following:

  • Dried red beans
  • Peanut oil
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • Smoked paprika
  • Dried oregano
  • Chili powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Bay leaves
  • Tamari
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooked brown rice

How to Make Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

I’ve included detailed instructions on how to make this easy red beans and rice recipe in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps on how to make red beans and rice with no meat:

  1. Heat the peanut oil in a large Dutch oven, then sauté the diced onions, carrots, and celery until softened.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding in the kale, chipotle peppers, herbs and spices, red beans, and some water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 90 minutes to 2 hours.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the tamari.
  5. Serve over cooked rice and enjoy!
red beans and rice in dutch oven

Tips for Making Vegetarian Rice and Beans

You only use one or two chipotle peppers in this 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.

While the red beans simmer, you may need to add a splash of water every 20 to 30 minutes. You’re looking for the beans to become tender and saucy.

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.

Want More Vegetarian Bean Recipes?

4.5 from 4 votes
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 Fieri.

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 or olive 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
  • 1 Tbsp tamari sauce
  • Salt / Pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 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 in garlic and sauté 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 green onions and serve right away.

overhead of red beans and rice in serving bowl


  • sweetkabocha
    June 1, 2016

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

    • LAP
      July 15, 2022

      Adobo, not adobe

  • Laura
    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:

  • Katrina
    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

  • Alissa
    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.

  • 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!

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  • Elsa
    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?

    • Shellywest
      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!

  • Ceylon Pure
    June 22, 2016

    Looks yummy!

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  • Marry
    July 29, 2016

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

  • 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

    • Shellywest
      Stephanie Fronk
      September 14, 2016

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

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  • 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! 🙂

  • 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.

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  • Charlie
    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.

  • Ca're
    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!

  • jules
    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!

    • Shellywest
      May 26, 2017

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

  • Tonya
    May 26, 2017

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

    • Shellywest
      May 26, 2017

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

  • cindyfromminneapolis
    February 12, 2018

    This recipe sounds wonderful! My husband and I are vegetarian and he is leaning more vegan lately so this would work perfectly for a comforting dinner on a freezing cold evening in Minnesota! Thanks also for the idea of freezing adobe peppers. I always seem to have a container in the back of fridge that I never seem to use again until it gets funky. One question I have…could this recipe be adapted to a slow cooker? How long would it cook and on high or low? Any suggestion? Thanks!

  • Gina
    February 16, 2018

    I made this exactly as written, and the end result was spicy but a little too thin and watery in my opinion. I sliced up and cooked some vegan sausage to add to the leftovers and that did help the flavor a bit.

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  • Maureen Murphy
    April 7, 2018

    I love this recipe. I’ve made it many times and am making it again this weekend. So healthy and delish. I love that it’s got healthy kale too. It freezes good too so I have leftovers when I don’t have time to cook. Very satisfying meal. Tks for recipe.

  • Rosemarie Robles
    January 30, 2019

    This is very good I added veggie broth instead of water cause it was blan with only water.

  • Ashley
    November 17, 2019

    How many calories. I noticed you said divide it up in in 4 bowls but it doesn’t include calories.

  • Maureen murphy
    January 4, 2020

    I’ve made this several times and its such a delicious healthy and filling meal.

  • Glad
    February 4, 2021

    My family loves this so much!

  • LAP
    July 15, 2022

    It’s “adobo” not “adobe.”

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