Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

This might be the best slow cooker recipe you’ll make all year. Beware, though, if you are like me, it will be easy to dismiss the homey, simple idea of cooking red beans and sausage in the slow cooker, but don’t be like that; I don’t want you to miss out on all the gloriousness that is this slow cooker meal.

Brian, who gets teased by friends for being really, really spoiled in the dinner department (little do the hecklers know that sometimes it’s not all it’s cracked up to be around here at dinnertime), could not stop talking about this meal even though it’s probably one of the simplest meals we’ve eaten lately. After a while, I was a little bit like “ok, ok, I get it, you like it, thank you, that’s nice, can we stop talking about beans and rice now?” He fought us all for the leftovers (and won, blame it on his wrestling background and savvy fridge hiding skillz) and has already requested it for his birthday dinner in December. Apparently it’s the closest he’s ever gotten stateside to what he ate for meals on end when he lived in Brazil many moons ago.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

I love how easy this meal is. No precooking, no fussy ingredients. Toss almost everything into the slow cooker and let it go to town. I like to add the chicken sausage (since it’s already cooked) at the end just to warm through – to avoid the boiled-texture meat thing. But if that doesn’t bother you, go ahead and add it with the other ingredients and it will be even easier (if that’s possible). Surprisingly, the short list of seasonings provides the perfect amount of flavor to the warm, simmering ingredients. It really is amazingly delicious.

Don’t call me out on authenticity (I know there are many who are very particular about their red beans and rice) but if you want simple, tasty, homestyle comfort food, this is it. And it’s pretty healthy and inexpensive to boot so there is that. I’ve included my typical “what to serve with this” ideas below but a special shout out to pao de queijo (gluten-free, shockingly easy Brazilian cheese bread) for being the best little side dish to serve with the red beans and rice. And speaking of shout outs, thanks to Jessica (a sweet MKC reader) who sent the recipe to me and clued me into serving it with the cheese bread. I think we’ll be eating this all fall and winter.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

What To ServeSkillet Green Beans
Pao de Queijo

One Year Ago: Soft Batch Iced Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Two Years Ago: Healthy Applesauce Oat Muffins
Three Years Ago: Breadstick and Pizza Casserole

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice with Chicken Sausage

Yield: Serves 8

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice with Chicken Sausage

For the kielbasa/sausage, you're looking for precooked sausage that you slice into rounds - I like using the chicken sausage (Aidell's brand). Something similar, pork or beef or turkey, would work for this recipe.

UPDATE: A lot of the flavor (given the short list of seasonings) comes from the black pepper. I used coarse ground black pepper (from Costco) and the full 2 teaspoons was perfect for us but depending on the brand/type of black pepper you are using, it might add more heat than you like. You can always add 1 teaspoon during cooking time and add more at the end, to taste, if you want to play it safe.


  • 1 cup diced yellow or white onion
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 (15-ounces each) cans kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse or freshly cracked black pepper (see note above)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds kielbasa or chicken sausage, sliced (see note above)
  • Hot, cooked brown rice, white rice or quinoa for serving


  1. Combine all the ingredients except the kielbasa/sausage in a medium slow cooker and give it a good stir. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. Add the sausage and cook until warmed through (anywhere from 20 minutes to another hour).
  2. Add additional salt to taste before serving. Serve over hot, cooked rice (white or brown) or quinoa.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Jessica K., an awesome MKC reader who sent it to me (a favorite family recipe of hers!)

56 Responses to Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice with Chicken Sausage

  1. Carine says:

    Hi Mel,
    I tried this recipe yesterday. I used dried beans, soaked 24 hours. It was wonderfull, my kids ate all.
    Thank you very much. I’ll make this recipe often, because it’s very good, and not much work.

  2. Amanda A says:

    These are delicious! It smelled so good while it was cooking and didn’t disappoint when we ate it. I did use 1 tsp of pepper, but I think next time I will increase it a little bit. My boys loved it too…always nice when I don’t have to fight with all of the kiddos to eat…and getting 2 out of 3 isn’t bad. I didn’t have tapioca flour on hand, but next time I’m going to make the cheese bread too…I’m excited to try those.

  3. Jess M says:

    Uhmmmm, this was delicious, but you knew that already! One question: how do you keep yours so clean looking and with liquid? The flavor was awesome, but mine was kind of a thick muddled mess. Not picture worthy like yours!!

    • Mel says:

      Any chance it overcooked it all? I wonder if your slow cooker cooks warmer than mine. That could make a difference (although I’m glad the taste was spot on!).

      • Jess M says:

        That is a good thought. Next time (which will be soon I bet), I’ll cut the cooking time and maybe try to keep a better eye on it. Once again, thank you so much for your blog I know how much time and effort it takes. We are grateful!

  4. Kate says:

    Hi. I have a huge can of pinto beans that I have been wanting to use. Do you think it would work in this recipe? BTW, love your site. I have tried a few recipes, and so far all of them have been keepers! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Kate – I think it’s definitely worth a try; it will just be a bit different flavor with the pinto beans. I have an inkling they might cook quicker than the kidney beans but that’s just a guess.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Made this today and it was wonderful! We did use dry beans, soaked overnight. I’ve never used chicken sausage before… so, so good!

  6. Robin says:

    I don’t like kidney beans that much and wanted to halve the recipe so I made it with one can of pinto beans and one can of white beans. Because of using the beans with the thinner skins I cooked it in a saucepan for a little over an hour. It came out great and the chicken sausage was very good in this dish. It is healthy, tasty and easy.

  7. cora says:

    This recipe is SO good! We’ve had it twice. Once as you suggested but with a jalapeno and keilbasa and once with black beans and chicken. The red beans were better than the black but both were good. This will be in heavy rotation at our house for sure!

  8. Amanda says:

    So I didn’t read the recipe carefully and drained & rinsed all four cans of beans. Oops! I have some beef broth, can you estimate how much I should put? Do you think this error will make a big difference? thanks!

    • Mel says:

      It might make the overall sauce/mixture a bit thinner but it’s definitely worth salvaging. I’d say maybe add a cup of beef broth? I hope it worked out for you.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Made this today – exquisite. My husband believes himself to be sensitive to bell pepper, so I left it out and chopped some of the last garden tomato to add as a garnish with parsley. Fabulous. I agree with the above comment that fresh ground pepper is a bit overpowering – I did your trick of one tsp in the crock and one for later – one was perfect. Thanks again for a wonderful dinner. Steel cut blueberry oats on the agenda for the morning.

  10. Kelly says:

    I can’t believe how much we all loved this meal, considering how simple it is! The only item I had to purchase was the green pepper, so I basically consider this a “free” meal! I left out the sausage, just because I don’t care for sausage and I am trying to work more meatless options into our rotation, and nobody complained about the lack of meat. My picky kids loved it, my picky dad loved it, and my picky husband loved it. You can’t beat cheap, easy and delicious. Thanks!

  11. Anne says:

    Mel, I am looking forward to making this next week. Am I right in thinking the crock pot is just cooking the veggies and developing flavor? I have some Smoked Andouille chicken sausage that I am going to try. Have you tried it with a more aggressive-flavored sausage?

  12. Joan says:

    I subbed in a can of black beans because I couldn’t stand the thought of only kidney beans, but I suppose the black beans will turn to mush with the long cooking time? Should have added them later with the chicken sausage. Oops!

  13. Valerie says:

    This turned out well. I used dry beans and first cooked them in the pressure cooker – then dumped it in the slow cooker with the other ingredients. I only used 12oz of sausage – but followed all the other amounts.

    Will make again.

  14. Amy W. says:

    This. Was. AMAZING!!!!! I used 1 tsp. freshly ground rainbow peppercorns from Trader Joe’s and the flavor was perfect, with the heat being subtle but not too much for my kids. I have done red beans and rice before, but this was by far simpler, healthier, and so much more flavorful! Loved it! THANK YOU, MEL!!!

  15. Erika says:

    Just had this for dinner & it was a hit! The whole family enjoyed. And I enjoyed that it was so easy & hands off! And I served it w green smoothies (banana, apple juice, kale, ice, water)

    But I’m wondering if there is a way to use dried beans instead of canned beans. I googled how to cook kidney beans & it says to soak overnight, then bring to boil & then simmer for 60 mins. I’m wondering your thoughts on if you just added the beans after you brought them to a boil in a pan, to the crock pot w the rest of ingredients & then continued with your recipe if that would work. What do you think? I know you’ve used dried beans before as I make your refried bean recipe. But maybe you were just trying to keep this super easy & that does add an extra step plus remembering to soak overnight!

  16. Vicky says:

    My kids gobbled this up, but I forgot to make the pao de queijo! Next time… Thanks for another good one!

  17. Laura says:

    Mel! Thank you for this recipe. I made it tonight with Pao de Queijo! So delicious. Thanks for all of the great recipes. (PS I love that it’s a crock pot recipe!)

  18. leeanne says:

    Made this for dinner yesterday and it is a winner in our house! So flavorful and I love how easy it was to just throw it all in the crock pot ๐Ÿ™‚ I did halve the pepper and it turned out just right for my family’s taste!

  19. V. Stoen says:

    I truly love red beans and rice ! Back in the days it was a poor mans dish , usually made on Monday when clothes were being washed . It was also my favorite jazz musician Luise Armstrong’s favorite dish . I like it best made with andouille sausage but have made it with a nice meaty ham bone or any kind of smoked sausage . Also I don’t know what type of herb you sprinkled over the top ( parsley or cilantro) . Cilantro is our favorite . Oh , I have to say the Tabasco bottle also goes on the table when I serve it up . I am so making red beans and rice this coming week !

  20. Ellen says:

    I wonder if anyone has tried cutting this recipe in half. DH and I are empty nesters so a half recipe would be plenty. It might not fill our crockpot half full, though, which is recommended.

    • Alisha says:

      My mom made this recipe all the time growing up. Based on our original recipe, this version is doubled (my family had 8 kids so we doubled most of our recipes). So…you can definitely half it. At least I have.

  21. Erika says:

    What kind of green pepper? Bell, jalapeรฑo, Anaheim? I cook with multiple green peppers and would like to know which you use for this

  22. mimsie says:

    Honestly, I could eat red beans and rice every single day of my life. I will be trying this very soon.

  23. Barbara says:

    This recipe sounds delicious, but I did not read all the comments. If I were making this recipe, I would use my electric pressure cooker for the beans and/or rice to use in this recipe. I do have four slow cookers that I use frequently, too. I seldom use my stove top for cooking. I know the intent is to use the slow cooker for the main part of the meal, but I prefer to cook dry beans instead of using canned. I have never been able to cook dry beans correctly in any of my slow cookers.

    Mel, I love your recipes, suggestions, and receiving them via email. Your website is my favorite. You keep food as natural as possible with awesome results. Special thanks to all the people who share their experiences and suggestions.

  24. Lennie says:

    Thanks for your quick reply! I used Kirkland’s Course Ground Madagascar Black Pepper and I’ve had the container for almost a year. Maybe it was an extra hot batch or Madagascar pepper is TRIPLE strength. I don’t even know what Madagascar pepper is – maybe that’s my problem!

  25. Lennie says:

    I made this last night and my family LOVED the full flavor of the beans. Being a bean loving family, we always like to try new combinations of seasonings in them. This is definitely a recipe I’ll make again, but with half the amount of black pepper. I’m even wondering if the 2 teaspoons is correct? The pepper is overpowering and gives the beans an uncomfortable heat – and we usually love pepper. Is it really 2 teaspoons? Thanks for all your great recipes! Definitely my favorite cooking blog!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Lennie – glad you loved this. Yes, the 2 teaspoons is correct. And I’m guessing the final result may depend on how fresh your black pepper is (and brand) among other things. Ours wasn’t overpoweringly hot but I think your feedback is good and I’ll add a caveat to the recipe. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Renee says:

    This looks amazing! We have swimming lessons a couple nights a week, and trying to get dinner made after getting home from work is a challenge! I think this would be a perfect meal! (Plus, you can’t beat the slow cooker!)

  27. Rebecca says:

    I just recently found your blog when I was googling a recipe for homemade cream of chicken soup, and I just love it. I am a new mom of a 12 week old boy, and I spend most of my days nursing and holding my baby. Your receipes have been a life saver for me. They are quick, easy, and delicious. I can easily put them together when I have a free moment and then pop in the oven when it’s time for dinner. This recipe will be going on the list for next week!!

  28. katie says:

    Dear Dinner Goddess:
    If I were to use uncooked chicken sausage, would I just add it at the beginning with the rest of the ingredients?
    Last-Minute Dinner Planner

    • Mel says:

      Dear Last-Minute Dinner Planner –

      I’d probably cook the chicken sausage up while the beans are simmering away in the slow cooker and add it at the end of the cooking time just like you would the precooked stuff.

      Sincerely, Lady Who’s Serving Grilled Cheese Tonight ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Diane says:

    This looks delicious! Our best bites just barely posted a red beans and rice recipe like last week and I’ve been craving it ever since!

  30. Sherry says:

    My husband and I both served missions in Brazil and make feijuada very often. This is pretty close to how I make it, only with red beans instead of black beans. You can also add a little bacon to it. Excited to try it this way.

  31. Helen says:

    I love this … Beans and chicken sausages are something I pretty much always have on hand. Since I already put tonight’s dinner in the crock pot, I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to make this !!! Thanks for another quick simple delicious dinner plan !!!

  32. Paige says:

    This looks amazing! We’re definitely going to put this on our menu plan for next week! My little guy is a huge fan of beans and rice so this will be perfect for him!


  33. Amy says:

    What flavor of Aidell ‘s chicken sausage would you recommend?

    • Mel says:

      My favorite is the pineapple bacon. But I bet the apple flavor would be good, too.

      • Nikki says:

        Aidell’s makes an Andiuille sausage that goes really well in this. It adds just a bit of extra heat and flavor.

        Unlike other commenters, I always add a touch of extra pepper (freshly milled). I also regularly add an extra green bell pepper and more garlic.

  34. Courtney Hearst says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I love your slow cooker recipes and this looks like it will be perfect for the cooler months ahead.

  35. Kelsey says:

    I am a piano teacher so I love using crockpot meals on the days when I teach till dinner time. This one looks like a winner!!

  36. Ellen says:

    Ingredients are now on my grocery list. Well, I guess just the sausage because the rest are staples. I’m on a mean, sad diet at the moment, and this is something that actually sounds delicious and good for you if I serve with brown rice or quinoa as suggested.

    thanks Mel and Jessica K!

  37. Kim in MD says:

    I agree with Brian’s friends- he is spoiled regarding delicious meals! Thanks to you and many of your amazing recipes, my family is spoiled, too! This is such a simple, comforting meal. The bonus is you make it in a slow cooker!

  38. Jill DC says:

    I’d like to make this with dried beans. Cheaper and healthier. I plan to soak them the night before. Do you have any thoughts on the amount of liquid for cooking in the crock pot?

    • Rebecca says:

      Would love this info too!

    • Mel says:

      Jill and Rebecca – if you are using soaked beans, try adding a cup or so of chicken broth (or salted water, I suppose could work). That amount is just a guess so you might want to check the slow cooker periodically to make sure the dried and soaked beans haven’t absorbed all the liquid. Good luck!

  39. Sandra says:

    Can’t wait to try this. My mom always served the bland “boiled-texture meat thing” but always insisted the sauce/soups now had all the flavor due to the meats cooking for so long!:) Quick question: due to family preference, I typically replace kidney beans with Goya “pink” beans in most recipes….do you think beans without the thick skin of kidney beans will hold up for the 4-5 hours of cooking time?

    • Mel says:

      Sandar – that’s a good question, I think they might break down a bit more in the slow cooker. I suppose you could try cutting the cooking time in half and see how that goes?

  40. Sheila says:

    This sounds delicious and easy! Yes! Thank you so much Mel and Jessica K. A lot of times I will load my crockpot in the morning and take it to work with me. I put it in the conference room attached to my office and drive co-workers crazy. ๐Ÿ™‚ If I left it in the lunchroom there would be no supper for my crew. Since this is loaded with protein, I might have to take both of my crockpots and share the contents of one at lunch all because of Brian’s recommendations.

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