This vegan red beans and rice recipe is a filling meal packed with flavour and made with simple, inexpensive ingredients. This New Orleans classic is veganized with the help of marinated oyster mushrooms which give this dish a great smoky flavour and a satisfying meaty texture.
I absolutely love veganizing Creole and Cajun dishes, and you love them too! My vegan jamabalaya quickly became my number one most visited recipe shortly after I posted it (maybe you’ve seen it on pinterest), and my vegan gumbo recipe is a close second.
So I’m back with another Louisiana classic: vegan red beans and rice! If you’re not familiar with red beans and rice, it’s not as innocent as the name would imply – it’s usually loaded with pork products. That’s why we need to make a vegan version!
While most other vegan red beans and rice recipes on the internet simply leave the meat out, I decided to replace it with mushrooms to give this dish more of a meaty texture. If you don’t like mushrooms, you could also prepare cubes of tofu in the same way I explain for the mushrooms in the recipe.
In order to try to recreate the same flavour profile as traditional red beans and rice, I watched an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they explain in detail the role of each element of the (non-vegan) dish and some tricks to recreating it at home.
The most important thing that I learned from that episode was that this dish needs a sour element to replace the pickled pork. That’s why I added rice vinegar to my mushroom marinade and also a teaspoon of red wine vinegar to the beans. The spicy smokiness of the tasso pork is easy enough to replicate with some cayenne pepper and smoked paprika or liquid smoke added into the beans.
I chose not to replace all of the fat that would normally come with the pork products, making this dish nothing but super healthy while still being packed with flavour. However, if you want the extra richness, Beth from Budget Bytes suggests stirring a spoonful of coconut oil into your bowl of vegan red beans and rice.
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As for the beans if you can get your hands on a bag of Camellia red beans, then you’ve got exactly what you need. They have the perfect creamy texture for this dish. However, Camellia beans aren’t available everywhere so the next best option is another brand of small red beans (you may need to look in the Latin section of your supermarket).
Note that they’re not the same as kidney beans. While some recipes for vegan red beans and rice call for kidney beans, they’re more mealy in texture and I personally find the flavour to be quite different. If kidney beans are all you’ve got, however, go ahead and give them a try. Let me know if they work!
For the smoky mushrooms
- 400 grams (14 oz) oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
- 1 tablespoon oil
For the red beans and rice
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 green pepper, finely diced
- 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 cups (700 ml) vegetable stock
- 6 cups (1.4 litres) water
- 500 grams or 1 pound of small red beans, soaked in salty water (4 quarts / 4 litres water with 3 tablespoons salt) overnight and drained
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- Salt, to taste (depends how salty your veg stock is)
- Rice, for serving
- 4 chopped green onions or fresh cilantro
- Hot sauce, for serving
- Place all the ingredients for the smoky mushrooms except for the oil in a ziplock bag and shake. Set aside to marinade, flipping the bag over from time to time.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and add a splash of water (you can use oil if you prefer), the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Sautee until soft, adding more water if necessary. Add the thyme, bay, pepper, cayenne and paprika. Sautee until fragrant – about 30 seconds.
- Add the stock, water and beans. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer. A vigorous simmer helps the beans to release their starch and make a creamy sauce. Because the beans were brined in salty water, they shouldn’t explode at higher cooking temperatures.
- Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Drain the mushrooms from their marinade and add them to the pan. You may need to work in batches to avoid over-crowing the pan. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side until they are golden and a bit crispy. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- After about an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half of cooking the beans should be tender and the sauce reduced and thickened. The sauce will also thicken a bit more as it cools but if you want it even creamier, mash a few tablespoons of the beans into a paste and stir it through the stew. Add the mushrooms, red wine vinegar and salt to taste.
- Serve over rice topped with chopped green onion or cilantro and hot sauce on the side.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 223Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1527mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 8gSugar: 5gProtein: 12g