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12 Kinds of Meat that Go with Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice is a classic dish with its origin in southern Louisiana, but are you aware of the twelve kinds of meat that pair well with it?

From pork to crawfish and everything in between, this article sheds light on how to transform the delicious carb-loaded base into an even more flavorful experience.

If you’re looking for ways to jazz up your regular red beans and rice recipe, then this article is worth exploring.

Whether it be paired with smoked sausage or grilled pork chops, if executed correctly this dish can be filled with harmonious combinations of textures, flavors and aromas.

Disover all the various meats one could use to make a memorable meal before next serving up some red beans and rice.

Criteria for Choosing Meat for Red Beans and Rice

When it comes to making delicious red beans and rice, choosing the right meat is just as important as proper seasoning for creating a perfectly balanced meal.

Red beans and rice is a traditional dish, popular in the southern United States either as an entrée or side dish.

When considering what type of meat to choose, there are several qualifications that should be taken into consideration.

For starters, select something that pairs nicely with the other ingredients – such as ham hocks, smoked turkey legs and pieces of bacon.

Additionally, look for something that has good flavor and texture – beef chuck roast can provide great taste while cubes of sausage can add texture and complexity.

Lastly, consider availability – look for cuts of beef like shank steaks or chuck steaks that are affordable and easy to cook with.

With these criteria in place you will be sure to have an amazing pot of red beans and rice.

12 Kinds of Meat that Go with Red Beans and Rice

From ham to chicken or turkey to seafood, each type of protein offers its own flavor profile, texture and nutrition to the meal.

The following list highlights 12 different kinds of meat options for serving red beans and rice:

1. Andouille Sausage

Andouille sausage is a classic choice for red beans and rice.

The sausage is heavily spiced with ingredients like garlic, salt, cayenne pepper and paprika.

It adds a smoky, spicy flavor to the red beans that perfectly complements the dish.

Andouille sausage can be cooked into the dish or fried and sliced before being served as an accompaniment.

For an extra flavorful meal, try adding some bay leaves while cooking.

Other types of sausages are also great with red beans and rice, like kielbasa, chorizo or even just hot links.

All these types of sausages will add extra flavor to the dish and balance out the hearty flavor of red beans with a bit of spiciness.

2. Smoked Sausage

Smoked sausage is an excellent addition to a traditional red beans and rice dish.

Most often the type used is Andouille sausage, which comes from Louisiana and is made with pork, garlic, onions, peppers, thyme and other seasonings such as cayenne pepper.

It can be purchased in links or as a bulk ground sausage.

This type of sausage adds smokiness and spice to the dish.

Another popular smoked sausage is Kielbasa, which has its roots in Polish cuisine.

Kielbasa is made from coarsely ground pork and beef combined with garlic and other spices such as marjoram and black pepper.

This type of smoked sausage adds richness to the red beans and rice dish.

Both of these types of smoked sausages are available pre-cooked or uncooked in most grocery stores or butcher shops.

3. Ham Hocks

Ham hocks, also called pork knuckles, are a type of smoked pork product made from the lower part of the hog’s leg.

Because of their high fat content, ham hocks are ideal for cooking as they provide a good balance of moisture and fat to help prevent the beans from burning or sticking during the long cooking time.

They offer a flavorful richness that can’t be achieved with any other meat.

If a ham hock is not available in your area, you may substitute thickly-sliced bacon, salt pork or even chopped ham.

4. Bacon

Bacon and red beans & rice is a classic combination.

Bacon adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the red beans and rounds out the dish with its crunchy texture.

To make this dish, cook some bacon in a pan until it’s crispy, then set it aside.

Next, sauté onions and celery in the bacon fat until they are softened.

Then add your cooked red beans and simmer until hot.

Just before serving, add some cooked white or brown rice, stir to combine, sprinkle on the reserved bacon pieces and enjoy.

5. Chicken Thighs

Chicken Thighs are an excellent source of protein that can be used to enhance the flavor of red beans and rice.

This type of meat is especially good when slow-cooked in a dutch oven to give it a tender texture.

You can also pan fry the chicken or grill it to give it additional layers of flavor.

Whichever cooking method you choose, chicken thighs add richness and depth to this classic dish.

For added complexity, consider marinating your chicken in garlic and herbs like thyme, oregano, or rosemary before beginning the cooking process.


6. Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder is one of the best meats to pair with red beans and rice.

Due to its high fat content, pork shoulder is incredibly juicy and makes a great addition to your red beans and rice dish.

As well as being flavorful, it adds richness and depth to what would otherwise be a light recipe.

When cooking with pork shoulder, make sure that it is cooked completely before serving.

This can be done by either roasting in the oven or slow cooking it on the stove top or in a slow cooker.

In both cases, seasonings such as garlic, cumin, oregano, and paprika will help add contrast and flavor to your dish.

Whichever method you choose for cooking your pork should be completed until the internal temperature reaches 145° Fahrenheit before serving.

7. Ground Beef

Ground beef is a versatile and inexpensive option that complements red beans and rice extremely well.

It cooks quickly and easily, so it’s ideal for a weeknight supper.

Ground beef absorbs all of the delicious flavors that make this dish so popular, as well as adding an interesting texture.

When preparing ground beef with red beans and rice, add it during the last few minutes of cooking to ensure that it is succulent and flavorful.

You can choose lean ground beef, which has less fat content but still provides the same flavorsome meal you enjoy with its traditional counterpart.

8. Turkey Sausage

Turkey sausage is one of the most popular types of sausage when it comes to red beans and rice.

Made with ground turkey and seasonings, it has a hearty flavor that complements the classic southern dish perfectly.

You can buy pre-cooked turkey sausage from your local grocery store or make your own with fresh ingredients.

Saute it in a skillet over medium heat until the sausage is browned and cooked through.

The cooked sausage can then be added directly to the pot of red beans and rice for an extra flavorful meal.

9. Chorizo

Chorizo is a distinctive type of pork sausage that originated in Spain.

It’s traditionally made with a combination of coarsely ground pork, garlic, smoked paprika, and other spices.

Chorizo is fully cooked when you buy it and it adds both flavor and texture to this hearty dish.

For the best result, crumble the chorizo into small pieces before adding to your Red Beans and Rice.

This will help attach more flavor to the dish while still keeping some great texture variation among the meats.

10. Tasso

Tasso is a specialty of Louisiana and is typically made from pork butt.

The meat is usually cured for up to two weeks, then smoked over sweet woods such as pecan, apple, and cherrywood.

The pieces of pork are usually cut into small cubes and pan-fried in oil before being added to the red beans and rice.

The smoky flavor of the tasso creates a deep, distinct flavor that pairs perfectly with red beans and rice.

It can be made from other meats—even turkey or venison—but it’s traditionally made with pork.

11. Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is a classic choice for red beans and rice.

This cut of meat is one of the more budget-friendly options for the dish, as it can be quite economical.

The slow simmering needed to bring out the ideal flavors of this cut makes it ideal for long-cooking stews and red beans and rice dishes.

Brisket adds great flavor yet doesn’t overpower with richness or gamy notes, making it a great choice that pairs well with the other ingredients used in the recipe.

Once cooked, brisket has a slightly chewy texture, which gives just the right amount of toothiness to stand up to hearty beans and grain mixes such as red beans and rice.

12. Shrimp

Shrimp is one of the most popular proteins to pair with red beans and rice.

This classic seafood brings sweetness and lightness to the dish, without overwhelming it.

Shrimp cooks very quickly, so it’s important not to overcook them.

You can add them between stages in the red beans and rice recipe, or near the end so that they’re just barely cooked through.

If using frozen shrimp, make sure you thaw them completely before adding them to the pan.

Serve lightly seasoned shrimp alongside a bowl of red beans and rice for a delicious New Orleans-inspired meal.


Red beans and rice is one of the most popular dishes of the Southern United States, and it’s easy to see why.

The classic combination of red beans and rice can be a delicious meal whether you’re in a hurry or want to spend some time cooking.

To make it even better, add a hunk of meat.

No matter which type you decide on, any one (or more) of these different meats are sure to make your pot of Red Beans & Rice even more delicious by adding fantastic flavors and intensity.

By combining all these great ingredients together in one pot, you’ll have a unique culinarian experience with every bite.

12 Kinds of Meat that Go with Red Beans and Rice

Looking for meat options to pair with red beans and rice? Discover 12 kinds of meat that complement this dish perfectly.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Servings 1 Serving


  • 1. Andouille Sausage
  • 2. Smoked Sausage
  • 3. Ham Hocks
  • 4. Bacon
  • 5. Chicken Thighs
  • 6. Pork Shoulder
  • 7. Ground Beef
  • 8. Turkey Sausage
  • 9. Chorizo
  • 10. Tasso
  • 11. Beef Brisket
  • 12. Shrimp


  • Choose your favorite meat from the comprehensive selection provided in this article.
  • Gather all of the essential ingredients required for the recipe.
  • Prepare a delectable dish with your selected meat in under 30 minutes, following the provided instructions.
Keyword Meat that Go with Red Beans and Rice
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