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10 BEST Seasonings for Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice, a classic and flavorful dish from the Southern United States, is popular for its hearty and satisfying combination of creamy beans, tender rice, and aromatic seasonings.

But if you’ve found yourself short on some of the traditional spices or simply want to experiment with new flavors, you may be asking yourself:

What are the best seasonings for red beans and rice? The best seasonings for red beans and rice include the classic Cajun or Creole blends, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, coriander, thyme, bay leaves, garlic powder, and onion powder. Additionally, don’t forget the importance of salt and pepper to bring out the flavors and balance the dish.

If you’re ready to elevate your red beans and rice to new heights, or simply need to know how to make the dish with what you have on hand, read on for our top 10 recommendations for the best seasonings to enhance this Southern classic.

Why Consider Seasoning Red Beans and Rice?

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

There are several reasons why seasoning red beans and rice is important:

  1. Enhances flavor: Seasoning adds depth and complexity to the dish, making it more flavorful and enjoyable.
  2. Adds complexity: By using a variety of herbs and spices, you can create a complex flavor profile that is both satisfying and interesting.
  3. Balances flavors: Different seasonings can balance out the flavors in the dish, ensuring that no one flavor overpowers the others.
  4. Provides health benefits: Many herbs and spices have health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties or antioxidants.
  5. Cultural significance: Red beans and rice is a traditional dish in many cultures, and seasoning it properly is an important part of honoring those traditions and creating an authentic dish.

10 BEST Seasonings for Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice is a classic comfort food. To take this dish to the next level, you’ll need the right seasonings.

Here are ten delicious seasonings that will give your red beans and rice an extra kick of flavor:

1. Cajun Seasoning

Cajun seasoning is a vibrant blend of spices originating in Louisiana, known for its bold, spicy, and savory flavors.

It typically includes ingredients such as paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, thyme, and oregano.

Cajun seasoning is perfect for adding depth and heat to red beans and rice, as it highlights the natural flavors of the dish while adding a kick of spice.

Adjust the amount used based on your preferred level of spiciness, and feel free to experiment with different brands or make your own blend to suit your taste buds.

2. Garlic Powder

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is a versatile and widely-used seasoning made from dehydrated and ground garlic cloves.

It provides a milder yet still robust garlic flavor to dishes without the need for fresh garlic.

Incorporating garlic powder into your red beans and rice enhances the savory elements of the dish, adding a subtle richness that complements the other seasonings.

Start with a small amount and adjust according to your taste preferences.

3. Onion Powder

Onion Powder

Onion powder is another pantry staple made from dehydrated and ground onions.

It imparts a concentrated onion flavor to dishes without the texture or moisture of fresh onions.

Adding onion powder to red beans and rice helps to build a savory base, harmonizing with the other spices and seasonings used in the dish.

Begin with a small amount, and adjust to your liking, as onion powder can be quite strong.

4. Paprika


Paprika is a ground spice made from dried red bell peppers or sweet chili peppers.

It varies in flavor, from sweet and mild to smoky and hot, depending on the variety used.

Paprika adds a rich, earthy flavor and vibrant red color to red beans and rice.

It complements the other seasonings in the dish, creating a well-rounded and balanced flavor profile.

When selecting paprika, consider the level of heat you prefer, and experiment with different varieties such as smoked or sweet paprika for unique taste experiences.

5. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a powdered spice made from dried and ground cayenne chili peppers.

It is known for its fiery heat and pungent flavor and is often used to add spiciness to dishes.

Incorporating cayenne pepper into your red beans and rice adds an extra layer of heat and zest, elevating the dish’s overall complexity.

As cayenne pepper can be quite hot, start with a small amount and adjust based on your desired level of spiciness.

Mix and match these seasonings to create your perfect red beans and rice dish, balancing flavors and heat to your preference.

6. Thyme


Thyme is a versatile herb with a subtle, earthy flavor that complements many dishes, particularly those with beans and rice.

This herb is often used in Cajun and Creole cooking, which makes it a perfect addition to red beans and rice.

Thyme can be used fresh or dried, but dried thyme is more concentrated and holds up better to the slow cooking process involved in making red beans and rice.

Adding a pinch of thyme to the beans while they cook enhances the overall flavor of the dish without overpowering the other ingredients.

Experiment with different amounts of thyme to find the perfect balance for your tastes.

7. Oregano


Oregano is another herb well-suited for red beans and rice, as it offers a warm, slightly bitter flavor that pairs well with the earthiness of the beans.

When used in moderation, oregano can enhance the dish by adding depth and complexity.

Like thyme, dried oregano is the preferred form for use in slow-cooked dishes like red beans and rice.

Try adding a small amount of oregano to your beans during the cooking process, and adjust as needed to suit your palate.

8. Bay Leaves

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are a staple in many cuisines and add an aromatic, slightly bitter note to dishes like red beans and rice.

While they’re not meant to be eaten, bay leaves impart their flavor to the dish as they cook, providing a subtle background flavor that ties everything together.

One or two dried bay leaves are typically enough for a pot of red beans and rice, but feel free to experiment with more or less depending on your preferences.

Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving, as they can be a choking hazard.

9. Smoked Paprika

Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika is a ground spice made from dried, smoked red peppers, and it adds a beautiful depth of flavor and smokiness to red beans and rice.

This seasoning pairs exceptionally well with the natural smoky notes of andouille sausage, a common ingredient in red beans and rice.

A little smoked paprika goes a long way, so start with a small amount and adjust to your liking.

The smoky, slightly sweet flavor of smoked paprika can elevate your red beans and rice to a whole new level.

10. Cumin


Cumin is a warm, earthy spice with a slightly bitter taste, making it an excellent addition to red beans and rice.

It complements the flavors of the beans and the other seasonings, giving the dish a more rounded and complex flavor profile.

Cumin is often used in Tex-Mex cuisine, and its addition to red beans and rice can give the dish a Southwestern twist.

Start with a small amount of ground cumin and adjust as necessary to find the perfect balance for your taste buds.


What it is in red bean seasoning?

Red bean seasoning typically includes a blend of herbs and spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and thyme.

How can I make my beans more flavorful?

To make your beans more flavorful, you can add ingredients such as onions, garlic, celery, bell peppers, bay leaves, and various herbs and spices. You can also use broth instead of water to cook the beans for added flavor.

What goes well with red beans and rice?

Red beans and rice pairs well with a variety of side dishes such as cornbread, collard greens, okra, and sausage. You can also add toppings such as sour cream, cheese, and green onions to enhance the flavor.

What spices can you add to dried beans?

Some popular spices to add to dried beans include cumin, chili powder, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. You can also add garlic, onion, and peppers for added flavor.


In conclusion, there are many seasonings and spices that can be used to enhance the flavor of red beans and rice.

While personal preferences may vary, some of the most popular seasonings include Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, smoked paprika, and cumin.

By experimenting with different combinations of these seasonings, you can create a unique and flavorful red beans and rice dish that is sure to impress. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner, adding the right seasonings can take your red beans and rice to the next level.

10 BEST Seasonings for Red Beans and Rice

10 BEST Seasonings for Red Beans and Rice

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Seasonings
Servings 4 people


  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Bay Leaves
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cumin


  • Pick your favorite seasoning from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected seasoning with the proper ratio of ingredients.
jenny happy muncher
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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.