Red Beans, Sausage, and Quinoa

in Beans & Legumes, Cajun, Chicken & Turkey, Grains & Rice, Lighter & Healthier, Mardi Gras, Pork, Quinoa, Sausage

Healthier Red Beans, Sausage, and Rice

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Besides Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya (which is one of the most popular recipes among our friends and family), my other favorite New Orleans-inspired dish is Red Beans, Sausage, and Rice.

I set out to give the dish a bit of a healthier makeover because, aside from the occasional indulgence, we’re actually eating pretty healthfully around these parts lately. And I’m about to start training for a 10K. And I’d like to look like I can run a 10K 🙂

I’ve always made my red beans pretty similar to the way I made pinto beans… with bacon. Lots of bacon. And then we added a bunch of sliced pork link sausage. And then we poured it over a big bowl of steamed rice. All that fat and those empty carbs are very, very delicious. But so is the lightened version.

Healthier Red Beans, Sausage, and Rice

We cut way back on the bacon, used a 97% fat-free turkey sausage, and then served it over quinoa to replace the nutritionally deficient white rice. (If you’ve never had quinoa, it has a similar taste to brown rice.) My house still had that heavenly red beans & rice smell (you know the one I’m talking about). We still got a hearty bowl of red beans & brown ricequinoa for dinner but we left the empty calories and extra fat where it belonged: the weekly dessert splurge 🙂

We get about 10 servings out of a single pot of beans – we serve a generous scoop of beans over 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa, serving the obligatory cornbread muffin and roasted veggie sides. (I only cook enough quinoa for 1-2 nights at a time.)

Red Beans, Sausage, and Quinoa

The Mardi Gras favorite Red Beans, Sausage, and Rice gets a healthy makeover with turkey sausage and quinoa.


  • 1 lb small red beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1/2 large yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 slice of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Tony Cacheres Cajun Seasoning, optional
  • 14 oz reduced-fat turkey or chicken link sausage
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, per person
  • Tobasco, for serving


  1. Place beans in a large pot and cover with 3-4 inches of water.
  2. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. Let sit for 1 hour.
  3. Return to medium heat and add the chopped onion, bell peppers, bacon, garlic, and bay leaves to the pot along with a generous pinch of salt, ground black pepper, and a good shake of Tony's (if using).
  4. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer until the beans have completely softened, 1.5-2 hours.
  5. Cut the sausage into 1/3-inch rounds and then again to form half-circles.
  6. Add the sausage to the pot and heat through, 10-12 minutes.
  7. Stir in a few shakes of Tobasco and then serve over quinoa.


Yields: 10 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Nutritional Information
Calories: 301.9 | Fat: 8.2g | Fiber 6.6g | Protein 14.5g | Carbs 43.4g
Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 8

12 comments… add one
  • This seriously puts me in the Mardi Gras mood! And without the calories, so it’s even better. Happy Fat Tuesday!

  • Hannah

    What is the little muffin on the side? It looks good too!

  • We love our Cajun food over at this house! Red Beans and Rice is one of my husband’s favorites! Over at the blog we are celebrating Fat Tuesday with the traditional King Cake. I have a little buddy noshing on King Cake and watching Disney as I type this! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

  • Ann

    Wow – this looks so good! We’re eating healthier at our house, too and I’m excited to try this recipe.

  • Beleria

    Hey I am a college student and the dish looks delicious but time consuming for me. If I used canned beans would it make it quicker?

    • Sure! Canned beans would cut down the time quite a bit.

    • I’m also guessing you could put the beans with all ingredients (except sausage) in a crock pot. That is how I make regular beans and rice, and add the sausage the last 20 to 30 minutes.

  • raquel@erecipe

    red beans pack more antioxidant punch than superfoods like wild blueberries. It also help to lower cholesterol levels due to the large amount of soluble fiber they contain.

  • I’m SO excited for you! (about the 10K!) definitely let me know how it goes.

    I love this lightened up version of a classic. It’s so nice to see that those extra calories aren’t even necessary in the slightest.

  • Ooooo! I am making this on Monday! Love Red Beans and Rice, and so excited to make it healthy!

  • Christian Friborg

    Quinoa’s such a healthy option. And sausage is….awesome. I’ll make this over the weekend!

  • Tina

    Pure Cajun deliciousness! I used canned beans to save time and 10 ounces of pork sausage since it only works out to one ounce per serving. I added the Tabasco sauce as suggested like I do with the other Cajun-style stews I make and it definitely added something. This was great right off the bat and I’m really looking forward to having some leftovers tomorrow. I love how easy this was to put together yet so full of flavor. I give it top marks!

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