Copycat Popeyes Red Beans And Rice You'll Crave

There's something about the taste of Popeyes red beans and rice that can't be beat. Popeyes does claim Cajun royalty status, after all. We didn't even realize there was a way to recreate the Popeyes red beans and rice magic in our own kitchen until we tried this amazing copycat recipe from food blogger and recipe developer, Erin Johnson. Check out more of her magic at Probably in the Kitchen.

You'll notice this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice is intended for an Instant Pot. All the directions will correlate to Instant Pot usage. However, Johnson insists that you do not have to own an Instant Pot in order to execute this recipe. "I make this in an Instant Pot, but it can be made on the stove in a Dutch oven if desired. The steps remain the same, but the beans will just take longer to cook," she notes. Cooking beans from a dry state can be a commitment, but they're usually worth the effort!

Gather the ingredients for copycat Popeyes red beans and rice

For this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice recipe, you'll utilize a relatively small number of ingredients. Before you get to cooking, make sure you have everything measured and ready. To make this Popeyes speciality, you'll need three slices of bacon, chopped, one large onion, chopped, two cloves of garlic, minced, one and half cups of dry red beans, a quarter teaspoon of liquid smoke, a half of a tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, four cups of chicken broth or stock, and two cups of cooked white rice.

It might be a good idea to make the rice before you make the beans. We can't imagine a situation more harrowing then having the perfect Popeyes-like red beans ready to go but they must remain trapped in the Instant Pot because the rice isn't ready for them. You can also make that rice in the Instant Pot!

Crisp the bacon for this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice recipe

Once all the ingredients are on deck, you can proceed to the first step. Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add the bacon slices. Cook until the bacon is crisp and then remove it from pot, keeping the grease in there. After the bacon cools, cut it into small, bite-sized pieces. You will be using it in the next part of the recipe.

It's worth mentioning that bacon isn't a requirement for this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice recipe, especially if it's a concern for someone avoiding meat products. You can totally make this into a vegetarian meal. In fact, Johnson says, "Popeye's red beans and rice does not include bacon but does contain pork fat."  Bacon is just an easy go-to for flavoring and cooking grease purposes. "I use bacon because it's a readily available ingredient and adds additional smoke flavor. If you'd prefer to keep this vegetarian, leave it out and use olive oil instead."

Sauté the onion for your copycat Popeyes red beans and rice

After removing the crisped bacon from the Instant Pot, it's time to move on to the onions, which you should have chopped and standing by. 

Add the chopped onion to the pot and cook until the onions begin to soften, scraping the bottom to incorporate the fond. In case you are wondering, "fond" is cool kid chef term for the browned bits that start to form at the bottom of the pan/skillet/pot when you sauté an item, such as the chopped onion you'll be stirring for this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice recipe. You're welcome, go forth and be pretentious next time you cook for an audience.

Rinse and sort the beans for this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice

While the onions are doing their softening in the Instant Pot, you can address your beans. Rinse the beans and remove any bad beans or stones. A couple of points regarding the beans from Johnson:  For one, you can go the canned route if necessary. "For a faster version, you can use canned beans. Follow the same instructions, but lessen the cook time to 20 minutes and use half the amount of liquid," she explains.

Also, red beans are ideal, but other types aren't a dealbreaker. According to Johnson, "Red beans and kidney beans are not the same but do have similar taste. You can substitute kidney beans if you'd like. They take longer to cook, so if using them from dried, you will need to increase the cook time by 20 minutes."

Keep those things in mind with your bean selection.

Add garlic, liquid smoke, seasoning, beans, and broth to the pot for copycat Popeyes red beans and rice

After you've sorted the beans, set them aside for now. Next up in this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice recipe are the items that give it that zesty Louisiana spark. 

Per the instructions, you'll add the minced garlic, the liquid smoke, and the Cajun seasoning to the pot with the onions. Stir them together rigorously. The Cajun seasoning can be mild or hot, based on your personal preference and tastes. Once the garlic, liquid smoke, and seasoning have been fully stirred in with the onions, add the beans and the chicken broth/stock to the pot.

Return the crisped bacon to the pot for this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice

You're getting closer to "sit back and let the Instant Pot run the show" moment in this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice recipe. 

Once you've incorporated the garlic, liquid smoke, seasoning, beans, and broth together with the sauteed onions in the Instant Pot, you can bust out that bacon from the first step (if you're opting to use bacon in this red beans and rice). Pop it right into the Instant Pot and gently stir the diced pieces into the liquid before you start cooking the beans (and other items) for an hour.

Cook the beans for the copycat Popeyes red beans and rice

Now that all the ingredients for this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice (except the rice) have successfully made their way to the Instant Pot, you can put the lid on and go do your taxes ... or whatever else you might need to get done while modern technology does the brunt of the cooking work for you. 

Set the Instant Pot on high pressure for one hour. Let the beans do their thing (keeping in mind the aforementioned note that dry kidney beans may take about 20 minutes longer, if that's what you're using).

 After the beans have cooked, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 15 minutes, then quick release.

Mash the beans for the copycat Popeyes red beans and rice

You are in the final stages of making a masterpiece worthy of Popeyes in your own kitchen. 

After removing the lid from the Instant Pot, drain off the excess water, reserving a half cup of the liquid. Using an immersion blender or a potato masher, mash about half of the bean mixture, then stir. If you really want that famous-fried-chicken-fast-food-joint vibe, the quasi-mashed beans component of this copycat Popeyes red beans and rice recipe is crucial. Do not go overboard on the mashing! You want some mashed beans alongside some fully intact beans.

The immersion blender will require a little less arm strength than going the potato masher route, but then again, how often do you get to experience the joy of using a kitchen tool solely intended for smushing starchy carbs?

Serve your copycat Popeyes red beans and rice

After that incredibly easy Instant Pot journey, you should now be eyeing some delicious copycat Popeyes red beans and rice. Spoon those beans over the cooked white rice, and then garnish with fresh parsley or green onions if desired.

You've probably noticed there is no salt in this recipe. "Cajun seasoning and liquid smoke both are very salty," Johnson points out. "I don't find that I need to add additional salt because of this. If you use a no-salt Cajun seasoning, you may need to adjust." So you may need to add salt once the dish has been plated.

The same goes for the degree of spiciness you might prefer. Per Johnson, "If you like your red beans and rice very spicy, make sure you use hot Cajun seasoning and/or add cayenne and your favorite hot sauce. I use a hot seasoning and then top the completed dish with hot sauce to taste." 

Copycat Popeyes Red Beans And Rice You'll Crave
5 from 19 ratings
We didn't even realize there was a way to recreate the Popeyes red beans and rice magic in our own kitchen until we tried this amazing copycat recipe.
Prep Time
25
minutes
Cook Time
1.5
hours
Servings
6
servings
Copycat Popeyes red beans and rice in bowl
Total time: 1.92 hours
Ingredients
  • 3 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups dry red beans
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ tablespoon cajun seasoning, mild or hot based on preference
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 2 cups white rice, cooked
Optional Ingredients
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Hot sauce
Directions
  1. Set Instant Pot to sauté and add bacon. Cook until the bacon is crisp, and then remove from pot.
  2. Add onion to the pot and cook until the onions begin to soften, scraping the bottom to incorporate the fond.
  3. While the onions are cooking, rinse the beans and remove any bad beans or stones.
  4. Add the garlic, liquid smoke, and cajun seasoning to the pot. Stir.
  5. Add the beans, broth, and bacon to the pot, and then set on high pressure for 1 hour.
  6. After the beans have cooked, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 15 minutes, and then quick release.
  7. Drain off excess water, reserving a ½ cup.
  8. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash about half the beans. Stir.
  9. Add beans to the rice, and garnish with fresh parsley or green onions if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 352
Total Fat 8.3 g
Saturated Fat 2.6 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 14.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 51.2 g
Dietary Fiber 12.2 g
Total Sugars 4.8 g
Sodium 337.6 mg
Protein 18.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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