21 Southern Inspired Sides to Serve With Red Beans & Rice

One of the best dishes that embody flavor and can give you a hearty feeling is red beans and rice. While that alone can be a meal you may wonder what to eat with red beans and rice. Pairing it with other sides is ideal, especially when you are having other guests over.

I can remember growing up, having different side dishes with red beans and rice so that we could give ourselves a variety of options. This was a time to explore what goes with red beans and rice, with many of those sides being based on the time of year, and if I am being honest, how quickly it could be prepared.

My grandma and my mom both would start to get creative some week. They often brainstormed about what to serve with red beans and rice, especially if they didn’t want to make a trip to the grocery store after work or trying to stretch it to payday..

Appetizers

1. Cajun Shrimp Skewers

Don’t you just love the cuisine from good ol’ New Orleans? Ah, let me tell you about my absolute favorite – red beans and rice! But, here’s the thing, it isn’t just about the dish itself, what you serve alongside it makes a huge difference.

Now, imagine kicking things off with appetizers like Cajun Shrimp Skewers. There is nothing that screams Southern charm and Creole flavor more than grilled shrimp. I mean, it’s almost criminal how the smokiness of the grill enhances the shrimp flavor. Plus, the marinade… wowza!

The prep time is about 20 minutes, and the actual cook-time, just 5 minutes. Honestly, dishes that take half an hour combined to make… yep, those are my kind of dishes!

Soak the skewers, prep the marinade, skewer the shrimp, refrigerate, grill… and ready! You have got a plateful of succulent shrimp skewers ready to complement your red beans and rice.

Now, remember one thing though… don’t overcook them. Keep them on the grill for about 2 minutes on each side, no more. Or else, you’ll end up with rubbery shrimp, and nobody got time for that!

Alrighty! Now get going and try these Cajun Shrimp Skewers with your red beans and rice. I promise you, it’s a taste of The Big Easy you won’t forget!

2. Shrimp Boil

If you want to know what sides go with red beans and rice the best, a shrimp boil is one of those sides. I’ve made this in one of my large pots so many times after work.

This recipe has become a firm favorite of mine. Most remarkably, you don’t have to spend an eternity in the kitchen, even though you might want to once you taste the mouthwatering results.

The process is effortless, quick and can be done in your kitchen in less than 30 minutes. All you need is a large pot to boil your ingredients, and then finish them off in the oven on a baking sheet.

That delicious Old Bay seasoning on these ingredients mixed with the red beans and rice elevates the different textures and flavor you are looking for.

Sometimes red beans and rice need to be mixed up and this shrimp boil does exactly that.

3. Southern Fried Okra

Sometimes, it is best to bring a fried component to your red beans and rice; nothing matches that better than southern fried okra.

This dish is yum-licious, with crispy bits of okra wrapped in golden brown breading. It’s like the green bean’s artsy southern cousin, but way better!

Preparing it is a breeze, folks. First, get your okra – fresh or frozen, both work.

Make sure that when you cut up your okra, you get it into similar size pieces so that they crisp up faster and give a nice texture to your dish.

Coat your green nuggets with some all-purpose flour and cornmeal, play a pat-a-cake with them. Add some buttermilk, salt, and pepper, give it another good shimmy.

Heat the oil (remember to pick an oil with a high smoking point, like vegetable or peanut oil). Once it’s hot, add your breaded okra for about 2-3 minutes.

The Southern fried okra is a classic, and to truly enjoy this side dish, take a few and mix directly into your red beans and rice. You’ll thank me later.

Side Dishes

1. Grilled Chicken

If you wonder what meat goes with red beans and rice, there is just nothing better than a juicy grilled chicken. This is not just any grilled chicken, it’s juicy. It’s flavorful.

The secret for this recipe lies in the technique and the marinade!

You will need to marinate it for a few hours, but the prep and cook time are quick and easy, all in under 30 minutes.

  1. Cut your chicken breast to an even thickness for an even cook.
  2. Infuse these skinless chicken breasts with dried herbs, extra virgin olive oil and some lemon zest
  3. Let it marinate for 4 hours or overnight. This could be your chance to catch your favorite TV show… or snooze!
  4. When you’re ready, get your grill heated high and oiled. Cook your chicken for 2-3 minutes per side at high heat, and boom! You’ve got juicy grilled chicken breasts ready to serve.

I use this side when my children have friends over and they are picky eaters. Everyone loves grilled chicken and they can keep them full for hours after lunch or dinner.

2. Cajun Andouille Sausage

If you are ready for a side that will be low and slow, there is a total of 5 hours on the Cajun Andouille Sausage, but it is so worth the wait. It is a beautiful blend of venison, pork belly and, in our house, ground beef.

I make my own ratio of 1 and a half pounds of venison, 1 and a half pounds of ground beef, and a half pound of pork belly. If you decide on another ground meat like chicken or turkey, I recommend more pork belly to balance out the fat content.

Once you prep and hang your sausage for a couple of hours, you can smoke them for the rest of the time or even cook them in the oven.

So, if you’re looking to add some pizzazz to your plate of red beans and rice, the andouille sausage is just the showstopper you need. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming a jazzy number after every bite.

Oh, and if you’ve got leftovers, they freeze pretty well. But let’s be real, who’s gonna have leftovers of this stuff right?

3. Trader Joe’s Copycat Cornbread

What bread goes with red beans and rice? Cornbread, without a doubt. Honestly, nothing screams homey and hearty like cornbread with red beans and rice. When I want something that is warm, fluffy, and will feed my soul, I turn to cornbread.

It’s sweet, moist and has that wonderful crunch on top.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Can I really make this amazing cornbread at home?”

And the answer is a resounding YES.

You just need some all-purpose flour, yellow cornmeal, salted butter, baking powder, salt, whole milk, granulated sugar & egg. If you want to jazz things up, go ahead and toss in some frozen corn kernels!

Preparation is a cinch! Pre-heat your oven, mix all your ingredients together, pour batter into your baking dish, and bake till golden brown. If you’re feeling adventurous, turn the heat up a notch by baking it in a cast iron skillet for that extra crispy crust!

I do prefer the cast iron skillet, but in a pinch, I will use a regular baking dish. One of the best things you can do for your cornbread when it comes out of the oven is to give it a layer of butter over the top while it’s hot.

4. Tortillas

Maybe you want to enjoy your red beans and rice differently. When you don’t know what to eat with red beans and rice, make fresh tortillas and scoop some of your dishes into the shell before biting right into it. Flour tortillas are the best version to use.

These are really easy to make and it only takes an hour with prep and cooking. I usually make these while my red beans are simmering and when my children are asking what sides go with red beans and rice for that evening.

Making the dough it’s so easy, no special mixer is needed. Just a little elbow grease and a sturdy spatula or spoon will do. When the dough’s done, split it up, let it rest, then roll and cook.

Just remember, don’t cook too long or they’ll stiffen up, each tortilla needs only a minute or two to cook. We’re aiming for soft and tender.

The tortillas can be prepped ahead, refrigerated, and then warmed just before serving.

5. Garlic Yogurt Sauce

If you are looking for something completely out of the box to pair with your red beans and rice dish, then garlic yogurt sauce may deserve a second look.

While it definitely doesn’t sound as appetizing as some of the other sides that I’ve listed, it does have some great flavors that pair well with red beans and rice.

I wouldn’t mix these two together, but maybe add this sauce to a plate and enjoy it with some veggie sticks. It is a light option that you can make and store in your fridge to grab when you don’t want to cook something else.

6. Grilled Fish

I don’t think there is a faster side option out there than grilled fish. It only takes a second to prep and just four minutes to cook.

The recipe here is one we use when we have white fish like cod, haddock and tilapia. We have used it for catfish before, too.

Like me, you probably have all the seasonings in your pantry: olive oil, salt, pepper, Old Bay seasoning, paprika, and a lemon to bring it all together.

To start, preheat our pan or grill. As it heats up, brush one side of your fish with the olive oil. Then, add a sprinkle of the seasoning trio: salt, pepper, and Old Bay. Oh, and a sprinkle of paprika too.

Next, add the fish into the pan seasoned side down. A quick brush of olive oil on the second side and a touch of that seasoning you just used, and you’re almost done. Only about 2 minutes per side! Done! Squeeze on some lemon and garnish with a bit of chopped parsley if you’re feeling fancy.

The texture is light and airy, and it is great if you are looking for what protein goes with red beans and rice that won’t make you too full and bloated.

7. Honey Garlic Pork Chops

We’ve all had that pack of pork chops that needed to be cooked. Pork chops are one of the most affordable proteins, which means they always have a place in my home.

This side dish doesn’t need to be marinated and can be used on either boneless or bone-in (your choice). Just give them the seasoning before tossing them in the pan.

Prep time? It takes less time than it takes for you to binge-watch an episode of your favorite show – less than 15 minutes.

Pork chops only need about four minutes on each side, then pull them off. I enjoy this dish around the holidays when I am bulk-buying meats and pork chops for my freezer.

I can pull a pack out to thaw and whip this up in under twenty minutes.

8. Country-Style Pork Ribs

It’s been said once but I’ve got to spill some beans (pun intended). Pork goes really well with red beans and rice!

If you don’t know what to serve with red beans and rice but have a pack of pork ribs, cook these country-style and serve together for a delicious dish.

First things first, they aren’t ribs at all! Bet you didn’t see that coming. They’re actually cuts of pork shoulder. They are cheaper (making them a steal at about $2 per pound) , meatier than your usual pork or beef ribs, and beautifully marbled, which keeps them moist all the way through.

This recipe takes quite a bit of time but almost all of that time is hands-off so you can tick several items off your Netflix queue while the oven does all the work!

Start by sprinkling your ribs with salt and pepper, arrange them in a single layer in a roasting pan or baking dish, cover with foil, and bake at 300°F for 2 hours. Take them out, drain the liquid, add your favorite BBQ sauce, and bake again uncovered for an hour at 275°F.

Fair warning though, they’ll have you rethinking your loyalty to beef ribs in no time!

9. Pulled Beef

Knowing what protein goes with red beans and rice means knowing what flavors can balance and carry the consistency of the beans and you can get that with pulled beef.

This shredded beef, oh, it’s to die for! Ready in a jiffy, less than 10 minutes of prep and you don’t need broth – the meat cooks in its own scrumptious juices along with some onions, garlic, olive oil and a bit of red wine vinegar. I start my crock pot before I leave for work, and walk into a delicious aroma hours later.

This meat will just melt in your mouth like butter, but make sure you don’t forget to add your vinegar. This is important in breaking it down and giving it that delicious texture and flavor.

Can you hear that? That’s the sound of your red beans and rice thanking you!

Veggies & Salads

1. Sauteed Butternut Squash

The meaty texture of butternut squash makes it one of the best side dishes to pair with red beans and rice. This is a dish you can make in just 35 minutes, and use a skillet on the stove.

Quick tip: I personally save time and get precut butternut squash from my local grocery store.

Any time we would want our red beans and rice to have a little fall flair, my grandma would bring home some butternut squash. We would help her dice it up into little squares so that it would cook down and do so quickly.

The recipe is straightforward and quick.

  1. First, soften the squash in a searing hot skillet with a splash of olive oil.
  2. Then, season it, stir until it’s well-cooked and lightly browned—that takes about 15 minutes.
  3. Next, give it a good cinnamon shower! Last step, drizzle your maple syrup and voilà you have one of the best side options.

If you are not sure what to eat with red beans and rice that’s gluten free, vegan and Paleo but also want something that everyone will enjoy, give this sauteed butternut squash a try.

2. Classic Coleslaw

While everyone likes cole slaw, not everyone can make good coleslaw. A taste of this recipe and you will leave that pre-made package at the grocery store next time.

This does take less than an hour to make, and you can make the dressing and slaw from scratch. After prepping and letting it chill, it can be ready when your red beans and rice are.

This recipe has a secret that my aunt gave me years ago for her famous coleslaw, and that is the sacred Vidalia onion.

This coleslaw recipe doesn’t include celery seed, which is irksome, and brings an unpleasant bitter-musty taste. But if you’re a fan, add away!

Make sure you slice it up thin so it gets in every bite. Even my usually critical teens had seconds of this slaw, giving that delightful teen endorsement, “Mom, this is actually really good.”

3. Avocado Salad

Another great summer side for red beans and rice is avocado salad. This blend of ripe avocados, tomatoes, onion, and cucumber gives you all the fresh tastes of summer while enjoying a healthy bowl of red beans and rice.

Anytime I am trying to cut back, but want to make sure I keep something fresh on my plate, I make avocado salad for myself. I do want to tell you that the avocado salad is not a dish you want to make an excessive amount of because the avocados will not keep well.

Make enough for yourself and whoever else is planning to dine with you. It takes only a few minutes to whip up if you need more later.

4. Classic Pico de Gallo

I love to keep Pico in my fridge. I use it for so many things and red beans and rice are not excluded from that list. This Mexican gem is fresh, zippy, and utterly irresistible. I first discovered it in an all-you-can-eat pico de gallo on a sunny holiday in Mexico.

Warning – it’ll seduce you into smothering it on everything from eggs to spaghetti!

Not only does pico roll off the tongue in a ‘I-can-speak-Spanish’ kinda way, it’s also a breeze to make. It’s just ripe red tomatoes, white onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime, and salt. Boom! That’s it. Your chopping board, kernel of bravery, and 15 mere minutes – that’s all you need!

Let it rest for about 15 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to mix together and unleash their full uniqueness.

While you can make it throughout the year, it tastes the best in late Spring, and early summer when the tomatoes are the freshest and I can pull these ingredients from local farmers.

What’s that I hear? Your belly rumbling for some pico de gallo?

5. Southern Collard Greens

The tart vinegar taste and cooked-down collard greens in this recipe are almost perfect when deciding what to eat with red beans and rice. This is a side that will take a couple of hours to cook down for texture and flavor, but pairing it with a bowl of red beans and rice will fill your heart and soul with each bite.

I cook this recipe regularly, as southern collard greens are in high demand at my house. I usually make a large pot when I make them so that I can have leftovers with my red beans and rice. They make a great meal prep option if you are looking to pack a lunch, too.

It is important that you use fresh collard greens when you make this dish. Because you are going fresh, make sure you wash each leaf really well so that you don’t bite down on some dirt grains later when you are inhaling this dish.

6. Pickled Vegetables

Onions, pickles, carrots, and okra are deliciously pickled, and adding them to your plate of red beans and rice may be just what you need. This taste of vinegar and brine juice will balance the heat and creamy flavors in your red beans and rice.

Some pickled veggies have a sweeter taste depending on how they release their flavors in the brine and what you use to flavor them. The good news is these are already prepared, making them a great side dish. You need to grab a fork and the jar and grab as much as your heart desires.

Desserts

1. Peach Cobbler

Don’t fill up yet! What comes next is the cherry on top, or should I say the peach on top? A scrumptious, easy-as-pie – or should I say peach cobbler – dessert! It is one of my go-to options and probably one of my favorites.

While I love grandma’s old-fashioned peach cobbler, it would take a couple of hours to make peach cobbler. And sometimes I just don’t have the luxury of time. That’s where the cobbler’s younger sibling swoops in for the rescue.

The thing about this Peach Cobbler recipe is that it’s just so darn quick! Seriously! Around 40 minutes and – bam! You’re done. It’s the wizard you need for those last-minute dessert decisions.

Most of the ingredients are right in the pantry and I can start on it before I start dinner, and have it ready and cooling for dessert later that evening.

An added bonus is its flexibility. Want fresh peaches? Hop in! Want to substitute with canned or frozen peaches?

You’re welcome.

2. Banana Pudding

A Southern classic, banana pudding is easy to make and refrigerated easily, and you can make it in minutes. If you are having a big dinner with friends and family, add banana pudding to the list.

Honestly, I’ve thrown this recipe together for events after work or last minute, so it is a great option when you are already having red beans and rice and need to satisfy that sweet tooth.

This Banana Pudding recipe is creamy, dreamy, and easy to make.

First, you whip up a vanilla pudding base that requires no cooking. This pudding is just a swirl of milk, vanilla and condensed sweetened milk smoothly mixed together with a lovely, thick texture.

Next up are layers of vanilla wafers and fresh bananas . And finally, a heavenly layer of whipped cream dusted with powdered sugar!

Now assemble and pop it in your fridge for a couple of hours. There you have it, your tasteful finale to your red beans and rice feast!

Didn’t I tell you it was a piece of cake? Or rather, pudding!

3. Pecan Pie

A true Southern staple, pecan pie is ideal and one of the best desserts that you can pair with your red beans and rice. It is a dish best served afterward, but the richness of the pie will balance with the heat from the red beans.

The crunchy pecans and thick filling of the pie will give your stomach that last full feeling before heading off for an afternoon nap. Add a dollop of whipped cream to the top of your pecan pie to balance the sweetness and cut through the different textures.

With prep time of just 20 minutes, it’s a cinch on your busy schedule.

Get your hands on some dark corn syrup, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, butter, salt, and of course, pecans.

A handy tip: buy whole pecans instead of chopped, for a nice decorative topping.

And don’t forget that pie crust – homemade if you have time, or store-bought if you’re in a rush.

Start by placing the pie crust on a baking sheet, then fill it up with chopped pecans. After that, combine your ingredients and whisk them together, then pour this “sweet symphony” over your pecans. Pop it in your oven and let it bake for 15 minutes! You’ll literally be able to smell the love as it comes out perfectly every single time.

And here’s my secret tip: for a deeper caramel-like flavor, choose a dark corn syrup over light. Makes all the difference, I promise!

Just remember to let it cool before you dive in. And don’t be surprised if you start planning your next batch even before the pie is gone!

What to Serve With Red Beans & Rice

Print Recipe
Course Side Dish
Keyword Red Beans and Rice
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes

Ingredients

Appetizers

  • Cajun Shrimp Skewers
  • Shrimp Boil
  • Southern Fried Okra

Side Dishes

  • Grilled Chicken
  • Cajun Andouille Sausage
  • Trader Joe’s Copycat Cornbread
  • Tortillas
  • Garlic Yogurt Sauce
  • Grilled Fish
  • Honey Garlic Pork Chops
  • Country-Style Pork Ribs
  • Pulled Beef

Veggies & Salads

  • Sauteed Butternut Squash
  • Classic Coleslaw
  • Avocado Salad
  • Classic Pico de Gallo
  • Southern Collard Greens
  • Pickled Vegetables

Desserts

  • Peach Cobbler
  • Banana Pudding
  • Pecan Pie

Instructions

  • Pick your a dish.
  • Enjoy!