How to Thicken Red Beans and Rice: A Step-by-Step Guide

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red beans and rice on a bowl.

You know what they say…

The thicker the beans and rice you’re eating, the closer you are to heaven.

Okay, so maybe nobody actually said that.

But someone really should! And now that I have, I claim full copyright 😎

Why, hello there! Welcome back to Stretch Recipes. 

This time around we’re going to embark on a journey of achieving bean and rice nirvana. 

So grab your aprons, and get ready to duck, roll and cover. 

Not because of the unexpected splashes of red beans and rice. 

But because I’m about to throw in some (bad) jokes at you, as well. 

A Dynamic Red and White Duo

Don’t you just love Mondays? 

Says no one ever. 

But if you do…

Like how? 

Before discussing how to thicken red beans and rice, let’s first get a glimpse of our star ingredients. 

Red beans and rice on weaved basket.

The combination of red beans and rice is a classic. One that has been a staple in Cajun cuisine and Louisiana Creole for centuries!

And if one is to trace their roots, you’ll find French and West African influences too.

Traditionally, this combo is eaten on Mondays in New Orleans. 

Why? ‘Cause it’s laundry day.

It takes up almost an entire day, and with red beans needing time to cook, but not lots of hands-on attention, the women can tend to their laundry. 

Ah, I see now. That’s probably why some of you love Mondays.

I mean, I would too if I get to eat red beans and rice (but minus the laundry, of course). 

How to Thicken Red Beans and Rice

It just isn’t the same when red beans and rice are on the thinner side. 

And this simple dish combination needs that extra wow factor to truly elevate it. 

While rice may be perceived as this simple ingredient, the variety you choose can potentially make or break your dish. 

It would be best if you use long-grain white rice, as traditional as it may be. Or you could always opt for brown rice if you want a healthier nutty twist.

When it comes to the legumes, you can use small red beans, kidney beans, or something more specific like the Camellia Brand. 

Red Beans

Red beans on a measuring cup.

Don’t you just get frustrated? When even after hours of simmering, the red beans still end up thin.

Well, I do. 

And for you to never experience that, I’ll show you my ways on how to thicken red beans (and rice). 

You deserve that steaming pot of velvety and creamy red beans.


  • 2 cups of red beans
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and cornstarch
  • ¼ cup of broth or any bean cooking liquid


  • Saucepan 
  • Pot
  • Satula
  • Whisk 
  • Potato masher (but no worries there, a fork also works)

The Roux-les

Roux in a saucepan with a wooden spatula.
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Add an equal amount of all purpose flour once the butter or oil is hot. 
  3. This mixture is the roux. Make sure to whisk it constantly until a brown color is achieved. This usually takes 5-7 minutes. 
  4. Add ¼ cup of broth or your chosen bean cooking liquid at a slow pace. 

Note: You’ll need to toughen up for this step because you have to whisk vigorously to prevent any lumps from forming. So, whisk without abandon!

  1. Add your cooked red beans once the mixture is smooth. 
  2. Stir until everything is well combined and the beans have thickened. 

Pro Tip: You can swap the butter or oil for bacon fat or ham drippings. You can thank me later for the extra flavor boost. 

The Starchy Solution

Cornstarch in a bowl with corn on the side.
  1. Whisk 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch with an equal amount of broth in a small bowl. Keep it lump free.
  2. On a saucepan over medium heat, add the cooked red beans and warm them up.
  3. Add the cornstarch mixture on the saucepan while stirring slowly. 
  4. Keep at it until you achieve your desired thickness, which will take around 2-3 minutes. 

Pro Tip: Use this method if you’re short on time. 

The Hulk

Potato masher.
  1. With a potato masher or a fork, smash about 1/4 cup of cooked red beans directly in the pot. 
  2. By doing this, the starch is released from the beans and will naturally thicken them up. 
  3. As you mash and smash more (or less), you can adjust the consistency. 

Pro Tip: Don’t you even dare ask if you can use a blender or food processor instead! Texture not purée.    


Steaming hot rice in a bowl.

My sister has this saying whenever we’re in the kitchen cooking. She doesn’t let me measure everything accurately and specifically. 

“The ancestors will tell you when to stop (adding some ingredient).”

And true enough, every dish turned out scrumptious. 

So don’t be sad when even if you follow the “perfect” rice-to-water ratio, your rice still ends up loose. 

I got you. Here are some methods to have the perfect fluffy pot of rice.


  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • 1-2 tablespoons of butter or oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and cornstarch
  • ¼ cup of milk or broth
  • 2 eggs


  • Saucepan
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Bowl

The ingredients and cooking utensils for thickening rice are almost the same as those for red beans. 

The Roux-les and The Starchy Solution works well with rice too. 

The Egg-cellent Option

Two eggs on a surface.
  1. Whisk 2 eggs together with ¼ cup of milk or broth in a bowl.
  2. Warm your cooked rice in the saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Create a well in the center of the rice, then add the egg mixture.
  4. Stir it all together until evenly combined.
  5. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the rice reaches your desired thickness. 

Pro Tip: Grate in some parmesan. It’ll create a nice complement. 

Through Thick or Thin

Essentially, patience is the key here. 

It’s truly what’ll give you that thick texture you’re after. 

And remember, you can always experiment in the kitchen. This article is more like a suggestion. 

Who knows, you could be the next Julia Child of thickening red beans and rice! 

If that happens, I want in on that recipe. After all, I did show you the ropes first on how to thicken red beans and rice 😉

Red beans and rice on a plate.

I see you eyeing that plate of beans and rice. Go ahead, you can dig in now. 

Who’s ready for seconds?

Patricia Barre Avatar


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