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Feb 22, 2009 12:30 PM

What red beans to use with Red Beans and Rice?

The current thread on what kind of rice to use with gumbo got me thinking about red beans and rice. While most recipes call for red kidney beans, I have always reached for the bag of dried "Small Red Beans" instead of larger kidney beans when making this dish. What does everyone else use or prefer?

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  1. You could use kidney beans if you had no other choice, but I would suggest using the smaller red bean (they're a deep red, almost black to my eye) and are smoother than kidney beans. Sorry I don't know the varietal name for them but by your post you have used them before so it won't be a mystery to you.

    1. IMO, kidney beans are awful for red beans and rice. Small red beans are much preferred. And while I'm no expert on 'authenticity,' when I was in Texas and Louisiana my guests found my (small) red beans and rice very good.

      1. Here in the south we have a brand of red beans called "Camellia". They are lighter and smaller and have a wonderful creamy texture. Small is all I have ever used.

        6 Replies
        1. re: CadienBelle

          The Camillia brand red beans are labeled as "Louisiana" red beans and unless that's a marketing ploy I'd say they'd be about as authentic as you could get.

          1. re: todao

            Camellia red beans, absolutely. Accept no substitutes!

          2. re: CadienBelle

            Ditto on the "creamy texture" of Camellia Red Kidney Beans. Camellia is a small company which produces a limited stock and supplies only a small geographical area (they do mail order). As a result the beans have a fast turn-over, insuring that the beans are always fresh - the bag is date stamped - which yields a wonderful creamy cooked bean and "gravy".


            1. re: CocoaNut

              i can't agree more! and if you like butter beans, get the camellia bag and you can't go wrong!! (I live in mississippi and i'm currently cooking up a big pot of red beans and rice.)

              1. re: babyb85

                I'm from Mississippi too and agree with all of you about Camellia beans - they are the best. And I love their large lima beans. We cook them pretty much like red beans and serve on rice with a dollop of stewed tomatoes and some chopped onion. Yum!

              2. re: CocoaNut

                Hurray!! I finally found a local (to D/FW) small Cajun grocer that carries a small variety of the Camellia brand. Cooked a pot of Great Northerns (with ham and lots of black pepper) a few weeks ago. What a great soup during some of these very cold nights we've been having!

            2. Camellia (Brand) Red Kidney Beans are the best I've ever used....I'm always impressed with their freshness, and creaminess...I also like the 'Small Red' beans. Their flavor is similar yet different, and they hold their shape and firmness in contrast to the Camellia Red Kidney's creaminess....Often times I mix a few of the Small Reds with the Camellia Kidneys

              The Camellia Black-Eyes for New Year's Day were awesome!!!

              5 Replies
              1. re: Uncle Bob

                I use small red beans as well, in NYC it's either Goya or Jack Rabbit brand at most supermarkets. I'm excited to read about the Camellia brand and will see if I can find them.

                Red beans and ricely yours.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  Sadly bushwickgirl, you will not find Camellia brand in any stores up here. I typically bring some back when I go home. There are sites that ship, being one of them.

                  1. re: roro1831

                    Yeah, that's what I thought after I posted. I have ordered from cajungrocer before, with great success. Thanks for the info.
                    I guess you can't get everything you want in NYC.

                  2. re: bushwickgirl

                    I have gotten a good substitute in Indian markets in the NYC area (I use Buster Holmes' recipe, fwiw). They are like the Goya pink beans, but a little darker in color with a 'deeper' flavor. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name, because I have bought them by sight, but they're available around here. Pink beans would also do in a pinch.

                    1. re: TongoRad

                      I've used the goya and others in a pinch, but nothing compares to Camellia, luckily I have a friend here who goes home once a month for work, so he brings me back about 2-3 pounds each trip

                2. Just checked out their site, and it looks like they now sell their beans online: