Chicken With Red Beans And Rice

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I don’t know what your order says about you, but my order for Chicken with Red Beans and Rice says I love good food. This recipe was created out of necessity – I had all of the ingredients on hand and it’s easy to make in big batches!

Making jambalaya is easy. Making authentic Cajun-style chicken with red beans and rice in a pot is harder. Now, there is no right or wrong way to make this dish, but let me tell you some tips to help you out.

CAJUN RED BEANS & RICE CHICKEN SKILLET: A ONE-POT MEAL

As I’ve said before, Randy and I have a goal to visit all 50 states in the nation.  We’ve gotten all states west of the Mississippi River, including Alaska and Hawaii, plus New York and Florida.  We’re getting close to meeting our goal.  Because of cancer care the last few years, our vacation plans have been put on the back burner.  In fact, Randy earned an all-expenses-paid trip to Aruba that we had to turn down!  We currently have two different trips mapped out: North East and South East.  One day soon we’ll take them!

While my husband looks forward to the seafood options in Maryland and Maine, I can’t help but look forward to the sights and tastes of New Orleans.  I have always been fascinated with the culture of that state.  (Hence my many Mardi Gras  cookie dough ball, beaded mystery mask, statement necklace, and cinnamon roll money bread recipe, among others.)  Don’t get me started on how much my anticipation increased after Disney released The Princess and the Frog!  If pressed, I guess you could say my current dream vacation would be to New Orleans.

I usually like to visit a place to find favorite flavors, and then try to copycat them when I get home.  Orange Julius, KFC, Chick-fil-A, Olive Garden, Lofthouse Cookies, Taco Bell, and Carrabba’s, to name a few.  However, with the mounting pressure I feel for Cajun and Creole, I decided to just give my own recipe a try, even though I have never tried authentic previously.  I may not know if the flavors are on point, but I do know that what I came up with is freaking delicious.  I am even more excited to visit, now that I can compare what I came up with, with the real deal.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4-5 teaspoons cajun seasoning (store-bought or homemade recipe below)
  • Zatarain’s Family Size Red Beans & Rice Dinner Mix
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • roughly chopped parsley, optional garnish

DIY CAJUN SEASONING

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

For another one-pot chicken meal, I recommend my Cilantro Lime Chicken Skillet with Black Beans and Rice!

The Holy Trinity: “Cajun Holy Trinity consists of onions, bell peppers, and celery, the base for much of the cooking in the regional cuisines of Louisiana.  Typically equal measures of the three ingredients or two parts onion, with one part celery and one part green bell peppers.”  Who wouldn’t dream of tasting flavors that include “Holy” combinations?!

Chop up your onion, celery, and green pepper.  Because my children can find every single little transparent, cooked onion, I chopped mine very fine, so that they could easily be lost in the seasoned rice.

Helpful Tip: When purchasing your green bell pepper, purchase one that has only three bumps on the bottom.  I’ve learned that four bumps is a “female” bell pepper.  Female peppers are full of seeds, but are sweeter (obviously!) and better for eating raw.  Three bumps on the bottom means it is “male,” with far fewer seeds, and better flavors for cooking.

Helpful Tip: When chopping your onion, you could either wear a pair of swim goggles, or hold a match (tip out) between your teeth, to reduce the tears and snail trails from leaking down your face.

Season chicken breasts on both sides with approximately 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning.

Drizzle a large skillet with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and cook chicken breasts for approximately 1 minute on each side, just enough to brown each side, over medium-high heat.

Transfer to a plate while you combine remaining ingredients in skillet.  Yes, it still looks raw, and yes, it will be fully cooked by dinner time.

Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add chicken broth, Zatarain’s Family Size Red Beans & Rice Dinner Mix, onion, celery, green pepper, and remaining 2-3 teaspoons of your Cajun seasoning.

Helpful Tip: This is where you can customize your meal.  To control the spiciness, add more or less of the seasoning.  Because I didn’t really know how I like mine, I dumped the remainder that I hand’t used to season my raw chicken breasts and hoped I would love it as much as I dreamed I would.

Also, if you love Cajun as much as I’m learning to, try my Cajun Chicken Caesar Salad!

I realize that the instructions for the Zatarain’s Red Beans & Rice Dinner Mix calls for 4 1/2 cups of water, but the additional moisture from the chicken breasts will make this meal feel more like a gumbo if you use the 4 1/2 cups, which, honestly, would be another incredible meal!  For this meal, however, stick with only 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, to give the bed of rice that perfect, tender texture.

Stir to combine.

Return your browned chicken to the skillet, placing evenly spaced on top of the rice mixture.

Cover with a lid and simmer over that medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent rice and beans from sticking.

Just as I explained here, I checked my chicken with a thermometer to make sure they were fully cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  

While it cooked, I turned on The Princess and the Frog, inspired by the music, channeling my best Tiana while creating food for the masses, failing miserably at my accent.  Depending on which child you ask, it was either incredibly endearing or embarrassing, my New Aw-lins essence.

But they loved dinner, so I call it all a resounding success!

Cajun Chicken Recipe (one skillet meal!)

Angled, close-up photo of a cooked cajun spiced chicken thigh nestled in rice with red beans.
45 degree, close up photo of a cajun chicken thigh sitting on top of red beans and rice.

This Cajun Chicken recipe is a complete meal made in one pan with just 8 ingredients! Featuring tender chicken thighs nestled in fluffy Cajun red beans and rice flavored with sweet red bell peppers and juicy tomatoes! This Cajun chicken and rice is so easy and delicious it will instantly become a family favorite!

Overhead image of red beans and rice with cajun chicken, bell peppers and jalapeños in a cast iron skillet.

Update: This post was originally published in February 2017. It’s been updated to include more information about this Cajun Chicken recipe, as well as pro-tips for customizing Louisiana chicken and rice!

Hey there, friends! I hope you are hungry and love Cajun food! Because, today we are cooking up a bold, Ragin Cajun chicken dinner you and your family will love!

Cajun Chicken: recipe overview

Say hello to this easy, breezy, one skillet wonder of Cajun style chicken, rice and beans! Honestly, I just call this a pan of DELICIOUSNESS! Because, this skillet rice meal will make you feel like you’ve been transported right to the Bayou, alligator airboat ride obviously not included!

Here’s what’s happening in this Cajun chicken recipe! Juicy, tender, crispy-skinned chicken thighs are beautifully snuggled in a bed of light, fluffy white rice kissed with slightly spicy, smoky, Cajun seasonings; and studded with plump red beans, fire roasted tomatoes and sweet red bell peppers. Basically, this skillet is bursting with BOLD and ROBUST Cajun flavors!

Grab a hurricane, make this chicken with red beans and rice and prepare yourself for flavor town.

Why you will love this Cajun recipe

  • Simple ingredients! This baked cajun chicken requires 8 easy-to-find, common ingredients, plus a few pantry staples!
  • Quick and easy! Using canned beans and a can of tomatoes helps this chicken, rice and beans dish come together quick and easy! It’s the perfect weeknight family dinner option!
  • One pan! Say goodbye to hours of dishwashing with this one-pan skillet recipe!
  • Flavor! This Louisiana style chicken packs a flavorful punch! It’s smoky, spicy, earthy, zesty, savory and completely delicious!
  • Complete Meal: Take the stress out of dinner with this one pan meal as it includes everything! This homemade recipe is loaded with protein, fiber, and protein, making it an easy and complete dinner option for your family!
  • Flexible: This creole chicken recipe is flexible and incredibly easy to customize! Feel free to add or swap in whatever vegetables you love, such as chiles, spinach and mushrooms!
Overhead image of all the ingredients in cajun chicken rice recipe neatly arranged individually on a counter.

Cajun chicken and rice ingredients

You’ll need eight easy-to-find ingredients to make this simple Louisiana chicken dinner! This cajun chicken rice recipe uses common pantry seasonings, along with fresh vegetables to keeps things quick and fuss-free without sacrificing flavor!

  • Poultry: You will need four bone-in chicken thighs for this southern chicken and rice recipe. I prefer to use skin-on chicken thighs for the most flavor and juiciest texture! If you don’t like the skin, just peel it off before eating!
  • Cajun seasoning: I recommend using a homemade Cajun Spice Mix for the most robust flavor!
  • Oil: Use a good-quality olive oil for browning the chicken!
  • Onion: One small yellow onion adds the perfect touch of strong, yet mild onion flavour!
  • Bell Pepper: You can use any color of bell pepper you love – red, orange, yellow and/or green! I personally love how the sweet flavor of a red bell pepper complements the heat of the cajun spice!
  • Rice: You will need 1 cup of long grain white rice for the cajun red beans and rice!
  • Stock: Chicken stock (or broth) imparts savory flavor into the cajun rice and beans! I recommend using low-sodium chicken stock so you can control the level of salt!
  • Red beans: The most common bean in Cajun red beans and rice is the small red bean. You can use canned red beans and kidney beans interchangeably in this cajun chicken recipe; however, please drain and rinse your beans well before using!
  • Tomatoes: One can of fire-roasted tomatoes provides the perfect pops of sweet, juicy flavor!

Substitutions

  • Chicken: You can use bone-in chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs if you prefer! Please note, you may have to decrease the bake time in the recipe!
  • Sausage: You can swap out the chicken for andouille sausage, or use a combination of both to make cajun chicken sausage!
  • Onion: If you prefer a sweeter onion flavor, you can swap out the yellow onion for red onions or shallots!
  • Broth: Chicken stock is more flavorful with a richer mouthfeel; however, you can use chicken broth instead!

Variations

  • Vegetarian option: You can easily make this a vegetarian meal by removing the chicken, and switching out the chicken stock for vegetable broth!
  • Garlic: If you are a garlic lover, I recommend adding a few cloves of minced fresh garlic! (You can add it just before the rice in step 5!)
  • Tomatoes: If fresh tomatoes are in season, stir some sweet cherry or grape tomatoes into the cajun red beans and rice before serving!
  • Jalapeños: I always add jalapeños for a mild pop of spicy flavor!
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs are a wonderful way to incorporate a layer of bright flavor! I recommend parsley or cilantro for this spicy cajun recipe!
  • Lime: To really bring these pan-fried and oven baked chicken thighs to life, try squeezing some fresh lime over the dish just before serving! (You can use lemon juice if you are in a pinch!)
  • Sauce: Drizzle a bit of Louisiana hot sauce over your chicken, rice and kidney beans for even more spicy flavor! Or try drizzling this dish with creamy remoulade sauce if you prefer a more cooling flavor!

What is cajun spice made of?

Cajun chicken seasoning is a blend of dried spices and herbs common to Cajun cuisine. The spice mix typically includes cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and garlic powder, as well as kosher salt and pepper.

You can purchase cajun or creole seasoning, or you can mix up your own by using common pantry seasonings! My homemade Cajun seasoning is the perfect blend of cayenne, smoked paprika and garlic, as well as onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano and freshly-ground black pepper! It provides the most irresistibly robust smoky and slightly spicy flavors!

How to make Cajun Chicken?

This creole chicken with red beans and rice is so simple to prepare and only requires 15 minutes of hands on preparation!

  1. First you will start by seasoning the chicken generously on ALL sides with some of the delicious Cajun spice!
  2. Then, you heat a splash of oil in a skillet, and cook the chicken until golden brown and delicious on both sides. Transfer the chicken to the plate and set aside.
  3. Next, you’ll add the fresh vegetables right into the same skillet and season them liberally with salt and pepper. Cook them until they are lovely and soft!
  4. Reduce the heat and stir in the white rice.
  5. Then, pour in the stock, sprinkle in some more Cajun seasoning, and dump in the beans and tomatoes. Give everything a nice stir to combine.
  6.  Add the chicken back to the skillet, nestling it in the rice. Cover the skillet with a lid and pop it into an oven preheated to 350-degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Go pour yourself a cocktail (or a mocktail!) and come back 25 minutes later. Remove the lid and continue to bake for roughly 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked though (to an internal temperature of 165-degrees F).
  8. Remove the skillet from the oven, garnish everything with some fresh herbs and little slivers of jalapeños. Grab the largest fork humanly possible and enjoy.

Tips for the best Cajun chicken and rice

  1. Chicken thighs: The cajun chicken recipe below calls for bone-in chicken thighs. You can either use skinless or skin-on. I recommend using skin-on (what I used), because the crispy skin is downright delicious.
  2. Cajun spice: You can purchase Cajun spice blend at the store, or you can make your own. I highly suggest you make your own. You probably already have all the seasonings in your pantry, and making your own is much cheaper than buying a prepared one. I included the recipe to DIY in the notes section of the recipe below.
  3. Oven-safe skillet: You can use any kind of skillet you would like for this recipe, but make sure it is straight sided, has a tight fitting lid, and it is oven safe. I used a 12’’ cast iron skillet.

Louisiana chicken: FAQ

Is Cajun chicken rice spicy?

Cajun chicken is mildly spicy with a subtle kick of heat. The primary heat source for this Cajun dish comes from the cayenne pepper in the cajun spice blend.

If you are making this easy cajun chicken for children, or those unable to eat spicy foods, you can reduce the amount of seasoning in the recipe. Alternatively, if you are making cajun seasoning from scratch, you can simply reduce the amount of cayenne pepper in the spice blend!

Are red beans the same as kidney beans?

No. Red beans and kidney beans are two different types of beans. Red beans are pink in color and smaller and rounder in shape, similar to a pinto bean. Kidney beans, on the other hand, are much larger with a darker crimson color.

Can I use kidney beans instead?

You can use red beans and kidney beans interchangeably in this easy cajun recipe! However, it really depends on what texture and flavor you prefer! Red beans are creamier in texture with a slightly “beanier” flavor.

What goes with cajun chicken?

This one-pot meal is fuss-free and has it all – cajun spice chicken, red beans, rice, and plenty of vegetables! However, if you are looking to serve a hungry family and want a little something on the side, then the below dishes are a great complement to this recipe!

  • Hush puppies: Fluffy hush puppies are my favorite appetizer to serve with one pot cajun chicken and rice!
  • Dinner rolls: Buttery, soft dinner rolls go with everything! These one-hour rolls go great with this spicy chicken dish!
  • Cornbread: Sweet cornbread is a fantastic side dish to serve with this chicken rice! Add some cheddar cheese and pickled jalapeños to the batter to kick it up a notch!
  • Salad: Keep it simple and use up whatever vegetables you have hanging out in your crisper drawer! Drizzle it with some spicy ranch for a quick and healthy side dish!
  • Roasted veggies: For an easy side that only dirties one more dish, roast your favorite fresh vegetable! Potatoes, corn, broccoli, asparagus, collard greens and green beans are all perfect with this Louisiana chicken and rice!

How long will leftover chicken and rice keep?

Leftover Cajun chicken and rice makes a yummy heat-and-eat lunch! Allow the dish to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Properly stored, leftovers will last in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you are looking for longer term storage, you can also freeze your leftovers! Store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Transport your taste buds to the Big Easy and make this simple Cajun Chicken with Red Beans and Rice. Your mouth will high five you, I swear.

Until next week friends, cheers and happy cooking!

XOXO

Cheyanne

Cajun Chicken with Red Beans & Rice

Juicy, crispy skinned chicken thighs nestled in smoky, Cajun spiced rice studded with red beans, red bell peppers and tomatoes. This Skillet Cajun Chicken is a complete meal made in ONE skillet with only 8 ingredients. Easy, breezy and packed with flavor, this Cajun Chicken is weeknight dinner winning!

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time40 mins

Total Time55 mins

Course: entree, Main Course

Cuisine: American, Cajun, Louisiana

Keyword: chicken, one pan, red beans, red bell peppers, skillet, tomatoes

Servings: 4

Calories: 410kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Can Opener
  • 1 large skillet (SEE NOTES)
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups
  • Large Kitchen Spoon – for mixing and stirring during cooking!

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Thighs – Bone-in (either skin-on or skinless, depending on preference)
  • 2 TBS Cajun Spice Mix – divided (SEE NOTES)
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil – divided (SEE NOTES)
  • 1 small Yellow Onion – peeled and diced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper – diced
  • 1 Cup Long Grain Rice
  • 1 ½ Cup Chicken Stock (or broth)
  • 1 (15 ounce) Can Red Beans – drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) Can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes WITH their juices
  • Optional Garnishes: Chopped Fresh Parsley, Sliced Jalapeños

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Season chicken: Sprinkle 1 ½ tablespoon of the Cajun spice mixture evenly over the chicken on both sides with. Use your hands to rub the seasoning into the chicken thighs.
  • Brown chicken: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, straight-sided skillet (with a tight fitting lid) over medium-high heat. Add chicken (skin side down) and cook until browned all over, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  • Saute veggies: (If using skinless chicken thighs or pan is dry, add remaining tablespoon of oil). Add the onion and bell pepper. Season with generously with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add rice, then remaining ingredients: Reduce heat to medium and add the rice, stirring to coat. Add the stock, beans, diced tomatoes and remaining ½ tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning. Stir to combine and increase heat to medium high.
  • Return chicken to pan: Add the chicken, skin side up, back to the skillet, nestling it on top of/partially in the rice. Bring contents to a simmer. Immediately cover the skillet with the lid and transfer to the preheated oven.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, COVERED. Remove the lid and continue to bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Serve: Garnish with parsley and jalapeños if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Chicken: This cajun chicken recipe calls for bone-in chicken thighs – either skinless or skin-on! I recommend using skin-on (shown here). The skin not only protects the chicken, keeping it moist, but the crispy is skin is delicious! However, you can peel the skin off before serving to save some calories and fat! 
  2. Skillet size: You can use any kind of skillet you would like for this recipe, but make sure it is straight sided, has a tight fitting lid, and it is oven safe. I used a 12’’ cast iron skillet.
  3. Cajun seasoning: You can use a store-bought cajun spice mix, or you can make your own! I highly suggest you make your own. You probably already have all the seasonings in your pantry, and making your own is much cheaper than buying a prepared one. 

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