Is Popeyes Red Beans and Rice Vegan?

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Answer: No. This dish is not vegan. Popeyes Red Beans and Rice contains bacon and pork fat.

Is Popeyes Red Beans And Rice Vegan? As a vegan, finding suitable dining options can sometimes be a challenge, especially when accompanying friends or family to restaurants known for their non-vegan offerings. In this article, we’ll explore whether Popeyes Red Beans and Rice fits the bill for a vegan meal and discuss alternatives and home-cooking options.

Popeyes Red Beans And Rice: Not Vegan

Popeyes is renowned for its fast-food offerings, including its signature crunchy fried chicken and biscuits. While there is a hint of New Orleans’ Cajun and creole flavors in their menu, vegans might find themselves with limited choices.

Popeyes Red Beans and Rice, a Louisiana-inspired dish, is a prominent feature on the menu. This dish combines dried red beans with a unique blend of flavors, including bacon or ham cock and pork fat. A medley of spices such as paprika, rosemary, chipotle, green peppers, and a touch of liquid smoke or hickory creates a distinct taste. It’s typically served over plain rice and generously topped with a gravy-like red bean sauce.

So, is Popeyes Red Beans And Rice vegan? No. This dish’s use of bacon and pork fat categorically disqualifies it as a vegan option. Any dish containing animal products or their derivatives is not considered vegan.

The Nutritional Aspect

Apart from its non-vegan status, it’s essential to consider the nutritional profile of Popeyes Red Beans and Rice. A regular serving (146 grams) contains 230 calories, while a large serving (438 grams) packs a significant 690 calories. Vegans may appreciate the dietary fiber content, with 5 grams in regular and 15 grams in large servings. However, it’s crucial to note that the large serving exceeds the recommended daily sodium intake, potentially posing health risks like high blood pressure and stroke.

Alternatives at Popeyes

Popeyes isn’t typically the go-to restaurant for vegans due to its reputation as a chicken-focused establishment. However, if you find yourself there, you can consider the following vegan-friendly options:

  • Corn on the Cob: Order corn on the cob without butter.
  • Grits: Opt for grits made with water.
  • Applesauce: Popeyes often offers applesauce, which is generally vegan.
  • Cajun Fries: While some sources suggest that Cajun fries are vegan-friendly, it’s advisable to inquire if they are fried separately from chicken to avoid cross-contamination.

It’s also worth noting that cross-contact with chicken is a possibility when ordering vegan options, as the restaurant’s operations often involve shared workspaces, utensils, and storage.

The Vegan Diet and Popeyes

Even for whole-food vegans who prioritize grains and legumes, Popeyes Red Beans and Rice remains off-limits due to its use of pork fat. Unfortunately, there’s no way to make this particular dish vegan within the confines of Popeyes. To adhere to vegan principles, it’s best to opt for dishes that are entirely free from animal ingredients or dairy products.

Substituting Ingredients for Red Beans And Rice

If you’re craving the flavors of Popeyes Red Beans and Rice without the non-vegan components, consider preparing it at home with vegan-friendly ingredients. Here are some substitutions:

1. Liquid Smoke Substitute for Ham or Bacon: Liquid Smoke is a water-soluble seasoning that replicates a smoky flavor. It’s commonly used in vegan and vegetarian cooking to mimic the taste of traditional smoking processes. Liquid Smoke is made by condensing wood smoke and adding additives like molasses, vinegar, salt, and caramel coloring.

2. Vegetable Shortening Substitute for Lard: Vegetable shortening is a solidified fat derived from plant-based oils such as coconut, soybean, or cocoa butter. It’s often combined with liquid fats like canola, grapeseed, sunflower, or safflower. When added to the red bean recipe, vegetable shortening provides a creamy and moist texture due to its fat composition.

DIY Red Beans And Rice

Creating a vegan version of Popeyes Red Beans and Rice at home is entirely feasible. Here are a couple of recipes to help you achieve that savory flavor:

Canned Red Beans And Rice

  1. Boil two cans of red beans for ten minutes and mix in ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke. Allow them to cool.
  2. Combine the boiled beans with ½ teaspoon of onion powder, ½ teaspoon of garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon of salt, and three tablespoons of vegetable shortening.
  3. Place these ingredients in a food processor and blend for four seconds to thicken the mixture.
  4. Add an extra can of red beans for three seconds, ensuring they remain whole.
  5. Return the mixture to the pot and cook on low heat, stirring until ready to serve.
  6. Cook 4 cups of long-grain rice.
  7. Place cooked rice in a bowl, filling it halfway, and top it with the red bean sauce.
  8. This recipe serves 10-12 bowls of vegan red beans and rice.

Traditional Louisiana Red Beans And Rice

  1. Soak 1 pound of dry red beans in a pot for eight hours or overnight. Alternatively, boil the beans for a minute and then soak them for an hour. Drain the water from the beans.
  2. Boil the beans in fresh water on high heat while preparing the ingredients.
  3. Finely chop four cloves of garlic, one large white onion, four celery ribs, and one large bell pepper. Add them to the bowl of beans.
  4. Add three bay leaves, two teaspoons of thyme, one teaspoon of oregano, ½ teaspoon of red pepper, ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper, and one teaspoon of canned adobo chipotle pepper to the pot of red beans.
  5. Once the beans start boiling, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for another 3 hours, adding water as needed until the beans are soft and tender. Then, add ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke, one teaspoon of Tabasco sauce, and one teaspoon of salt.
  6. Keep the heat on a steady simmer with occasional stirring until the beans disintegrate, and the sauce thickens.
  7. Serve the red beans on top of cooked rice.

Instant Pot Red Beans And Rice

  1. Place 1 pound of dry red beans soaked in water in the instant pot. Set the valve to the pressure setting and select pressure cooking with a time of 1 minute.
  2. Allow the pot to sit with the cover on until the pressure normalizes. This takes about 20 minutes. Then, open the valve to release the heat and pressure.
  3. Drain the beans and add 4 cups of water to the instant pot. Set it to sauté at medium temperature.
  4. In a food processor, combine four cloves of garlic, one large white onion, four ribs of celery, and one large bell pepper.
  5. Add three bay leaves, two teaspoons of thyme, one teaspoon of oregano, ½ teaspoon of red pepper, and ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper to the pot.
  6. Change the setting from sauté to pressure. Set on high pressure for 10 minutes and release the valve.
  7. After cooling, check if the beans are tender and boil them to reduce some of the liquid and thicken the mixture.
  8. Set the pot to sauté, occasionally stirring to scrape the bottom until it achieves a gravy-like consistency.
  9. Add ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke, one teaspoon of Tabasco sauce, and one teaspoon of salt.
  10. Serve on top of cooked long-grain rice.


In conclusion, Popeyes Red Beans and Rice is not vegan due to its use of bacon and pork fat. However, dining out as a vegan need not be a challenge if you can adapt to the menu and carefully research the ingredients.

If you’re craving the flavors of this dish, consider making it at home with vegan-friendly substitutions and enjoy a delicious, cruelty-free version. For more plant-based goodness and vegan options, visit Crooked Beverage Co..

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