How to Make Cajun White Beans with Shrimp

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White Beans and Rice is a staple comfort food in South Louisiana. It doesn’t get the press that it’s city cousin, Red Beans and Rice, gets but ask any Native of South Louisiana and they’ll tell you how wonderful a plate of white beans can be. Usually simmered with sausage or ham, the mild beans soak up the flavor from the seasonings with which they are cooked. This recipe adds a twist…white beans slowly simmered in a savory stock with seasoned shrimp and a special flavor enhancer. I can just imagine some Cajun shrimpers out on the trawl with a big pot of white beans in the galley and a bunch of fresh shrimp they just hauled in-why not peel some and throw them in the bean pot?? Delicious! Give Sweet Daddy D’s flavorful, no-angst recipe for Cajun White Beans with Shrimp a try…now that’s some simple Cajun comfort food!

White Beans with Shrimp-Cajun Comfort Food!

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Here’s What You Need

Nice smoked bacon starts building the deep flavor right away.  For the beans, start off with dry White Beans-usually Great Northern but Navy Beans are also good for this recipe-both are small and creamy when cooked a few hours. Check out the Hints and Tips about preparing dry beans for cooking and which beans to use. Like most South Louisiana dishes, the Holy Trinity is at the foundation-that’s yellow onions, bell peppers and celery. Don’t forget some garlic! The secret ingredient in this recipe for White Beans with Shrimp is Zatarain’s Liquid Shrimp and Crab Boil, an institution in boiled seafood in Louisiana. This is a very potent ingredient that adds a unique flavor easily recognized in the region. The Herb and Spice Blend consists of Creole seasoning, basil, thyme, ground black pepper and bay leaves. You’ll need some kosher salt, but check out the HInts and Tips before adding the salt. This will all simmer in homemade shrimp stock (see how to make homemade shrimp stock here). If you aren’t able to pull that off, use some commercial chicken stock or seafood stock. After everything simmers 2 or 3 hours, the star of the show is added-fresh or frozen gulf shrimp. Frozen shrimp are readily available and offer great quality.  

Here’s where you can get some great Camellia Beans and some Crab Boil:

Here’s What You Do

First…you have a beer. Always start out with mise en place, preparation is the key to a no-angst experience. Get your head around what you are about to undertake, have a beer and read the recipe all the way through. This will give you an understanding of what you’ll be doing each step of the way before you even gather and prepare your ingredients. Make sure the beans are ready to go by soaking them, which isn’t as challenging as you think. There are three methods recommended by Camellia Beans and you can read about those in the Hints and Tips section below, I usually use the simple 1-hour method and it has worked fine for me.

Prepare the shrimp

Peel, clean and rinse the shrimp, then pat them dry with a paper towel. Place them in a bowl with a generous sprinkle of creole seasoning and set them aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. If you are using the shells and heads to make a homemade shrimp stock (highly recommended), you can peel the shrimp the day before and place them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.

Prepare the shrimp, soak the beans and measure the stock

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Prepare the remaining ingredients

Slice the bacon into about 1-inch pieces. Chop the Trinity and place it all in a bowl together. Chop the garlic and place in a separate ramekin; measure out the liquid crab boil into a ramekin and mix up the Herb and Spice Blend into a separate ramekin.  Measure out the stock. You’re ready to go…cue a swig of beer. 

The holy Trinity with green onions, herb and spice blend, bacon and Zatarain’s Crab Boil.
Fry bacon and the vegetables

Starting in a cold dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until most of the fat is rendered.

pieces of bacon starting in a cold dutch oven
Fry the bacon

Leaving the bacon in the dutch oven, turn down the heat and add the onions, bell peppers and celery and saute slowly until starting to brown and caramelize, which will take about 6 minutes.

onions, bell peppers and celery frying with the bacon
Saute the trinity in the bacon fat

Turn up the heat and add the garlic and about ⅔ of the Herb and Spice Blend (not the salt yet), reserving the rest for later. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes until aromatic.

hrebs abd spices and garlic added to frying holy trinity in a dutch oven
Add the garlic with the herb and spice blend
Now for the beans

Add the beans to the Dutch oven and stir well so all the beans are coated with the bacon grease, trinity and spices. Continue to saute for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add a little stock to deglaze the Dutch oven, making sure to scrape up any browned goodness on the bottom.

white beans added to the trinity and spices
Mix the beans into the bacon fat and veggies

Then add the remaining stock and the liquid crab boil.

Stir to combine while bringing it to a full boil. Reduce the heat to a heavy simmer and continue uncovered for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to come together.

white beans at a full simmer
Bring it to a heavy simmer before lowering the heat and covering the pot

Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally so it does not stick.

Adding the shrimp

After 2 hours, start testing the beans to see if they are softening. Once the beans are soft, taste them for seasoning. Add the remaining Herb and Spice Blend and the salt. Start with about 2 teaspoons of salt and add more if desired. The shrimp will absorb some salt so it’s OK to be a little salty at this point. When the beans are soft enough, keep them at a heavy simmer and add the shrimp by hand, a few at a time, mixing thoroughly as you go. Once all the shrimp have been added, lower the heat to a slow simmer, cover the pot and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

shrimp added to the simmering white beans
Add in the remaining herbs and spices and the shrimp

Remove from heat and let the dutch oven sit covered for about 5 minutes. Taste again for salt and add more if desired. Remove the bay leaves and serve over long grain rice.

dutch oven with cajun white beans and shrimp
A nice pot of Cajun White Beans with Shrimp

That’s it, all there is to it.

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Hints and Tips

  • The beans will soften quicker if they are soaked prior to cooking.  According to Camellia Beans website, there are three easy ways to do this-read what they have to say.  I usually use the one-hour quick method.  Check out my article about beans-it covers soaking and more stuff than you probably want to know!
  • Zatarain’s Liquid Shrimp and Crab Boil is a popular liquid seasoning used in boiled seafood in Louisiana. It is concentrated and very potent, so resist the urge to use more than called for until you taste the beans. I have ruined dished before by using too much Liquid Crab Boil. It’s a unique flavor and cannot be easily duplicated.  You can buy some here. Substitute some cayenne pepper to taste if you can’t get the Crab Boil. You’ll miss the distinct flavor but you’ll get the heat and it will still be delicious.
  • “White Beans” is a pretty generic term. There are a few varieties and you can read more about that in this article from Camellia Beans. This recipe was developed using Great Northern Beans, but it can be made with Navy Beans with no change in flavor or even Red Kidney Beans with a very slight change in texture and flavor.
  • If you buy fresh shrimp with the heads on, make sure to buy more than the recipe calls for, like a 1/4 to 1/2 pound more, so that when they are peeled, you’ll end up with the right amount.
  • This recipe is best if you can use some homemade shrimp stock. I realize not everyone has some in the freezer, so if you want to make some from the shrimp heads and shells, read this. If not, this recipe is still very good with some commercial chicken stock or seafood stock. Just click those links and buy some.
  • I recommend not salting your beans until the end. There are a couple of reasons for this and you should check out my article on beans so that you can learn more about it.

Here are some other Cajun comfort food recipes from Sweet Daddy D that you’re going to love:

You’ll want some great Camellia Beans and some Crab Boil:

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Yeah You Right!

 

white beans with shrimp in a bowl with rice and parsley garnish
White Beans with Shrimp
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
This is Cajun comfort food at it's best! Creamy, mellow flavored White Beans simmered in a rich stock with Cajun/Creole seasonings and succulent, tasty Gulf Shrimp. Serve over cooked rice with some crispy french bread and a green salad and you have a seriously comforting treat from the Bayou.
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
3 1/2 Hours 306
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
3 1/2 Hours 306
white beans with shrimp in a bowl with rice and parsley garnish
White Beans with Shrimp
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
This is Cajun comfort food at it's best! Creamy, mellow flavored White Beans simmered in a rich stock with Cajun/Creole seasonings and succulent, tasty Gulf Shrimp. Serve over cooked rice with some crispy french bread and a green salad and you have a seriously comforting treat from the Bayou.
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
3 1/2 Hours 306
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
3 1/2 Hours 306
This is What You Need
Herb and Spice Blend
This is What You Do
  1. Soak the beans. See Notes
  2. Peel, clean and rinse shrimp. Pat dry with a paper towel and combine with some creole seasoning and set aside. Chop and measure all other ingredients and set aside until needed.
  3. Starting in a cold dutch oven, saute the bacon until most of the fat is rendered.
  4. Leaving bacon in the dutch oven, turn down the heat and add the onions, bell peppers and celery. Saute slowly until starting to brown and caramelize, about 6 minutes.
  5. Turn up the heat and add the garlic and about ⅔ of the Herb and Seasoning Blend. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes until aromatic.
  6. Add the beans (after draining) and stir well to coat all the beans with the bacon grease, trinity and spices. Saute about 4 or 5 minutes.
  7. Add a little stock to deglaze the dutch oven (if needed), scraping up all the browned goodness on the bottom.
  8. Add the remaining stock and the liquid crab boil (see Notes); bring to a full boil, reduce heat to a heavy simmer and continue uncovered for about 5 minutes while all the flavors begin to come together.
  9. Lower heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook for about 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally so it does not stick.
  10. At about the 2-hour mark, start testing the beans to see if they are getting tender. Remove the cover intermittently if the beans need to thicken once they are soft.
  11. Once the beans are soft, taste for seasoning. Add the remaining Herb and Spice Blend and about 2 teaspoons of salt. The shrimp will absorb some salt so it's OK to be a little salty at this point.
  12. Add the shrimp by hand, a few at a time, and mix in thoroughly.
  13. Keeping the beans on a slow simmer, cover the pot and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  14. Remove from heat and let sit covered for about 5 minutes. Taste again for salt and add more if desired.
  15. Remove the bay leaves and serve over long grain rice.
Recipe Notes

The beans will soften quicker if they are soaked prior to cooking.  According to Camellia Beans, there are three easy ways to do this. I usually use the one-hour quick method. Read about them here.

Liquid Crab Boil is a liquid seasoning Zatarain's and used in boiling seafood in Louisiana. It is concentrated and very potent, so resist the urge to use more than called for until you taste the beans. I have ruined dished before by using a little too much Liquid Crab Boil. It's a unique flavor and cannot be easily duplicated. You can buy some here. Substitute some cayenne pepper to taste if you can't get the Crab Boil, you'll miss the distinct flavor but you'll get the heat.

This recipe was developed using Great Northern Beans, but it can be made with Navy Beans with no change in flavor or even Red Kidney Beans with a very slight change in texture and flavor.

This recipe is best if you can use some homemade shrimp stock. I realize not everyone has some in the freezer, so if you want to make some from the shrimp heads and shells, read this. If not, this recipe is still very good with some commercial chicken stock or seafood stock.  Just click those links and buy some.

I recommend not salting your beans until the end. There are a couple of reasons for this and you should check out my article on beans so that you can learn more about it.

 

Nutrition Facts
White Beans with Shrimp
Amount Per Serving
Calories 306 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 20%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 90mg 30%
Sodium 834mg 35%
Potassium 643mg 18%
Total Carbohydrates 24g 8%
Dietary Fiber 6g 24%
Sugars 3g
Protein 20g 40%
Vitamin A 9%
Vitamin C 16%
Calcium 8%
Iron 22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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