Delicious Dirty Rice Recipe made with bold and flavorful ingredients including fluffy white rice, bacon, sausage, onions, celery, and Cajun seasoning. Bursting with flavor, enjoy this amazing Cajun rice recipe as a hearty side or effortless weeknight dinner.
What is Dirty Rice?
Commonly found in the Creole regions of southern Louisiana, dirty rice, also known simply as Cajun rice, is a traditional Louisiana Creole rice recipe. Original recipes were as simple as cooking leftover chicken guts, gizzard, heart, liver, and feet and mixing with cooked rice before seasoning with salt and pepper just before serving. It was inexpensive and filling, a lifeline for the poor of Louisiana.
Over the decades, and as families gained more wealth, additional ingredients were added including ground meat and various veggies depending on what was in season.
This version is most definitely a step above the original dirty rice recipe, but no less delicious or traditional.
Sometimes called “chicken and rice” or “rice dressing”, these versions are typically found in the American south and are made using ground beef or ground pork, rather than the more traditional chicken liver and giblets.
Ingredients in Dirty Rice
- Long-grain rice
- Water + Low-sodium chicken broth
- Chicken livers
- Olive oil (or vegetable oil)
- Ground pork
- Green bell pepper
- Cajun or Creole seasoning
- Black pepper
- Green onions
What type of rice should I use to make this recipe?
Any type of long-grain white rice will work really well. This includes standard long-grain white rice, basmati rice (this is what I used), or jasmine rice.
Can I use brown rice?
Absolutely. It’s easy to make this recipe using brown rice. Simply swap your white rice for brown, keeping in mind that brown rice will take longer to cook and require (for two cups of dry rice) an additional half-cup of cooking liquid. You may also want to consider cooking your brown rice in the Instant Pot.
Can I use cauliflower rice?
Yes. Cauliflower rice will also work, although I have not personally tried the cauliflower version of dirty rice. I expect it would be especially delicious with andouille sausage and extra onions for more flavor.
Do I have to add chicken livers?
No way! If the thought of chicken livers creeps you out or you can’t find any at your local grocery store, simply substitute with something you know you and your family love.
Is dirty rice spicy?
Yes, this dirty rice recipe is spicy. However, it’s easy to modify to make it milder. First, get rid of the jalapeño. Second, cut the total amount of Cajun seasoning in half. Some Cajun seasoning blends are quite spicy white others are less-so.
What is the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun Cooking?
The “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking, or “holy trinity”, is the backbone of Cajun and Creole cooking. A variation of the French mirepoix or Italian soffritto, the Cajun “holy trinity” is a mixture of finely diced onion, celery, and green or red bell pepper.
What is mirepoix? To understand the importance of “the holy trinity” we must understand what exactly the mirepoix is.
Mirepoix is a mix of aromatics, made from finely diced vegetables (the mix of vegetables will often vary by country and cuisine) which are cooked low and slow as to sweeten the ingredients rather than caramelize them. This slow-cooking method forms a crucial first layer of flavor important to many recipes including, easy red beans and rice and seafood gumbo.
The “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking is made with equal parts onion, celery, and green pepper, or a 1:1:1 ratio.
How to Make Dirty Rice
You will need two pots to make this recipe. One to cook the rice and the other to brown the meat, veggies, and eventually add the cooked rice. Make sure your second pot or Dutch oven is large enough to hold approximately 6 cups of cooked rice plus 5-6 cups of cooked meat and veggies. Let’s get started:
1. Wash and cook your rice. Wash your rice (this is very important) in several changes of clean water, straining between each change using a fine-mesh strainer, until the water runs clear (or nearly clear). Drain thoroughly. Next, cook your rice. You can cook your rice on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot. Keep in mind that cooking rice in the Instant Pot will require a different water to rice ratio when compared to cooking it on the stovetop. If you want to cook rice in the Instant Pot, check out the post below,
2. Prep remain ingredients. As the rice is cooking, chop and prepare the vegetables and slice or chop the chicken livers into small, bite-size pieces.
3. Cook the bacon. In your large pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until cooked and crispy. If the bacon starts to burn, reduce heat to medium.
4. Brown the pork. Break apart your ground pork into smaller 1-2 teaspoon-sized clumps. Add directly to the pot, cooking in the rendered bacon grease. Allow the pork to brown for 2-3 minutes before stirring, then mix to combine with the bacon.
- Remember, browning is good, burning is bad. After all, dirty rice gets its name from all the delicious brown and golden meat bits which help make the rice look dirty.
5. Add those chicken livers. Yep, mix those in there and cook them up for a minute or two with the other meaty goodness.
6. Add your “holy trinity” also known as onions, celery, and green peppers. Mix everything together and sauté over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Toss in the garlic, mix to combine, and cook for an additional minute.
7. Deglaze the pan and season. Increase heat to medium-high and add one cup of chicken broth or chicken stock. Scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of your pan and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer until the chicken broth has reduced by half.
8. Get your rice dirty. Now take your beautiful, fluffy, perfectly cooked white rice and gently toss to combine with the meat and veggies. Season and garnish with chopped parsley, scallions, or hot sauce, if desired.
Dirty Rice: Serving, Reheating, Freezing
Dirty rice is a perfectly delicious meal to enjoy all on its own for a simple dinner or leftover lunch. Pair it with some fresh vegetables, a light salad, or buttery cornbread for a still delicious, and perfectly simple, anytime dinner. Served as a smaller side, I love to pair this recipe with,
To store leftovers, allow your rice to cool completely before transferring to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to 3-5 days.
To reheat, simply transfer the desired amount of rice to a microwave-safe dish covered with a damp paper towel. Microwave until heated through.
To freeze leftover dirty rice, allow your rice to cool completely. Transfer desired serving amounts (I usually do 2-3 cup portions) to medium-sized freezer bags. Label with the date and contents and freeze for up to 4 months.
To reheat, thaw your rice in the refrigerator overnight, or cook from frozen. Transfer frozen rice to a microwave-safe bowl or container and cover with a damp paper towel. Cook until warmed through, stirring every 1 minute, adding 1-2 teaspoons of water, as needed, if rice feels dry.
More Rice Recipes,
If you try this Cajun Dirty Rice Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Dirty Rice Recipe
- 2 cups long-grain rice ((see notes))
- 1.5 cups water
- 2.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (divided)
- 1/2 cup chicken livers (finely chopped)
- 6 slices bacon (chopped)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 2 ribs celery (diced)
- 1 green bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 1 jalapeno (seeded and diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- chopped green onions (to garnish)
Cook the rice
- Wash your rice (this is very important) in several changes of clean water, straining between each change using a fine-mesh strainer, until the water runs clear (or nearly clear). Drain thoroughly.
- Transfer the chicken broth and 1.5 cups of water to a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, add your wash and drained rice and mix. Return the rice and broth to a boil then immediately cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 18-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the rice to steam (with the lid left on) for 10 minutes.
- Uncover and fluff with a fork before transferring rice to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside.
- As the rice is cooking, chop the vegetables and slice the chicken livers into small pieces (see notes). Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large pan or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crispy and the fat rendered.
- Increase heat to high. Add the ground pork, breaking up into small pieces. Allow the pork to brown before stirring, then mix to combine with the bacon.
- Add the chicken livers, mixing well to combine. Cook everything, all together for 1-2 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent burning.
- Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Mix well to combine and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until onions start to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously.
- Add 1 cup of chicken broth. Mix thoroughly, and scrape up any brown bits that stuck to the bottom of the pan during cooking. Season with Cajun seasoning and freshly ground black pepper.
- Boil away half of the broth. Add the rice, and gently toss to combine. Remove from heat.
- Serve garnished with chopped green onions and hot sauce, if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)