Dirty rice is a classic New Orleans dish with bold flavor. This Cajun rice recipe is simple to make and perfect for a Mardis Gras dinner!
One benefit of making your favorite foods at home is the ability to adjust the recipe ingredients according to your preferences.
This is especially true for recipes that call for uncommon or difficult to find ingredients. For example, my other recipe website, Silk Road Recipes, features cuisines from India. Indian cuisine often calls for fresh whole spices like cardamom pods, so they are available at any local market.
The same can be said about Cajun and Creole cooking. Southern cooks have easier access to locally sourced and grown ingredients like fresh crayfish, catfish, and okra.
Fortunately, crayfish and catfish are sold frozen in other parts of the country. Other than lacking a little in ultra fresh flavor, the frozen varieties are perfectly fine. No worries!
If you don’t live in the south central portion of the U.S., the only ingredient in this dirty rice recipe that may take a little extra time to source are fresh chicken livers.
Actually, chicken gizzards are another of the authentic ingredients in dirty rice. I couldn’t find chicken gizzards individually packaged in the Pacific Northwest, so I omitted them from the recipe.
Other than that, the remaining ingredients in this Cajun rice recipe are very easy to come by.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Ground beef– If possible, use an 85/15 blend. Otherwise, stick with something that has no more than 20 percent fat. Otherwise, the dirty rice is likely to be very greasy.
You are welcome to use any other ground meat that you prefer. Just keep in mind that the signature brown color of dirty rice comes from the brown bits of beef.
- Bacon fat– This ingredient adds incredible flavor! Sure, it’s not the healthiest choice, but southern style recipes call for it regularly. It’s worth the splurge in this dirty rice recipe as well as specialties like Bacon Fat Gingersnap Cookies and Warm Bacon and Cabbage Salad
A batch of bacon fat will remain fresh in the fridge for at least a couple of months. If you plan to use it often, you can cook an entire sheet pan full of bacon in the oven, then strain the bacon fat into a heat-safe jar. (I use a canning jar).
- Chicken livers– Just like its beef counterpart, chicken livers are a great source of iron and selenium. Some doctors and nutritionists even say that chicken liver is a superfood!
But, if you can’t stomach the thought of chopped pieces of liver in your dirty rice, go ahead and substitute small diced pieces of cooked chicken thigh meat instead.
- Cajun seasoning– To save some money and get the best flavor from your spice blend, I recommend making your own creole seasoning. In addition to this recipe, you can use the seasoning for dishes like Cajun shrimp and rice and Cajun hot crab dip.
- Rice– Any long grain white rice will work perfectly. I like to use basmati. If you prefer brown rice, you can substitute it for the white. However, it requires a different rice to liquid ratio. For the best results, follow the directions on the package of rice.
Video: Making dirty rice
Making this Cajun rice recipe is extremely easy. It’s as simple as sauteing celery and onion with chicken livers in a bit of bacon fat. Then, add the uncooked rice, seasoning blend, and chicken stock and let it simmer until the rice is fluffy!
To watch the entire cooking process, be sure to check out the video in the recipe card below!
Dirty rice is delicious as a side dish with fried catfish or meats like pork chops or grilled chicken. Honestly though, with the beef in it, this rice is definitely hearty enough to be a main dish.
If you have any leftovers, allow them to cool down, then transfer them to an airtight container. Store them in the refrigerator and use or freeze within 5 days.
If frozen, dirty rice will keep well for a couple of months. Just be sure to thaw it in the refrigerator before reheating.
Dirty Rice (Cajun Rice Recipe) + Video
- 1 tbsp bacon fat (or olive oil)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 8 oz chicken livers minced
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1 cup celery diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Tabasco
- 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 ½ cups basmati white rice (uncooked)
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- green onion thinly sliced for garnish
- Heat bacon fat or olive oil over medium high heat in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan. Add ground beef and chicken livers. Cook until no pink remains.
- Add onion, green bell pepper, celery, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and Cajun seasoning. Stir until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rice, chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.
- Remove bay leaves, discard and let rice rest 10 minutes. Fluff rice or transfer to platter. Garnish with green onions (optional) and serve.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.