Dirty Rice

published May 17, 2024
Dirty Rice Recipe

The classic Cajun dish that goes well with just about anything.

Serves8 to 10

Makes8 cups

Prep10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook40 minutes to 45 minutes

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Overhead photo of a Dutch oven full of dirty rice garnished with cilantro with a bottle of hot sauce in the corner.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Louisiana dirty rice is a classic Cajun dish that is sure to satisfy any craving for bold and flavorful comfort food. This dish gets its name from the small pieces of chicken liver and ground meat that give the rice a “dirty” appearance. But don’t let the name fool you — this rice is anything but unappetizing! 

Here, pairing a combination of meats; your favorite Cajun spice blend; and the savory Southern holy trinity of onions, celery, and bell pepper creates a complex and delicious flavor that’s hard to resist. Whether you’re looking for a hearty side to feed a crowd or just want to try your hand at a classic Southern recipe, Louisiana dirty rice is a must-try!

Why You’ll Love It

  • This dirty rice is really tasty! According to our cross-tester, the flavor of the chicken livers comes through but definitely isn’t too strong.
  • The rice itself is perfectly fluffy. It’s soft, well-cooked, and holds its shape. 
  • Although optional, mixing in the celery seeds and hot sauce gives this dish a boost of flavor. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Key Ingredients in Dirty Rice

  • Onions, celery, and bell pepper: The Southern holy trinity that gives this dish complex flavor. 
  • Meat: The addition of ground beef, ground pork, and chicken livers are what gives it a “dirty” appearance. 
  • White rice: You’ll want to use a long-grain variety here.
  • Hot sauce (optional): I like to finish it off with a dash of hot sauce, such as Crystal or Texas Pete. 
  • Celery seeds (optional): The addition of celery seed gives the dish a nice, unexpected boost of herby flavor; however, adding it is completely up to you.

How to Make Dirty Rice

  1. Brown the meat. Cook ground beef and pork in a Dutch oven, then transfer to a bowl. Add chicken livers and sauté until cooked through, then transfer to a cutting board. 
  2. Cook the rice. Soften diced celery, onion, and red bell pepper in melted butter. Return the meats back to the pot, and add white rice, Cajun seasoning, hot sauce if desired, thyme, celery seeds (optional), kosher salt, and black pepper. Add broth and bay leaf, bring to a boil, then simmer until rice is tender. 
  3. Finish the dirty rice. Let rice sit covered to allow it to steam, fluff with a fork, and garnish with parsley. 

Helpful Swaps

If you aren’t keen on using organs in this recipe, substituting chicken livers with additional ground beef or pork will work just fine. 

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips  

I like to make a large batch of dirty rice, let it cool, and then freeze it into individual servings for up to 3 months. It can be reheated in the microwave or as a quick sauté with some oil on the stovetop. 

What to Serve with Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice Recipe

The classic Cajun dish that goes well with just about anything.

Prep time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes to 45 minutes

Makes 8 cups

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 1

    medium celery stalk

  • 1

    small red bell pepper

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 8 ounces

    ground pork

  • 8 ounces

    chicken livers, trimmed if desired

  • 2 tablespoons

    neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 cups

    long-grain white rice

  • 2 tablespoons

    Cajun or Old Bay seasoning

  • Up to 2 tablespoons

    hot sauce, such as Crystal Louisiana, plus more for serving (optional)

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried thyme, or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    celery seeds (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 cups

    low-sodium beef or vegetable broth

  • 1

    dried bay leaf

  • 1/4 medium bunch

    fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups), 1 medium celery stalk (about 1/2 cup), and 1 small red bell pepper (about 1/2 cup); finely chop 3 garlic cloves.

  2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 pound lean ground beef and 8 ounces ground pork. Cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through and browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

  3. Add 8 ounces chicken livers to the pot and sauté until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons neutral oil and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter to the pot. When the butter is melted, add the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop chicken livers when they are cool enough to handle.

  5. Return the ground meats and chicken livers to the pot. Add 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, 2 tablespoons Cajun or Old Bay seasoning, up to 2 tablespoons hot sauce of desired, 2 teaspoons dried thyme or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds if desired, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir until evenly combined.

  6. Increase the heat to high. Add 3 cups low-sodium beef or vegetable broth and 1 dried bay leaf, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

  7. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes for the rice to steam. Meanwhile, pick the leaves from 1/4 medium bunch fresh parsley and coarsely chop until you have about 2 tablespoons.

  8. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Fluff the rice with a fork. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Garnish with the parsley and serve with more hot sauce if desired.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: The chicken livers can be omitted or substituted with 8 more ounces ground pork. Brown all the ground meat together.

The dirty rice can also be made with all lean ground beef. Use 1 1/2 pounds and omit the ground pork and chicken livers.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.