A Spicy Perspective

Zesty Cajun Dirty Rice

How to Make Dirty Rice – This classic Cajun recipe features ground beef, veggies, and lots of vibrant spices. It’s a one-pot dish that is deliciously zesty, comforting, and great to serve as a main or side dish!

Top down view of Cajun dirty rice in a large pot.

What is Dirty Rice?

Cajun fried rice, also known as Dirty Rice, is a one-pot rice dish cooked with ingredients that give it a “dirty” color… The combination of ground beef, diced onions and bell peppers, and creole seasonings makes the rice appear brown with little flecks of spice.

If you’re wondering – what’s the difference between dirty rice and jambalaya? – the answer lies in a few different key ingredients. Dirty rice is made with ground meat and peppers. However, jambalaya includes diced tomatoes and typically is made with sausage and seafood (like shrimp or crawfish).

Both are equally hearty and delicious in their own unique ways!

A serving of Cajun rice on a plate.

Easy Dirty Rice Recipe

A traditional Cajun dirty rice recipe generally uses meat scraps to make the most of resources and to provide flavor. Therefore, most contain liver and chopped meat. We’ve opted to go with ground beef for a more user-friendly version with lots of Cajun “holy trinity” veggies (onion, celery, and bell pepper) and full-bodied spice.

This fabulously flavorful Cajun rice dish can be served as a one-pot stand-alone main dish, as a side dish, or with other southern-inspired sides!

Plate of fried dirty rice with a hand taking a forkful.

Ingredients You Need

  • Butter – or bacon grease
  • Trinity – chopped onion, celery, and bell pepper
  • Garlic Cloves– minced
  • Ground beef – see other options below
  • Cajun seasoning – store-bought or homemade
  • Dried thyme
  • Long grain rice
  • Beef broth – or veggie broth
  • Parsley – chopped
Chopped bell pepper, celery, onion and parsley on a cutting board.

How to Make Dirty Rice

First, set a large 6-quart sauce pot/large dutch oven over medium heat/Medium high heat. Add the butter, chopped onions, celery, bell peppers, and minced garlic to the pot. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes, until the onions are soft.

Large cooking pot with chopped "trinity."

Stir in the ground beef, Cajun seasoning, and thyme.

Pro Tip: If you are sensitive to spice, use only 3 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning. If you like to spice things up, use 4-5 teaspoons!

Use a wooden spoon to break the ground beef into small pieces as it cooks. Brown the meat for another 5 minutes.

Get the Complete (Printable) Cajun Rice Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Ground beef and veggies cooked together in a large white pot.

Once the meat has cooked through and is broken into very small pieces, stir in the rice. Mix well to coat all the grains of rice in beef juices. Then pour the beef broth over the top.

Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Once boiling, stir well, then cover the pot again. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Then remove the pot from the heat and leave it to steam, covered, for another 5 minutes.

Cajun fried dirty rice in the pot after steaming, ready to be fluffed.

Fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the parsley. Taste, then add additional Cajun seasoning (or salt) if needed.

Top down view pot of creole rice sprinkled with fresh parsley.

What Goes with Cajun Dirty Rice?

Our zesty, beefy, veggie-riffic dirty rice recipe is delicious and satisfying as a one-pot main dish. Serve with thick wedges of cornbread, and any of your favorite southern sides. We love classics like coleslawhushpuppiescollard greens, and fried green tomatoes.

It’s also great to enjoy as a side dish! Pair the rice with low country boil (or broil) or grilled ham steaks for a super hearty meal that is sure to please.

Two plates of rice with veggies, with pot in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions

What meat is best to make Cajun dirty rice?

We like to use classic lean ground beef, but you can also try it with ground chicken (thigh is best) or pork sausage.

How do you make a vegetarian and vegan dirty rice recipe?

Swap the ground beef for your favorite plant-based ground meat alternative. Alternatively, you can use two cans of drained and rinsed kidney beans to make this recipe. Then use vegetable broth instead of beef broth, and oil instead of butter.

How long do leftovers last?

This Cajun fried rice recipe is wonderful to make ahead. All of the bold, spicy flavors get more intense as the ingredients sit together! Let the rice cool and transfer to an airtight container, and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. Reheat on the stovetop with a splash of water added. Or microwave and stir in short bursts until heated throughout.

Can You Freeze Dirty Rice?

You can store this recipe in the freezer for up to 3 months, only once though. Make sure to allow the rice to cool to room temperature before storing it in the freezer.

Top down view two plates of Cajun dirty rice, with full pot of cooked rice to the side.

Looking For More One Pot Meals? Be Sure To Also Try These Easy Recipes:

Check the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information including calories, cholesterol, sodium, fiber, and vitamin c percentages.

Print Recipe
5 from 7 votes
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Zesty Cajun Dirty Rice Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
This classic Cajun dirty rice recipe features ground beef, veggies, and lots of vibrant spices. It's a one-pot dish that's deliciously bold, comforting, and great to serve as a main or side!
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter or bacon grease
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper any color
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3-5 teaspoons Cajun seasoning with salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cup long grain rice
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

Instructions

  • Set a large 6 quart saucepot over medium heat. Add the butter, chopped onions, celery, bell peppers, and minced garlic to the pot. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes, until the onions are soft.
  • Stir in the ground beef, Cajun seasoning, and thyme. Use a wooden spoon to break the ground beef into small pieces as it cooks. Brown the meat for another 5 minutes. *If you are sensitive to spice, use only 3 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning. If you like to spice things up use 4-5 teaspoons!
  • Once the meat has cooked through and is broken into very small pieces, stir in the rice. Mix well to coat all the grains of rice in beef juices. Then pour the beef broth over the top.
  • Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Once boiling, stir well, then cover the pot again. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Then remove the pot from the heat and leave it to steam another 5 minutes.
  • Fluff the rice and stir in the parsley. Taste, then add additional Cajun seasoning (or salt) if needed.

Video

Notes

We like to use classic lean ground beef, but you can also try it with ground chicken, pork sausage, or vegan “ground beef”.
This Cajun fried rice recipe is wonderful to make ahead. All of the bold, spicy flavors get more intense as the ingredients sit together! Let the rice cool and transfer to an airtight container, and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. Reheat on the stovetop with a splash of water added. Or microwave and stir in short bursts until heated throughout.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 299kcal, Carbohydrates: 41g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 43mg, Sodium: 522mg, Potassium: 449mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 1260IU, Vitamin C: 29mg, Calcium: 46mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: Main, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Cajun, Southern
Author: Sommer Collier

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9 comments on “Zesty Cajun Dirty Rice”

  1. nice dish, I’ve never used ground beef or had it in a dirty rice recipe but it works really well, so thank you!

  2. So simple and delicious, we added a frilly fried egg which really topped it off. Also added a fresh chilli for bit of extra spice and tempted to try it with some soured cream next time. Yum.

  3. Such a good cajun dirty rice recipe! The perfect amount of spice and super flavorful.

  4. I could eat this paired with so many things or add some chicken & you have a delicious, hearty meal!! Love the flavors!!

  5. My MIL made this for us when we first got married. I’m glad I now have the recipe. So good!

  6. I love making this rice alongside some chicken and veggies! adds some flavor and overall goodness to any meal

  7. This was a really huge hit at my house! So tasty! A new family favorite!

  8. I love this recipe so much! Such an easy and delicious way to enjoy rice! 

  9. this recipe is amazing and the flavor is incredible! thank you for sharing this recipe