Dirty Rice is a classic Cajun dish made in just one pot! Loaded with ground beef, rice, green peppers, celery, and onions and packed with Cajun spice. Not only is it easy to make but also easy to customize with different variations.
Rich with flavor and easy to make, this Dirty Rice recipe is sure to become a quick favorite. The base for the flavor comes from the “holy trinity” of cajun cuisine – green bell peppers, celery, and onions.
One Pot – The beef and veggies all get cooked in the same pot with the rice for easy clean up.
Variations – Dirty Rice can be made so many different ways by swapping in different proteins and even adjusting the spice level.
Filling – Thanks to the ground beef, this recipe is super filling as both a side or even a main dish.
Ingredients for Dirty Rice
Ground Beef – I prefer to use lean ground beef, at least 85-90% lean.
The Cajun “Holy Trinity” –Onion (I like to use sweet yellow onion), green bell pepper (classic, but you can use another color), and celery.
Spices – Kosher salt, black pepper, cajun seasoning blend.
White Rice – use uncooked, regular long grain rice.
Beef Broth – I prefer low sodium.
Green Onions – also called scallions and are great as a garnish.
How To Make It
Get a detailed list of ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below.
Cook beef and vegetables – Cook the ground beef in a large dutch oven over medium high heat, crumbling as you go. Remove the beef from the pot and add the onion, bell pepper, and celery to the same pot (no need to wipe clean) and saute until until tender. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute more then add the spices and toss to combine.
Add remaining ingredients – Add the ground beef back to the pot along with the rice and broth. Stir to combine everything.
Simmer – Bring everything to a simmer then cover with a tight fitting lid, lower the temp and cook for 20 minutes.
Sit, fluff, and serve – Give everything a quick stir, replace the lid and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice up with a fork and serve topped with the green onions.
Why is it called ‘dirty’ rice?
This Cajun rice dish gets its name from the “dirty” color the cooked meat and spices give to the dish.
What is the difference between jambalaya and dirty rice?
While they have similarities as they both are rice-based and popular dishes in Louisiana they are quite different. Jambalaya often has tomatoes and is a traditional Creole dish while its “dirty” counterpart is a part of Cajun cuisine.
How To Serve
Serve as a side dish or even main dish thanks to the protein. If you want to add a side dish, try pairing it with red beans for a classic red beans and rice meal. For a larger meal, you can also serve another protein such as these air fryer shrimp or fried chicken thighs.
Extra spice? If you like an extra kick, you can add more red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or extra Cajun seasoning. The spice level is super customizable!
Broth – Instead of beef broth, you can use another broth such as chicken broth. In a pinch, you can also use water but you’ll want to add extra spices to make up for the lost flavor.
Rice – Instead of white rice, you can use another uncooked rice such as brown rice. Be aware that the cook time may vary and need to be adjusted.
Protein – Instead of ground beef, you can also swap in another ground meat like ground turkey or ground pork. Ground sausage or sliced andouille sausage are also great in this recipe. The traditional version of this dish is actually made with chicken livers, so if you want to get real authentic, you could use that.
Storing and Reheating
Storage – Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
Freezing – For best results use a freezer-friendly container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Reheating – The rice can be reheated in a pot on the stove. Add a splash of water or broth, if needed, to remoisten the rice.
Break up the ground meat with a wooden spoon while it’s cooking, or you’ll end up with large chunks of meat in the finished dish.
Rinse the rice before adding it to the pan to remove most of the starch. This will give you nice, fluffy rice instead of sticky rice.
In a large dutch oven, cook the ground beef until fully cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Without cleaning the pan, add the onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook until tender (about 3 minutes).
Add the garlic and cook for one additional minute.
Add the cajun seasoning, salt and black pepper and toss to combine.
Return the ground beef to the pan along with the rice and beef broth. Give a quick stir until well incorporated.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, then place a tight fitting lid on the pan. Lower the temperature to medium low and cook for 20 minutes.
When the timer goes off, give the mixture a brief stir then return the lid and allow to sit covered for 10 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork.
Top with green onions and serve.
This recipe will serve 4-6 people, depending on serving size. Nutritional information is approximate and based on 4 large entree servings. As a side dish, you will get 6-8 servings. Storage – Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.Freezing – For best results use a freezer friendly container and freeze for up to 3 months.Reheating – The rice can be reheated in a pot on the stove. Add a splash of water or broth, if needed, to remoisten the rice.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.