Dirty Rice is a delicious, savory, classic Cajun dish that gets its flavor from ground meat, cajun seasonings, and aromatic vegetables. There’s nothing quite like authentic Cajun dirty rice, and I’m showing you how to make it.
Popeye’s made the best dirty rice, but they’ve taken it off the menu! No worries, here’s a delicious copycat of Popeye’s cajun rice that you can make at home. It’s simple to make this Louisiana staple on the stovetop, and it’s ready in just 30 minutes.
If you like Cajun food, you are going to love our Instant Pot Cajun Shrimp and our simple Shrimp Boil Recipe. Want the full Popeyes experience with your dirty rice? Make your own Popeye’s Chicken Sandwiches.
I was sort of upset earlier this year when I heard that Popeye’s was taking their Cajun Rice off of the menu. I’ve always enjoyed Popeye’s chicken, and usually the hardest part of ordering food there is deciding if I should get mashed potatoes, french fries or cajun rice. Honestly, I sometimes get all three!
I knew that I needed to recreate this take out favorite at home, I wouldn’t be able to live without the discontinued Popeye’s rice forever! This recipe is a pretty spot on copycat for Popeye’s dirty rice. I’m very pleased with it, and I know you will be too.
Why You’re Going to Love This Dirty Rice Recipe
- It’s a side dish or a whole meal. This dirty rice recipe is a combination of carbs, protein and vegetables. It works well as a side dish, but you can make a meal out of this dish easily by serving with some greens or just eating it out of a bowl.
- So much flavor! The different types of ground meat, plus cajun seasonings and more savory ingredients make this rice dish so incredibly flavorful.
- 30 minute meal. Your dirty rice will taste like you cooked it all day to develop these flavors, but in reality you’ll be eating in less than 30 minutes.
- Traditional Creole Cajun dish. We are using all of the traditional cajun dirty rice ingredients, including the holy trinity of aromatic vegetables, and chopped chicken livers. Trust me, this is the secret ingredient that makes this rice perfect.
Why Do They Call It Dirty Rice?
Great question! If you aren’t familiar with it, you might be wondering, what is dirty rice? The rice gets its name because of its appearance. The meat in the dish makes the rice brown and sort of dirty looking. That dirtiness is all flavor.
Ingredients in Dirty Rice
- Oil: Just a bit to get everything browned up in your pan.
- Lean Ground Beef: We’re adding three types of meat to this dish. Ground beef is the first. I prefer lean ground beef so there isn’t a lot of excess fat to drain off.
- Ground Sausage: a simply seasoned ground pork sausage is delicious here. You can use all ground beef or all ground sausage if you prefer.
- Chicken Liver: Ok, hear me out. Chicken liver is a strange ingredient for most people, I understand that it might sound like something you want to omit from this recipe. Chicken liver gives this recipe so much savory, meaty flavor, and it’s only a little bit, so your dish won’t taste like liver at all.
- Yellow Onion, Green Bell Pepper, and Celery: These diced vegetables are called the Holy Trinity when it comes to Cajun food. They go into most recipes, and add tons of base flavor.
- Garlic: Minced fresh garlic is a must to give this recipe it’s warm, savory flavor. Jarred minced garlic works well too.
- Cajun Seasoning: Use your favorite brand of cajun seasoning blend. Some are spicier than others, but most are at least a little bit spicy from the inclusion of cayenne pepper. Look for “Slap Ya Mama” cajun seasoning at your local store or online, or I’ve had great results with McCormick seasoning.
- Rice: Any type of white rice will work in this recipe. I like either Basmati rice or Calrose white rice. Regular long or medium grain rice is fine too. Rinse your rice well before adding.
- Low Sodium Chicken Broth: I like to use low sodium in this recipe because we’re adding a lot of salt with the cajun seasoning and sausage. You can always adjust the seasoning at the end.
- Bay Leaves: It’s hard to explain, but bay leaves give dishes a flavor like they’ve been cooked all day long. You need just two of them, tossed in whole and then removed at the end.
- Salt and Pepper: Season to taste.
- Parsley: I love this dish topped with fresh chopped parsley. It’s beautiful green color adds contrast and parsley and adds a fresh pop of herbal flavor.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
How to Make Dirty Rice
- Brown Meat: In a heavy bottomed saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil and then combine the ground beef, ground sausage, and chopped chicken liver. Cook over medium heat until no longer pink.
To make chicken livers easier to chop, freeze them for half an hour and then mince them with a sharp knife.
- Add The Trinity: Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the onion has softened.
- Season: Add the cajun seasoning and stir to combine.
- Simmer: Add rice, chicken broth, bay leaves, and salt and pepper. Give it a stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to the lowest setting possible, cover with a lid, and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the liquid has been absorbed.
- Serve: Remove from the heat and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve.
Recipe Success Tips
Make sure to rinse your rice before adding to the pan. Use cold water and rinse until the water runs clear. If you skip this step, the rice will be sticky and you won’t get the fluffy dirty rice dish that you want.
If you’re not a fan of chicken livers, you can leave them out. You can also substitute with chicken gizzards (I usually have some of that in the freezer from cooking whole chickens) or any dark meat chicken.
Variations for Dirty Rice
Feel free to experiment with the types of meat used in this recipe. Ground turkey, pork, or game meats would all work. You can also substitute with vegan ground meat alternatives or mushrooms to make this recipe vegetarian.
What to Serve with Dirty Rice
This savory side is delicious served with any kind of meat or chicken dish. Try any of these for an amazing meal:
Frequently Asked Questions
In this recipe, if you absolutely can’t use chicken livers for whatever reason, you can just leave them out. Or, substitute with any other dark chicken meat. I’ll keep telling you to try them though, they really are delicious in this recipe, and not at all overwhelmingly “liver-y”.
Jambalaya is another really delicious rice dish with Creole roots, but the flavors are a bit different. Jambalaya has tomatoes in it, while dirty rice does not.
The company has stated that this move was based on customer feedback as they look for ways to improve their menu. Maybe something even more delicious will be added next!
I have a feeling that this simple cajun dirty rice dish will be on your dinner menu regularly! It’s simple and delicious, and what else do you need? Make sure to pin this recipe for later!
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ pound ground beef lean
- ½ pound ground sausage or all ground beef
- ½ cup chicken liver or chicken gizzards minced, optional
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- ½ cup celery diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 2 cups white rice or basmati rice uncooked, washed
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves chopped, to serve
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil then combine the ground beef, ground sausage and chicken liver. And cook over medium high heat until no longer pink.
- Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the onion has softened.
- Add the seasoning, cook for 30 more seconds.
- Add rice, chicken broth, bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Give it a stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest setting possible, cover with a lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat, and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
To make chicken livers easier to mince, freeze them for half an hour and then mince them.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen