With this healthy cajun dirty rice recipe, you’ll be having a nutritious, hearty, wholesome, comforting rice for dinner. It only takes 30 minutes to make it from scratch.
Before we start, here are some interesting facts about this dish.
What Is Cajun Dirty Rice?
Dirty rice is a traditional Creole stir-fried rice dish. The recipe often consists of medium-grain white rice, chicken liver, ground meat such as pork or beef, and various seasonings.
When cooked, the color of white rice is stained by bits of ground meat and liver. This gives the white rice a mucky appearance, hence the name “dirty” rice.
Is Cajun Dirty Rice Healthy?
Yes, our cajun dirty rice is healthy. Here’s how:
- It contains only 7g of saturated fat: saturated fat is what increases your LDL cholesterol. It’s best to keep your saturated fat consumption to a minimum.
- It’s packed with protein: there’s 20.5g of protein per serving. Being high in protein means that eating this dish will keep you full for a longer period of time.
- There’s no added sugar: there is only 3g of sugar per serving. This is the natural sugar in rice and vegetables— it won’t cause a rise in your blood sugar level.
- It’s full of nutrients: since this dish is packed with meat and vegetables, it contains lots of vitamins and minerals.
This dirty rice recipe also adheres to our healthy eating guidelines and keeps the sodium level to a minimum.
Calories in Dirty Rice
Our dirty rice contains 493 calories per serving. That is just enough calories to feed your body and keep it functioning properly.
You can also pair this dish with a salad and/or a light drink to make a wholesome 750-calorie meal. We will discuss this later.
What Goes into a Cajun Dirty Rice Recipe?
Here are the main ingredients in our cajun dirty rice recipe:
- Main protein: smoked sausage, chicken liver, and ground pork.
- Fat for stir-frying: olive oil.
- Vegetables: bell peppers, carrots, and onions.
- Rice: we use cooked medium-grain white rice.
- Herbs: scallion and parsley.
A couple of things we’d like to mention about the chicken liver and sausage:
1. Chicken Liver
As mentioned, chicken liver is what gives the dish a rich flavor and “dirty” appearance. However, if it’s not available at your local supermarket or if you can’t eat it, opt for canned pate instead.
Pate is a form of thick meat paste that consists of ground meat, liver, fat, herbs, and spices.
You can purchase canned pate in the supermarkets in the canned food aisle or online through Amazon. (Though they may look and sound the same, but try not to mistake it for wet cat food.)
When it comes to sausage in Cajun/Creole cuisine, andouille sausage is always everyone’s favorite.
However, it may not always be available at your local grocery store. If that’s the case, look for any type of smoked and/or spicy sausage.
3. Seasonings for Dirty Rice
Our cajun dirty rice recipe contains these following seasonings:
- Minced garlic
- Cajun seasoning
- Cayenne pepper
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and black pepper
If you’re not a fan of spicy food, leave out paprika and cayenne pepper. You can also keep it simple by using only cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper as well.
What Else Goes Well with Cajun Dirty Rice?
If you’re looking for ways to customize the recipe, here are some ideas:
1. Ground Turkey or Chicken
Although we’re using pork in today’s recipe, poultry will work just as well. You can choose either ground turkey or chicken— both are a great fit for this recipe.
In addition, both ground chicken and turkey tend to contain 90% lean meat or higher. This means that it contains less saturated fat and lower your intake on this type of fat.
2. Ground Beef
Similarly, you can replace ground pork with ground beef. This type of meat has an interesting meaty, smoky flavor and only takes minutes to cook.
We also recommend using 85% lean ground beef or higher to avoid consuming too much saturated fat.
Beans can be a great addition to dirty rice. They enhance both texture and flavor of the dish while providing plant-based protein, fiber, and micronutrients.
For this recipe, we recommend using unsalted canned red or black kidney beans. Simply rinse and drain them before sautéing along with the vegetables.
If you do add beans to your recipe, remember to check total calories per serving. You may need to reduce the amount of rice a little bit to avoid overconsuming calories.
Cajun dirty rice is a versatile dish, any type of protein will fit the recipe just fine, including shrimp. This type of seafood only takes minutes to cook and adds a lovely crunchy texture to your Creole fried rice.
How to Make Dirty Rice
Here’s a brief summary of our cajun dirty rice recipe:
Step 1: Sear the sausage.
Step 2: Sauté the chicken liver.
Step 3: Sauté the ground pork.
Step 4: Cook the vegetables.
Step 5: Mix in the rice.
Step 6: Serve.
Full instructions will be available below.
What to Serve with Dirty Rice
Although our dirty rice recipe does contain vegetables, there isn’t enough fiber per serving. It’s best to serve it with a salad on the side.
Since the rice is so rich and savory, we recommend pairing it with Greek salad. This salad contains lots of fresh vegetables and a tangy dressing to balance the flavors.
To finish this wholesome meal, we decided to add a glass of refreshing watermelon smoothie. This drink is also the perfect healthy dessert for you to cleanse your palate after a meal.
The nutrition facts of this meal combination are as follows:
|Dirty Rice||Main Dish||493||7.0 g||545 mg|
|Greek Salad||Side Dish||173||3.0 g||275 mg|
|Watermelon Smoothie||Beverage||76||0.0 g||7 mg|
|Total||742||10.0 g||827 mg|
Cajun Dirty Rice Recipe
- 4.8 oz smoked sausage about 2 links, cut into thick slices
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 4 oz chicken liver chopped
- 6 oz 85% lean ground pork
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper divided
- 1/4 tsp salt divided
- 3 oz bell peppers red and green, deseeded and diced
- 2.5 oz carrots peeled and finely chopped
- 3 oz onions diced
- 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 cups cooked medium-grain rice
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 oz scallions chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley freshly chopped
- Sear the sausage: in a dry skillet over medium heat, add sausage and sear for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Sauté the chicken liver: add 1 tbsp olive oil and chicken liver to the same skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until almost cooked through.
- Sauté the ground pork: add ground pork to the chicken liver. Cook over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes, stirring constantly to break up the pork. Add minced garlic, ½ tsp black pepper, and ⅛ tsp salt. Stir and cook for another minute.
- Cook the vegetables: add bell peppers, carrots, onions, cajun seasoning, paprika, and cayenne. Stir and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat or until the vegetables are slightly softened.
- Mix in the rice: add rice and 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix thoroughly to break up the rice. Add ½ tsp black pepper, ⅛ tsp salt, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix again to season evenly. Put the sausage back in the skillet along with chopped scallions. Stir again for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.
- Serve: transfer the rice into a bowl or deep dish. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Here are some commonly asked questions about dirty rice:
1. Can You Freeze Dirty Rice?
Yes, you can. Dirty rice freezes well and can stay good for a month.
You can divide leftover rice into portions and store them into freezer-safe airtight containers. So when you freeze them, it’ll be easier for you to take one portion out and thaw it faster.
To thaw dirty rice, you can use a microwave to defrost it in minutes. Or you can put it in the fridge and let it thaw overnight.
Once thawed, we highly recommend putting the rice in a pan and stir-frying to reheat. This will make the rice slightly crispy and enhance its texture.
2. How Long Does Dirty Rice Last?
Dirty rice can last up to 3 days in the refrigerator if you store it properly. We recommend leaving leftover rice on the counter and allow it to cool completely before putting in airtight containers.
If you put hot or warm food in an airtight container, it will release steam. The steam will get trapped inside the container, creating moisture for bacteria to grow and spoil the food more quickly.
In addition, putting hot/warm food in the fridge can increase the temperature of your fridge. A warm fridge is an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and spoil all of the food in the fridge.
It would be best to leave your food to cool before refrigeration so that it lasts longer.