Need to put a little pep in your dinnertime step? Super flavorful, perfectly spiced, and speckled with onions and peppers, Cajun Rice is a delicious way to amp up any weeknight dinner!
You’ll find this side very similar to the famous Cajun dish, Dirty Rice, only no gizzards or ground meat necessary! Just a simple dinnertime rice dish that comes positively loaded with flavor!
HOW TO MAKE CAJUN RICE
- Saute the Veggies – Add butter to a medium-sized saucepan and allow it to melt. Watch the butter to make sure it doesn’t burn! Then, add in the diced bell pepper and onion and stir to coat. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add Broth and Spices – Once the veggies are cooked through, add in the broth and the seasoning and allow the mixture to come to a boil.
- Add the Rice – Once the water has reached a boil, add in the rice and stir.
- Simmer – Reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer (more on simmering below) and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat, and allow to rest 10 minutes covered. Then, fluff with a fork.
Cooking rice on the stovetop can prove trickier for some. If you’re having trouble slamming out the perfect pot of rice, be sure you read about simmering and check out our tips below!
KNOW YOUR SIMMER
You can’t cook a perfect pot of Cajun Rice without a proper simmer. This term seems to trip up a lot of people, and I believe, it’s the culprit for so many failed attempts in the world of rice cooking. So what is a simmer?
A simmer is sort of like a boil, but rather than those big popping bubbles that rise to the water’s surface, we are looking for lots of little tiny streaming bubbles, constantly and rapidly making their way to the water’s surface.
You typically need high heat for a boil, you’ll only need low/medium-low heat (depending on your stove range settings) to maintain a simmer.
HELP! MY RICE IS UNDERCOOKED.
If your rice was undercooked, the problem could have been that your heat was too high which caused your water to evaporate before the rice had a chance to absorb it. If this is the case, you can typically add anywhere from a 1/4 cup to a 1/3 cup of rice, cover, and continue cooking for about 5-8 minutes more.
HELP! MY RICE IS MUSHY.
If you end up with mushy rice, one of two things could be the problem: (1) There was too much water in the pot, or (2) the heat was too low.
Unfortunately, there’s really not too much that can be done if you end up with a pot of mushy rice…other than taking care to measure out the right amount of water and make adjustments to your heat level the next time you attempt to make it.
Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right burner and the right heat setting to cook the perfect pot of rice. Give yourself some grace if you don’t get it right on the first (or even second) try!
CAJUN RICE INGREDIENTS
- Butter | Butter adds distinct flavor and richness to Cajun dishes. Note, this recipe calls for unsalted butter, but if you only have salted butter, you can cut the salt quantity in the recipe by half, and then add more seasoning to taste (if desired) once it has finished cooking.
- Veggies | For this Cajun Rice recipe you’ll need a combination of bell peppers and yellow onion. Red and green bell pepper make for an attractive dish but if you’d like to purchase only one pepper, go for the green.
- Chicken Broth | Note, this recipe calls for low-sodium (or unsalted) chicken broth. If you only have chicken broth with salt added to it, it’s best if you leave the Kosher salt out of this recipe altogether and add it in to taste once the dish is finished cooking.
- Spices | This recipe features a blend of spices that is very similar to what you would find in Blackened Seasoning. This combination of Kosher salt, garlic powder, ground thyme, paprika, pepper, and a bay leaf makes for one killer flavor combo!
- Rice | Different types of rice have different starch levels. The standard rice used for Cajun Rice is long-grain white rice, and it’s best not to stray from this variety.
HOW TO TURN CAJUN RICE INTO DIRTY RICE
Dirty Rice gets its name from browned bits of meat speckled throughout the rice. If you want to convert this Cajun Rice recipe into Dirty Rice, just add meat!
You can use either 3/4 pound of chicken gizzards, livers (or a combination of the two), or 1 pound of lean ground beef for this recipe.
IF USING GIZZARDS/LIVER:
- Melt the butter and add finely chopped gizzards and/or livers to the saucepan, along with the diced onions and peppers.
- Cook over medium-high heat until the meat has browned and the veggies are cooked through, about 8 minutes.
- Then, proceed with the recipe as directed.
IF USING GROUND BEEF:
- Melt the butter in the pan and add the diced peppers and onions. Cook them over medium-high heat until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the veggies from the pan and add the beef. Break apart and cook until completely browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the veggies back into the pan, along with any juices/butter left behind in the bowl, and proceed with the recipe as directed.
TIPS FOR COOKING PERFECT CAJUN RICE
- Make Sure You’re Simmering | Again, the importance of reaching a true simmer cannot be stressed enough when it comes to cooking a perfect pot of rice!
- Keep the Lid On | Every time you pop the lid off, you are allowing heat and steam to release. This lowers the temperature inside the pot and results in inconsistent cooking temperature, and affects your overall cook time, and could throw your Cajun Rice off-course.
- Set a Timer | Setting a timer is super important when it comes to cooking the perfect pot of rice, but you should know that the consistency and rapidness of your simmer will affect the overall cook time.
- Know When It’s Done | The best ways to determine if your Cajun Rice has finished cooking is by texture and/or the water level. If you taste the rice and it is still hard and chewy in the center it will need to cook longer. Along those same lines, if you tilt the pot on its side and there is still a good deal of water coming up from the bottom, this is a good indicator that your rice has yet to absorb all of the liquid needed to cook it through. If this is the case, increase the heat level by a bit, and continue cooking for a few minutes more.
- Let It Rest | Allowing the rice to rest before you remove the lid and fluff it, gives heat and steam a chance to redistribute throughout the pot, and makes for a fluffier, lighter batch of rice.
5 MORE LOUISIANA RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 3 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
Add the butter to a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not allow the butter to burn. As soon as the butter has melted, add the diced peppers and onion and stir to coat. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until softened.
Add the chicken broth, salt, garlic powder, thyme, paprika, pepper, and bay leaf to the saucepan and allow the mixture to come to a boil.
Add the rice, stir, and top with a lid. Reduce the heat as needed to maintain a simmer.
Simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is cooked through and tender to your liking. Set aside for 10 minutes, covered.
After the resting time, fluff the rice with a fork, serve and enjoy!