Dirty Rice

A Creole classic, dirty rice is the perfect dish to make to get in touch with some Southern roots. As long as it looks dirty, browned, meaty, and savory, it is going to be delicious!

dirty rice in a large white bowl with a spoon
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A Creole classic, dirty rice is the perfect dish to make to get in touch with some Southern roots. As long as it looks dirty, browned, meaty, and savory, it is probably going to be delicious!

Don’t forget to make your own Vegetable Broth to use in this recipe! For more ways to use ground beef in recipes why not try this Hamburger Hotdish Tater Tot Casserole?

dirty rice in a large white bowl with a spoon

Dirty Rice

Dirty rice is a Louisiana Creole classic and was originally a way to use up less desirable cuts of meat. Spices were added to help cover the flavor of the meat and to help season the rice, turning it all into a savory, satisfying dish.

The dish quickly became known as dirty rice because the spices and meat would give the white rice a dark and dirty-looking appearance. Over time, the classic recipe has been adapted and is now not typically made using off-cuts or less desirable cuts of meat.

Instead, diced and ground meats are used in place of off-cuts, and dirty rice remains a popular dish in Creole cuisine.

So if you want to bring a little bit of authentic Louisiana into your kitchen, why not start with this dirty rice recipe?

dirty rice ingredients in small white bowls and green onions

Is It Worth Browning The Beef?

This recipe calls for sautéing the beef until it no longer has any noticeable pink inside of it, ensuring that it is completely cooked through and safe to eat.

However, one of the best things about cooking beef is that it is really easy to get a ton more flavor out of it by browning it until it turns crispy.

If you want to brown your beef, you might want to actually try and cook the beef separately, before adding any of the vegetables or rice.

This gives the beef time to properly brown, as well as ensures that the meat doesn’t start to sweat in evaporating water from the vegetables.

This is more of an optional step, however, as your dirty rice will definitely be delicious even if you don’t brown your meat, but it’s up to you if you want to go the extra mile, even if it takes a little longer.

dirty rice ingredients in a pot un mixed

Minced Garlic Vs. Pressed Garlic, Does It Matter Which One You Use?

Whenever you want to use finely crushed up garlic, there is always the decision of whether to mince your garlic or to press it.

Mincing garlic involves finely dicing it using your favorite knife until the individual pieces are super tiny and thoroughly broken apart.

Pressing garlic, meanwhile, only really involves the use of a garlic press, a handy tool that extrudes the garlic through a thin metal plate, producing pressed garlic.

If you don’t want to have to own a single purpose tool, however, you could also press garlic by crushing it very firmly with a knife against your chopping board. Just press it really hard, with a sprinkle of salt if you find that it isn’t crushing properly until the whole thing turns into a paste,

Which one to use is going to depend entirely on what you prefer; pressed garlic has a harsher, more pronounced garlic taste, whereas minced garlic gives you little tiny pieces of garlic that can brown a bit when mixed with everything else.

dirty rice overhead view of a bowlful with a spoon in it

How To Prevent Your Rice From Over Cooking

There are few things worse than overcooked rice. Since your rice will continue to cook during the last ten minutes while it sits off the heat, you want to take this carry-over cooking into account to avoid your rice becoming overcooked and mushy.

You want to turn the heat off just before the rice reaches your ideal level of doneness, as this ensures that your rice will be cooked just right by the time it comes to serving.

If you like your rice to have a bite to it, you are going to want to take it off the heat as soon as it even starts to approach done.

However, if you enjoy your rice much softer, then let it cook until it is fully cooked allowing it to soften further during the ten-minute resting stage.

dirty rice spoonful over a bowl

Do You Have To Use Beef?

Dirty rice gets its name from its brown, or dirty, coloring which comes from a combination of the meat within the dish and the spices that are used.

Traditional Louisiana dirty rice would be made with whatever meat was on hand, this was often beef but could also be chicken or pork. The key to dirty rice is that the meat and spices, cayenne and black pepper, impart a brown color to the white rice.

While ground beef works great in this recipe you can also try different meats to create your own variations on this class Creole dish.

  • Ground Pork

Ground pork has a slightly milder flavor than ground beef and so is ideal if you want the other ingredients within your dirty rice to have a chance to stand out.

Pork does tend to have a higher fat content than ground beef and so is probably not the best option if this is something you are trying to avoid.

  • Ground Chicken Or Shredded Pieces

Try using chicken in your dirty rice if you are looking for a leaner, protein-dense, and overall healthier alternative to beef.

If you want to keep the texture of the dish the same try using ground chicken. Alternatively, shredded chicken also works great and adds a layer of textural complexity to the dish.

  • Diced Beef

Using diced beef in place of ground beef will result in an almost identical flavor, with the only real differences being the texture and mouth feel of the dish.

If you are someone that likes your food to have a proper bite to it, then diced beef is almost certainly a better option than ground beef. Rather than very soft, small pieces of meat with every spoonful, you will instead get a larger, chewy chunk of meat randomly through the dish.

Looking for more delicious Rice recipes? Try these out:

Buttery Mushroom Rice

Ham Fried Rice

How to Make Easy Fried Rice Recipe

Happy Cooking!



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A Creole classic, dirty rice is the perfect dish to make to get in touch with some Southern roots. As long as it looks dirty, browned, meaty, and savory, it is probably going to be delicious!

Dirty Rice

A Creole classic, dirty rice is the perfect dish to make to get in touch with some Southern roots. As long as it looks dirty, browned, meaty, and savory, it is going to be delicious!
4.34 from 3 votes
dirty rice in a large white bowl with a spoon
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Main Course
Karlynn Johnston


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup sweet yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup long grain rice (uncooked)
  • 4 green onions (chopped)
  • diced fresh parsley and green onions (for garnish)


  • In a dutch oven or heavy pot on medium high heat add the ground beef. Saute and break up the meat until there is no pink remaining. Drain most of the fat, leaving some to fry the vegetables in. Add diced yellow onion, garlic, red pepper and celery to the pot. Saute until tender.
  • Add in the broth, cayenne pepper, thyme, and rice.
  • Stir gently to mix and bring up to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes until the rice is tender.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped green onions and parsley and let sit covered for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh diced green onions and parsley and serve.

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Masa says

    There was little flavor to this dish, basically overwhelmed with the red bell pepper. I added salt, pepper and shredded 3 cheese mix from Trader Joes and it was amazing!3 stars

  2. Tabi Ely says

    I’m going to try it with yellow saffron rice. That’s the only one I can get my husband to eat.

  3. Wendy says

    I bet it’s good with these other options though! I’m going to try it for sure:)

  4. Ron Natali says

    I am from Louisiana and as Suzanne said – dirty rice is typically made with chicken livers. Many people don’t care for liver so beef, pork, or chicken are great as long as you use seasoning and spices as called for in the recipe.

  5. Suzanne D Reber says

    I’m sorry, but traditional dirty rice is made with chicken livers, etc. The flavors of the offals and seasonings are necessary for truly traditional dirty rice!!

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