Red Rice

If you’ve never gotten down on the low country delicacy known as Red Rice, you are in for some good eating boos. Charleston and Savannah know how to make it right, and this is the best recipe yet. We start by steeping white rice until tender in tangy tomatoes, spicy seasonings, sausage, and aromatic garlic and onion then we top it off with tender shrimp and smoky bacon! It don’t get no better than that. This red rice recipe is the type of dish that has so much heart and soul, it will comfort you with each and every bite.

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A close up overhead of a red rice recipe with shrimp on top on a white background being dug into with forks
Five star review

“I absolutely loved this dish!!! Couldn’t stop eating it! Thank you so much for something different.”

—THELMA B.

The South gets down on rice-based dishes y’all. Everything from jambalaya to dirty rice are simple to cook and pretty cheap too. That’s why red rice is such a standard. And red rice is not just a “regular” side ya dig? It’s a one pot wonder with an explosion of low country flavors. From Savannah to Charleston, every spot has their rendition. It has a variety of complex spices, tender protein and bright veggies. As the ingredients come together, the rice becomes spicy, a tad sweet, and a mix of everything in between. Each bite is full of astounding texture and taste boos, and it can’t be duplicated.

What is Red Rice?

Red rice is a defining dish in the low country. Basically long-grained rice is simmered in a spiced up broth until tender. It’s a simple dish at it’s core, but when you make it the right way, the complex yet subtle flavors make it something incredibly special. This version uses shrimp as the main protein, and it’s so dang on good.

The Lowdown of The Best Red Rice Recipe

Closeup of Jocelyn in pink dress smiling

Cuisine Inspiration: Southern Charm and Soul

Primary Cooking Method: Baking (with some stovetop action)

Dietary Info: Gluten-Free y’all!

Key Flavor: Smoky Savory Tomato Essence

Skill Level: Easy (No-Sweat Fam!)

This red rice brings legit Southern low country vibes to the kitchen. This dish traces back generations, carrying stories in every bite.

You probably have most of the ingredients at the crib already!

This dish never fails to get those “Mmm” sounds at the table. And it tastes even better the next day.

Got one pot? Got rice? Got basic cooking knowledge? You can pull this off!

Ingredients Needed To Make Charleston Red Rice

bacon, sausage, tomatoes, shrimp, spices and parsley in white bowls on a white background
  • Bacon: Fried up crisp, this adds texture and intense depth that is so irresistible.
  • Kielbasa sausage: This provides such a savory, smoky punch to our Charleston red rice recipe.
  • Onion, bell pepper, celery & garlic: This veggie mix is going to provide aromatic goodness.
  • Rice: White rice is going to absorb all those delish flavors as it cooks.
  • Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste: These are gonna give us that rich, sweet and tangy tomato base for our rice.
  • Chicken broth: This is going to provide a wonderful savory essence to our base.
  • Creole seasoning, Cayenne pepper and hot sauce: We gotta crank up that heat y’all. It ain’t the south without a little kick. And the creole seasoning is the perfect blend of dried peppers, herbs and spices.
  • Granulated sugar: We gotta balance out that acidity boos.
  • Shrimp: So plump and succulent, this is our main protein of choice here.
  • Parsley: This is gonna give us a nice pop of color and a fresh vibrant garnish.

How to Make Red Rice

Step 1: Brown the Bacon and Sausage

  1. Start by crisping up your bacon in a large skillet.
  2. Then set it aside and brown the sausage in the same pan.
a collage of bacon and sausage sliced frying in a pan then it completely browned

Step 2: Sauté the Veggies, Toss in Remaining Ingredients and Bake!

  1. Sauté onions, bell pepper, garlic, and celery until they’re soft and fragrant.
  2. Stir in rice, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, tomato paste, 1 tsp of Creole seasoning, cayenne, sugar, and hot sauce, letting it cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a foil-lined 1 1/2 quart baking dish, cover with foil, and bake it up at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
a collage of diced bell pepper and onion being added to sausage and bacon then tomatoes and spices and rice before adding to a baking dish and covering with foil

Step 3: Make the Shrimp and Top Finished Rice!

  1. Check if the rice is nice and fluffy y’all. If it ain’t, keep on baking for an extra 10 minutes.
  2. While the rice is baking, get the rice together. season and sauté the shrimp, then top the cooked rice with shrimp, the crispy bacon, and parsley for garnish (if you like). Serve it up hot and enjoy boos.
a collage of savannah red rice being baked then topped with sauteed shrimp before adding to the top of the red rice

How to Serve Southern Red Rice

A white plate filled with Charleston red rice with a fork on a white background with parsley

Recipe Substitutions

  • Rice: No white rice? Grab brown rice for a lighter, heartier option with more fiber however you will need to cook the rice much much longer.
  • Shrimp: This red rice recipe can work just as well with scallops, clams or mussels instead of shrimp.
  • Sausage: If you ain’t got kielbasa, no worries. Just swap in some andouille sausage so you can keep that smoky essence.
  • Bacon: Swap in some pancetta, diced ham or even turkey bacon instead.

Recipe Variations

  • Go Veggie: Y’all can definitely leave out the meat and go strong on veggies. Throw in some earthy mushrooms, okra and zucchini to make it super hearty.
  • Turn it Into Soup: Add more broth or chicken stock and turn this into a hearty soup.
  • Fry it Up: Have some fun and turn leftovers into a funky fried rice with some scrambled eggs and more proteins. Delish!
  • Switch the Protein: Chicken or firm white fish work so great in this too!
A close up of low country homemade red rice on a white plate on a white background

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Let the Oven Werk!: Do not try to cook this rice on the stovetop the whole time. Ovens maintain the perfect temperature and allow the rice to cook in a more controlled setting.
  • Get that Crisp Crust: Resist pulling off that foil while it bakes. This is gonna develop that irresistible crisp crust at the bottom of the baking dish. Once you mix it up, you’ll have a pleasantly fluffy texture studded with crunchy bits of seasoned rice.
  • Use a Fork: Forget the spoon when stirring the rice and flavors together. Get that fluffy texture by using a fork instead.
  • Add the Shrimp Last: Overcooked shrimp ain’t it y’all! Watch your shrimp while cooking it, as soon as it turns a bit pink, it’s ready.

How to Store

  • Fridge: First, insure the red rice is cooled completely, then add to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. It’ll stay fresh in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
  • Freezer: For longer storage, you can freeze the rice for up to 6 months. Just be sure it’s in a freezer-safe container.
  • Reheating: There’s no need to thaw if you froze your rice; you can go straight from freezer to microwave or stove. In a microwave, place the rice in a microwave-safe container, add a splash of water or broth to prevent it drying out, cover loosely, and heat in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between until warmed through. On the stove, transfer rice to a pot, add a small amount of water or broth, and warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s heated evenly then serve it up! And finally you can pop back in the oven until warmed through.
Red rice being eaten on a white plate on white background

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to use creole seasoning in this red rice recipe?

It is definitely gonna balance the flavors and salt it up some. If you don’t have it, come up with your own mixture by combining paprika, cayenne, onion powder, oregano, thyme and salt.

How can I tell when my red rice is done?

It should be a golden red color with the center set slightly but not dry. It will also continue to firm up as it cools. Remember not to open the oven and let out heat because that will slow down the cooking.

Can I make Charleston red rice ahead of time?

Absolutely boos. You can just make the entire dish ahead and pop in the fridge. It can stay there for 3 days before you reheat in the oven or on the stovetop. Just add some broth to keep it from drying out.

Other Great Rice Recipes to Try

Thank you to Gina of What’s Gina Cooking for the incredible recipe!

A close up overhead of a red rice recipe with shrimp on top on a white background being dug into with forks

Red Rice Recipe

This Savannah Red Rice recipe is a Southern low country delicacy! White rice is steeped in tangy tomatoes, flagrant and spicy seasonings, aromatics like garlic and onions, and then topped with tender shrimp and bacon!
4.85 from 19 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Main Course
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 bacon slices fried crisp, crumbled and reserved
  • 16 oz kielbasa sausage sliced
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1 cup white rice uncooked
  • 14 oz canned tomatoes undrained
  • 14 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp creole seasoning divided
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shrimp shelled and deveined
  • parsley for garnish for garnish

Instructions

  • In a large skillet, fry bacon and sausage. Remove the bacon when crispy and set aside. Continue to cook sausage until brown.
  • Next saute onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery until tender.
  • Add rice, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, tomato paste, 1 tsp of creole seasoning, cayenne, sugar, and hot sauce. Cook down for 15 minutes.
  • Stir well. Transfer everything to a lined (with foil) 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
  • Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and see if the rice is soft and fluffy by stirring with a fork. If not, place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
  • While it bakes, season shrimp with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of Creole seasoning, saute and then place on top of rice when finished baking with reserved bacon and garnish with parsley if desired. Serve hot.

Notes

How to Store and Reheat
  • Fridge: First insure the red rice is cooled completely, then add to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. It’ll stay fresh in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
  • Freezer: For longer storage, you can freeze the rice for up to 6 months; just be sure it’s in a freezer-safe container.
  • Reheating: There’s no need to thaw if you froze your rice; you can go straight from freezer to microwave or stove. In a microwave, place the rice in a microwave-safe container, add a splash of water to prevent drying out, cover loosely, and heat in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between until warmed through. On the stove, transfer rice to a pot, add a small amount of water or broth, and warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s heated evenly then serve it up! And finally you can pop back in the oven until warmed through.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 1203mg | Potassium: 613mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 795IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 3mg
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Filed Under:  Dinner, Grains, Main Dishes, Oven, Seafood, Southern Classics

Comments

  1. I absolutely loved this dish!!! Couldn’t stop eating it! Thank you so much for something different.

  2. This looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it. I have a question. Is it spicy hot? I’m from South Carolina and know I’m in the minority as far as spice but I like very little spice, if any at all. I know I will omit the cayenne but I was wondering if the Creole seasoning will make it spicy. Thanks again, Jocelyn. I do enjoy your recipes/blog, etc.

  3. I want to try this recipe. I was planning to do it in my cast iron Dutch Oven so I could do everything in one pot. . I read that you. put yours in a pan with foil over it. Do you think it would not come out in a Dutch Oven?

    1. I actually think you could totally make this in a dutch oven and it come out fantastic!

    1. Yes you can but I would par cook it before since brown rice takes much longer to cook. Also you will need to continue to cook until it is tender.

  4. This looks so amazing and it has all the flavors I love! I especially love that it’ll finish cooking in the oven while I get some other things done in the kitchen. Making this dish tomorrow – for sure!

  5. I can’t wait to try this because I just love when rice gets that crispy crust on the bottom. Just need to find some good creole seasoning/1

  6. Yum! This is such a fantastic recipe. I love a good one skillet meal. It’s a moms best friend sometimes.

  7. Oh my goodness – my husband would LOVE this recipe! What a perfect meal to make for his birthday. Thanks so much for this!

4.85 from 19 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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