Homemade Dirty Rice & A Tale Of No Refunds



We had an interesting start to a wonderful weekend. With both my birthday and Valentines so close together, I decided to surprise my family by renting a large cabin in the Smoky Mountains. I invited my brother and sister in law, their two children, and my mother and father in law for a big old Southern family getaway.

To make it even more special, we kept it a secret from the kids and I spent weeks imagining their surprised faces at finding out where we were going and being greeted by their cousins and grandparents upon arrival. I’d been looking forward to the weekend for quite some time and was thrilled when I was finally able to pack us up. As soon as Ricky got off work Friday we loaded up the car (dog and all) to head towards Gatlinburg, not telling Brady and Katy Rose until we were well on our way.

About two hours into our drive we realized that this winter storm was something we weren’t going to be able to ignore. Long story short (how often do I do THAT on southern plate?) we had to turn around and come back home. Although Ricky’s parents had managed to reach the cabin, the road leading to it’s perch atop the mountain had since become covered in snow and ice and they were relying on hope and sun to be able to get down the following day. Ricky’s brother and his family had to turn back and go home as well.

The kids were heartbroken and we made the ride home in silence and tears from the peanut gallery in the back seat.

The bright sides of this situation were obvious: We were lucky we weren’t stuck on the mountain and we were fortunate we weren’t on roads we could easily have a wreck on.

Still, I have to admit, I’d much rather have been in that cabin on a mountain top looking out over the snow. I hid my disappointment as the kids vented theirs and one thought kept reverberating through my mind: our little weekend getaway wasn’t going to happen and there were no refunds.

We would never get those three days back. Then a question came to me, how were those three days any different from any other three days? No matter where we were, at home or in a cabin on a mountain, there were still no refunds on this weekend.

The next day I woke up with renewed determination. While we didn’t get to spend time together in a cabin, we still got to spend it together. We took the kids to Birmingham for the day and spent our time at home helping Brady earn a new boy scout badge. We made brownies and shopped for groceries as a family. In between, the kids petted the dog so much it’s a wonder she doesn’t have bald spots, and we had a nice little time in our warm little house.

As a result of our weekend I awakened to the first hand realization that whether you’re at home or on vacation, each day is a one shot deal. Instead of pining for a view from someone else’s window, take a moment to appreciate the view from your own. We may not be in a rented cabin, but that doesn’t mean we can’t spend just as much quality time with our children in our own living room.

Make the most of today. Use it up, wear it out, squeeze every last ounce of “good” out of it. Even if you aren’t financially vested, There are still no refunds.

Yesterday we talked to the cabin owner and she graciously offered to let us schedule two more nights to replace the ones we were unable to use. Ricky’s parents also made it down off the mountain in one piece thanks to a patch of rain that temporarily cleared the roads, and I came out of this with a priceless bit of wisdom. That’s money well spent either way you look at it.

Today begins my week of meals planned by Brady as part of a Boy Scout project. When I asked him to write down five things that he would like for supper this week, someone on twitter said “Ten year old boy planning meals? Get ready for pizza all week!”. I was expecting that as well but have to say I am very impressed with Brady’s choices and really looking forward to supper each night.

Some things he chose are already on SouthernPlate.com but I’ll be posting tutorials for the recipes we use that aren’t as the week goes on.

His very first choice is one of my dear favorites from Cajun country, another beloved style of Southern cooking, Dirty Rice. There are two ways that I make dirty rice…

The first way is to simply add ground beef to this:

BUT hang in there, I’m bringing you the SECOND Way in this post!


Hey, it’s quick, easy, and delicious. Ain’t  no shame in my game!

The second way is the one I am bringing you today, from scratch. Now this recipe has a wee bit of heat to it. Brady and I enjoy it immensely just as is but Katy Rose won’t touch it. She only eats the dirty rice made from boxed mix. If you’re feeding this to younger kids or those who don’t care for the spice, you can cut down a bit on the seasoning and use ground beef instead of sausage.

When I say “heat” I’m not talking about “oh my goodness this is so hot” I just mean it leaves a little zing in your mouth and is divine served with iced tea.  

Note to all Texans: I realize these references to heat will be laughable to you and you’d likely have to spice this up with jalapenos just to get your newborns to touch it. I’m just laying it out for folks not from your parts.

Note to all Cajuns: If you’re reading this post, just stop now and tell me what time dinner will be ready. I’m on my way…


You’re going to need: Cooked rice, Creole seasoning, parsley (fresh or dried), onion, bell pepper, sausage, celery, and some chopped or minced garlic.

I like to use Tennessee Pride sausage just so Brady and I can sing this song…

Now y’all gotta sing with me.

Of course, the Tennessee Pride folks don’t know me from Adam so if y’all know anyone who works there, tell ‘em I said “Hidy”.


Chop up all of your green stuff, the white stuff too :)

This photo shows chopped bell pepper, celery, parsley, and onion.

What we’re seeing here is known as “The Cajun Trinity”- three essential ingredients in seasoning a variety of Cajun dishes: Onion, Bell pepper, and Celery.

Parsley and garlic are perfect accompaniments to the trinity.

You can use dried parsley which would have been my first choice if Wally World hadn’t of been out of it.

They were also out of Chili Powder and a few other things on my list. ~blinks~ Whats up with that?


Place your sausage and vegetable type thingies (I’m gonna use that term to encompass veggies, herbs, whatever) in a large skillet.

Pictured here: Garlic, onion, bell pepper, celery, and parsley.


Chop up your sausage a bit and cook that over medium to medium high heat.

I use medium high because I’m impatient.

Folks always talk about how patience is a virtue, well I think impatience is every bit the virtue patience is and more, because impatience gets supper on the table a whole heap faster.


It’s gonna look kinda like this when it’s almost done but we need to keep cooking until all of our veggies are tender.

Celery tends to be a bit stubborn at times but heat and your determination will eventually triumph.


Add your creole seasoning. I use  two and a half tablespoons and LAWDY is it ever good.

You might want to cut back for starters though.

~smiles sheepishly~


All done!


Toss in your rice.


Stir that up good and make sure your rice is heated through.

Sit down with a glass of iced tea and a proud ten year old.

Thank the good Lord for Cajun cooking!

Homemade Dirty Rice
  • 4-5 Cups cooked rice
  • 1 pound uncooked sausage (or ground beef)
  • *1 -3 Tablespoons Creole Seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped or minced garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley (or 2 Tablespoons dried)
  1. In large skillet over medium heat, place celery, bell pepper, garlic, onion, parsley, and sausage. Break up sausage and cook all, stirring regularly, until sausage is fully cooked and vegetables are tender. Add Creole seasoning, stir. Stir in rice and continue cooking over medium heat until rice is heated through, stirring well the whole time.
  2. *For the Creole seasoning: Start on the low end and add more after the rice has been stirred in if you like more seasoning. This adds the spiciness so you want to do it to your personal taste. If you're a Texan, just toss the whole lot in and laugh at how wimpy the rest of us are. If you're a Cajun, please call and give me directions to your house - I like to eat :).

*If you’d like to make your own Creole or Cajun seasoning, click here for a great recipe from Tipnut.com (scroll down towards the bottom)

No one cares what you know until they know that you care.

~Submitted by Berta. Join the rest of the family and submit your quote here.


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  1. Charlotte says

    Ok just finished making this and I have got to tell ya, its delicious!! I’ve always used ground beef, dont know why I never thought of using sausage. The only think I did differently was that I added some chicken base to the rice as it cooked. (always trying to sneak some extra flavor in everything! ). Another great SP recipe that I will recommend to my daughters to try. It’s easy enough for the oldest one to fix, even with her nonexistant cooking skills! :D

  2. Annarose says

    I finally made this tonight! I used part of a bag of frozen chopped onions and bell peppers and left out the celery and parsley. The seasoning I used was Messina’s, which has been my favorite Cajun seasoning for the past 15 years (since I was 10!). It was the first time I ever cooked pork sausage, if you can believe it. The finished dish was good but quite greasy from the sausage. Next time I’m going to try using chicken sausage (what I usually use) or drain some of the fat off the meat before adding the rice. In any case, it’s a great, fast meal and would be even faster using leftover rice!

    • Pam says

      I’m in Toronto, Canada and brought some of Messina’s seasoning home with me many years ago. I CAN’T GET IT HERE! arrrgh. Do you know of anyone who is selling it to Canada. We love it and a flight to New Orleans is out of the question. LOL

  3. Tracy N. says

    Since the Cinnabon rolls came out so good I thought to try the dirty rice. Please understand you are making me a star at my house and office! I made it at home and wanted to share it at work (it was too good to keep to myself). This was the best I ever tasted! My next try is the Peach Cobbler Muffins!!!! Your site is my buried treasurer!

  4. Debbie says

    Well, just had to tell you….I’m a native Texan (and darn proud!)…and I cannot stand spicy!! I’d probably have to use maybe a half Tbsp of Tony’s…lol. Anyway, this sounds wonderful, and I love Dirty Rice! Thanks so much!

    • mary says

      I am too, Debbie. There are really a lot of us, you know: we’re just not as colorful as the Movie/TV Texans. Stereotypes of folks from different parts of the country are usually exaggerated, and we’re living proof. I don’t own a pair of boots or a western hat either, and my only connection to cattle and oil is at the grocery and gas station. =-)

      • Debbie says

        Haha Mary! I’m the same way – don’t like kicker clothes, or country music either! But when I see the Lone Star flyin’, I get major goosebumps! And you’re right, every state has it’s stereotypes. I live in NJ now, and it’s way different from what I thought it would be!

  5. says

    I am so in love with you! finally found someone to help me make outstanding dishes for my family, just tried your recipe for dirty rice, and it was delicious!!! and so simple, now I look forward to cooking every day because you make it a pleasure!!

  6. Max says

    My wife and I have been talking about doing a DIY Dirty Rice just to try and cut down on the sodium from the store bought package. Definitely will give this a try. We use Turkey Smoked Sausage when we don’t have regular sausage or hamburger and that should work with this well too.


  7. Annarose says

    I made this again tonight with a few small alterations! I had cooked rice in the fridge and wanted something easy. My changes were no celery (my husband wouldn’t have eaten it), a whole bell pepper, and I kinda sorta made my own sausage. 1 1/4 lb extra lean ground turkey and I added 1/2 t poultry seasoning, 1/2 t thyme and 1/2 t ginger to it as it cooked to try to make it sausage-y. Of course I had to add some butter since the turkey didn’t have any fat and it would have all stuck to the pan, but that’s okay :D We loved the result and I’ll definitely make it again!

  8. Lori says

    We LOVE this recipe! I usually make it with sausage. I have picky teenagers, and everybody in the family has different tastes and favorites, but this is one we can all agree on. It is now in the rotation!

    I love your site and all your recipes – so glad I found you!

  9. Birgit says

    Love dirty rice and this company! So many ways to play with your food. beef veal lamb chicken deer bison. Sure scavengers would work just as well. Add vegies and you got a whole new dish! Get starter for a supper! :)

  10. Kat says

    I just made this for Halloween dinner – quick and easy after school (I am a teacher). It was soooo good!!! My guys love it, too, and ate it all up, except for the bit I put back for my lunch tomorrow (before they ate, so I would actually have some left over!) Thanks so much for a great, easy recipe!

  11. Stephanie in NC says

    My kids absolutely love the Zatarain’s version and so do I (cause you can make it in your sleep). But the reason I’m writing is to say I have the exact same Corelle plates – I love them!

  12. melinda carter says

    this was a wonderful dinner. everyone went back for seconds! I used 2 tablespoons of cajun seasoning and it was perfect! Again, thanks for another wonderful recipe. Trying stuffed bell peppers tonight…can’t wait.

  13. Lynn Moore says

    Thanks so much. This sounds great. I’m going to try it out. I also have a recipe from a former neighbor in Avondale, LA. I grew up in the metro New Orleans area. She was cajun, but she always told me she was from the “coountry”. Anyways she used eggplant in her dirty rice. I’ll post later.

  14. Valerie says

    I use to live in Charlotte, North Carolina and they had this place called Bojangles. I had never tasted dirty rice, never heard of it until I tasted it at that place and I fell in love with it. So when I saw your recipe and the ingredients I just had to make it. Now what I didn’t know about was creole seasoning. But I was sure proud of myself cause not only did I find it, but I found one just like yours! Then, being a student who passed her cooking class in middle school 36 years ago, I should of remembered to smell ingredients you aren’t familiar with and READ THE RECIPE CAREFULLY before you make it. Especially when someone is nice enough to mark something with an asterick and it says “start on the low end.” I don’t like anything spicy, hot or that has a bite. But by jeebies I put myself 3 big ole tablespoons of that creole seasoning in there. I took one bite and was oohing and aahing and then “Somebody call the fire department cause my mouth is on fire!” LOL! Fortunately, my Son gave it his big seal of approval cause he likes spicy stuff. I must try it again and start on the low end. ;-)

  15. says

    I just found your site through pinterest and besides the wonderful recipes i just love your positive attitude and thanks for sharing your stories we all need to learn to maintain a positive attitude and live each day to the fullest!

  16. Amber says

    Thank you for posting this recipe. Like so many others, I just used the Zatarans on occasion when it came to dirty rice. Last night we tried this recipe, and it was delicious! The only thing I did differently was to substitute green onions for the bell pepper since I had one and not the other. I started on the meat and seasonings, then let it simmer and fry for about 25 minutes. It really soaked in the flavor. When the rice was done, it was perfection and a lot less saltier than the box mix. 5/5 stars from me!

  17. Amy says

    Oh my! You didn’t fail me, this is WONDERFUL! I don’t even think that I ever had dirty rice before…maybe at Bojangle’s like twenty years ago. I didn’t like that then, but I love this NOW!!

  18. Sherry Lee says

    OH my!! this is almost identical to a casserole we used to have when I was a kid.. called budget stretcher back then… it was baked and the top was just a little ‘crunchy’… loved it. fast and easy and tasty

  19. Anne-Marie says

    For years I have made fried rice with sausage! I always use the Sunbird packets from the Chinese food section at the grocery store, and I make it mostly according to the directions, except I use sausage instead of chicken or shrimp, regular diced onions instead of green onions, and Worcestershire sauce instead of soy sauce. If I ever had to give it a name I guess it would be hillbilly fried rice! Dang, now I have a craving that may send me to Krogers in my pj’s at midnight! Lmao

  20. Michelle says

    I’m a born and raised Texan, but my daddy is from Alabama and my mama is from Tennessee. I was raised on a combination of southern fare and good ol’ Tex-Mex. I literally laughed out loud when I read your “Note to all Texans.” Thanks for the laugh!

  21. Valerie says

    Made this again using turkey sausage. Had to add about 1/2 cup of beef broth to give it some extra flavor and next time I’ll boil the rice in beef broth. Also this time, I sprinkled the Creole seasoning and tasted, sprinkled and tasted and it was spot on! Made it much lower in calories and was every bit as tasty. It won’t be the last time I make it.

  22. Jenn Campbell says

    Made this tonight with some ground venison that was already in the freezer and instead of cajun seasoning, I used a store brand “soul season” because thats what I had. Loved it and made so much! I will have leftovers for a week! I just wanted to tell you this recipe was a huge example of how much I have changed since I found your blog. You posted on another recipe something about making do with what you have in your kitchen, that your grandmother wouldnt have driven to the country store to pick up one ingredient she didnt have. This was HUGE to me as I would have! If I did not have the recipe exactly as written, I wouldnt make it. You have saved me so much time and money!! Thanks!

  23. Katie S. says

    As always, your perspective is so inspiring. There is always an upside – we just have to find it. :-) I’m going to try this recipe with vegan sausage. I realize that may be blasphemy in the South, but I love adapting your recipes to suit our food preferences. Thanks for all the inspiration – both in life and in food.

    P.S. Happy to hear you’re up and around and healing well. Take care and be safe!

  24. Chris Thomas says

    This is one of my all time favorites. Thanks for reminding me. It’s now on tonight’s menu.
    I always made this with ground beef. Tennessee Pride and Jimmy Dean were pretty much non existent in NYC. There was one choice, Jones; and those were usually just links.
    I used to love Zatarain’s, until they evidentially opened up their own salt mine. And then there’s the price. As my southern friends would say, “They’re real proud of it.”
    I make most of my own seasonings. I like to control the salt content. I tried Tony Chachere’s… once. As I’ve described it, “A salt-lick… with a slight hint of what ever it was you were trying to season.”
    As a little twist, after all is finished cooking, I throw everything in a baking dish; about an inch or so deep. Then I sprinkle some of that ersatz parmesan cheese (Kraft) over it and pop it into a 400 deg oven until the cheese gets a little color on it; that ersatz stuff doesn’t really melt. I do the same thing with stuffed peppers; which have pretty much the same ingredients. Everybody seems to like it.
    God bless.

  25. Peg says

    I fixed this for lunch today & it was deeeelicious. When my husband got home this afternoon, he loved it too. So easy, so fast and soooo good!

    I haven’t heard the Tennessee Pride song in ages. I can’t get the tune off my mind now. I played it over & over so I could learn the words again. My grandchildren will get a kick out of this. Played for husband too. I loved it, brought back memories.

  26. Eva says

    Just read this post, and realized that I’ve been making this all my life, my mother called it hamburger and rice, she always added onions, and parsley (that was her go to spice or herb along with dill) and added other bits of seasonings in as the mood struck her. She made a variation that used elbow macaroni, that wound up with all sorts of things in it depending on how far along the month was, and what was left in the pantry, tomatoes, and shrimp (the tiny pink ones in the can) was the most memorable one. We ate a lot of stuff like this as we were poor. The shrimp was a gift from an uncle who loved them, and thought we needed to enjoy sea food, we lived 900 miles from the sea.

  27. Tracey says

    Just tried this recipe… it is great! I used ground turkey and brown rice… and a bag of chopped “trinity” vegetables that I keep in the freezer. Always nice to find a quick weeknight meal! Thanks!

  28. Cathy says

    Hi, I just discovered your site. You came up on the Pinterest picks for me today. I am so glad that I checked it out. I have never had dirty rice, but I am going to try your recipe. It sounds like our kind of meal, easy, cheap, and tasty.

  29. John Blanchard says

    Ive only had dirty rice once in my life, it was at a restaurant a whole lotta years ago :) But I liked it. Im going to try this. Im sure I’l enjoy it. My wife doesnt care for spicy at all, so more for me!! :D hehe And I use Odems Tennessee Pride sausage all the time. I love making gravy with it. Looking forward to some great dirty rice. ;)

  30. Wanda Wuensche says

    Hi Christy, I am waving to you as we drive through Alabama! We are on our way back home to TX. Your state is lovely but you need to stop this rain for us! Houston was flooded when we left home, as was most of the state. We hope things have dried out a bit.
    For those who lost family members or friends, my prayers are with you.

    The recipe looks great…just right. I’m a native Texan, but I do not like foods too spicy. No hot peppers for me!

    Thanks for the homeschool curriculum sale information. My children are all adults now, so my homeschooling days are over. I love the material though, and wish this had been available to me years ago!
    My grandchildren are homeschooled, so I may order some of this anyway.
    I also passed on the information to my daughter and daughter-in-law.
    Have a nice day!

  31. Josey says

    I did 2 Tablespoons of the cajun seasoning and it was just right for me, though the kids had to have mac n cheese instead. I used a different brand of spice than what you have pictured though and it was a little too salty. Will have to pick up some Tony Chachere’s.


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