Looking for a red rice with sausage recipe? Today we feature our own easy, Southern red rice recipe. A great side for any dish, or enjoy it as a standalone meal.
A very popular dish you will find in the American South is Southern red rice with sausage. For sure, you can find local variations in Charleston and Savannah that have their own identities, but the basic recipe, ingredients and method are the same.
I love the opportunity travel gives you for learning about other cultures, foods and immigration (both people and their food). You can learn a great deal about low country food by taking free tours. One such tour is a tremendous walking tour of Charleston.
On the tour you will learn how the impact of immigration to the American south made easy a Southern red rice recipe such a staple throughout the region.
Red Rice in the American South is a Potpourri of Food Cultures
You may recall money, good living and the importance of manners in Charleston led to a very rich society where enormous wealth was on display. You can read more about that here. But this all ended at the completion of the American Civil War. The war left the South devastated, broke and food was in very short supply.
In short, the party was over! Consequently, all southerners had to tighten their belts and people ate what was available. Enter low country cuisine and the fascinating world of food immigration. No more enjoying expensive ingredients in flashy restaurants. Remember, towards the end of the Civil War, the North destroyed all crops to bring about a quicker end to the war.
The end of the war saw African-American cooks on southern plantations released and looking for paid work in the general community. Consequently, African-American cooks slowly became the cooks and chefs throughout Southern states. They introduced plantation cooking throughout the South using ingredients and cooking methods they knew and loved.
Think okra, watermelon, collard greens and rice. All African ingredients brought to the Caribbean and then onto the American south through migration. Note that these are all inexpensive and most of them are filling – just what the American south needed at the time.
Not Just Ingredients but Methods as Well
Do you think there is a lot of fried food in the American South? Why do you see fried chicken everywhere? Well because there is a reason for that too.
African-American migration introduced fried food to the Americas. Think about that for a minute. There was no refrigeration in West Africa. And furthermore, frying cooks food quickly. And it did not require any special energy source, just firewood, which at the time was plentiful.
For sure, there have been plenty of other influences on southern food, such as from the nearby Caribbean countries including Haiti, particularly on New Orleans (dirty rice is a very similar concept to red rice). The French, the frugal Dutch and Germans also have had a lasting impact on food in the South.
The result is a wonderful potpourri of flavors and methods that makes Southern food so interesting. It is certainly something to embrace and with that in mind here are the details for our easy Southern red rice recipe.
Easy Southern Red Rice Recipe
Don’t be fooled with the simplicity of this dish. It has a wonderful depth of flavor. It makes a tremendous side dish, especially with chicken – roast, fried or grilled.
Found everywhere throughout the American South, it is as just as good on its own. It has a slight kick but is still very mild in taste. You can spice it up by just adding a little more paprika.
The quantities below are enough for a filling side for 4 people or as a standalone meal for 2.
|Servings||Prep Time||Cook Time|
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onions, brown finely diced
- 1/2 lb sausage, smoky, hot sliced
- 1 medium bell peppers (capsicums), red finely diced
- 1 tsp salt, ground sea
- 1 tsp black pepper, ground
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 cup tomatoes, canned, chopped or passata
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2/3 cup rice pre-cooked
- Pre-heat oven to 350 f (180 c).
- In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the sausage and saute for a further 5 minutes.
- Then add the salt, pepper, paprika, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Combine well and when it comes to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the pre-cooked rice to the pan stirring until well combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and bake, covered for 25 minutes. Check half-way through to ensure the red rice is not drying out and if so add a little extra chopped tomato or water.
Love the use of different flavours and ease of making the dish! A great recipe indeed.
Wow!! The color in this is incredible!! And all that flavor!! Yum!
Catherine Baez Sholl
This recipe looks so flavorful!
I love learning about the cultural influences and history of the dish! Makes your delicious recipe sound even more intriguing 🙂
I’m a Southern girl, and I approve this recipe. LOL! Such comfort food! You hit the nail on the head with these flavors and your post!
Rice is my go to grain! This looks amazing!
LOVE that smoky flavor!!! So delicious!! Pinning to make!
Love all the ingredients in this recipe! We eat rice a lot so will have to add this into our rotation.
I’ve never had this before so I’m so intrigued! It sounds so delicious and I can’t wait to try it!
Renee D Kohley
Paprika is my love language 🙂 I love the color on this – will definitely try!
Sounds easy and flavorful! Great job. 🙂
Tiffani S Adams
I’m from the South, born and raised in what is considered the Deep South (Alabama) I have never heard or eaten Red Rice. I’m from a family of great Southern cooks and cuisine. My mother and father are both African Americans and were born and raised in a little town in Alabama, they have never heard of Red Rice either. Red Rice must be a Southeastern Southern cuisine. However or wherever it’s origins are from it does look delish!
We didn’t visit the Deep South and yes we were in the South Eastern part of the US (the Carolinas and the eastern part of Georgia). We saw red rice on the menu everywhere there. Interesting how different geographies have different regional dishes. For example, look how popular “dirty rice” is in New Orleans and Louisiana but not so much elsewhere in the US. Thanks for your comment.
Jennifer A Stewart
I love hearing about different cultures and their food. I love how you can find so many of them in the US. My grandfather is Bahamian, and we still have a lot of families there, so we visit often. They have a lot of Haitian influence there and the food is great! One of my favorite dishes is peas and rice. Very similar to this dish, they use tomato paste bell pepper, and bacon instead of sausage. I could eat bowls and bowls of it. The pigeon peas they use add that protein to make it the ultimate comfort food. For breakfast, I would throw a fried egg on top. I can’t wait to try this version of comforting rice dish!
Jennifer- I like the idea of the egg on top for breakfast. A poached egg would be perfect. I am going to try it!
Sarah | Away From the Box
I have been loving your southern food recipes! Charleston has been on my list of places to visit. After hearing of some of your adventures and the history behind it all, I’m inspired to move it further up my list.
Sarah, We really enjoyed it- it is a small place easy to walk around and make some great discoveries!
Love reading about origins of different cuisines and the read up was great. I can easily skip the meat in the recipe and try the rice. Love Southern flavors and we have just moved South from North East and I am exploring on various flavors.
Sandhya, You could skip the meat and use mushrooms or okra instead. Okra would be a vegetable they would use in the South and quite traditional!
In Manila where I came from originally, we ate rice three times a day but I must say it’s the simple plain boiled or steamed rice. This would be a nice change for sure and I look forward to trying it! Love the flavors here, too!
It is amazing how many cultures eat rice and there are some great dishes out there to discover! Hope you enjoy this one!
This is really easy and tasty rice, thanks for sharing culture of south, I am trying to learn southern culture after coming to Texas.I am going to try it as we are rice eaters without rice we can’t finish lunch or dinner.
Swathi, Do give it a try and let us know what you think! The flavor in it is fantastic!
Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day
I love learning about the history of a dish. I could eat rice every day. Love the color of this red rice!
Amy, I am amazed how red it turned out! And it was very tasty!
My aunt shared a recipe for Charleston rice with me. She was given it by a friend when my uncle was stationed in the South for the Air Force. I’ve always wanted to visit Charleston, for the charm and the history. I enjoyed your insights on the food choices Southerners made. Interesting how a food that was a cheap necessity became the backbone of a cuisine.
I’ll be trying this red rice as it looks full of flavor and will add some color to the chicken dishes I serve. Thanks!
Noel, We love learning about the history of food it is fascinating. Amazing how foods traveled across the world with immigration as well. Where we live in Melbourne we are very lucky- we have had a lot of immigration and you can find great food from around the world!
Loved that you shared the history behind this yummy dish! I’m sure this would pair well with so many main entrees. I can’t wait to give it a try!
Kim, and it is good anytime of the day!
Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy
Sounds like a great flavourful dish as a side for many meals. Love southern cooking. Lots of great flavour, and you can really play with the heat levels too.
Gloria, I agreee about the heat- they seem to eat their food quite “hot”!
Kylee from Kylee Cooks
I loved reading this post in full, not just for the recipe but for the info and background to southern cooking. As someone not from the US, I am constantly learning things about the history of food here and how it came to be – thanks for sharing! My husband is from the south and loves some good old down home cookin’ – this fits the bill!
Kylee- We tend to associate fried food with the southern USA so we thought it was really interesting this came from Africa and was really a response to the climate- so they could cook quickly outside rather than be in a hot kitchen!
I’ve been looking at this rice dish for two or three days now. It keeps popping up in my Bloglovin’ app on my phone. I finally took the time to read through the recipe and I cannot wait to make it. Wow – that red colour is gorgeous too!
Byron, Thanks to Bloglovin! Hope you enjoy it- we were amazed how much flavor is in the dish!
Julie | Bunsen Burner Bakery
I love traditional Cajun red beans and rice – but I’m not a fan of the plain, bland white rice. Yes, the sauce from the beans and sausage flavors the rice, but I always feel like something is missing. I think this southern red rice is what’s missing! Red beans and red rice – a perfect pairing!
Julie, It sounds like a good combination!
This is all so interesting! I recently relocated to the south and I am just starting to learn about Southern cuisine. Definitely enjoying lots of fried chicken here. Great and beautiful looking rice dish!
Kathy, We really enjoyed learning about Southern cuisine. You have an idea in your head, but it doesn’t always match the reality!
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Charleston on several occasions since my daughter used to live there. Loved visiting there…such neat and interesting things to see. This Red rice sounds really good. Never tried red rice although I do use rice often!
It might surprise you as to how good it is. And it is an adaptable side that goes with many foods.
I love learning the history behind dishes. Must admit never heard of red rice so was a good read. Thanks for the lovely article and recipe.
Veena, thanks for your comment. Red rice, only red because of the tomato but full of flavor.
Natalie | Natalie's Food & Health
This rice sounds really wonderful. Simple and yet so full of flavours and special. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
I was really surprised at the depth of flavor of this dish. Simple food and easy to make.
I enjoy reading through your intro…nice knowing more about southern cuisine…That Red Rice looks so inviting..and all that pepper and paprika must make this quite spicy and just the way we will like!
It’s actually not as spicy as it looks, but that could change if you are using hot paprika. Thanks for your comment.
I love the cultural culinary journey you take us on with your recipes. My mother is from the South so she use to make southern red rice for us growing up. I wasn’t much of a fan back then, picky eater, but I absolutely love it now! Can’t wait to try your version!
I do enjoy writing about the background to some of the recipes we use and find food history rather fascinating the way it travels around the world. Glad I brought some memories back for you.
Shannon @ Pass Me Some Tasty
I’ve never heard of this type of rice but I’m so inspired now to give it a try! Thanks for sharing the history of this rice and a tasty recipe!
I hope you enjoy it Shannon. It is an easy dish to prepare and can be eaten by itself or be a side.
What a beautiful recipe! This looks amazing:)
Thank you so much for that Tina. It is actually fairly simple.
I was just in Charleston. Lovely city and the food was very inspiring. Didn’t try red rice though. Will have to try this recipe. Thanks!
Charleston certainly is a lovely place to visit. Not only was the food food impressive but the whole town is like a living museum.
So many great flavors in this rice! I completely agree, nothing beats a great southern rice dish!
Yes we saw it everywhere in Charleston and Savannah and all of the versions we tasted were just great.
Your southern red rice looks as tho it could satisfy my craving for hot, comforting meal today in this cold, cold weather.
Not a bad side at this time of the year is it? And what I like is that it goes so well with a variety of foods.
Jovita @ Yummy Addiction
Loved the history behind the dish! Oh and the addition of sausage sold me immediately!
Yes I enjoyed adding the sausage as well and makes it quite a substantial side. All those cultures have contributed to the dish, which I find rather fascinating.
Annie @ Annie's Noms
Oh this looks just wonderful! Love all the flavours going on, the smoky sausage, tomatoes and peppers; all of my favourite things in one dish!
Thank you for that. It is easy to make and quite filling, a good side for the winter months.
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop
I love learning about recipes from different cultures. This easy red rice looks like one to try!
The history of food and how it has moved around the world is rather fascinating. We learned a lot traveling around the American South.
Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
The first time I ever had red rice was on our honeymoon in Charleston! This recipe looks great!
Liz, what a coincidence. We visited Charleston and Savannah on this trip and like you enjoyed the red rice there. Goes with anything as well.
I’m not usually a fan of Southern food — greens, okra, grits just aren’t my thing. But I can definitely get behind this red rice! I feel like it would be fantastic served up next to tacos….or is meshing food cultures totally unallowable? Hahaha.
Alyssa, I think this side can be mixed and matched with food from many cultures. I think they would be great with tacos.