Louisiana Rice Dressing (a holiday favorite)

Louisiana Rice Dressing in a casserole dish.

Rice dressing is a Louisiana staple that can be served as a side dish or used as a stuffing for turkey or chicken. This rice dressing recipe uses the holy trinity of green peppers, onions and celery with ground beef, pork, chicken livers and oysters. It’s rich, savory and 100% delicious.

the main meat ingredients for this rice dressing recipe: ground pork, beef, chicken livers and oysters.

What is rice dressing?

According to John Folse’s tome The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine, {affiliate link} this rice dressing recipe has been around for more than 150 years. It’s a staple on holiday tables throughout Southern Louisiana as it combines all the best flavors of the bayou including meat (pork, beef & chicken) seafood (oysters) and nuts (pecans).

It’s a simple, but rich and hearty side dish that just screams Louisiana.

In Folse’s original recipe, the only seasonings were salt and pepper. I’ve added a classic Creole (or you can use Cajun) blend to crank up the volume on this savory stuffing.

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Why you’ll love this rice dressing recipe:

  1. It’s a great make-ahead recipe.
  2. There are multiple ways to enjoy it, hot from the pan, baked in a casserole dish or stuffed into your holiday turkey.
  3. It’s like no other stuffing you’ve ever had. Truly.
  4. Feeds a crowd and can be doubled.
  5. Rice stuffing freezes well.
  6. Leftovers are fabulous.

Rice dressing recipe ingredients:

  • Cooked Long Grain Rice – cool the rice after cooking so it doesn’t continue to absorb liquid.
  • Chicken Livers – I use Murray farms chicken livers.
  • Pecans – can use pecan pieces.
  • Ground Beef – can use lean or regular.
  • Ground Pork – I know — beef, chicken and pork? Trust me, it works.
  • Butter – don’t use your fancy European butter.
  • Onions – I use yellow onions.
  • Celery – a traditional part of a mirepoix.
  • Green Bell Pepper – part of the Louisiana holy trinity – the beginning of soups, gumbos and etouffees.
  • Red Bell Pepper – adds a sweet pop of fresh flavor.
  • Kosher Salt – I recommend Diamond Crystal.
  • Black Pepper – Freshly ground will give the most flavor.
  • Creole Seasoning – homemade or store-bought.
  • Garlic – for an aromatic flavor.
  • Oysters (in their liquid) – use fresh oysters.
  • Green Onions – for a fresh allium flavor that doesn’t overpower.
  • Chopped Parsley – for fresh flavor and garnish.

This recipe is pure Louisiana from the rice which is a native crop to the low country and bayous, to the holy trinity (onions, celery and green pepper).

The blend of meats with chicken livers and oysters sounds strange, but it’s one of those things that just works. Don’t question it, just enjoy.

For those who say they don’t like chicken livers or oysters — I’m here to tell you that you’ll never be able to identify them in the rice dressing as everything is cooked down into one homogenous dish with no one flavor dominating.

poaching chicken livers in water.

How to make rice dressing:

  1. Bring a small pan of water just to the boiling point and remove it from the heat. Add the chicken livers and set aside to poach.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the ground beef and pork.
  3. Brown the meat in the butter, breaking it up into small even granules with the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Stir in the minced garlic, onions, celery, green and red bell peppers and roughly chopped chicken livers.
  5. Simmer the vegetables with the meat until tender and slightly translucent.
  6. Add the oysters and their liquid and break apart the bivalves with the spoon, until they’re blended into the meat mixture and not readily identifiable. (You don’t want big chunks of anything in the rice dressing, the ingredients should all be about the same size, which is to say, about the size of a grain of rice.)
  7. Season with Creole seasoning and cook for a few minutes until well seasoned and fragrant.
  8. Add the cooked and cooled rice, green onions, parsley and toasted, chopped pecans and mix to combine.
  9. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Pro-Tips about the rice:

Do NOT use hot rice in this dressing recipe.

It should be cooked and completely cooled before adding it to the meat mixture.

I recommend making it earlier in the day or even several days before. Just store it in the refrigerator and its one less thing to do on the day you make the rice dressing.

However, if you are assembling the recipe on the same day, cook the rice and remove the lid so that the steam evaporates and the surface of the rice dries out.

Using hot, sticky rice will cause the grains to soak up more liquid and can make the dressing mushy.

Adding oysters to the rice dressing.

What’s the difference between dirty rice and rice dressing?

Though they might sound similar and share some basic ingredients (rice and the holy trinity of bell peppers, onions and celery) there are big differences between these two classic Louisiana recipes. Dirty rice is made with chicken livers and giblets and doesn’t contain any other meat or seafood.

Rice dressing doesn’t use giblets and also includes ground beef, pork and oysters with their liquid. That’s a whole lotta flavor.

Variations:

  • The original recipe didn’t include the Creole spice seasoning, so you can certainly skip the spice if you have sensitive diners.
  • Other spice blends that would work are Cajun spice (which is simply Creole spice without the herbs).
  • Or add several tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce (such as Crystal’s or Tabasco).

Can I eat rice dressing straight from the skillet?

Yes! The beauty of this recipe is that everything is cooked in the skillet, so you can absolutely enjoy it hot from the pan.

How to make the rice dressing recipe to serve as a casserole

  1. After assembling the rice dressing, spray a 2 quart casserole dish with nonstick vegetable spray.
  2. Transfer the dressing to the prepared dish.
  3. Dot with 1 tablespoon of butter, cut into small pieces and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350°.
  4. Garnish with extra parsley and green onions and maybe a few whole pecans.

How to stuff a turkey with rice dressing

  1. Prep or season the turkey as usual (I usually brine mine for a day).
  2. Dry the turkey inside and out with paper towels.
  3. Stuff the turkey with the rice dressing, but don’t pack it in too tightly. It should be comfortably snug, but not pressed tightly.
  4. Tie the turkey legs together with kitchen string to prevent the stuffing from leaking and roast until the turkey reaches 165° in the thickest part of the breast or thigh.
  5. Let the turkey rest so the juices can redistribute. While the turkey is resting, spoon out the rice dressing and transfer to a serving dish.
Adding chopped pecans to rice dressing mixture.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How should I store the rice dressing?

You can store it in a well sealed food storage container or if it’s in a casserole dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

How far in advance can I make the rice dressing recipe?

Up to 2-3 days in advance. Keep well covered and refrigerated. To reheat, remove from the fridge for 30 minutes before heating in a 350° oven for about 15-20 minutes.

How long will leftovers last?

Leftovers are good for 2-3 days or you can freeze leftover rice stuffing for up to 2 months in a freezer safe container.

Can I freeze the rice dressing?

Yes. This recipe is actually well suited to freezing. Just transfer to a freezer safe storage container or a zip top freezer bag. It will keep well for up to 2 months.

Serving rice dressing in a casserole dish.

I made this rice dressing recipe as a side dish to go with a grilled, spatchcock chicken and green salad. It was so good that four of us ate just over half of this two quart casserole… piglets we are.

Here’s what my tasters had to say:

“It’s really good. I love all the meats and how the flavors work together. When you said it had oysters, I was looking for big chunks, but they’re dissolved into the rice. It gives it a really nice flavor throughout. I love that spicy Creole kick.” – Scott

“Cajun comes to Thanksgiving! What a treat! “– Craig

“This went so well with the chicken, which can be a bland meat, it made such a great pop and contrast.” — Chris

Louisiana rice dressing with pecans.

What can I do with leftover rice dressing?

  • Melt butter in a cast iron skillet and fry leftover dressing as you would a hash. When it’s crusty and hot, top it with a fried eggs, fresh diced green onions and a few dashes of hot sauce.
  • Hollow out bell peppers and fill with the rice dressing. Cover well with foil and roast in a hot oven until the peppers are soft. Voila, stuffed peppers.

More Louisiana Cajun and Creole recipes you’ll love:

A closeup of the rice dressing recipe.

More stuffing recipes:

Want MORE? Check out this collection of Ultimate Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes.

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Scooping up the rice dressing with a spoon.
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5 from 5 votes

Louisiana Rice Dressing

This is a Creole take on a classic Louisiana rice dressing. You can use this as a stuffing for a turkey or several chickens, or just serve it in a bowl or casserole dish on the side. This rice dressing recipe is made for holidays and feeds a crowd.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Cajun, Creole, Louisiana
Keyword chicken livers, dressing, ground beef, ground pork, oysters, rice, stuffing
Dietary Restrictions Egg Free, Gluten-Free
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ cup pecans
  • 3 cups cooked white rice cooled with the lid off the pan, to room temperature.
  • 3 chicken livers
  • ¾ pound ground beef I used ground chuck
  • ¾ pound ground pork
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced green pepper
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon Morton’s
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper fresh ground if possible
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 pint oysters in their liquid
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ½ cup chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS:

TOAST THE PECANS:

  • Heat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans on a sheet pan and toast for 8-10 minutes or until the pecans are browned, toasted and fragrant. Roughly chop and set aside.

POACH THE CHICKEN LIVERS:

  • Bring 1-2 cups of water to a rapid simmer in a small saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chicken livers. Set aside to poach (it will only take about 5-6 minutes).
  • Remove the livers from the water. Reserve some of the poaching liquid in case you need it later. Roughly chop the livers. Set aside.

BROWN THE MEAT:

  • Place a large skillet over medium high heat and add the butter to melt. Stir in the ground beef and pork and cook, breaking the meat apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is browned through and the pork and beef are separated into small grains.
  • Add the onions, celery, green and red bell pepper, kosher salt, black pepper, Creole seasoning and minced garlic. Stir and simmer for about 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are softened and flavors are well combined.
  • Add the oysters and their liquid to the meat mixture and use the edge of the spoon to break the oysters into small, almost indecipherable pieces. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the oysters are well combined.
  • If the mixture starts to look dry, you can add a few tablespoons of the reserved poaching liquid, but it shouldn’t be wet or sopping.
  • Add the rice, diced green onions and parsley to the meat mixture and gently fold it together until evenly combined. Stir in the pecans.

TO STUFF A TURKEY WITH RICE DRESSING:

  • You can use the rice dressing to stuff several chickens or a turkey. If you’re making the rice dressing ahead of time, bring it to room temperature before stuffing a turkey.

SERVE DIRECTLY FROM THE PAN:

  • Transfer the rice dressing to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with additional parsley and diced green onions. Serve as a side dish.

TO SERVE AS A CASSEROLE:

  • To serve as a casserole, spray a 2 quart casserole dish with vegetable spray and fill it with the rice dressing. Dot the casserole with about 1 tablespoon of butter and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350° to heat through, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until the top is lightly browned and crusted.

NUTRITION:

Calories: 328kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 359mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2450IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 3mg

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve never had anything like this before, but the ingredients sounded so unusual I wanted to try it. My family devoured this rice stuffing. We served it as a side dish with grilled chicken, but honestly, I could have skipped the bird and just eaten this dish on its own. It’s so meaty and rich. Love it. We will make this for Christmas instead of the standard bread stuffing.