Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet – This easy one pan dinner comes together in a flash, but packs some serious flavor! A family-friendly dinner that’s easy enough to make any night of the week! (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
This recipe was kind of an accident. Am I allowed to admit that?
Maybe I should call it more of a “happy surprise,” since it was a happy ending born out of desperation and a ticking clock. A few weeks ago, a recipe video got suddenly rescheduled, which meant our dinner plan was out the window. It was 4:30, everyone was hungry and grumpy, and I was staring at the contents of our refrigerator willing an idea to reveal itself. (Have you ever been there?)
I started pulling out any veggies that looked fresh, found a package of sausage, and remembered about a little rice in the freezer. About 30 minutes later, I’d cobbled together this Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet. And it was so good, we almost finished the entire thing in one sitting and promptly made it again ASAP.
With flavorful sausage, colorful veggies, and seasoned rice that’ll keep you coming back for more, this sausage and rice skillet recipe became an instant keeper we’ve made a few times since. Sophie had seconds and thirds, and Michael and I just kept saying “this is SO GOOD” between bites.
Plus, it’s made in one big skillet in about 30-ish minutes, so…WIN!
Here’s what you’ll need to get started…
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO OUR CAJUN SAUSAGE AND RICE SKILLET:
KIELBASA SAUSAGE. Mild, flavorful kielbasa sausage starts the flavor base of our Cajun sausage and rice skillet. I love that it adds smoky flavor without a lot of heat, which makes it a great option for little ones. Feel free to use pork, beef, turkey, or chicken sausage. Whatever you like!
BELL PEPPERS. Next comes some color with 2 bell peppers. I like using two different colors (red + green or red + yellow), to make things more colorful and bright. We eat with our eyes first, and pretty colors always pull me in!
GREEN ONIONS + GARLIC. Green onion adds a layer of onion flavor with a more subtle texture. Along with the garlic, I love the flavor it adds to our sausage and rice skillet!
SPINACH. If you’ve got it on hand, a few handfuls of spinach make a great addition to this recipe. I recommend chopping or tearing the spinach into small pieces. That way, it’ll wilt down to practically nothing and blend right in with the rice and other veggies.
A QUICK SAUCE TO FLAVOR THE RICE. Our most impactful punch of flavor comes from a quick sauce we mix up in the pan to flavor the rice. You’ll use a combination of tomato paste, chicken or veggie broth, and Cajun seasoning. It adds a gorgeous color to the rice and adds flavor to every single bite. YUM!
COOKED WHITE RICE. After cooking the sausage, veggies, and sauce, you’re ready to mix in cooked white rice. Feel free to make this in advance to save time later, or use frozen packets in a pinch! It’ll absorb all that lovely sauce and taste amazing.
A FEW FINISHING TOUCHES. Right before serving, add a little cilantro or parsley for a pop of fresh color and flavor. I love doin this!
MIX IT UP! HERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO PLAY WITH THIS SAUSAGE AND RICE SKILLET RECIPE:
LIGHTEN IT UP! Feel free to use turkey or chicken sausage in place of pork or beef. It’ll reduce the fat and calories if that’s your preference.
TRY IT WITH OTHER VARIETIES OF SAUSAGE. The easiest way to play with the flavors in this sausage and rice skillet is to swap out the sausage! Trade out the kielbasa we used for Andouille sausage, red pepper and garlic sausage, smoked sausage, or even something like Italian sausage!
PLAY WITH THE VEGGIES. Get creative with the veggies you add to this recipe. Feel free to add some sliced zucchini or mushrooms along with the bell peppers, or change out our green onions for a red one. You could also swap out the spinach we use for kale or other greens, depending on what you have in your crisper drawer!
MAKE IT SPICY! Since we’re using kielbasa and a modest amount of Cajun seasoning, this recipe isn’t super spicy as written. If you want to turn up the heat, you can swap out the kielbasa for spicy Andouille sausage (playing up those delicious Cajun flavors!), add a little more Cajun seasoning, or sprinkle in a bit of cayenne pepper. Easy-peasy!
FAQ + TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BEST CAJUN SAUSAGE AND RICE SKILLET:
IS THIS SPICY? Our Cajun sausage and rice skillet isn’t really super spicy as written, though there are plenty of ways you can turn the heat up (see the last section above this one for tips!). The real determining factor will be the type of sausage you use (we use kielbasa which isn’t spicy) and the brand of Cajun seasoning you use. We almost always use this one, which isn’t spicy when used in small amounts, like we do here. Do be sure to read your labels, since some brands are made to be H-O-T!
OUR FAVORITE STORE-BOUGHT CAJUN SEASONING. Lots of people have their favorites, but our go-to store-bought Cajun seasoning blend is this one from McCormick. They make a few, but this one is our favorite. It’s gluten-free, has great flavor, and isn’t too spicy.
MAKE YOUR OWN CAJUN SEASONING. Or, if you prefer to make your own Cajun seasoning blend for our Cajun sausage and rice skillet, my friend Ali has a good one!
SHORTCUTS TO MAKE THIS EASIER. One extra-quick shortcut is using frozen packets of pre-cooked rice. I can find these almost everywhere these days–Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and more carry frozen packets of jasmine rice with no added ingredients that work well here. They take 3 minutes to warm up in the microwave and you can add them right to the recipe! (We also love frozen garlic cubes since they have no added ingredients and taste exactly like fresh.)
CAN I USE BROWN RICE INSTEAD? I haven’t tested it with brown rice yet, but I do think it would work. The texture will be different–less light and fluffy/more dense and chewy–since you’re using brown rice, but since you’re adding cooked rice, it shouldn’t impact the ratios of sauce and seasonings much, if any.
CAN I USE CAULIFLOWER RICE INSTEAD? I wouldn’t recommend cauliflower rice here without playing with the ratios of sauce and seasonings, since cauliflower rice doesn’t absorb liquid the way white rice does. You might like our Paleo Jambalaya recipe if you want to go that route!
CRAVING MORE? YOU MIGHT LOVE:
- Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
- Paleo Jambalaya With Cauliflower Rice
- Dairy-Free Chicken and Vegetable Risotto
- Dirty Risotto (Dirty Rice Risotto)
- Sheet Pan Sausage, Veggies, and Gnocchi
- Magic Green Rice