Carolina Red Rice

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This Carolina Red Rice recipe is a savory one-pot meal complete with rice, smoked sausage, garlic, onion, bell pepper, and cayenne will become a family favorite! Easy to make and ready in 30 minutes, this red rice recipe is soul food at its best!

A collage of images with a bowl of Carolina Red Rice in a blue bowl, plates and bowls of the ingredients - sausage, rice, peppers, onion, the ingredients being cooked in a pot, and the nearly finished dish in the cooking pot. Text overlay says"Carolina Red Rice - 30-Minute Recipe" Similar photos of the recipe/dish from various angles are used throughout and with different text overlay unless otherwise described.

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Carolina Red Rice

The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions and to ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required as well as understand the steps and timings involved.

Also known as Charleston red rice and Savannah red rice, is a rice dish commonly found along the Southeastern coastal regions of Georgia and South Carolina, known simply as red rice by natives of the region.

This traditional meal was brought over to the U.S. by enslaved Africans originating from the West Coast of Africa. This cultural foodway is almost always synonymous with the Gullah or Geechee people and heritage that are still prevalent throughout the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia.

The main component of the dish consists of the cooking of white rice with crushed tomatoes instead of water and small bits of bacon or smoked pork sausage. Celery, bell peppers, and onions are the traditional vegetables used for seasoning.

The dish bears resemblance to African dishes, particularly the Senegambian dish thieboudienne, suggesting a creolization of the dish from West Africa to the New World. It also bears a resemblance to jollof rice.


Meals cooked in one pot are awesome – who has time during a busy week for complicated recipes that use lots of different pans? Not me that’s for sure!

That’s why one pot recipes like this Carolina Red Rice are one of my favorite types of meals to make. Full of great flavor, with minimal clearing up at the end!

I am not a fan of celery so it’s not gone into this recipe, even though I know it’s the holy trinity of seasonings in Creole and Cajun cooking, and would traditionally also go into a red rice dish… if you want to use celery, chop up a couple of stalks and cook them off with the onions and green bell pepper.

Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe

To make this recipe you will need fresh ingredients including onions, green bell pepper, garlic, and smoked sausage.

Andouille sausage is suggested in the recipe, but use whatever kind of smoked sausage is available to you. You could also use bacon or pork belly instead, or even shrimp.

For your convenience, any specialized ingredients & equipment needed for this recipe have been linked to Amazon below. The full list with measurements is found in the recipe card.

This recipe uses American cups. They’re a handy piece of kitchen equipment to have along with a kitchen food scale. Having both in your kitchen means you’ll be able to make all of the different recipes on my blog as I use both cups and weighted measures.

Carolina Red Rice Ingredients - sausage, onion, brown sugar, bell pepper, tomato paste, and rice

More Recipes Using Rice

One of the hero ingredients in this recipe is rice, so here are some more recipes using the same:

A white bowl filled with Carolina Red Rice (also known as Charleston Red Rice) with cornbread muffins in the background.
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How Do I Make Carolina Red Rice?

Just check out the recipe card below with full ingredients, instructions, and demonstration photos. You can print the card out too (don’t worry, the pics don’t print to save your ink!).

Carolina Red Rice Recipe

Carolina Red Rice

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 lb / 500g smoked sausage, cut into thin slices*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, medium dice
  • 1 bell pepper, medium dice
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 3 cups water, plus additional if needed
  • 4oz can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt & ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Cook sausage until browned in a large pot over medium-high heat
  2. Add garlic, onion, and bell pepper, and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  3. blank
  4. Add butter and rice, and cook until rice is slightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the water, tomato paste, and brown sugar. Stir well to combine.
  6. Add Cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir well to combine.
  7. Water , tomato paste and other ingredients added
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Let cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  9. If you need more water add small amounts as needed.  Cook until rice is tender.
  10. blank
  11. Divide between bowls and serve with cornbread/muffins. Enjoy! 
  12. Bowl of Carolina Red Rice


  • Use a smoked sausage such as andouille.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 441Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 837mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 7gProtein: 20g

This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

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Make It A Meal!

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