Brown rice with vegetables dusted with Cajun seasonings, this vegetarian Cajun rice is full of flavor and health benefits. Ready in less than 30 minutes.

Meatless Cajun rice in a large bowl

Originating from Southern Louisiana, Cajun rice, AKA dirty rice, is traditionally made from white rice with small pieces of pork, chicken livers, or ground beef and green bell peppers, celery, and onion. Sounds divine, right? Why does it have a “dirty” name? It’s because the rice gets a dirty-looking color after tossing it with meat and Cajun spices including cayenne pepper, black pepper, and paprika

What if we omit the meat? Would it still get dirty? I made an experiment. I found out that whether the rice gets dirty or not is not the point. The point is… holy cow… the meatless dirty rice can be so incredibly tasty! To make it even better, I made a few alterations to the traditional Cajun dirty rice recipe.

Variations of Vegetarian Cajun Rice

  • Instead of using white rice, more nutritious brown rice is the key ingredient in this recipe. I used long-grain rice. To make this rice dish even more hearty, use vegetable broth to cook the rice. For non-vegetarians, beef broth, chicken broth made with chicken gizzards are all good options for cooking the rice.
  • It’s gluten-free and vegetarian. Well, it’s almost vegan. Besides cajun seasonings, the secret sauce in this recipe is Worchestire sauce, which normally contains fish. Choose a vegan Worchestire sauce if you’d like. 
  • Since meat is not present in this cajun rice, you can pair it with all types of protein. It’s a wonderful side dish. I love enjoying it with salmon and green beans. 
  • To make it a stand-alone main dish, toss a can of drained and rinsed black beans into the cajun rice. Voilà! You’ve got a balanced and delicious meal ready in less than 30 minutes. 
  • Want some heat? Add a few drops of hot sauce to your Cajun dirty rice.
A bowl of meatless Cajun rice

How to Make Vegetarian Dirty Rice

  1. Cook the brown rice. Recently, I discovered a new way of cooking brown rice on the stovetop that’s pretty promising.
  2. While the rice is cooking, chop onion, celery, and red bell pepper into small pieces. Then mince some garlic. 
  3. Chop fresh parsley and green onions. We will use them at the end. 
  4. Add a splash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, place the minced garlic and onion in the pan. It should sizzle right away. Start stirring with a spatula. Add a pinch of salt, stir, and let the garlic and onion sweat in the pan for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add celery and red bell pepper. Combine well with the onion and garlic. Stir in Cajun seasonings or Creole seasonings and Worchestire sauce. Sauté until all veggies are softened. Switch heat to medium-low.
  6. When the rice is done, fluff. Add it into the prepared cajun vegetable base. Combine well. (Some recipes call for vegetable broth to simmer the rice again at this step. I found it not necessary at all.) 
  7. Squeeze some lemon juice into the Cajun rice. Stir in parsley and green onions. Enjoy!

What to Pair with Vegetarian Cajun Rice

Packed with amazing flavors and a subtle citric taste, personally, I think this meatless Cajun rice goes really well with seafood and chicken. Here are some pairing ideas for you to consider. 

Scallops with Brown Butter and Caper Sauce

Cedar Plank Salmon

Sous Vide Salmon

One-Pan Balsamic Chicken

Baked Chicken Wings

Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan

Here you have it—my take on a Cajun rice recipe without meat. Dirty or not, I’ll let you decide. Yummy or not, please leave a comment below and let me know. And if you are interested in more Cajun dishes, try my crockpot Jambalaya.

Vegetarian Cajun Rice (Meatless Dirty Rice) by StreetSmart Kitchen
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Vegetarian Cajun Rice

Vegetarian Cajun Rice (Meatless Dirty Rice)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 5 reviews
  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free
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Brown rice with vegetables dusted with Cajun seasonings, this vegetarian Cajun rice is full of flavor and health benefits. Ready in less than 30 minutes.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 medium red bell peppers, diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions (green part only)


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot, add olive oil, and swirl.
  2. Add garlic and onion into the pan, followed by salt, sauté and let the garlic and onion sweat, about 3 minutes. (Note: if you already added salt in your brown rice, omit the salt here.)
  3. Add red bell pepper and celery. Season the vegetables with Cajun seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Combine and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.  
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in cooked brown rice, followed by lemon juice. Combine well with the vegetables. Taste, add more salt or lemon juice if desired.  
  5. Turn off the heat. Stir in chopped parsley and green onions. Serve.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 228
  • Sugar: 3.5g
  • Sodium: 59.1mg
  • Fat: 4.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.8g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 41.8g
  • Fiber: 4.4g
  • Protein: 4.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

About the Author

Sharon Chen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and author of the Complete Sous Vide Cookbook. She believes food not only brings healing but also connection. As the creator of StreetSmart Kitchen, she aims to make meal prep easier than ever and help you find balance, ease, joy, and simplicity in the kitchen as you improve your well-being.