Charleston Red Rice

Charleston Red Rice

A Lowcountry favorite that likely descended from West African jollof rice, this classic tomato and rice dish is also sometimes called Carolina red rice – or simply red rice. It often contains sausage, but this version, inspired by how the chef Millie Peartree’s mother, Millie Bell, used to make it, relies on bacon for its depth. (Still, if you’d like to add sausage, just let it sear with the vegetables in Step 3.) To start, the “holy trinity” (bell pepper, onion and celery) is cooked in the bacon fat, infusing the cooking liquid. Then, the rice is baked to ensure it’s perfectly cooked. Serve this alongside baked chicken or ham, green beans or collard greens, for a full, satisfying meal.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 8 persons



  1. Step 1

    Heat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Step 2

    In a large (12-inch) heavy skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the bacon to paper towels to drain, leaving behind drippings. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
  3. Step 3

    In the same skillet, add the chopped onion, celery, bell pepper and 1 teaspoon salt, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, another 30 seconds.
  4. Step 4

    To the skillet, add the rinsed rice. Stir and toast the rice for 30 seconds. Add the crumbled bacon, tomato purée, stock, hot sauce, Cajun seasoning, sugar, pepper and cayenne.
  5. Step 5

    Bring the rice and vegetables to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt, if needed.
  6. Step 6

    Carefully transfer ingredients to the greased baking dish. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil, and bake until the rice is tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Check the rice after about 30 minutes to make sure all the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is tender. (If it's too dry or not cooked all the way through, add a few tablespoons of water or stock at a time, if necessary, and cook a little longer.) Fluff with a fork before serving and garnish with parsley leaves.