Charleston red rice or Savannah red rice, whatever you call this easy baked rice with bacon, is one of my favorite recipes on the local beach restaurant menus! Serve it as a side dish for chicken, fish, or your favorite seafood dish.
One of my very favorite things to do during our annual family beach vacation is to dine at local seafood restaurants and fill up on crab, shrimp, and all the grilled fish I can handle.
I get downright giddy when I spot "Savannah red rice" or "Charleston red rice" on the menu for a side dish.
This savory tomato-based red rice dish features a spicy sauce and crispy bacon.
It is often served in individual baking dishes at the crab shacks we visit, but you can bake a 9 x 13 pan of it so easily at home for a family dinner.
Why This is the Best Recipe
When you're enjoying a seafood dinner, rice is such an excellent side dish choice. I think this is the best baked red rice recipe because:
- Savory and Flavorful: With a tomato base and salty bacon, this is the perfect accent for a lighter fish dinner.
- Easy to Prep: Just mix everything together and pop it in the oven, such an easy side dish to make.
- Classic Southern Recipe: This is one of my favorite southern recipes since it tastes just like the beach side restaurants we frequent every summer.
The ingredients to make homemade red rice are so easy. All you need is:
- Long-Grain White Rice: I often use jasmine, too.
- Canned tomato sauce
- Chicken Broth or Stock
- Hot Pepper Sauce: Read why we prefer Texas Pete here.
- Cayenne Pepper
How to Prep the Rice
The first step to making red rice is to fry up your bacon. I prepped it in a skillet but you could make my peppered bacon in the oven if you prefer.
Transfer the crispy bacon to a plate with paper towels to drain while you prep the veggies. You'll reserve the bacon for sprinkling over the top of the dish to keep it crispy.
Saute the onion and celery in the skillet until tender.
Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, dry seasonings, and hot sauce and stir to combine.
If your skillet is large enough, you can finish the entire dish right in the skillet. Mine wasn't large enough so I transferred the mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Add the rice and stir it in.
Bake the Red Rice
Cover your baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
Crumble the reserved bacon strips and sprinkle them over the top of the dish before serving.
Prep Ahead Tips
This recipe is best when served right after baking it fresh.
If you want to prep it ahead, you have to choices:
1. Use Pre-Cooked Bacon
To save time preparing this recipe, it helps to have pre-cooked bacon.
You could bake a batch of my peppered bacon recipe in the oven and it will shave at least 10 minutes off your prep time.
If you don't want to reserve some of the bacon fat from the cooking process, simply substitute a bit of olive oil to your skillet for sauteing the vegetables.
2. Prepare the Tomato Sauce
You could prep the recipe right up to the point just before adding the rice. Store the tomato sauce mixture in your fridge in an airtight container and simply heat it up before stirring in the rice and baking.
I recommend storing the bacon separately and heating it up in the microwave before crumbling it over the casserole.
Southern red rice with bacon is an amazing side dish with your favorite seafood recipes. I love it most with my seasoned grilled tilapia.
Red Rice with Bacon
- 7 bacon slices
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 stalks of celery diced
- 1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium until crisp. Drain the bacon on a plate with a few paper towels to remove some of the grease. Pour out the bacon fat from the skillet into a measuring cup. Return just ¼ cup of the bacon fat back to the skillet.
- Add the onion and celery to the skillet with the bacon fat. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the celery is tender, about 6 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, dry seasonings, and hot sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Stir in the rice and transfer the entire mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake the rice for 35 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Crumble the reserved bacon strips and sprinkle over the top before serving.
Make-Ahead Tips:This dish is best served fresh after baking. If you want to save prep time, you can prepare the recipe right up to the point before you add the rice. Store the tomato mixture in the fridge up to one day in advance. Then, simply stir in the rice and add it to the baking dish just before baking.
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