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Cajun Shrimp and Rice

 This Cajun Shrimp and Rice will have everyone clamoring for seconds and thirds!  Each and every bite is filled with succulent shrimp, juicy sausage and al dente rice laced with just the right kick of zippy, smoky, Cajun heat. To make this deceptively easy Cajun Shrimp recipe, you’ll sear the sausage followed by the shrimp, sauté the onions, bell peppers and rice, then add the broth and diced tomatoes and simmer to al dente perfection.  Of course, this recipe is incredibly versatile, add whatever veggies you like or omit them altogether, you can even swap the shrimp for chicken!  Your family will especially love this Cajun Shrimp and Rice alongside sweet cornbread and roasted broccoli. Let's eat! 
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

Shrimp and Rice

  • 1 pound raw large shrimp, shelled, deveined, patted dry
  • 12 ounces Cajun/andouille sausage sliced ½-inch thick (pork or chicken)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain basmati rice, thoroughly rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Green onions or parsley for garnish (optional)

Cajun Spice Mix

  • 1 1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried thyme, pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Mix Cajun seasonings together. Add 1 ½ tablespoons to the raw shrimp in a bowl and stir to coat; set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 3.5 qt (or larger) braiser or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown on each side, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage to a plate using a slotted spoon; set aside.
  • Add 1 tablespoon oil to the drippings in the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in an even layer and cook just until opaque, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove shrimp to a plate using tongs. You can chop the tails off of the shrimp once cool enough to handle if desired.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the now empty skillet over medium-high heat. Add rice, onions and all remaining Cajun seasoning and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and celery and sauté 3 additional minutes (onions should be softened). Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and the cooked sausage.
  • Bring the pot to a simmer, uncovered – the bubbles should reach to the center of the skillet (this can take up to 5 minutes, so be patient). Give everything a stir, cover, and reduce heat to LOW. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, checking and stirring at 5 minutes and replacing the lid. The rice is done when most of the liquid is evaporated and the rice is tender but slightly al dente. Add additional water or broth if the liquid has evaporated and the rice is not cooked yet.
  • Once the rice is al dente, stir in the shrimp, cover, and remove from heat. Let the pot rest undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  • Drizzle in lemon juice and fluff with a fork. Taste and season with additional salt or cayenne pepper to taste (I like more of both).

Notes

cooking Tips

  • Cayenne pepper:  1/4 teaspoon is mild-medium and definitely mild if you omit the sausage. 
  • Sausage:  the sausage is juicy and spicy and definitely a highlight in the dish, so I don’t recommend skipping!  If you skip it, you will likely want to increase the cayenne pepper or else the dish will taste pretty tame.  Also be prepared to add salt to taste. 
  • Use the correct rice: set yourself up for success and use long grain basmati rice. The type of rice is important because it affects the texture and consistency and ratio of ingredients. Other types of rice can have too much starch and are destined to become mushy. 
  • If the liquid evaporates before rice is done:  add just a little water, keeping in mind that the rice will continue to steam for 10 minutes once it’s removed from heat, so it doesn’t need to be 100% cooked once the liquid is gone.
  • If the rice is still wet once it’s done: don’t worry, it will continue to absorb the liquid the last 10 minutes while steaming. When you remove the lid after 10 minutes, you can let the rice sit an additional 5-10 minutes to dry out.

How to Store and Reheat

  • To store: store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  • To freeze: let the shrimp and rice cool completely. Transfer to a freezer safe container, label and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Microwave:  microwave for one minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30 second intervals until warmed through. Don’t overcook or the shrimp will become rubbery.
  • Stove:  reheat gently on the stove over medium-low heat just until warmed through.