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Overhead shot of a bowl of Savannah Red Rice on a wooden table with fresh parsley garnish
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5 from 2 votes

Charleston Red Rice

This classic Red Rice is a Lowcountry side dish of long grain white rice that's baked with bacon, onion, garlic and tomato!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern
Keyword charleston red rice, gullah red rice, red rice, savannah red rice
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 261kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley


  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish; set aside.
  • In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 7-8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving the drippings in the pan. Melt butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste, kosher salt, sugar and pepper. Cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add the bacon, water and rice. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced slightly, about 8-10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet as you stir.
  • Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Cover and bake until the rice is tender, about 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Fluff the rice, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve.


  • Simmer before baking. I learned this tip from Southern Living, and it works really well! By simmering the rice, vegetables and cooking liquids in a skillet on the stovetop (to reduce the liquid) before finishing it in the oven, you'll get separate yet tender and fluffy grains. Sometimes baked rice can have a mushy, gummy texture -- but not here!
  • Make sure that the rice is covered tightly in the oven. Otherwise, steam will escape during the cooking process and the rice will not cook properly.
  • Stir regularly. Even when the rice is in the oven, use a fork to fluff and stir the dish every 15 minutes or so. This will keep the grains fluffy and separate and will help the rice cook evenly.
  • Total cooking time will vary depending on a number of factors (such as the size and depth of your baking dish, how hot the mixture is when it goes into the oven, etc.).
  • Keep a close eye on the rice and remove it from the oven as soon as the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Overcooked rice will have a mushy, gummy texture, which is not ideal. If the liquid is absorbed before the rice is completely done, add a little bit more water to the pan, fluff with a fork, cover and return it to the oven for an extra 5-10 minutes.
  • Do not substitute with brown rice, instant rice, or other varieties of rice, since the amount of liquid and the cooking time in this recipe is specifically tailored for long-grain white rice.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs like parsley for a bright touch of color and flavor.


Serving: 1/6 of the recipe | Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 952mg | Potassium: 376mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 673IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg