Cajun chicken and rice

August 8, 2021

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Cajun chicken and rice

The science of eating well: exotic, healthy, quick and delicious recipes.

It’s no secret that I like Cajun and Creole cooking. I lived for a large part of my early youth in northern Florida not far from the bayou country where Cajun and Creole cooking originated. My godmother, Marion Hay, who was an education professor at Florida State University, was an enthusiast who taught me a lot about Cajun cuisine. I owe this Cajun chicken and rice recipe to her.

I have, however, tinkered with it to reduce the calories, and increase the nutrition. For example, she used ordinary white rice (as most restaurants do), which I think of as just wasted calories. Basmati rice—which I have used here—is much healthier (and has fewer calories). She—together with most professional chefs—used butter for frying and sautéing the ingredients. I have substituted a lite olive oil-based spread which is much more heart-friendly and doesn’t interfere at all with the resulting taste.

Most restaurants, in my experience, serve Cajun dishes over-cooked, which, to my mind kills the flavor.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ½ tablespoons lite olive oil-based spread
  • 500 gms (1 lb) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • Pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or any pepper powder)
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice (Basmati, brown or black rice will all work. I used Basmati)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Optional garnish: Chopped cilantro or parsley


  1. In a large pot or frying pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil spread.
  2. Liberally season the chicken with pepper
  3. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until cooked through (5 minutes or so). Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  4. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pan. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté until softened, usually less than 5 minutes. Do not over cook
  5. Add the garlic, paprika, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat for another minute until it smells enticing.
  6. Stir in the rice and broth. Increase heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid—but not all. If you over cook, add a bit more stock
  7. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed into the rice and chicken has warmed through. Do not let all the liquid get absorbed otherwise the dish will be much too dry.

Serve warm, garnished with cilantro or parsely.

Serves: 4

Energy: 1188 kJs (297 calories) per serve

Dr Bob Murray

Bob Murray, MBA, PhD (Clinical Psychology), is an internationally recognised expert in strategy, leadership, influencing, human motivation and behavioural change.

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