The Seasonings You Need For The Best Copycat Bojangles Dirty Rice

Creating copycat recipes can be tricky if a chain doesn't disclose the exact ingredients it uses in its menu items, which is why they tend to vary a bit from one cook to another. All we really know about Bojangles dirty rice is that, as per the restaurant's website, it contains rice mixed with ground sausage meat and a "special blend of [undisclosed] seasonings." Very cagey, but maybe it's a chicken chain thing. After all, KFC's been making a big deal forever about its secret recipe known only by a select handful of employees.

Still, Mashed developer Catherine Brookes did her best to come up with something she calls "a close match for the Bojangles recipe flavor-wise," even though she adds fried peppers as well as onions and opts for brown rice rather than the white rice used by the chain. Alterations notwithstanding, the real secret to making dirty rice that tastes reasonably Bojangles-like lies in the seasoning.

So, what might those special seasonings be? We don't know for sure what Bojangles uses, although its nutrition data discloses that both wheat and soy are present in the mix – or perhaps in the rice or sausage, since it really doesn't say. Leaving that mystery aside, Brookes feels that the flavor of the dish most closely resembles a blend of salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, and thyme, so that's what she goes with. The end result is a dish she characterizes as "simple to make, yet totally delicious."

This spice mix can also be used as DIY Creole seasoning

Paprika, cayenne, and thyme might sound like a familiar flavor combo, at least if you're inclined toward reading ingredient labels, as these spices are often found in Creole or Cajun seasoning blends. While these Louisiana-style spice combos may also include other ingredients such as basil, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, or white pepper (our homemade Creole seasoning recipe calls for the latter two), Catherine Brookes' spice blend can be used as a template to make a simple seasoning mix.

Brookes mixes four parts of paprika with two parts of thyme and one part of cayenne, although you can always add extra cayenne if you'd like a spicier seasoning mix. The wild-card ingredients are the salt and pepper, because she simply adds those to her dirty rice to taste. If you're looking to make a ready-to-use spice blend, you might start with one part of each of these seasonings. You can then add one or two parts of any other spices mentioned, but the paprika should remain the dominant one in the blend. This DIY Cajun-slash-Creole spice mix will not only make for delicious dirty rice, but it can also bring the "bam!" (as Emeril Lagasse might put it) to gumbo, jambalaya, fried fish, or even plain old scrambled eggs.