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This wild rice salad recipe is simple and bursting with flavor, with crunchy veggies, pecans, cranberries, a zingy dressing, and feta cheese!

Wild Rice Salad
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Here’s a hearty fall and winter side dish that’s just begging to jump onto your table: wild rice salad! This mix of rice with crunchy veggies, pecans, cranberries, and feta cheese crumbles is ideal for any occasion, from the holidays to a simple cozy dinner. A maple Dijon vinaigrette dressing infuses a tangy flavor throughout, punctuated by bursts of fresh parsley. It’s pretty simple to put together and easy to make ahead. Side dish problems, solved!

What you need for wild rice salad

Wild rice is perfect for fall and winter recipes, but did you know it’s not technically rice? It’s the seed from a native grass that grows in lakes and streams in the Northern US and Canada. But since it looks so much like it, wild rice is treated as rice in most cuisines. It was an important staple to Native Americans in the upper Great Lakes area of the US. (I’m from Minnesota originally, so wild rice was part of the heritage and history of where I lived growing up!)

This wild rice salad uses a wild rice blend, which mixes wild rice with various types of rice (most often brown). This makes it both more economical and a better texture for a salad! Here’s what you’ll need for wild rice salad:

  • Pantry ingredients: Wild rice blend, salt, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup or sugar, olive oil, pecans, dried cranberries
  • Fresh ingredients: Celery, green onions, Italian parsley
  • Dairy: Feta cheese crumbles (omit for vegan and add more salt to taste)
Wild Rice Salad

Notes on using wild rice blend

A wild rice blend is perfect for using in a salad, because the texture of wild rice on its own can be rather heavy. Often wild rice blends will use brown rice, and sometimes other types like red and black rice. This makes the blend cheaper to produce and it has a fluffier texture, making it more pleasant to eat than the texture of straight wild rice.

In this recipe, you can use any package marked “wild rice blend.” Cooking instructions may vary depending on the brand, so use the timing and liquid specified on the package if it differs from this recipe.

Does this work with 100% wild rice?

This wild rice salad also works with pure wild rice! If all you have is pure wild rice, you can use that too. The cook time is essentially the same, but you’ll use more water and drain excess liquid after cooking (vs letting the water absorb in the wild rice blend method). Simply make the following changes:

  • Use 2 ½ cups water instead of 1 ¾ cups.
  • Simmer 45 to 50 minutes, until the rice is split and tender. (Most of the grains will split, but not all: see this photo.) If most of the grains are not split, continue to cook, adding more water if necessary.
  • Once cooked, drain any excess liquid.
Wild Rice Salad Recipe

Customizing this wild rice salad recipe

This wild rice salad recipe is full of goodness, featuring the autumnal flavors of celery, green onion and parsley against nutty pecans and sweet cranberries. Want to swap out some of the ingredients to make it your own, or add some of your favorite items to the mix? Here are a few ideas:

  • Chopped apple
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Dried cherries
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Baby arugula
  • Fresh rosemary or sage, using small amounts since these herbs are very strong.

More grain salads and side dishes

This wild rice salad is the best fall and winter side. It’s a great fall salad or Thanksgiving side dish, it works for Christmas, and it’s versatile to use at any sort of dinner. Pair it with chicken, baked salmon or vegetarian dinners for a hearty, filling side. Here are a few more great side dishes to try:

This wild rice salad recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, omit the feta cheese crumbles.

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Wild Rice Salad

Wild Rice Salad


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x

Description

This wild rice salad recipe is simple and bursting with flavor, with crunchy veggies, pecans, cranberries, a zingy dressing, and feta cheese!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice blend (mix of brown and wild**)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbles (optional; omit for vegan)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer under cold water. Add the rice to a saucepan with 1 ¾ cup water and if desired, 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter (optional). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed (see notes* and **). Cover and allow to stand and steam for 10 minutes. Stir in ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Then pour the rice onto a sheet pan in a single layer and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes until the rice is room temperature. (Or, you can make the rice ahead and refrigerate until serving, up to 2 days.)
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the celery, green onion, and parsley as noted in the instructions above.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, olive oil, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
  4. When the rice is cooked and cooled, mix it in a large bowl with the chopped vegetables, dressing, feta cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, and chopped pecans. If desired, add a few feta crumbles and pecans to the top for serving.
  5. The salad tastes best fresh, but stores up to 3 days refrigerated. For make ahead, cook the rice and mix the dressing in advance and refrigerate. Add all salad ingredients together before serving.

Notes

*You can use any package marked “wild rice blend” that contains a mix of wild rice with other types of rice, including brown, red and black. Cooking instructions may vary depending on the brand, so use the timing and liquid specified on the package if it differs from this recipe.

**If all you have is pure wild rice, you can use that too. Use 2 ½ cups water instead of 1 3/4. Simmer 45 to 50 minutes, until the rice is split and tender. (Most of the grains will split, but not all: see the photo.) If not, continue to cook until most grains are split, adding more water if necessary. When the rice is cooked, drain excess liquid.

  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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