Cranberry Wild Rice is a comforting vegetarian side dish that's the perfect balance of earthy and sweet. Wild rice is very versatile so you can turn this side dish into entrée or change it up any way you want.
Cranberry Wild Rice is delicious and nutrient-rich. Win-win!
It pairs well with all sorts of dishes, vegetarian and otherwise. And you can add a protein and transform it into a hearty main course.
I love it year-round, and it's especially wonderful during the holiday season. It's a perfect Thanksgiving side because it's lovely with turkey and all of the usual dishes that show up for the feast.
If you make the rice itself ahead of time, you can whip this dish up in just a few minutes. Either way, it's easy to put together.
- uncooked wild rice - Though typically skinny and black — like tiny, straight sticks, the color and shape of wild rice can vary depending on where it’s grown. Once cooked however, it’s becomes a shade of brown. It's gluten-free and very nutritious. You should be able to find it in any large grocery store or here.
- vegetable stock - Preferably low to no sodium.
- pine nuts - While pine nuts offer a slight crunch, they're a soft nut with a buttery texture. Mild in flavor, they don't overpower the other ingredients. They'll be toasted before we add them to the dish, to deepen their flavor and bring their oils to the surface.
- dried cranberries
- green onions (scallions) - Choose scallions with white to very light green bottoms and bright green crisp tops. (Use both the tops and bottoms.)
- black pepper - Preferably freshly ground.
(See recipe card below for quantities.)
- Raw wild rice. Brown rice and brown Basmati rice are the best wild rice substitutes. A wild rice blend also works well.
- Pine nuts. In this cranberry wild rice recipe, the pine nuts can be substituted with slivered or sliced almonds, pecans, walnuts or pistachios. Pecans would be my first choice because of their slightly sweet maple-like flavor and the pistachios would be an especially pretty touch. (If you use almonds, pecans or walnuts, they should be toasted and roughly chopped first.)
- Dried cranberries. The dried cranberries can be replaced with dried cherries or golden raisins.
- Green onions (scallions). You can use finely chopped red onion or shallots instead of the green onions.
- Steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach, roasted carrots and cauliflower are all great add-ins.
- Add a protein to make a hearty main course. Chicken and pork (tenderloin) are incredibly delicious with this dish. I like to sauté either one with olive oil, salt and pepper, in bite-sized pieces, and then mix them right into the rice. You can also use chicken and pork leftovers from another dish.
- To keep it vegetarian, if you want to add tofu, use an extra firm variety, cut into bite-sized pieces and pan-fry it. It's also excellent with a fried egg on top. I do this with all sorts of rice dishes.
- To avoid this dish from becoming mushy, be sure to drain any excess liquid from the rice before combining it with the other ingredients.
- When you're toasting the pine nuts, watch them carefully, as they can go from golden to burnt quickly.
- I use a mix of vegetable stock and water to cook the wild rice. The vegetable stock (or any stock) is a great way to add flavor when you cook any rice, but using only the water is okay, too.
How to Make it
- Rinse the rice under cold running water.
- Add the vegetable stock, water, the rinsed rice and a few pinches of salt to a large pot and bring it to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to low and bring it to a simmer, cover and cook until it’s tender, about 50 minutes. You will see that most of the grains have split open when it’s ready. If it’s tender, but there’s still liquid at the bottom of the pot, drain it.
- While the rice is cooking, add the pine nuts to a small sauté pan and place it over medium-low heat. Shaking the pan gently to move them around often, heat just until they’re golden, very aromatic and look oily. Set them aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked wild rice with the toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries and green onions. Mix and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
- I have a couple of favorite chicken recipes that I like serving with Cranberry Wild Rice: Blackberry Butter Roasted Chicken and Chicken Under a Brick.
- The earthy flavor of wild rice holds up really well to steak and pork. Lavender Grilled Steak and Mediterranean Flank Steak are outstanding with it as are Garlic-Rosemary Crusted Pork Chops.
- And for a vegetarian main course to serve with it, my first choice are Spinach Ricotta Rolls.
- You can't really go wrong when you add a salad to a meal. I love with Little Gem and Avocado Salad with this wild rice recipe.
More Must-Try Amazing Rice Dishes
- Creamy Wild Rice Mushroom Soup
- Coconut Cilantro Rice
- Turmeric Coconut Rice
- Poblano Rice Pilaf
- Miso Fried Rice
Can you make it ahead?
- You can make this a couple of days ahead of time, but don't toast and add the pine nuts until you're ready to serve. (Store the rice in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.)
- It's ideal to make a lot of wild rice to have at the ready, then you can whip something like this up whenever the mood strikes you. Stored in a tightly sealed container, wild rice should keep well for about four days in the refrigerator.
I hope you love this dish, and that you start wanting to incorporate more wild rice into your recipes and meals.
Cranberry Wild Rice Recipe
- 1 cup raw wild rice
- 2 cups low-sodium or unsalted vegetable stock
- 1½ cups water
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup finely chopped green onions, washed and dried
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare the rice. Rinse the rice under cold running water. Add the vegetable stock, water, the rinsed rice and a few pinches of salt to a large pot and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and bring it to a simmer, cover and cook until it’s tender, about 50 minutes. You will see that most of the grains have split open when it’s ready. If it’s tender, but there’s still liquid at the bottom of the pot, drain it. (You should have approx. 3 cups cooked wild rice.)
- Toast the pine nuts. While the rice is cooking, add the pine nuts to a small sauté pan and place it over medium-low heat. Shaking the pan gently to move them around often, heat just until they’re golden, very aromatic and look oily. Set them aside to cool.
- Assemble and serve. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked wild rice with the toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries and green onions. Mix and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.