Learning how to cook wild rice is easy. It’s delicious, versatile, and can be used in so many different dishes. In learning how below, we’ll make my recipe for Cranberry Wild Rice.
This is the type of rice I like to have on hand all the time.
Prepared wild rice is a great great way to add more flavor to other recipes, and it’s one of the best side dishes to go alongside chicken, meat or fish.
What is wild rice?
- Wild rice is the seed of an aquatic grass.
- It’s not necessarily wild. Most of what we see in grocery stores is cultivated and grown under farmed conditions. The true wild rice that is in fact wild, is hand harvested. (Check out this process here.)
- It’s a long grain rice and one of the only whole grains native to North America where wild rice grows in shallow freshwater marshes, creeks and along the shores of streams and lakes — the Great Lakes region of North America.
- There are more acres of naturally growing wild rice in northern Minnesota than any other state in the country. There, they call it “Paddy Rice.”
- Though typically skinny and black — like super tiny, straight sticks, the color and shape of wild rice can vary depending on where it’s grown. Once cooked however, it’s always a shade of brown. And when it cooks it splits and curls.
- Wild rice is gluten-free and very nutritious — it’s rich in antioxidants and has high amount of protein, manganese, phosphorus magnesium and zinc. More about the health benefits of wild rice is here.
- Native Americans have said, “wild rice is like gold to us.” Here’s an article about how they’re trying to protect its growth.
What does wild rice taste like?
It tastes similar to brown rice, but with a slightly earthier, nutty flavor. It has an outer “shell” that gives it a chewy texture.
How to Cook Wild Rice
Wild rice cooks for a long time to absorb enough liquid to become tender. The cook time can anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour, depending on the amount being cooked, the pot used, etc.
You can use almost any liquid to cook the rice. I usually use stock. It’s especially good with mushroom stock but you can use any vegetable, meat or chicken broth (or stock) to add flavor. Here’s my cooking method:
- Rinse the rice under cold running water.
- Wild rice ratio of rice to liquid: Use about 3½ times the amount of liquid to the amount of the rice. Add the rinsed rice, the liquid and a bit 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 — for 1 cup of rice and 3½ cups of liquid, 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.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper — or add it to any recipe you’d like to make.
(More detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.)
How to use it
- You can mix almost anything you want into it. From vegetables and meats to fruits and nuts. I think it’s incredibly tasty with Sherry Mushrooms.
- This delicious whole grain is a great addition to Thanksgiving stuffing, and it’s lovely to mix with other grains.
- People also love a wild rice salad, when it’s mixed with greens and served cold.
- It makes for a great filling ingredient for stuffed peppers and mushrooms.
- It’s also a super delicious addition to soups and salads.
- I especially love vegan wild rice recipes. Since the rice is so hearty, you can make fabulous, satisfying dishes with it.
- If you want to cut down on the cooking time, you can soak the rice in cold water overnight. (Drain it when you’re ready to begin the cooking process.) Either way, how long to cook wild rice can vary, so check it often.
- If you’re using a salted stock or broth, don’t add salt — you can season to taste later.
- Since the cooking time can be long, I like to make a big batch at once to have on hand. You can freeze the wild rice if you do this. Just let it cool to room temperature and put it in a tightly sealed container. It will keep well in the freezer for four to six months. Freezing it in small batches is a good idea.
- While my simple method on the stove top works really well, if you want to use a rice cooker, you can follow this recipe.
The below image and written in the recipe card, is my favorite wild rice recipe. Its earthy flavor is so delicious with the subtly sweet cranberries.
Cranberry Wild Rice
This wild rice dish is vegan and packed with delicious sweet and savory flavors. It can be served hot or at room temperature, and it’s delicious alongside almost anything. It can even be the entrée!
Now that you know how to cook wild rice, I bet you’ll be using it all the time.
Cranberry Wild Rice Recipe
To cook the rice
- 1 cup raw wild rice
- 2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
- 1½ cups water
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
To cook the rice
- Rinse the rice under cold running water.Add the rinsed rice, stock, water and salt to a very large, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and bring it to a simmer, cover, and cook until it’s tender, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. (Cooking times might vary.) You will see that most of the grains have split open and are curled when it's ready. If it’s tender, but there’s still liquid at the bottom of the pot, drain it. Season to taste if necessary with salt and pepper — or add it to any recipe you’d like to make.
For the Cranberry Wild Rice dish
- 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.
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