This Thanksgiving Wild Rice Stuffing is a hearty side dish packed with sauteed veggies, toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and fresh citrus. It’s an unexpected dish that’s easy to make and everyone loves.
Wild Rice Stuffing
If you’re looking for a new side dish to try this holiday season, our Thanksgiving Wild Rice Stuffing recipe is at the top of my list of suggestions. The earthy flavors and irresistibly chewy texture of the wild rice pairs perfectly with toasted pecans, sweet dried cranberries, and tangy citrus. It’s naturally gluten-free, can easily be made vegetarian, and is even super healthy.
One of the best things about adding this recipe to your Thanksgiving menu is that it can be prepared ahead of time. Just hold off on adding on the toasted pecans until you are ready to serve. There’s also no need to reserve this wild rice recipe for holidays. Feel free to mix it up and add bacon bits, diced apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, and other fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, and basil.
Thanksgiving Wild Rice Recipe Ingredients
- Wild Rice Mix - any wild rice mix will work well. You could also make this recipe using brown rice - be sure and follow the package directions for cooking.
- Chicken Broth - using broth instead of water gives your rice so much more flavor. If you want to make this recipe vegetarian, substitute vegetable stock instead.
- Pecans - you can buy pecans already chopped or chop them yourself. For even more flavor, make sure to toast them.
- Butter - this is for cooking the onions and celery. While I find that the buttery flavor is perfect for this dish, you could substitute olive oil if you prefer.
- Brown Sugar - a little bit of light or dark brown sugar really balances the flavors.
- Onions - either white or yellow onions work great.
- Celery - I like to cut the celery into a small dice.
- Dried Cranberries - these add flavor as well as texture. You could also use raisins or dried cherries.
- Orange Juice and Zest - fresh orange juice tastes best. Make sure and zest your oranges before squeezing the juice out.
- Salt and Pepper
- Parsley - fresh parsley as a garnish adds a nice pop of color and fresh flavor.
How to Make Wild Rice With Cranberries
- Cook the rice. In a saucepan over medium high heat, add the wild rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. Let the rice cook for about 45 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Toast the pecans. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan over medium heat, add the chopped pecans. Cook while stirring occasionally until the nuts are golden and very aromatic. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside and wipe the pan clean.
- Cook the onion mixture. Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter, brown sugar, and chopped onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are lightly caramelized. Add the celery and dried cranberries to the onions, cooking and stirring until the celery is translucent and tender. Finally, add the orange zest, orange juice, salt, and pepper and cook until the entire mixture is warm and well-combined.
- Toss and serve. Once the rice has finished cooking, add it to the onion mixture along with the toasted pecans. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve warm. Enjoy!
Recipe Variations for Thanksgiving Wild Rice
Here are a few simple recipe variations for Wild Rice Stuffing to get you started. Experiment with different ingredients and ratios to find the perfect combination that suits your taste preferences.
- Mushroom and Wild Rice Stuffing: Enhance the classic recipe by adding sautéed mushrooms to the mix. Cook the mushrooms in butter until they're golden brown and tender. Mix them with the cooked wild rice, onions, garlic, and herbs.
- Sausage and Wild Rice Stuffing: Brown the sausage in a skillet until it's cooked through and crumbled. Combine the cooked sausage with the wild rice, onions, celery, garlic, and herbs. The sausage adds a savory element that pairs perfectly with the nutty taste of wild rice.
- Apple and Cranberry Wild Rice Stuffing: For a touch of sweetness, incorporate apples and cranberries into your wild rice stuffing. Sauté diced apples in butter until they're tender, then mix them with cooked wild rice, dried cranberries, onions, garlic, and herbs.
- Herb-infused Wild Rice Stuffing: Experiment with different herbs to create a unique flavor profile. Instead of using the traditional thyme and sage, consider using rosemary, marjoram, or a blend of your favorite herbs. Combine the herb-infused wild rice with sautéed onions, garlic, celery, and any additional ingredients like dried fruits or nuts.
Frequently Asked Questions
You don’t need to soak wild rice before cooking, but giving it a little rinse doesn’t hurt. Soaking your rice can cut down the cooking down a bit, but the end result won’t have quite the same texture.
Yes! If you want to make this ahead of time, you can cook and mix everything together besides the nuts. Store in the fridge, then reheat the next day in a pot over medium heat. It’s a good idea to add a splash of water to the pot while reheating. Once it’s warm, mix in the toasted nuts and garnish.
If you are using a basic wild rice mix or blend, it will generally take about 45 minutes for it to cook over the stove. If you use a special variety of wild rice, such as black rice, check the package instructions for cooking times.
You can, but just note that some rice cookers will cook wild rice better than others. If you choose to go this route, use the brown rice setting and add 1 cup wild rice mix to 2 cups chicken broth.
Storing and Reheating
- Refrigerator: store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To reheat: transfer rice to a saucepan and add a solace of water. Heat over medium until it’s warmed through.
Thanksgiving Wild Rice Stuffing Recipe
- 1 cup Wild Rice Mix
- 2½ cups Chicken Broth can substitute vegetable broth
- ½ cup Pecans chopped
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 3 cups Onion diced small, white or yellow
- ½ cup Celery diced small
- ½ cup Dried Cranberries
- ½ teaspoon Orange Zest
- 2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Parsley fresh, chopped for garnish (optional)
- In a saucepan over medium high heat, add the wild rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down heat to a low simmer. Let the rice cook for about 45 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan over medium heat, add the chopped pecans. Cook while stirring occasionally until the nuts are golden and very aromatic. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside and wipe the pan clean.
- Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter, brown sugar, and chopped onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are lightly caramelized.
- Add the celery and dried cranberries to the onions, cooking and stirring until the celery is translucent and tender. Finally, add the orange zest, orange juice, salt, and pepper and cook until the entire mixture is warm and well-combined.
- Once the rice has finished cooking, add it to the onion mixture along with the toasted pecans. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve warm. Enjoy!
More Of Our Favorite Rice Side Dishes
- Spanish Rice
- Homemade Rice Pilaf Recipe
- Coconut Rice
- Lemon Herb Rice
- Cheesy Green Chili Rice Casserole
- Garlic Parmesan Rice
- Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice
- More Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- More Side Dishes
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You'll love this Thanksgiving Rice recipe full of dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and sauteed veggies. It's perfect for serving during the holidays, or any other time of year.