Wild rice is a staple of the Native American diet. It’s not a grain at all, but the seed of an aquatic grass native to North America. Much of the wild rice cultivated in the U.S. today is cultivated in Minnesota, Oregon and California. The rice is black in color, and somewhat shiny.
“Wild” wild rice (not cultivated wild rice) is hand gathered using canoes in Minnesota, and also Wisconsin. The flavor tends to be more savory than cultivated wild rice. It’s more expensive, as gathering the seeds is a labor-intensive two- person job. Wild rice tends to be longer than cultivated, sometimes pronouncedly so. The color may be more brownish than black, with hints of green. The hull tends to be firmer and thicker as well.
The taste of wild rice is nutty and earthy, with hints of pecan, corn, and a vegetal flavor. The texture is quite tender, and the seeds split somewhat when they are cooked. As long as it is not overcooked, it should have a nice chew to it.
Even though it’s not “technically” a rice, wild rice is usually found in the rice section of the market. Most grocery stores will only carry one brand, though specialty stores may have more. You can also find it in well stocked bulk food aisles, particularly in stores that have a good supply of grains. There are different species of wild rice as well, so if you are a fan, keep your eyes open for various options.
How to Cook Wild Rice: Nutty and earthy, tender and a bit chewy, wild rice is easy to prepare, perfect for the holidays, and can be used in so many ways.Tweet This
Rinsing and Soaking Wild Rice
Wild rice should be rinsed before cooking, which will keep it from being sticky or gummy. However, it is not necessary to soak the wild rice. if you have time you can soak the rice for 30 to 60 minutes, and it will shorten the cooking time by up to half. However, the texture might be mushier than cooking unsoaked wild rice for a longer time.
How to Store
Store wild rice in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. It should last for 2 to 3 years, as long as moisture doesn’t get in. Cooked wild rice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 days, in a tightly sealed container. Cooked wild rice can be frozen for 6 months, also in an airtight container without excess air; try storing it in a freezer proof zipper top bag with any excess air pressed out. Make sure to label it for easy identification.
Wild Rice Water Ratio
The water to wild rice ratio is 3 to 1. Not all of the water will be absorbed; you will likely have to drain some off once the rice becomes cooked and tender.
How Long to Cook Wild Rice
The grains will double or even triple in size when cooked. The cooking time may range from 40 to 55 minutes, and you should check to see if your package has specific directions. The cooking time will be shortened by up to half if the rice is soaked.
Overcooked wild rice is mushy and lacks flavor. Undercooked wild rice will be unpleasantly hard or chewy, and also not very flavorful. So, taste as it goes, and take it from the heat and drain it when it is just done to your liking!
How to Use Wild Rice
Salads: Either a rice salad, served room temperature or warm, or added to greens or vegetable salads. Also try Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries or Wild Rice Salad with Broccolini or Wild Rice and Sweet Potato Salad.
Bowls: Top the rice with all kinds of toppings, from vegetables (sauteed mushrooms, roasted broccoli, steamed sweet potatoes) to tofu to cubed cooked meat or seafood. Try the tahini dressing in this salad drizzled over your bowl or go another direction with green goddess dressing.
Casseroles: Try using wild rice as a substitution in any grain casserole.
Side Dish: Mix different things into your wild rice. Chopped vegetables, dried fruit, herbs, crumbled cheeses, and so on.
Soups: Wild rice is a terrific base for all kinds of soup. Make sure to add it already cooked and not to let it simmer further for too much longer or it will start to lose its texture
Stuffings: Wild rice is sometimes used in stuffings for anything from a Thanksgiving turkey to a stuffed roast.
Pilafs: Wild rice, often in combination with another kind of rice, is often featured in autumnal pilafs.
Wild rice is quite good for you! It’s high in magnesium, phosphorous, fiber, calcium, Vitamin B and has a high level of antioxidants, which are believed to be very helpful in warding off various illnesses.
How to Make Wild Rice
Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer.
Place the rice and water or broth in a saucepan with a lid. If the broth is salty enough, you don’t need to add additional salt. If you are using water or less-sodium broth, you may want to add some salt to the liquid.
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes.
Start testing the grains at 35 minutes, and keep checking every 5 minutes if the grains aren’t tender and flavorful. If you have soaked your rice first, start checking to see if it’s done at 25 minutes. When the rice is tender and some of the grains have burst open, it’s done.
Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer and serve as desired. If you want to cool the rice for use in a salad or similar preparation, after the rice is drained, spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Or, you can drain the rice and rinse it under cool water to cool it down.
You can transfer it to a container after it is cooled if you are making it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. And here’s what you need to know about reheating wild rice.
What to Serve with Wild Rice:
- Cornish Hens
- Lemon Garlic Turkey Breast
- Chicken Thighs Stuffed with Mushrooms
- Lemon Rosemary Chicken Thighs
- Roasted Chicken with Orange Honey Mustard Glaze
- Sheet Pan Salmon with Broccoli Rabe
- Air Fryer Salmon
Also See How to Cook:
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How to Cook Wild Rice
- 1 cup wild rice
- Kosher salt to taste
- 3 cups water or broth (chicken or vegetable)
- Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer.
- Place the rice and water or broth in a saucepan with a lid. If the broth is salty enough, you don’t need to add additional salt. If you are using water or loess-sodium broth, you may want to add some salt to the liquid. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes. Start testing the grains at 35 minutes, and keep checking every 5 minutes if the grains aren’t tender and flavorful. If you have soaked your rice first, start checking to see if it’s done at 25 minutes. When the rice is tender and some of the grains have burst open, it’s done.
- Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer and serve as desired. If you want to cool the rice for use in a salad or similar preparation, after the rice is drained, spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Or, you can drain the rice and rinse it under cool water to cool it down.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.