Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries

5 from 1 vote

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

The sweet-tart chewy cranberries are a great foil for the slightly smoky, nutty flavor of the wild rice.  A perfect fall or holiday side dish.

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries

This is a gorgeous winner of a salad! The citrusy balsamic dressing complements the earthiness of the wild rice and the sweet tartness of the cranberries perfectly. This dramatic grain salad is a great addition to any holiday menu, especially a vegan Thanksgiving. It’s a vegan dish with a nice dose of protein, thanks to the wild rice, so it’s a versatile dish that can serve as a main course or perk up the plate of all of your guests as a side. This recipe doubles or triples easily.

A small amount of dressing is all this flavorful salad needs. The dressing is made from scallions, orange zest and juice, olive oil, and a bit of balsamic vinegar. It has notes of sweetness and onioniness. For a non-vegan menu, pair this wild rice salad with a rich and fluffy Corn Pudding and a Simple Slow Cooker Turkey Breast during the holidays.

But this is also a great side for a non-holiday meal! Try it with crispy Baked Chicken Legs with Herbs and Lemon or Baked Salmon for a simple dinner, paired with a salad.

Spoon in a white dish of Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries.

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries: The sweet-tart chewy cranberries are a great foil for the slightly smoky, nutty flavor of the wild rice. A perfect fall or holiday side dish.

Tweet This

Ingredients for Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries

Wild rice, cranberries, scallions, orange, and other salad ingredients.
  • Wild rice – The unique nutty flavor and firm-yet-tender texture of wild rice make this salad stand out.
  • Cranberries – Dried and fresh cranberries seem to team up with wild rice like they’ve known each other forever. This pairing feels especially right in holiday side dishes, such as salads, stuffings, casseroles, and pilafs. The sweet, tart, chewy cranberries are a great foil for the slightly smoky, nutty flavor of the wild rice. They also add a good pop of color to this salad.
  • Scallions – Use the thicker white part as well as the green tops. Both parts are delicious and contribute different flavors to this salad.
  • Orange – A combination of zest and juice adds sweetness and acidity.
  • Olive oil – Makes the base of this light salad dressing.
  • Balsamic vinegar – Balsamic vinegar varies significantly in price and flavor. Regardless of what your budget allows, it will bring out all the flavors in this simple salad.
  • Salt and pepper – I like to add a generous amount of salt and pepper to bring up the flavor of the simple salad components.

How to Make Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries

  1. Cook the rice: Cook the wild rice according to package directions. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pot, then fluff with a fork and cool to room temperature.
Wild rice, scallions, and dried cranberries unmixed in a bowl.
  1. Make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the cranberries, scallions, orange juice and zest, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Add the wild rice and toss to combine everything thoroughly. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 hours before serving.
Woman using spoons to mix scallions, dired cranberries, and wild rice.

FAQs

What is wild rice?

Wild rice is actually a firm and nutty deep brown/black grass that grows in lakes and riverbeds. It’s grown and harvested in various regions in the U.S., such as the Great Lakes, Texas, Florida, and also Canada. Minnesota is particularly known for its wild rice industry.

Some varieties of wild rice can be up to 4 inches long, but most commercial varieties are under an inch in length, with some of the grains broken in the processing. This is what most of us will find in the supermarkets. Traditional hand-harvested wild rice can be found in some specialty stores and online. It’s worth seeking out, and while it can be pricy, it’s worth it.

What is the best way to cook wild rice for salads?

You can cook wild rice, as you can cook any grain, in plain water, and it will be delicious, letting the delicate flavor of the rice shine. Or you can use a diluted broth to cook the rice or other grains, which will infuse the grains with more flavor.

I like to mix about 1 part low-sodium vegetable broth to 1 part water to cook grains. I think allows the grain’s flavor to emerge with a bit of a boost.

Is wild rice actually healthier than rice?

Wild rice is healthier than rice because it is not a type of rice but rather a type of grass. Wild rice is a great alternative to rice or a great addition to add some substance to a salad. According to the USDA, it is high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants and lower in carbohydrates than rice.

Pro Cooking Tips and Variations

  • The cooking time of the wild rice will vary depending on the variety. Expect it to become tender in about 30 to 50 minutes.
  • This salad can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to 4 hours before serving. Leftovers will be delicious for up to 3 days.
  • You can use dried cherries if you prefer. They are a bit more expensive and a bit bigger, but they are another excellent choice.
  • For a vegetarian but not vegan version of this salad, think about adding some crumbled goat cheese or feta, or slivered ricotta salata.
  • Sub in chopped red onion for the scallions.

What to Serve With Wild Rice Salad

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries on a plate with mashed potatoes, salad, and meat.

More Rice Salad Recipes

Pin this now to find it later

Pin It
5 from 1 vote

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries

The sweet-tart chewy cranberries are a great foil for the slightly smoky, nutty flavor of the wild rice.  A perfect fall or holiday side dish.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 People
Save this recipe!
We’ll send it to your email, plus you’ll get new recipes every week!

Ingredients 

  • 8 ounces dried wild rice
  • cup (3 ounces) dried cranberries or cherries
  • ½ cup sliced scallions (white and light green parts)
  • Zest and juice from 1 small orange
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Instructions 

  • Cook the wild rice according to package directions. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pot, then fluff with a fork and cool to room temperature.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cranberries, scallions, orange juice and zest, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the wild rice and toss to combine everything thoroughly.

Notes

  • You can cook wild rice, as you can cook any grain, in plain water, and it will be delicious, letting the delicate flavor of the rice shine. Or you can use a diluted broth to cook the rice or other grains, which will infuse the grains with more flavor. I like to mix about 1 part low-sodium broth to 1 part water to cook grains. I think allows the grain’s flavor to emerge with a bit of a boost. 
  • The cooking time of the wild rice will vary depending on the variety. Expect it to become tender in about 30 to 50 minutes.
  • This salad can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to 4 hours before serving. Leftovers will be delicious for up to 3 days.
  • You can use dried cherries if you prefer; they are a bit more expensive and a bit bigger, but they are another excellent choice.
  • For a vegetarian but not vegan version of this salad, think about adding some crumbled goat cheese or feta, or slivered ricotta salata.
  • Sub in chopped red onion for the scallions.

Nutrition

Calories: 347kcal, Carbohydrates: 64g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Sodium: 8mg, Potassium: 333mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 178IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 2mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating