Wild Rice Cranberry Salad

The citrusy balsamic dressing complements the earthiness of the wild rice perfectly.  This dramatic grain salad is a great addition to any holiday menu.  And it’s vegan with a nice dose of protein, so it’s a versatile dish that can perk up the plate of all of your guests.  This recipe doubles or triples easily.

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries

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 the various regions in the U.S. such as the Great Lakes, Texas, Florida, and also Canada. Minnesota is particularly known for their 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.

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries

Cooking 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 broth to 1 part water to cook grains, which I think allows the grain’s flavor to emerge, with a bit of a boost.  

Cranberries in Wild Rice Salad

Dried and fresh cranberries seem to team up nicely with wild rice, especially in holiday side dishes, such as salads and stuffings and 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 various wild rice dishes, such as this salad.  You can use dried cherries if you prefer; they are a bit more expensive, and a bit bigger, but they are another excellent choice

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries

Dressing for Wild Rice Salad

A small amount of dressing is all this flavorful salad needs. This dressing is made from scallions, orange zest and juice, olive oil, and a bit of balsamic vinegar.  It has notes of sweetness and oniony-ness, and I like to add a generous amount of salt and pepper to bring up the flavor of the simple salad components.

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.

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What to Serve with Wild Rice Salad

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries

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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.
Yield: 4 People
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian


  • 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


  • 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, and salt and pepper. Add the wild rice and toss to combine everything thoroughly.

Nutrition Information

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

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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