Serving wild rice for Thanksgiving is one of my favorite ways to balance the meal! It’s made with a nutty wild rice blend, broth, classic vegetables and herbs, and a final sprinkle of rich, buttery pecans. Suitable for the holidays or simple dinners during the colder seasons!
📋 About the Recipe
- A hearty Thanksgiving side dish - This rice for Thanksgiving is made with a blend of nutrient-rich rice, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and flavorful herbs. It’s the perfect comfort side dish to serve alongside your Turkey and favorite Thanksgiving side dishes! Also a great side dish option of Christmas too!
- Makes for good leftovers - Following the holiday, this rice keeps well for up to 5 days and can be enjoyed with leftover Turkey and fresh roasted vegetables for an easy dinner Thanksgiving weekend. You may also want to try my Instant Pot Rice Pilaf if you want another rice option!
- Vegetarian option - If you’re thinking about how to cater to your vegetarian and gluten-free guests this holiday season, this rice is the perfect recipe! It’s made vegetarian friendly with just 1 simple ingredient swap, and is hearty enough to keep your vegetarian and gluten-free guests satisfied.
A few notes about the ingredients:
- Wild rice blend - These rice blends typically include brown rice, wild rice, black rice, and red rice, or a similar variation. Use your favorite brand or what is available to you in your local grocery store!
- Broth - Cooking the rice for Thanksgiving in broth as opposed to water creates a more flavorful dish and keeps the rice from tasting bland.
- Fresh herbs - When cooking classic Thanksgiving dishes, I always recommend reaching for fresh herbs over dried. They’re more flavorful and really change the flavor of the dish.
- Dried cranberries and raisins - These dried fruits add a touch of sweetness to balance the savory and earthy flavors in the wild rice dish.
- Pecans - Pecans are well-known for their rich and buttery flavor. They’re crisp, crunchy and add the perfect texture to the soft and fluffy rice. Plus, you can use additional pecans to make my Sweet Potato Crunch Casserole!
⁉️ Substitutions and Alterations
- Broth substitute: I prefer to cook the wild rice for Thanksgiving in chicken broth. However, if you’d like to make this dish vegetarian-friendly, vegetable broth is a great option too.
- Pecan substitutes: Pine nuts or sliced almonds are a similar rich and buttery nut that will work well in this rice dish. Or, if you are allergic to nuts, omit the pecans completely.
- Apple substitute: Substitute another tart variety of apple like Pink Lady, or omit completely.
- Cook the rice. Rinse the wild rice blend in a fine mesh sieve. Combine rice and broth together in a large saucepan, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, cover with a tight-fitting lid.
- Simmer for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes (or the suggested amount of time on the back of your rice bag). After 45 minutes, remove from heat and let the rice stand for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
- Sauté the leeks, celery, and apple. In a separate large skillet, cook the leeks, celery, and apple for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the leeks soften. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- Add seasoning. Add garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, salt, and pepper and stir. Cook for another minute.
- Add the rice. Remove the skillet from the heat, then add in the cooked wild rice blend, dried cranberries, golden raisins, and pecans to the skillet. Stir to combine.
- Serve. Serve rice for Thanksgiving warm topped with additional toasted pecans.
❄️ How to Store
To store: Leftover rice for Thanksgiving can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To prevent excess condensation from building up in your container, wait to cover with a lid until cooled to room temperature.
To freeze: This wild rice dish will freeze very well. To freeze, cool the rice to room temperature then transfer to a freezer safe zip top bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 months. When ready, defrost in the refrigerator until completely thawed.
To reheat: This rice can be reheated in the oven or on the stovetop in a small saucepan until warmed through. To prevent the rice from drying out, add a splash of water or broth to the rice before reheating.
While similar, wild rice and black rice are not the same. Wild rice is technically a semi-aquatic grass, whereas black rice is a whole-grain rice. Most wild rice blends include black rice.
I have not tested a version of this rice using a slow cooker or rice cooker and unfortunately cannot recommend.
As a general rule of thumb, all rice should always be rinsed before cooking. This not only removes dirt and debris, but also removes excess starches. If these excess starches are not removed, the rice is more likely to clump together.
💭 One More Tip
How to toast pecans: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread pecans out evenly on a small baking sheet. Toast for 7 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly golden brown. Toasting pecans is essential because it adds much more flavor to the nut.
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Wild Rice For Thanksgiving
- 2 cups wild rice blend
- 3 ½ cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups sliced leeks (about 3 small leeks), white and light green parts only
- 1 ½ cups chopped celery (about 5 celery ribs)
- 1 ½ cups diced granny smith or honeycrisp apple (about 1 apple)
- 1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 garlic cloves)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage, stems removed
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, stems removed
- 1 tesapoon minced fresh thyme, stems removed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cup golden raisins
- ¾ cup toasted chopped pecans
- Cook the wild rice blend: Rinse rice in a fine mesh sieve. Combine rice and broth in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes (or amount of time designated on the back of your rice bag.) Remove from heat. Let rice stand for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks, celery, and apple. Cook 6 to 7 minutes, until the leeks soften, stirring occasionally so nothing burns.
- Add garlic and season with thyme, rosemary, sage, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook another minute.
- Turn off the heat. Add cooked rice, dried cranberries, golden raisins, and pecans to the skillet. Stir to combine.
- Serve rice warm topped with additional toasted pecans on top.
- To toast the pecans: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread pecans out evenly on a small baking sheet. Toast for 7 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly golden brown.
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