Wild Rice Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

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This cold wild rice salad is bursting with Fall flavor, but it’s delicious enough to be enjoyed at any time of the year. It’s loaded with filling fiber, crunchy pecans, and sweet apples and dried cranberries for lots of flavor and texture in each bite!

wild rice salad with cranberries and pecans

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This recipe comes from my friend Jenn’s new book, Once Upon a Chef, the Cookbook. I discovered Jenn’s blog a few years ago when I was looking for a new salad recipe. I tried one from her site and immediately fell in love!

Jenn is a classically trained chef, so she knows what she’s doing in the kitchen. Her recipes aren’t always health-driven, but she uses lots of fresh ingredients, and her flavors are always spot-on, so I can easily modify her recipes to fit my needs. The recipes in this book are no different!

once upon a chef cookbook on a table

What makes Jenn’s book really special to me are the cooking tips she sprinkles throughout the book. For example, when baking, she suggests adding the ingredients to your mixing bowl in little piles, so that if you get distracted (as I always do!), you’ll be able to look in your bowl and see what you’ve already added. So smart!

Jenn has generously allowed me to share one of her healthy salad recipes here, so I hope you’ll enjoy it. She mentions that it’s the perfect salad to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck, and lends itself well to leftovers. Add some leftover turkey on top for a lighter post-Thanksgiving meal, or serve it with some chickpeas for some plant-based protein, instead.

wild rice in a strainer

Benefits of Wild Rice

Wild rice is naturally gluten-free and has more protein per serving than brown rice. Wild rice is also rich in antioxidants and essential minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. If you can only find wild rice available as a blend in your local store, be sure to look for one that is a mix of wild rice and long-grain brown rice, so that the cooking time will be similar.

wild rice salad with apples and celery

wild rice salad with apples and celery
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4.8 from 10 votes

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries & Pecans

This cold wild rice salad is perfect for Thanksgiving, bursting with Fall flavors. The combination of crisp apples, crunchy walnuts, and sweet cranberries is addictive! This dairy-free salad is vegan when you use maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Wile Rice Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 357kcal


  • 1 cup wild rice , rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice , from one orange
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pecans , toasted and coarsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 celery ribs , diced
  • 1 apple , peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted and salted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 scallions , light and green parts, thinly sliced


  • In a medium pot, combine the rice, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low; cover and simmer until the rice is tender and most of the grains have split open, about 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the rice to a fine-mesh strainer to drain any excess water. Let cool.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the cooled rice, pecans, dried cranberries, parsley, celery, apple, pepitas, and scallions. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if desired. Serve cold or at room temperature.



Make it Ahead: This salad can be made one day ahead of time and refrigerated.


Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 529mg | Potassium: 319mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 145IU | Vitamin C: 8.2mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1.5mg

Recipe Notes:

  • For a vegan salad, use maple syrup instead of honey, to taste. (I usually use a little more maple syrup when swapping it for honey.)
  • If you’d prefer to cook your wild rice in the Instant Pot, use a 1:1 ratio of rinsed rice to water. Cook it at high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before moving the steam release valve to venting. When the floating valve drops, it’s safe to remove the lid.
  • To toast pecans, preheat the oven to 350ºF and set an oven rack in the middle position. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 10 minutes, until toasted and fragrant.

Reader Feedback: Do you have a favorite make-ahead salad? If you haven’t tried it yet, my Quinoa Salad is also a reader favorite!

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I am loving this recipe, thanks for sharing!


I’m thinking instead of cranberries what about pomegranate seeds? Do you think that would be a good substitute? I have people that don’t like cranberries, how can you not like cranberries they are like the ultimate Christmas berry! Can’t wait to make this.


    Hi there …. I made this recipe and have a few thoughts. I LOVE the recipes form Once Upon a Chef. Anyway … Dried cranberries aren’t an equivalent for pomegranate seeds because dried cranberries are sweetened and their texture and flavor profile are totally different. They’re basically red raisins with more acidity. So … I would suggest using dried apricots for the umami fruity component, and then toss in some pomegranate arils for a pop of tart (not to be confused with pop tarts). 🙂

Vicki Dodge

4 cups of water for 1 cup of rice is about double what it should be. I use 2 cups of water and the rice is perfect.


I made a batch for a whole week’s worth of lunch for two! So delicious and so easy


Recipe looks good and with two modifications, it can be made vegan. One is the subbing of maple syrup or other sweetener for the honey. The other sub needed is a different mustard as Dijon is made with wine which has multiple non-vegan products used in making wine.

Kris Niebler

Loved this recipe! Using items we had on hand, I substituted red onion for scallions and used sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin seeds and it was still a hit for my family. Thanks!

Erika Sedlmair

I made this salad today, the rice was so yummy!….. I made a change, I didn’t have celery to i used roasted rhubarb. Everything taste fresh and delicious!


Made this as lunch meal prep for the week. I plan to have chicken or hard boiled egg on the side for protein. Didn’t have celery or pepitas but the salad still turned out wonderfully!


Wow, this wild rice salad is so good! I made it for a fall picnic, and it was a hit! The flavors and textures are perfectly balanced, so you get the chewiness and nuttiness of the rice playing off the crisp apple and celery, and pops of sweetness from the cranberries. The orange vinaigrette adds an unexpected, but beautiful citrus undertone. I’ll be making this again and again.


Interested in the nutritional information; how many grams in a serving?


Great recipe! This was delicious and easy. The hardest part of this salad was chopping the parsley. To make it vegan I swapped out honey for maple syrup. Because I had blueberries and not crasins I made that swap too. I made the rice in the rice cooker and reduced the amount of water by 1/2 cup. My dinner companions found it delicious as well – so I shared the recipe iwth them. Will definately make again.


Absolutely perfect harvest salad! I used lemon instead of orange and added some feta cheese. So good! Thank you!


This is the best rice salad I’ve ever had! I love the orange vinaigrette, it complements the wild rice, fruit, nuts, and celery so well. The texture of the salad is great too, with the chewy rice and nuts and the crunchy apple and celery.


Hi, I think perhaps the recipe should read two sticks of celery rather than stalks. Two stalks would be a heck of a lot of celery.


This is just what we were looking for. it is going on our Christmas Eve menu. Thank you for the inspiration.

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