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!
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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!
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.
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 Cranberries & Pecans
- 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.
- 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!
Questions and Reviews
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). 🙂
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.
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!
Your version sounds closest to a salad from a restaurant i have been trying to recreate. It also had a smaller raisin (not as string as a currant) or as big as thompsons. I found them once at a small chain grocery store but not yet where we live now.
Thanks for your suggestions!
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.
Ahh, thanks for catching that! Just fixed it.
This is just what we were looking for. it is going on our Christmas Eve menu. Thank you for the inspiration.
I just now made a BIG batch of this salad to use for my daughter’s baby shower tomorrow. I taste tested it and its truly delicious. My only problem was in multiplying the ingredient list. I know that the website has the increase in ingredients, but it would be so very helpful to not have raw rice to measure, but the finished rice amount to use. I bought a package of wild rice (only one in the store) and a wild rice blend. I cooked both separately and would’ve loved to have seen how much to use of the finished rice in my recipe for 14 people. I’m guessing because I made lots of extra rice (kept extra aside) and will see how this absorbs the dressing and maybe play with the extra dressing and rice tomorrow before serving it up. Lovely salad though and I’ll make again! 🙂
This was delicious!!! My very picky family absolutely loved it!! Will be making it again!!
What a tasty dish that pairs well with so many things. Thank you for sharing.
I think honey smoked salmon would be a great addition to this salad with some greens and blueberries.
Very nice write-up. I absolutely love this site. Continue the good work!
Perfect! Used a wild rice blend and just followed package directions. With nuts and seeds it was hearty enough to be a meal on its own but we had it along side rotisserie chicken, perfect for a heat wave dinner. I love Once Upon a Chef and this was another keeper!
I love this recipe! It’s hearty and even my boyfriend likes it, that’s saying something. I didn’t have pepitas but was still fabulous regardless.
Really enjoyed this! I left out apples and celery but added chopped dried apricots bc that’s what I had. It turned out delicious! Will definitely make again.