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Wild Rice Pilaf

This wild rice pilaf recipe creates a side dish that’s full of delicious flavor. You can make this easy rice pilaf ahead of time, as it reheats well. Great for holidays and everyday meals.

wild rice pilaf recipe in a dish
Tender, delicious wild rice pilaf is the perfect addition to your table

The wild rice pilaf recipe They’ll Love

A humble bowl of rice may not get the same kind of glory that Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes basks in, nor does it often receive the accolades that Rustic Rosemary Garlic Bread is accustomed to.

However. We aren’t talking about just plain old rice (though I personally am more than happy to put away a heaping bowl of perfectly cooked rice any day.)

Today we’re divulging the magnificence of this wild rice pilaf that’s as brilliant as any side dish out there. This rice pilaf recipe is easy enough for casual weeknights, yet delectable enough to be paired with this luscious beef tenderloin roast with garlic wine sauce.

What is Wild Rice?

According to Healthline, Wild rice is not technically a rice at all – rather, it’s a species of grass that produces edible seeds resembling rice. Wild rice boasts a chewier texture and more robust flavor than other varieties of rice. It’s higher in protein than regular rice and contains several important antioxidants and nutrients, and tends have many health benefits regular rice does not. Though it can be pricier and take a bit longer to cook, the benefits are well worth including wild rice into your healthy diet.

wild rice pilaf recipe in a dish with forks
Use a wild rice blend that incorporates several varieties of rice

How to Cook Wild Rice

For this wild rice pilaf recipe, we use a wild rice blend, which is a mixture of wild rice, red rice, and brown rice combined. Due to variations in brands of rice blends, it’s important that you follow the cooking instructions on the package of your wild rice blend.

If cooking plain wild rice alone, you might be surprised at the high water to rice ratio that’s needed. Here’s how to cook plain wild rice alone (not wild rice blend):

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 4 cups water or broth of your choice

Directions

  1. Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Drain very well.
  2. Add rice and water (or broth) to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Immediately lower to a simmer and cover tightly. Simmer for 45 minutes, occasionally giving it a stir. Once rice is tender and cooked through, drain the excess liquid and serve, or use in any recipe that calls for cooked wild rice.

Pro Tips for perfect wild rice pilaf

  • Use a wild rice blend that includes several varieties of rice. This allows the dish to have a texture balance of fluffiness, tenderness, and slight chewiness.
  • Since there are different brands of wild rice blends, be sure to cook according to your package instructions, veering towards the tender side. If the rice seems a bit too firm after cooking, mix in just enough extra broth to moisten all the rice, and cover/simmer 10 more minutes or until tender but not overly cooked.
  • This recipe uses only half the amount of butter that most rice pilaf recipes call for; it doesn’t need more than 1/4 cup of real butter.
  • Use regular strength chicken (or vegetable) broth instead of water for cooking the rice. Same liquid to rice ratio.
  • Instead of peeling and slicing large carrots, use baby carrots that only need to be thinly sliced.
  • Freshly shaved brussels sprouts are simply fabulous in this rice pilaf recipe; you can use a bag of pre-shaved fresh brussels sprouts, if your grocery store carries it. If not, it’s super simple to thinly slice your own.
wild rice pilaf recipe in a bowl
Add protein for a complete or heartier dish, if you’d like

Wild Rice Pilaf Ingredient Substitutions

Even though this wild rice pilaf is quite perfect (humbly speaking,) feel free to play with the add-ins. Especially if you’ve made it several times and feel like switching things up according to what you’ve got in the fridge.

Options: freshly sliced sweet bell peppers, broccoli florets, cut green beans, or any variety of mushrooms would be delicious in this dish. You can even make it a meal in one to satisfy meat-lovers by adding cooked/cubed chicken, turkey, or ham.

Make Wild Rice Pilaf ahead of time

Whether your schedule is tight or you want to get some cooking done ahead of time, this wild rice pilaf has you covered. You can easily make this entire dish several hours ahead of time and reheat when ready to serve. You can even make it the night before, cover/chill, and reheat the next day

Tip: if reheating after a night in the fridge, sprinkle with a bit of broth evenly over the top just prior to reheating, which ensures that rice stays moist.

Wild Rice Pilaf Recipe
Commonly Asked Questions

What is special about wild rice?

Wild rice is a special type of grain that’s toothsome and robust in flavor.
It’s higher in protein than regular rice and contains several important nutrients and an impressive amount of antioxidants, as well as a healthy dose of fiber.

What are the types of wild rice?

The most common types of wild rice include cultivated vs. wild grown. Cultivated wild rice is farmed rice, whereas wild grown is harvested by hand, near the waters of Minnesota and Canada.

How do you know when wild rice is cooked through?

Wild rice generally takes a bit longer to cook than regular rice. Once it’s cooked down to a chewy yet tender texture, it is done.

Can I make this wild rice pilaf ahead of time?

This wild rice recipe is perfect for making in advance. You can have it completely prepared several hours in advance. If you need to reheat your wild rice pilaf, sprinkle some broth over it just to re-moisten it a bit, and microwave covered until it’s hot.

Serve your rice pilaf with one of these main dishes

Try these easy, tasty roasted vegetables:

Shop this Recipe

  • This nonstick, jumbo pan gets daily use in our home. Dishwasher-safe, heavy-duty construction heats fast and evenly.

  • Wild Rice blend

    This pantry staple is healthy and hearty; perfect for wild rice pilaf.

wild rice pilaf

Wild Rice Pilaf

4.42 from 96 ratings
This wild rice pilaf recipe creates a side dish that’s full of delicious flavor. You can make this easy rice pilaf ahead of time, as it reheats well.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 55 mins
Servings: 15

Ingredients  

  • 2 cups wild rice blend
  • Regular strength chicken or vegetable broth, enough to use instead of water, for cooking rice according to package instructions
  • ¼ cup salted butter, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced baby carrots
  • 2 cups freshly shaved brussels sprouts
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Cook rice according to package instructions, using the broth instead of water. When cook time is up, do not open lid; turn heat off and keep lid tightly covered for 10 minutes to allow continued steaming. If rice is still a bit too firm, mix in just enough extra broth to moisten all rice, cover, and simmer another 10 minutes.
  • While rice is cooking, add butter to a large/deep skillet over medium high heat. Once butter is melted and starting to bubble, add onion and carrots. Stir to combine. Cover and cook 5 minutes,  stirring occasionally. Add brussels sprouts, garlic, Italian seasoning, and black pepper, stirring another 2 minutes until softened. 
  • Check rice for doneness. Fluff with fork and add to skillet with vegetable mixture, stirring to incorporate. Taste and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. 

Notes

I cook my wild rice blend for 55 minutes, keeping covered for another 10 minutes off heat afterwards. 
Wild rice pilaf can be made several hours ahead of time and reheated just before serving. If reheating leftovers the next day, sprinkle with a bit of broth to re-moisten prior to reheating.
Vegetable alternatives include: chopped bell peppers, broccoli florets, cut green beans, and mushrooms. Make it a meal-in-one by adding cooked/cubed chicken, turkey, or ham. 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating 🙂 

Nutrition

Calories: 116kcal | Carbohydrates: 18.6g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3.4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 8.8mg | Sodium: 158mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1.5g
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Method: Stovetop

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70 comments

    • Kari
    • 5 stars

    We made this for Christmas and it is AMAZING! This will be a staple in our home. Such a beautiful and elegant and delicious dish. It is easily made vegan with vegan butter and veg broth and is gluten free too.

      • Amy Dong

      Aww, thank you, Kari! 🙂

    • Jessie
    • 5 stars

    Thanks for this recipe – absolutely delicious!!!

    • Julie

    I’m having trouble with the print function–it is just opening the page again in another tab. Anyone else?

    • Heather Harris
    • 5 stars

    This is Amazing! I would give 10 stars if could! I love wild rice and this is the first recipe I’ve tried that gives Justice to making yourself vs a quick box LOL. I am actually new to liking brussel sprouts but honestly don’t think I have tried since I was a kid but I definitely think that is what puts your recipe over the top. I do add celery… my preference but that is the only thing I changed. Thinking as you suggested to try adding even more veggies. 🙂 I recently made at a family gathering & was a Huge Hit which is saying a lot because my aunts are great cooks & entertain a lot so thanks so much for recipe & being able to impress my family! Quick question, is it freezable?

    • Hickory
    • 5 stars

    My whole family loved it. Would advise to add more broth when cooking the rice. Mine burned at the bottom but I scooped what wasn’t burned and it still turned out delicious.

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