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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 iin a bowl with spoon.
Tender, delicious wild rice pilaf is the perfect addition to your table

Why This Recipe Stands out

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 of Rustic Rosemary Garlic Bread. However, this wild rice pilaf is not any old rice dish.

  • So Easy – 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.
  • Brilliant Flavors – This wild rice recipe is packed with succulent, savory flavors that taste like you spent a day on it (but you didn’t).
  • Vibrant Colors – The colors are festive for both any weeknight and holidays.
  • Meal Prep – This wild rice pilaf can be prepared fully in advance, as it reheats beautifully.
  • Family and Friends – They will literally lap this wild rice dish up and go back for seconds.

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 in a bowl.
Use a wild rice blend that incorporates several varieties of rice

Key Recipe Ingredients

  • Rice: Use a wild rice blend, which incorporates other rice varieties with wild rice, for best flavor, texture, and tenderness.
  • Broth: Regular strength chicken or vegetable broth, enough to use instead of water
  • Butter: Use salted butter, for best flavor
  • Aromatics: Garlic and onion bring out fragrant flavor in this dish.
  • Vegetables: Baby carrots, brussels sprouts are festive and colorful.
  • Seasoning: Italian seasoning and freshly ground black pepper are all the spices you’ll need.

Substitutions and Variations

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.

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

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.
Wild Rice Pilaf in a bowl

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions, using the broth instead of water.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Cover and cook 5 minutes,  stirring occasionally. Add brussels sprouts, garlic, Italian seasoning, and black pepper, stirring another 2 minutes until softened. 
  5. 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. 

Important Tips

  • 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

Make-Ahead

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.

What to Serve with Wild Rice

Main Dishes

Other Side Dishes

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.

Try Our Easy Roasted Vegetables

Did you make this?

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Wild Rice Pilaf in a bowl

Wild Rice Pilaf

4.56 from 125 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 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 15
Author: Amy Dong

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
  • Optional Garnishes: roasted slivered almonds, chopped cashews, or chopped pecans

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 (per serving)

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

Delicious Rice Recipes



4.56 from 125 votes (82 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




78 comments

    • Constance Smith
    • 5 stars

    I love rice pilaf, and am thrilled to see carrots and Brussels sprouts in there. Brussels sprouts don’t get enough love in this world 🙂

    • Jacqui Debono
    • 5 stars

    I am always craving something healthy and tasty after the heavy food of Christmas, this is perfect!

    • Stine Mari
    • 5 stars

    My mouth actually started to water just by looking at these photos. Using wild rice sounds super yum, I’m going to make this really soon!

      • chewoutloud

      Hope you love it!

    • Lesli Schwartz
    • 5 stars

    Stunning! I love wild rice salads, and the addition of the shaved Brussels sprouts puts this dish over the top! Will be saving this recipe for sure!

      • chewoutloud

      Thank you, Lesli!

      • Becky
      • 5 stars

      Love this recipe. Can I substitute peas instead of brussel sprouts

        • chewoutloud

        Of course! So happy you loved it! 🙂

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