Wild Rice Pilaf

5 from 16 votes
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Wild Rice Pilaf with Brussels sprouts, apple, toasted pecans, and dried cranberries. This holiday-worthy side dish is easy enough for weeknight cooking and sure to impress.

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Wild Rice Pilaf styled in a wooden serving bowl with a serving spoon resting on the right side.
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Why You’ll Love this Wild Rice Pilaf

If you’re in need of a crowd-pleasing holiday side dish, look no further than this flavorful pilaf.

This pilaf pairs beautifully with roasted chicken or turkey, and is a texturally-pleasing alternative to many classic casseroles.

It’s also super allergen-friendly (gluten free, easily dairy free, and easily nut free with simple substitutions).

Wild rice is a favorite grain of mine this time of year.

It has a cream-colored interior and deliciously nutty flavor. It’s fantastic in SO many dishes (like these Wild Rice Burgers, Wild Rice Mushroom Soup, and Wild Rice Casserole).

Beyond its hearty appeal, this pilaf boast many other benefits. It is:

  • Meal prep-approved and last for days in the refrigerator.
  • Freezer-friendly, so feel free to make a double batch to store for later use.
  • Super versatile! Use any combination of aromatics, nuts, and/or dried fruit you prefer.

How to Make Wild Rice Pilaf:

You’ll find many classic holiday flavors in this recipe, such as toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and woodsy herbs. However there are ample substitutes for any ingredients you either dislike or don’t have on hand.

The Ingredients

Pilaf ingredients in separate bowls on a white board with labels.
  • Wild Rice: Technically, wild rice is not a rice, but rather a semi-aquatic grass native to North America.
    • Due to its hearty texture, wild rice takes longer to cook than most other rice varieties. However, the finished result is always worth the extra stove time.
  • Broth: I prefer using broth over water to cook the rice, which infuses it with more flavor. You can use homemade or store-bought vegetable, chicken, or turkey broth.
  • Aromatics: The base of this pilaf starts with sautéed onion, apple, and celery, which gives the pilaf a sweet, aromatic backbone. You can use any variety of onion you have on hand, such as yellow, sweet, or even shallots.
  • Brussels Sprouts: Thinly sliced (or shaved) sprouts add crunchy, hearty texture to the pilaf. They also add beautiful pops of green to the earthy tones of the rice.
  • Pecans: It’s important to toast the pecans at the very start of cooking. Toasting enhances their nutty, rich flavor, and is worth the extra few minutes. Alternatively, you can use toasted pine nuts or walnuts.
  • Cranberries: For a pop of sweetness and chewy texture, I love stirring dried cranberries in at the very end. If you’re not a fan of their sweet-tart flavor, you can use dried cherries or blueberries instead, or simply leave them out.
  • Spices: I tested this pilaf with a whole assortment of spices, but ended up liking good ol’ poultry seasoning the best. This highly aromatic spice mix includes thyme, rosemary, sage, and a hint of nutmeg. 

For a complete list of ingredients and quantities, see the recipe card below.

The Directions:

Step 1: Boil Rice. Combine rice, broth (or water), and 1/4 tsp. salt in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the rice is tender. 

Remove lid, stir, and place the lid back on rice to steam for 10 minutes (off burner).

Wild rice being cooked in a skillet until tender.

Step 2: Toast Pecans in a large dry skillet over medium heat. Toast until they smell nutty and aromatic, watching closely so they don’t burn, about 5 minutes.

Transfer pecans to a bowl.

Pecans and aromatics being sautéed in a white skillet.

Step 3: Sauté Aromatics. Return skillet to medium heat, and add olive oil and butter. Cook onion, celery and apple until soft, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in poultry seasoning.

Brussels Sprouts and spices being added to skillet and cooked until soft.

Step 4: Add Brussels sprouts and toss to combine. Continue cooking until Brussels are tender, about 5 to 7 more minutes. Stir in pecans and cranberries.

Wild rice being added to skillet with vegetables.

Step 5: Add Wild Rice to skillet, and toss to combine. Transfer pilaf to a serving platter and garnish with extra cranberries, pecans, and/or fresh thyme, if desired.

Serving Suggestions:

This dish makes a fantastic holiday side dish. It adds welcome texture to the usual sea of creamy casseroles, and is super visually appealing. Here are some of my favorite entrees to serve it with:

Make-Ahead and Storage Tips:

  • Make-Ahead: Slice and dice the onion, celery, and apple up to 2 days ahead. Store in an airtight container refrigerated. You can also slice or shred the Brussels sprouts up to 2 days ahead, and store separately.
  • Store: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Reheat: Heat pilaf in a skillet over medium heat, adding a splash of broth as needed to help rehydrate the grains, until warm.
  • Freeze: Let pilaf cool until close to room temperature. Place in a gallon-size, freezer-safe storage bag, and lay flat in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before following reheating instructions. 
Wild rice pilaf being tossed in a large wooden serving bowl.

More Wild Rice Recipes

If you give this recipe a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates! I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review!

5 from 16 votes

Wild Rice Pilaf

Wild Rice Pilaf with Brussels sprouts, apple, toasted pecans, and dried cranberries. Serve alongside your protein of choice, such as roasted chicken or turkey, for a holiday-worthy side dish that's sure to impress.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • Large skillet
  • Medium Saucepan with Lid

Ingredients  

  • 1 1/4 cup dry wild rice blend
  • 2 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth (sub chicken or turkey broth)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) apple, finely chopped (no need to peel)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 8 to 10 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shaved or thinly sliced (about 3 cups total)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Optional for garnish: fresh thyme leaves
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Instructions 

  • Combine rice, broth, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, or until rice is tender.
    Remove lid, stir, and place the lid back on to steam rice for 10 minutes (off burner).
  • Meanwhile, place pecans in a large dry skillet over medium heat. Toast pecans until they smell nutty and aromatic, watching closely so they don't burn, about 5 minutes. Transfer pecans to a bowl.
  • Return skillet to medium heat, and add olive oil and butter. Once melted, add onion, celery and apple; cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
    Add Brussels sprouts and toss to combine. Continue cooking until Brussels are tender, about 6 to 7 more minutes. Stir in poultry seasoning and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Add toasted pecans and cranberries; remove from heat.
  • Add cooked wild rice to skillet, and toss to combine. (For extra richness and sheen, add 1 to 2 more tsp. butter to melt into the rice.)
    Transfer pilaf to a serving platter and garnish with extra cranberries, pecans, and fresh thyme, if desired.

Notes

Make-Ahead: Slice and dice the onion, celery, and apple up to 2 days ahead. Store in an airtight container refrigerated. You can also slice or shred the Brussels sprouts up to 2 days ahead, and store separately.
Store: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Reheat: Heat pilaf in a skillet over medium heat, adding a splash of broth as needed to help rehydrate the grains, until warm.
Freeze: Let pilaf cool until close to room temperature. Place in a gallon-size, freezer-safe storage bag, and lay flat in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before following reheating instructions. 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.66cup | Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2.5g | Sodium: 400mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 12g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

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23 Comments

  1. Heather DeGaetano says:

    5 stars
    This is so easy to make and so tasty! The whole family likes it!

  2. Bailey Clemons says:

    5 stars
    We made this for Thanksgiving yesterday and it was a huge hit!! Thank you!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m so glad it was a hit, Bailey! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!