This Wild Rice Pilaf is one of my favorite side dishes! The rice and veggies are so tender and packed with delicate flavors.
I like to make this wild rice pilaf with mushrooms, dried cranberries, diced apples, toasted almonds, and parsley to make it taste like fall. All these ingredients add great texture and flavor contrast.
It’s the perfect holiday side dish that everyone will love!
I swear I could not stop eating this DELICIOUS wild rice pilaf in one sitting. I’m a huge fan of rice in general, but this pilaf is seriously out of this world. So, so good!
My favorite thing about this rice is that it’s got all my favorite seasonal ingredients: baby bella mushrooms, cranberries, fresh apples, toasted almonds, and Italian parsley. There’s great texture, freshness, and comfort flavors all in one.
I’ve already made it several times, and it will definitely make it to my Thanksgiving menu this year. I can’t wait!
What Type of Rice to Use
In this recipe, I use a blend of wild rice, long grain brown rice, regular brown rice, red rice, and black rice. And no, you don’t need to buy each rice separately! You can get these packaged wild rice blends at your local grocery store.
I always get Lundberg’s brand of “Wild Blend Rice.” Note: this post is NOT sponsored, I just really like this brand in particular – the quality is great.
Another great choice is Rice Select’s Royal Blend. As long as you get a blend of wild rice and other whole grain rices, it should be fine.
I love all the ingredients in this wild rice pilaf recipe. Plus, it’s very easy to make!
My favorite ingredients here are the apples, cranberries, and parsley. They all do a great job adding flavor contrast, texture and freshness.
- Wild rice blend: I use Lundberg brand “Wild Blend Rice.” It contains wild rice, brown rice, red rice, and black rice. Anything similar will work.
- Unsalted butter: Adds buttery flavors to the rice.
- Minced garlic: for the flavor base.
- Yellow onion: for the flavor base.
- Fresh thyme: for herb flavors.
- Baby bella mushrooms: I just love mushrooms!
- Chicken broth: The liquid component to cook the rice.
- White wine: To add flavor and deglaze the pan.
- Fresh Italian parsley: For freshness.
- Honeycrisp apple: For freshness and a crunchy bite.
- Dried cranberries: For flavor contrast and sweetness.
- Sliced almonds: For texture and crunch
- Salt and pepper to taste.
1. Sauté onions and mushrooms
Melt butter and sauté onions until softened and slightly golden brown. Then add garlic, thyme cook for like 2 minutes until fragrant. Then add mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until slightly softened.
This step builds the amazing flavor base for the rice. Don’t rush this process.
2. Deglaze with white wine
Add wine and scrape the brown bits from the pot using a wooden spoon. Then simmer until reduced. If you don’t want to use wine, use broth instead.
The brown bits that are stuck to the pan are packed with lots of flavor. To release those flavors, add liquid (wine or broth) and scrape them with a wooden spatula.
3. Add rice and broth
Add the rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. This is called “toasting” the rice and brings out the fragrant nutty flavors. Yes to more flavor!
Then add broth, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot to deglaze the brown bits once again for even more flavor release.
4. Simmer and add cranberries
Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes or until tender and cooked through.
Then turn off the heat and gently mix-in dried cranberries. Cover and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the cranberries to rehydrate and the rice to continue absorbing all the liquid.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients
Transfer the rice and cranberry mixture to a large mixing bowl and let it cool down a bit. Then, mix in the diced apples, toasted almonds, and chopped parsley.
And there you have it…an amazing wild rice pilaf with lots of fresh and crunchy add-ins!
Variations and Customizations
This wild rice pilaf is very customizable! As long as you get the rice base done, you can mix in all your favorite ingredients.
Here are some of my favorite custom add-ins:
- Diced pears
- Toasted pine nuts
- Toaste pecans
What are your favorite ingredients to add? Be sure to leave me a comment below!
I use store-bought wild rice blend. I like Lundgerg brand’s “Wild Rice Blend” which is a blend of wild rice, brown rice, red rice, and black rice. Anything similar should work just fine.
You can, but the texture will be more chewy. If using wild rice only (not a wild rice blend), use a 1:2 rice to water ratio.
Yes, absolutely! My favorite additions are pomegranate and pistachios.
Yes, it will keep in the fridge for 3 days. You can also prep a few components ahead: cook the rice through step 4. When ready to serve, reheat it a bit and just mix in the apples, toasted almonds, and parsley.
Thanks for reading! I hope you like this wild rice pilaf recipe as much as we do.
More amazing holiday side dishes:
Tips for Success
- Don’t overcook the rice. It needs 45 to 48 minutes. It will turn mushy if it’s overcooked.
- Let the rice cool a little bit before adding the mix-ins.
- Dice the apples last so they don’t turn brown too quickly. I use honeycrisp apples, but gala, fiji, granny smith or similar apples will work too. Don’t use Red Delicious apples, they get too mushy.
Wild Rice Pilaf
- Wooden spoon
- Dutch oven or medium pot
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, small diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- ⅓ cup white wine (or chicken broth)
- 2 cups wild rice blend such as Lundgerg brand Wild Blend
- 3 ¾ cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup diced honeycrisp apples
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted see note
- ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
- In a medium Dutch oven or pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and slightly golden brown for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add garlic and thyme, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes until softened.
- Add wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the sides and bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine is reduced, about 1-2 minutes. Tip: Brown bits form from the caramelization of the ingredients and pack TONS of flavor. Deglazing releases them. Use a wooden spoon to avoid scratching the pot.
- Add the rice blend and toast by stirring occasionally for about 2-3 minutes until its nutty fragrance is released. Note: This process is called “toasting” the rice, and it’s a great flavor builder.
- Add broth and bring to a boil. Deglaze any remaining brown bits one more time. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then lower to a simmer, and cook (covered) for about 45 minutes, or until rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and gently mix in the dried cranberries. Cover with the lid again and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the cranberries to rehydrate a bit and the rice to finish absorbing all the liquid.
- Transfer the rice and cranberry mixture to a large bowl. Let it cool for a few minutes. Then, mix in the toasted almonds, diced apples, and chopped parsley. Enjoy!
- Wild rice blend: I use Lundberg brand’s “Wild Blend.” It’s a blend of wild rice, long grain brown rice, regular brown rice, red rice, and black rice. You can use any similar wild rice blends.
- How to toast almonds: Simply add a layer of sliced almonds to a skillet over medium heat and toss a few times until their nutty fragrance is released. This takes only a few minutes.
- I’d recommend dicing the apples at the end to prevent them from turning brown.
- Make-ahead: You can cook the rice (along with the dried cranberries addition) the day before and refrigerate. The almonds can be toasted in advance too. When ready to serve, toss with the remaining ingredients.
- Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Apples: Pears.
- Almonds: Pecans, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts.
- Dried cranberries: raisins
- Other add-ins: pomegranate, scallions, peas.