Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Nuts is the perfect fall and holiday salad ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Nuts is the perfect fall and holiday salad, it’s healthy and bursting with colorful fruits and nuts in every bite.

Wild Rice Salad with fruit and nuts

Why do I only think about wild rice once a year?  Every November, it’s like clockwork, I’ll pick up a package at the supermarket and make something wonderful with it, like this Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Nuts.  Then I’ll wonder (again) why it’s not part of my regular rotation.  I love to cook with unique foods that have a little oomph — things that have great visual appeal, or an unusual texture, or flavor, and wild rice has all that going on.  The long black grains are glossy and slightly chewy — they split open during cooking to reveal the softer inside.  The rice (technically a grass) is harvested in the fall and originated in the Great Lakes region, where in some places you can actually go out and forage the wild grains by shaking them right into your boat  The rice is beautiful, and adds an earthy touch to fall dishes, so even if you only give it a try once a year, it’s worth it.  You can mix it with regular rice, or use it in stuffings and soups, but it also makes a fantastic salad.

Healthy, whole grain, and gluten free, wild rice with nuts andcranberry salad

If you’re into all the trendy ‘ancient grains’ like quinoa and farro these days, you can include wild rice on the list.  It’s second only to oatmeal in protein, and it’s gluten free.  I loaded this healthy salad with toasted pecans, cashews, and pistachio nuts, along with minced red onion ,the tiny inner stalks of celery (with the leaves) and sweet dried cranberries.  It’s a symphony of colors and textures, and it would make any vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free eaters at your holiday table very happy.

TIP: The grains of wild rice are firm and chewy and keep well, so think about making this salad on Sunday and bringing it to work for lunch all week.

Healthy, vegan and gluten free wild rice salad

Wild rice takes longer to cook than regular rice, so make sure to cook them separately if you plan to mix them.

TIP: I like to under cook my wild rice so the grains stay dark and whole.  Longer cooking will tend to split the grains, which is fine, but my preference is for the look and texture of a firmer grain.

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Nuts

Yield: serves 6-8


  • 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup raw pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup whole raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 1/4 small red onion
  • several small inner stalks of celery, with leaves
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • dressing
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp of your favorite vinegar, I used fig
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. This first soaking step is optional, but will help keep your wild rice from splitting as much, which I think makes a prettier salad. If you have the time, soak the rice in plenty of water for 8 hours. Then drain and continue.
  2. Bring a quart of water and a teaspoon of salt to boil in a saucepan and add the rice. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes, or just until the rice is tender. Wild rice will always have a little bite to it, so don't try to cook it until completely soft.
  3. While the rice is cooking, put the pecans and cashews in a large skillet and toast, over medium heat, until you smell them and they start to turn slightly brown. Take them off the heat and let them cool before giving them a rough chop.
  4. Drain the rice and put in a bowl.
  5. Toss the warm rice with the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Whisk together the dressing in a small jar. If you put the top on and shake it vigorously, it should emulsify. Taste it to adjust the amount of vinegar or seasonings. Toss the salad with half of the dressing, and then refrigerate until completely chilled.
  7. When ready to serve, add more dressing and toss well.


slightly adapted from Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body


untitled shoot-0171-November 08, 2014

I’m not gonna lie, this is a chewy salad.  There’s texture upon texture in here; you know you’re eating real food and it’s wonderful.  Most grain based salads are either too mushy for me, or too heavy to really be called a salad.  This one is neither.

GLUTEN FREE Wild Rice Salad


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33 Responses to Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Nuts

  1. Janet says:

    Just wondered about the celery – after chopping, what would be the measurement (in cups) used, approximately? Thank you! Can you tell I’m a novice cook?

  2. manu says:

    Sue, I’ve just bought this rice so I’ll try your recipe.

  3. Debie says:

    Looks amazing. Do you by chance have the nutritional information?

  4. stella says:

    can’t wait to try this, I love wild rice. not a fan of celery, what would you replace it with? thanks for sharing such a great recipe!

    • Sue says:

      You can leave the celery out, Stella, there are enough other goodies in there! If you want, you might substitute something crunchy like jicama or water chestnuts.

  5. Michelle Lloyd says:

    Any idea on nutrition info per serving
    It looks amazing!

    • Sue says:

      Other than to say ‘it’s healthy!’ I don’t know, sorry Michelle. I can tell you that wild rice has fewer calories, twice the fiber, and more protein than brown rice. Hope that helps.

  6. Marisa says:

    I made this salad for Thanksgiving. It will become a regular rotation in my family’s dinners. Sooo good. Great textures and zing. Thanks for sharing!

  7. […] the meantime, adhere to the cooking instructions on a back corner of the packages for that wild rice and the brown rice and cook both types of rice individually. When I made this healthy food recipe, […]

  8. nipponnin says:

    Looks marvelous! Very pretty salad and your photos are fabulous!

  9. Kathy says:

    This salad looks totally delicious and healthy! Can’t wait to give it a try! Love your photos!

  10. Barbara says:

    Love crunchy salads like this, Sue. The flavors are perfectly balanced and you did an amazing job with the photographs!

  11. rebecca says:

    looks wonderful always adore your recipes

  12. Amanda says:

    This looks amazing, the combination of flavors you have going on in this sound great!!!

  13. This is such a bright and pretty salad! Loving it!

  14. This looks so fantastic! Love the combinations you have going here. I grew up in northern Minnesota, and wild rice is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with!

  15. DANA GERARD says:

    Sue, I have just recently begun following you and look forward to your posts.
    Your wild rice salad photos are stunning and the recipe not only looks yummy
    and easy but is so incredibly well explained.
    Thank you for all the thought and hard work that you put into your posts. I am a fan. :)

  16. I love all the colors and textures in your salad, this sounds so good!

  17. Sue, there’s not a single ingredient in there that I’d change! Which is kind of rare. Added bonus: it looks so pretty!

  18. I don’t eat wild rice nearly often enough, because I really do love it. This salad is perfect. Love the cranberries and nuts with it!

  19. cheri says:

    Beautiful salad Sue! I bet this is delicious!

  20. Monica says:

    I started cooking wild rice about 6 months ago and I was thinking about why it took me so long. I’m absolutely thinking about it with Thanksgiving around the corner. Your wild rice salad looks beautiful and sounds delicious.

    • Sue says:

      I noticed that it’s not even that much more expensive anymore, either…they are growing it all over the country and the supply is high.

  21. Yeah, our thoughts always turn to wild rice at this time of the year, too. Don’t use it too often in salads, and I should — it just works. Particularly in this salad — wonderful mix of flavors and textures. Thanks.

  22. Susan says:

    I would call this a perfect salad. Can’t wait to try it.

  23. Dom says:

    what a beautiful looking salad. I barely ever cook with wild rice so this has inspired me to pick some up. Such a colourful bowl!

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