Wild rice dressing is full of warm, nutty holiday flavors, and plenty of fresh herbs, and is perfect for a gluten-free and vegan-friendly side dish. (And it’s easy to prep ahead!)
We are T- 3 weeks away from turkey day.
And for me, the big Thanksgiving feast is always ALL about the sides.
Who’s on team sides with me? 🙌
I mean, turkey is nice. Turkey is fine. Turkey is traditional.
But what I’m really trying to cram on my plate are as many side dishes as possible.
The stuffing or dressing, the green bean casserole, the veggie sides (we usually do roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon), the creamy mashed potatoes, the cranberry sauce, the rolls… gimme, gimme!
Definitely ALL about the sides.
And today I’m sharing wild rice dressing, which is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving or holiday spread.
It’s full of warm, nutty flavors that just ooze the spirit of the holidays. The fluffy wild rice is paired with some sautéed veggies, including mushrooms for a hearty kick, as well as nuts for a little toasty crunch and dried cranberries for some pops of sweetness.
We’ve also got parsley, sage and thyme to perfume the dish and the orange zest adds a great light, bright citrus note.
It’s so very tasty!
It’s also so very perfect for a gluten-free option at Thanksgiving. No bread-loaded casseroles here, just fresh and flavorful ingredients that come together beautifully.
(It can also easily be made vegan if needed. Read on for the details.)
Oh, and you might also want to check out this Southern cornbread dressing (it's also gluten-free and vegetarian).
Now, I’ve got some notes, tips and substitutions coming up below on how to make wild rice dressing. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
Notes on making wild rice dressing:
- A wild rice blend (like this one or this one) makes this super easy to prepare and it’s got a great mix of flavors and textures.
- However, you can also use 1 cup of wild rice and 1 cup of brown rice instead. Just follow the package instructions for each one. (I do recommend cooking them separately so everything is properly cooked and not too hard or too mushy.)
- The mushrooms are optional. I’ve made this without them and it was still delicious. But I really love it with them because of the heartiness they add and the earthiness in flavor that goes so well with the wild rice.
- Walnuts or pecans are fine here. No need to toast them ahead of time, they get a little toasty just baking in the oven.
- Dried cranberries or dried cherries both work here as well, so use your favorite.
Also, as mentioned, you can easily make this recipe vegan if you’d prefer.
Just substitute coconut oil or olive oil for the butter in the recipe (used to sauté the veggies). Easy peasy.
(This would definitely be a good option for a vegan main dish option at the holidays, especially with the heartiness from the mushrooms.)
And because it’s Thanksgiving, and because we have 843 other things to do in the kitchen that day, here’s some tips on prepping this ahead.
Make ahead notes for wild rice dressing:
- Cook the rice according to the package directions.
- Sauté the vegetables. Mix the veggies and cooked rice together, cool then store in a bowl in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
- Pull the rice mixture out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 15-20 minutes as your oven preheats.
- Stir in the nuts, dried cranberries, herbs, orange zest and salt and pepper.
- Put into your casserole dish and bake as directed, adding about 5 minutes to make sure everything gets warmed through really well.
Ta-da! You’re making this Thanksgiving thing look easy. 😉
Last thing I’ll mention is about any leftovers.
Because apart from the sides, leftovers are my most favorite thing about the Thanksgiving meal. See my Thanksgiving leftovers breakfast hash, Thanksgiving leftovers chef salad, leftover Thanksgiving turkey cranberry sandwich and 15-minute turkey noodle soup, just to name a few.
How to store leftover wild rice dressing:
- After it’s cooled down, store the extra dressing, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Reheat in the microwave to warm through. Start with 45 seconds and then stir and add time as necessary.
- It’s also delicious warmed up in a skillet. I love adding a few handfuls of fresh spinach to wilt down with it. And I especially love that whole concoction served with a fried egg on top. #winningatlife
I promise you will not miss the bread stuffing for one minute with this wild rice dressing recipe. It’s so flavorful and yummy!
And because I want to share the side dish love, check out these other ideas:
Favorite Thanksgiving side dishes
- Turkey sausage and apple dressing
- Bourbon sweet potato casserole
- Classic baked macaroni and cheese
- Mashed cauliflower casserole
- Green beans with mustard butter sauce
- 15-minute easy cranberry sauce
Or browse my round-up of 45 Thanksgiving side dishes for more inspiration!
Happy holidays and happy cooking!
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
- 2 cups wild rice blend (see notes)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 (8 oz.) package button mushrooms, chopped (optional, see notes)
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
- ¾ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cook the wild rice according to package directions, using broth as the cooking liquid.
- Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the onion and celery and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until starting to get tender.
- Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 6-7 minutes, until the veggies are softened and the mushrooms have given off most of their liquid.
- Combine the rice, sautéed veggies and remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to combine.
- Transfer to a large casserole dish that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. (I usually use an 8x12 dish but anything close in size will be fine.)
- Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until set.
- Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
This makes about 8-10 servings as a side dish or 4 servings as a main dish.
A wild rice blend (like this one or this one on Amazon) makes this super easy to prepare and it’s got a great mix of flavors and textures. However, you can also use 1 cup of wild rice and 1 cup of brown rice instead. Just follow the package instructions for each one. (I do recommend cooking them separately so everything is properly cooked and not too hard or too mushy.)
The mushrooms are optional. I’ve made this without them and it was still delicious. But I really love it with them because of the heartiness they add and the earthiness in flavor that goes so well with the wild rice.
You can prep this ahead by cooking the rice and veggies and stirring them together. Cool then store in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Add the remaining ingredients and bake as directed, adding an extra 5-10 minutes as needed to get everything nice and hot.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days and reheated in the microwave.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 330Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 810mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 4gSugar: 19gProtein: 12g