This gorgeous cold Wild Rice Salad with cranberries and cashews is bursting with flavor. It’s easy to make, and delicious. Filled with different flavors, textures, and colors, if you’re looking for something a little different and a little fun to serve at your next party, this is it!
Serve it as a light vegan or vegetarian meal or side dish, and it’s especially fun as a Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish.
Earthy and flavorful wild rice is mixed with bright and fruity dried cranberries, nutty toasted pecans and cashews, sharp green and red onion, and crunchy celery. And it’s all dressed with a simple fruity vinaigrette.
I first published this recipe in 2013 after serving it at a baby shower I hosted. It’s a great little salad, easy to make and delicious. So, I figured it was time for an update. I’ve updated pictures and information for a better user experience. And, I’ve gotten so many comments through the years on how good this salad is, I wanted to share it again with everyone!
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Summer picnic food
This easy to make salad is perfect for a summer picnic.
But don’t stop there. It’s great in all seasons.
Great as a thanksgiving side dish
It’s perfect for the Thanksgiving table or for the Christmas dinner party.
Whether you call it a salad or dressing, a wild rice side dish is very traditional on many holiday tables.
And with those cranberries and nuts, this dish will fit right in to your fall celebration.
I really like serving this type of make ahead cold salad for something like a baby shower or bridal shower.
I think having different colors and textures is so appealing, and it seems to make people hungrier.
Also, I like serving different things than people usually get at luncheons. This one fit the bill for all of that: colorful, full of flavor, new. It was a big hit!
And, you can easily double the recipe for a larger crowd.
This salad shines when it’s served cold. It’s also great at room temperature.
Just put out a big bowl full of this rice salad and a serving spoon, and watch it disappear.
It’s great at a potluck or family holiday dinner.
It’s also wonderful served in a wrap. Wrap it either in a tortilla, as a traditional wrap. Or wrap it in a lettuce leaf for a lower carb version.
Serve it over a bed of fresh spinach or arugula for a nice green salad.
If you can’t find wild rice at your store, you can use this recipe and make brown rice salad with cranberries or even use one of those wild rice blends.
Black rice, also called forbidden rice, would be so pretty in this. Just follow the package directions on how to cook the black rice and use the same amounts for a great black rice salad with cranberries.
Quinoa is another great grain that would be perfect in this salad.
Just follow the package cooking directions if you use a different grain.
Switch it up
It’s a super flexible salad too. Want to fancy it up, or even just switch it up a little bit?
Toss in some shredded chicken. Up the veggie content by adding some shredded carrots or diced cucumbers. Avocado is always a favorite for me. Mushrooms are a great addition too.
I’ve made it before with toasted slivered almonds or sunflower seeds if I find that I’m out of some other nut.
Mix in a little crumbly cheese like feta or queso fresco.
Give it a little fall flair by adding in some chopped apple. Granny Smith apple would be my choice.
You can also switch how you cook the wild rice. Substitute broth for half of the water. Or, for a citrus kick, substitute orange juice for half of the water. You can also use OJ in the dressing instead of lemon juice.
Great for lunch
This rice salad recipe with cashews is great for a regular work-week lunch as well. And, if you meal prep, this is a great recipe to add into your rotation.
This is a great make ahead dish.
Chop all the veggies and nuts up to a week in advance. Make the dressing and store it in an airtight container in the fridge up to a week in advance.
You can make the rice in advance too, and allow it to cool.
I like to toss all the parts together the morning of the party, and store the ready to go salad in the fridge until needed.
Some people have told me that the salad is better after it’s had a chance to sit overnight, and they like it better on the second day.
It stores nicely for up to three days in the fridge. Just give it a toss before serving it.
If you buy a package of wild rice that has a seasonings packet, no you don’t need that for this recipe. You can just toss it.
The wild rice package that you really want to buy for this recipe won’t come with any seasonings in the package. It’s just the grains. But, if you can’t find a grains-only package, and yours comes with that seasoning packet, you don’t need it for this recipe.
Pro tips on how to make
Be sure to scroll down for the recipe card for detailed ingredient amounts and instructions.
Here are my pro tips on how to make the best wild rice salad.
While the rice cooks, you can assemble the ingredients and make the dressing.
Wild rice is a beautiful and fun grain to cook with. And, if you haven’t tried it yet, you’ll fall in love with it. It’s high in protein (with more protein than brown rice) and B vitamins. It’s naturally gluten free, and rich in essential minerals like magnesium and phosphorus.
How to cook wild rice
The wild rice for this recipe is cooked like pasta. Just boil it in water.
Of course, you can also cook the rice in a rice cooker or in an Instant Pot pressure cooker.
Cook 1 cup uncooked wild rice in 2 cups water in the rice cooker until tender.
To cook the wild rice in the Instant Pot, use 1 cup of uncooked wild rice to 1 & ½ cups water. Cook it at high pressure for 15 minutes, then let the pressure fully naturally release for about 10 minutes.
How to toast nuts
You’ll probably be able to find toasted unsalted cashews at the store, so you won’t have to toast them yourself.
But you may have to toast the pecans.
To toast nuts, preheat the oven to 350º F. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 10 minutes, until toasted and fragrant. Keep a close eye on them, because they can burn easily.
More great wild rice recipes
I just love wild rice, and I’m betting you do too! Are you looking for great wild rice recipes that are easy to make and super delicious?
Don’t forget, wild rice has lots of benefits and nutrition, so it’s a great addition to your day.
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Wild Rice Salad
- 1 cup wild rice uncooked
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
- 1/3 cup chopped toasted unsalted cashews
- ¼ cup finely chopped green onions
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Combine 4 cups of water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add wild rice, and reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Drain well, transfer rice to a large bowl, and cool.
- Once rice has cooled, mix in dried cranberries, pecans, cashews, green onion, celery and red onion.
- In a small bowl, mix together vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and sugar. Using a whisk, mix olive oil into dressing. Pour the dressing over the rice mixture and toss.
- The salad can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and chilled in fridge.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.