Wild Rice Salad

This wild rice salad is bright and fresh. The bitter greens added to the earthy wild rice are complemented with a sweet maple vinaigrette.

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Wild rice salad in a white bowl with salad servers sticking out.

What is Wild Rice?

Contrary to what you might naturally conclude, wild rice is actually not a grain. Though it looks like rice and is called wild rice, it is actually a grass that grows naturally in waterways in North America, especially around the Great Lakes region. These days wild rice is planted and grown in conditions to mimic its natural environment, but it doesn’t actually grow “wild”.  It can be cooked in a manner similar to rice, although it takes significantly longer to become tender. When fully cooked, it has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture that makes it perfect for so many dishes, from stuffings, to soups to salads like this wild rice salad.

A bowl of raw wild rice on a cutting board with some rice on the cutting board and a red and white kitchen towel in the background.

Where to buy Wild Rice

You should be able to find wild rice in the same aisle as long and short grain rices in your grocery store. It won’t be sold in large quantities because it tends to be more expensive than white or brown rice, so look for a smaller package. 

A wooden spoon holding cooked wild rice above a saucepan.

How to Cook Wild Rice

Wild rice should be cooked in salted water until tender and chewy. I don’t bother with ratios of water to rice when cooking wild rice. Instead, I make sure there is enough water for the rice to absorb liquid, swell and burst a little. Then, strain away any excess water, return the rice to the pot with a clean kitchen towel on top, top it with the lid and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Fluff with a spoon and it’s done. 

Ingredients for a salad dressing on a cutting board with a salad of various ingredients in the background.

Vinaigrette for Wild Rice Salad

This earthy wild rice salad is complemented by a simple vinaigrette made with minced shallots, lemon juice and maple syrup, along with white wine vinegar and olive oil. The shallots give the vinaigrette a little bite – add as little or as much as you’d like – but it’s really the sweet maple syrup and bright acidic lemon juice that I think go so nicely with the wild rice.

Various vegetables cut on a wooden cutting board with a bowl of arugula in the background.

Ingredients for Wild Rice Salad

This is a hearty salad full of leafy vegetables. Arugula, Belgian endive, bright and bitter radicchio all help to carry the wild rice in this mix. Crunchy celery, nutty pecans, sweet dried cherries and salty feta cheese make up the rest of the ingredient list. 

Looking down on a wild rice salad with all the components separated.

Adjusting Ingredients for Wild Rice Salad

Of course, you should feel comfortable swapping things in and out of this list of ingredients. Try cranberries instead of the cherries, hazelnuts instead of the pecans, goat cheese instead of the feta cheese… make it your own.

Hands tossing a wild rice salad.

How to Serve Wild Rice Salad

This salad is hearty enough to be called lunch all by itself or with a bowl of soup. It is also a really pleasant side salad for any dinner that you might be enjoying. I really like to serve this salad when the rice has just been cooked so that it is still a little warm, but it can actually hold over one day if you have leftovers.

Two bowls of wild rice salad in front of a salad bowl of the same.

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How to Cook Wild Rice

Nutty, chewy wild rice is easier to cook than regular wild rice, but it takes a little longer. ...But some...View Technique

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Wild Rice Salad

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 55 m
  • Total Time: 1 h 10 m
  • Servings:
    as side dish


  • 1 cup wild rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ribs celery sliced on the bias
  • ¼ cup pecans or hazelnuts rough chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • 2 handfuls arugula
  • ¼ head radicchio chopped
  • 1 head Belgian endive sliced on the bias
  • cup feta cheese crumbled or cut into small chunks
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ shallot minced
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Bring a medium (3- to 4-quart) saucepan with at least 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the wild rice and salt and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let the wild rice simmer gently for 45 minutes. Taste the rice for a chewy doneness and then strain away the excess liquid and return the rice to the warm pot. Place a tea towel over the pot and return the lid. Let the rice sit off the heat for 10 minutes to absorb any excess liquid. Fluff with a fork and let the rice cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Make the dressing by combining the first 6 dressing ingredients in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with more salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Combine the wild rice with the remaining salad ingredients and drizzle the dressing over the top. Toss well and serve.
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