Let’s talk about wild rice. It’s nutty and earthy, irresistibly chewy-tender, and I can’t get enough of it. What is it, exactly? Wild rice is an aquatic grass native to the Great Lakes region of North America.
Don’t save your wild rice for your Thanksgiving stuffing—it’s great year-round, but perhaps especially wonderful during the cooler months. Wild rice offers a warm, hearty component that turns fresh greens into a proper meal, and adds texture and heft to soups.
Wild rice is nutritious, too. It offers about fifty percent more fiber and protein than its cousin brown rice, which puts it on par with quinoa. It’s a suitable gluten-free substitute for farro, since the two are similar in texture.
Wild rice has one less-than-fortunate quality: It’s more expensive than many other whole grains. Wild rice is quite labor-intensive to harvest, which is why it’s pricy. Shop around and store your rice in a cool, dry location. Read on to learn how to cook your wild rice, plus find ideas to use up every bit of it!
How to Cook Wild Rice on the Stovetop
Unlike most recipes, I prefer to cook my wild rice uncovered, in an abundant amount of water. This way, it’s easy to keep an eye on, it cooks a little faster (sometimes it’s done in just 40 minutes), and most importantly: it turns out perfectly every time.
Scroll down for the printable recipe!
How to Cook Wild Rice in the Instant Pot
Wild rice cooks up beautifully in an Instant Pot and saves you about 10 to 15 minutes cooking time, realistically. The main advantage to cooking wild rice in the Instant Pot is that you don’t need to “babysit” it in any fashion. This method is courtesy of The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook by Megan Gilmore.
- Combine 1 cup well-rinsed wild rice and 1 ¼ cups water in the bowl of your Instant Pot.
- Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select the Manual/Pressure Cook option and cook on high pressure for 22 minutes.
- When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure.
- When the floating valve drops, remove the lid and give the rice a stir. Season as desired.
Wild Rice Goes Well With…
Want to improvise a meal with wild rice? Add any of the following:
- Alliums: Chives, garlic, green onion, red onion or shallot
- Beans: Especially chickpeas or other white beans
- Fresh or dried fruit: Fresh apple, dried cherries or cranberries or raisins
- Greens or herbs: Arugula, collard greens, dill, kale, parsley, sage, spinach, tarragon, or thyme
- Nuts or seeds: Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pepitas, pine nuts or walnuts
- Seasonings: Black pepper, cinnamon, Dijon mustard, ginger, lemon or orange juice/zest, or vinegar (apple cider or red wine or white wine vinegar)
- Soft cheese: Feta or goat cheese
- Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, celery, mushrooms, pumpkin, squash (acorn, butternut, or kabocha)
Watch How to Make Perfect Wild Rice
Perfect Wild Rice
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 3 cups 1x
- Category: Whole grain
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: North American
Learn how to cook perfect wild rice in this simple recipe! Wild rice is a nutritious and delicious whole grain. It’s a great addition to salads and sides. Scale this recipe as needed (just be sure to use plenty of water). One cup uncooked wild rice yields just over 3 cups cooked.
- 1 cup wild rice
- At least 6 cups water
- Optional seasonings: salt (to taste), 1 to 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, maybe 1 minced clove of garlic or 1 thinly sliced green onion
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, using at least 6 cups water per 1 cup rice (or see Instant Pot option provided in notes). Thoroughly rinse the rice in a fine mesh colander under running water.
- Add the rinsed rice and continue cooking, reducing heat as necessary to maintain an active simmer, for 40 minutes to 55 minutes. It’s done when the rice is pleasantly tender but still offers a light resistance to the bite. If you see any grains bursting open down the center seam (like a hot dog bun), it’s likely done.
- Drain the rice and return the rice to the pot (off the heat). Stir in any seasonings you’d like to add. If you have the time, place a tea towel over the pot, cover, and let it rest for 10 minutes (this absorbs any excess moisture). Use as desired.
Instant Pot option: Add 1 cup well-rinsed wild rice and 1 ¼ cups water to the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select the Manual/Pressure Cook option and cook on high pressure for 22 minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure. When the floating valve drops, remove the lid and give the rice a stir. Season as desired. This method is courtesy of The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook by Megan Gilmore.
Storage suggestions: Wild rice will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days. Or, freeze it for several months. Gently defrost in the microwave before serving.
▸ Nutrition Information
5 Recipes Featuring Wild Rice
1) Arugula and Wild Rice Salad with Zippy Lemon Dressing
This irresistible and hearty salad includes wild rice, arugula, dried cherries, toasted almonds and feta, tossed in a zippy lemon dressing!
2) Roasted Butternut Squash, Pomegranate and Wild Rice “Stuffing”
This vibrant vegetarian dish will be a hit at your holiday table or Sunday dinner. This recipe features wild rice tossed in a gingery dressing, with roasted butternut squash, fresh pomegranate, goat cheese, and pepitas (green pumpkin seeds).
3) Megan’s Wild Rice & Kale Salad
This hearty salad features nutritious wild rice, kale, goat cheese and colorful vegetables. Serve it as a light dinner and pack it for tomorrow’s lunch. The recipe comes from Megan Gilmore’s cookbook, The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook.
4) Hearty Sweet Potato, Arugula & Wild Rice Salad with Ginger Dressing
This delicious salad recipe features roasted sweet potato, wild rice and arugula tossed in a gingery dressing. Enjoy this holiday-worthy salad all week long.
5) Anything-Goes Kale Salad with Green Tahini Dressing
Ok, you’ll see brown rice in the photo, but wild rice would be just as good, if not better. This super versatile kale salad features an amazing tahini dressing. Just add massaged kale and veggies from your crisper drawer.
More resources you might appreciate: 23 make-ahead breakfast recipes, 45 recipes that pack well for lunch and 20 simple weeknight dinners. You can shop my essential kitchen equipment here. Don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest for a steady stream of recipe inspiration!
If you can source recently harvested wild rice it cooks much more quickly than the commercial wild rice in grocery stores. I’ve heard this is because it’s not as dried out. My sister-in-law’s family harvest it on the reservation in northern MN, then dry it and pass it out to family and friends. It’s more tender and takes <20 min to cook on the stove. Delicious!
I agree with EP. If you can find hand-harvested wild rice from a local (preferably indigenous) source in the upper Midwest, it has been parched over a fire and cooks in about half the time your recipe specifies. Its smokey goodness is sooooo much better than the commercially-produced wild rice (“paddy rice”) grown in California. Hand-harvested rice is worth every penny you spend to bring it to your kitchen! A great online source (that fosters community development by honoring traditional practices) is nativeharvest.com.
Thank you for sharing!
Kate, I love your recipes – thank you! Can you provide some wild rice brands/types that you’ve used and like? Also, wild rice is completely whole grain, right?
Thank you, Tiffany! Yes, wild rice is a true whole grain. I typically buy Lundberg, which is available at Whole Foods. To be honest, I haven’t noticed much variation between brands. Hope that helps!
Ditto to EP and Margaret–I live in northern California but refuse to use the California product, not only because it seems not as good but also because I prefer to send my limited wild rice funds to people who have been harvesting it into canoes for a few thousand years. Thus, I purchase from a couple of Minnesota sources and the quality is superb. Rice from those sources, even a year old in an airtight container, still cooks in less than 20 minutes in boiling water, and again the result is marvelous. Also, thanks to (Cookie and) Kate for the original cooking tip, which was included as a note in her post about making perfect brown rice, a few months ago.
Sean, I’ve been purchasing from a standard, large vendor, commercial source. It is sharp and unpleasant on my intestines. I have read that indigenous Minnesotan-region people harvest and prepare their wild rice in a way that prevents this issue. Could you share the brand or source of the Minnesotan wild rice that you’ve found? I’d love to switch!
Oh yeah! Finally my wild rice isn’t pokey and sharp. Thanks! Will bookmark.
Yum, I love wild rice.
Always have since my childhood..
Back in the days, the wild rice was mixed in with white rice and I am so happy it is now more accessible to buy pure wild rice.
I always find it harder to nail the salt content as it always is not enough until it is too salty :D
I find it much harder than with classic rice which seems to be perfectly salted no matter what that amount of salt.
Will try to follow some of your recipes :)
Cultivated wild rice (which you’re cooking here) takes a long while to cook. Real wild rice cooks in a few minutes. They are NOT the same rice which means your post, sorry, is misleading — which I’m sure you don’t intend.
My family and I are working our way through your cookbook right now, Kate! We love all your recipes!! Our two-year-old daughter is obsessed with black rice—how comparable is that to wild rice? Would you consider developing a recipe that incorporates black rice?
Hey Cara, thank you! That’s so fun to hear. I have one recipe with black rice, actually! I haven’t tried it in ages. I bet she would like wild rice, too. It’s a little chewy like black rice (if I’m remembering correctly). I’ll keep an eye out for some at the store.
We harvest wild rice. You should always look for hand-harvested wild rice. The black/dark kind is paddy rice, harvested by machines, and often GMO. It’s the reason so many people don’t like wild rice. Hand-harvested (usually Minnesota or Canada) wild rice only takes 2cups broth to 1 cup rice, and only about 30+ minutes to cook. It’s a grass, so gluten-free. Also extremely nutritious!!
Minnesotan here–thanks for featuring wild rice! It’s really such a tasty grain/seed.
I wanted to chime in to echo other commenters that wild-harvested wild rice is worth the extra dollars, and such a delicious and tasty product. It’s always what I bring when visiting friends and family!
My family always cooks wild rice in a covered pyrex in the oven; it’s a hands-off approach, and lets you choose your doneness levels. I start at 1:4 rice:water and usually add a bit more water near the end of the cooking process. I’ve noticed outside of the midwest the preference is for chewier and less popped wild rice; most of the wild rice I eat here is fully popped. (Obviously this is personal preference!)
Hi! This recipe really did make the perfect wild rice! Hooray!
I had some wild rice in my pantry and decided to cook it up tonight as an accompaniment to my roasted sweet dumpling squash. I seasoned my rice with salt, pepper, a little oregano and basil, granulated garlic, red wine vinegar and nutritional yeast. I also added some sauteed red onion and some leftover cooked chickpeas. It was FABULOUS!! Thanks for a wonderfully flexible and delicious recipe!!
Hi ! Happy to have found all this info about wild rice which I q I’ll be cooking tomorrow. Thanks for the great ideas !!!!
Have not tried the perfect wild rice yet, but intend to today. I would appreciate being able to print a one page recipe. While I do appreciate the nutrition, etc. all I want and need is the recipe. Can’t wait to serve this with my fresh fish.
Kate Hi – If I use the new Instant Pot Zest Grain and Rice Cooker, shall I follow the same water:liquid ratio as in the stove method?
Hi Eran, I can’t speak to that as I didn’t use that method for this. Sorry! I would follow their recommendations if using rice cooker.
6 cups of water to 1 cup of wild rice is ridiculous! I had 3 cups of water left in the pan after an hour and a half of cooking!
Thank you for this great insight into wild rice. I come from a rice – growing community in NorCal but as far as I know nobody is growing wild rice.
You are undercooking your wild rice. It takes 1 hr and 15 minutes. Yes the grains will split. They will not be hard and chewy, but are instead delicately crunchy; they do not get mushy. I’ve done it this way many years. Hey, it’s not rice, right? Try it
Hi Felicia, I found that this worked well for me and I tested it several times. I hope you try this method!
Kate, what brand of wild rice do you use?
Hi Jeannie! I used Lundberg for this.
I would have liked the recipe for the lemon dressing…….
Instapot version gave me crunchy, undercooked wild rice. :(
Idk how much more water to add, how much longer to cook it. This is expensive stuff from MN. Boo.
Hi Jodi, I’m not sure what you are confused about? Did you see step 1 in the recipe card.