Wild Rice Salad

If you’re on the search for the perfect salad, this cold wild rice salad recipe might be a game-changer in your life. With greens, wild rice, pomegranates, and dried cranberries along with a bright easy-to-make vinaigrette, this salad is packed with lots of flavor — and it’s healthy, too. 

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You can make this salad quickly as long as you make the wild rice ahead of time. If you’re short on time, prepare the wild rice in an Instant Pot and then quickly cool it in the refrigerator.

​Whether you’re serving it as a quick side for dinner during the week, meal-prepping your lunches, or serving it with a holiday meal, you may just fall in love with this simple salad.

overhead shot wild rice salad ingredients in bowl

What is Wild Rice?

Wild rice is a type of aquatic grass native to North America, particularly found in the Great Lakes region and other freshwater environments. Unlike common rice varieties, it has long, slender grains that are dark brown or black in color.

Wild rice is known for its nutty flavor and chewy texture and is often used in various culinary dishes, particularly in salads, stuffings, and as a side dish.

It is sometimes found just as wild rice, but more commonly in a wild rice blend, like this recipe.

angled shot of wild rice in bowl

Why You’ll Love Wild Rice Salad

​This flavorful salad is so easy to love. 

  • Unique – This is no typical side salad. With bursts of bright flavor from pomegranates and dried cranberries, a citrusy vinaigrette, and the tang of feta cheese, this will make you rethink what a salad can be. 
  • Hearty – Since this salad includes wild rice in addition to the greens, it can easily be a full meal. 
  • Lots of Uses – While you can make it a meal, it’s also a great way to round out a weeknight dinner or to serve at a cookout. It’s even elevated enough to make an appearance at special occasions like baby showers or Mother’s Day, or it can be a welcome addition to your holiday table. 
overhead shot of wild rice salad in bowl

What You’ll Need

You’ll want to keep these simple ingredients on hand to put together this easy salad any time.

Dressing Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil – Use a high-quality oil for the best results. It’s always worth having a bottle of it in the pantry.
  • White wine vinegar – Vinegar gives the dressing its necessary acidity. You can substitute red wine vinegar, though it will change the appearance of the dressing.
  • Fresh lemon juice – Lemon juice adds bright flavor to the dressing and pairs well with the arugula.
  • Lemon zest – Zest imparts concentrated flavor so that the lemon can shine.
  • Sugar – Just a little bit of sugar balances the dressing.
  • Coarse kosher salt – Salt enhances the lemon and vinegar.
  • Ground black pepper – While I like the subtle heat of black pepper, you could also use white pepper to add a slightly floral note.

Wild Rice Salad Ingredients

  • Baby arugula – This green has plenty of peppery flavor that pairs well with the feta.
  • Cooked and cooled wild rice – Be sure to cool the rice completely so that it doesn’t wilt the arugula.
  • Dried cranberries – Dried cranberries add a little burst of sweetness. 
  • Pomegranate seeds – Pomegranate seeds can be both tart and sweet and give the salad a layer of complex flavor.
  • Feta cheese – This semi-soft cheese adds creamy texture and briny, tangy flavor.
  • Pepitas or sunflower seeds – Either of these seed will add crunchiness to the salad.
overhead shot of wild rice salad ingredients

How to Make Wild Rice Salad

It only takes a few minutes to put this tasty salad together. 

Make the Dressing

  1. Add all of the ingredients for the dressing to a small bowl.
  2. Whisk them together until completely combined.

Make the Wild Rice Salad

  1. After placing the arugula in a large bowl, massage the greens to mellow out their slight bitterness. 
  2. Add the remainder of the salad ingredients and gently toss together with the dressing. 
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

What to Serve with Wild Rice Salad

Wild rice salad can be a nice light lunch or dinner on its own or you can serve it alongside lots of other dishes. It’s great with simple baked chicken thighsMaryland crab cakes, or a pan-fried steak.

I also like to pair the salad with soup. Some of my favorites are Italian meatball souproasted red pepper soup, and spicy sweet potato soup

angled shot of plate of grilled chicken and salad

Variations 

You can spruce up this delicious salad with your own substitutions or add-ins. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Grains – Instead of wild rice make a brown rice salad or use orzo pasta or quinoa. 
  • Cheese – Substitute any crumbled cheese like gorgonzola, goat cheese, or cotija. 
  • Greens – Use mixed greens, kale, baby spinach, or your preferred blend of fresh greens instead of arugula.
  • Cranberries – Replace the cranberries with raisins. 
  • Citrus – Use orange juice and orange zest for an orange vinaigrette. Or try lime juice and lime zest. 
  • Onions – Add slivers of green onions or diced white, yellow, or red onion.
  • Sweetener – Substitute honey or maple syrup for some or all of the sugar.
  • Herbs – Add fresh herbs to the salad or the salad dressing
  • Vegetables, Fruits, and Starches – Make other additions like hearty sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pears, apples, or seasonal veggies from your garden. 
  • Nuts – Add pine nuts crunchy pecans or substitute them for some or all of the pepitas or sunflower seeds.
  • Protein – While this main dish salad can be a great vegetarian meal, you can also top the salad with flaked tuna, grilled chicken, or any other protein. To keep it vegetarian, use a plant-based protein.

Storage and Freezing

This salad is best served immediately but you can store your leftovers if needed.

Make Ahead: I wouldn’t suggest making the whole salad ahead of time. Instead, make the dressing and place the ingredients together in the same bowl, but toss and dress right before serving. 

The arugula will wilt, the rice will soak up all of the dressing, and the cheese will get creamy instead of remaining firm. 

Refrigerator: Store leftover wild rice salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

Freezer: I do not recommend freezing wild rice salad.

Commonly Asked Questions

How many cups of dry rice equals cooked rice?

As a general rule, 1 cup of dry rice will cook up to 3 cups of cooked rice.

How do you eat wild rice?

Wild rice can be prepared in lots of different ways. It can be a simple seasoned side dish, made into a pilaf, or added to soup. It can also be the base of a veggie or protein-based rice bowl.

Does wild rice taste good? 

While everyone has their personal preferences, wild rice can be tasty. It is full of earthy and nutty flavor. 

collage of wild rice salad for pinterest

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angled shot of wild rice salad in white bowl

Wild Rice Salad Recipe

4.67 from 6 votes
With greens, wild rice, pomegranates, and dried cranberries along with an easy vinaigrette, this EASY Wild Rice Salad is packed flavor!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Dressing:

Wild Rice Salad:

Instructions

Dressing:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Wild Rice Salad:

  • Place the arugula in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, massage the leafy greens.
  • Add the cooked rice, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, pepitas and the dressing.
  • Toss using a large serving fork or two small spoons. Do not stir (the feta cheese will break apart and get creamy).
  • Serve immediately.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Nutrition

Calories: 683 kcal, Carbohydrates: 96 g, Protein: 18 g, Fat: 28 g, Saturated Fat: 8 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 15 g, Cholesterol: 33 mg, Sodium: 1022 mg, Potassium: 528 mg, Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 31 g, Vitamin A: 413 IU, Vitamin C: 9 mg, Calcium: 229 mg, Iron: 2 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 683
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: wild rice salad
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
close up angled shot of wild rice salad in bowl with text overlay for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.67 from 6 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    The combination of flavors and textures is out of this world. It’s healthy, refreshing, and oh-so-satisfying. I highly recommend giving it a try!

  2. 5 stars
    This salad was so easy to make and had such great flavor thanks to the feta and pomegranate seeds! This will be perfect to add to our Thanksgiving menu!

  3. This is such a delightful dish – so packed with flavor, color and texture! Perfect for the holidays

  4. 5 stars
    I love all the texture and color in this wild rice salad! The flavors are fresh and bright; perfect for a holiday side!

  5. 5 stars
    This is the perfect winter salad for every holiday. The flavor and texture are better than any restaurant salad. So good! Thanks for sharing!