Wild Rice Pilaf

$2.73 recipe / $0.68 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.93 from 13 votes
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Last Thanksgiving I made the most amazing Wild Rice Pilaf that I then stuffed inside roasted acorn squash as a sort of vegetarian main dish recipe idea. It was beautiful and delicious, but I can’t lie, I kind of just wanted to devour that wild rice pilaf by itself! It was so tasty on its own, had so much color, so much texture, that I knew I had to post it as a stand-alone recipe. This pilaf is really delicious and I know I’m going to be making it on repeat every fall and winter from here on out!

Overhead view of wild rice pilaf in a bowl

What’s in Wild Rice Pilaf

This delicious pilaf starts with rice cooked in vegetable broth for extra flavor. While the rice cooks, aromatics like onion, celery, and apples are sautéed in butter until tender. Next comes the cozy mix of seasonings including sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Once the cooked rice is combined with the aromatics and herbs, it’s finished off with a little extra flavor and texture from walnuts, dried cranberries, and parsley. So much fall flavor in every bite!

What is “Wild Rice Blend”?

I used a bagged “wild rice blend” as the base for this recipe. It’s a colorful blend of different varieties of rice, including wild rice. I used Lundberg brand, which you can find in many major grocery stores, but I was also pleasantly surprised to see ALDI had its own version this year (check the step by step photos below the recipe to see a photo). You can use any brand rice blend for this recipe, just follow the cooking instructions on the package and replace the water with vegetable broth.

What to Serve with Wild Rice Pilaf

This pilaf is the perfect side dish to any roasted meat. I especially like this in the fall and winter months, since it highlights flavors of the season like apples, walnuts, and cranberries. Try serving it alongside Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Cider Roasted Turkey Breast, Apple Spice Pork Chops, or Herb Roasted Chicken Breast. Or, of course, you could serve it as I originally did inside a roasted acorn squash!

Close up side view of wild rice pilaf in the skillet
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Wild Rice Pilaf

4.93 from 13 votes
This wild rice pilaf is full of color, texture, and fall flavors. It's the perfect side dish for dinner during the cooler months.
Overhead view of a bowl of wild rice pilaf
Servings 4 1 cup each
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Total 1 hour


  • 1/2 cup wild rice blend* ($0.07)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth ($0.13)
  • 2 Tbsp butter ($0.22)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.28)
  • 3 ribs celery ($0.64)
  • 1 apple ($0.41)
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts ($0.30)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries ($0.44)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley ($0.10)
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  • Add the wild rice blend and vegetable broth to a saucepot. Place a lid on top and turn the heat on to medium-high. Allow the broth to come to a full boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, or for the amount of time directed on the package.*
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of the pilaf. Dice the onion, celery, and apple.
  • Add the onion to a large skillet with the butter and sauté over medium heat until softened.
  • Add the apples, celery, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper to the skillet with the onions and continue to sauté for about five minutes more, or just until the apples and celery begin to soften (they should still have some bite).
  • When the rice has finished cooking, add it to the skillet with the apples, celery, and onion. Also add the chopped walnuts, cranberries, and chopped parsley. Stir until everything is evenly combined.
  • Taste the pilaf and adjust the salt or seasonings to your liking. Serve hot.

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* You can use any brand wild rice blend. Cook according to the package directions, substituting vegetable broth for the water recommended in the instructions. Cooking time may vary depending on the brand.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 245kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 4gFat: 11gSodium: 457mgFiber: 5g
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Wild rice pilaf in a skillet with a spoon

How to Make Wild Rice Pilaf – Step by Step Photos

two packages of wild rice blend

I used the Lundberg wild rice blend on the left since I actually still had some leftover from last year, but I bought some of the ALDI wild rice blend on the right just to show you another option. Whatever brand you use, make sure to follow the cooking instructions on the back but substitute vegetable broth for the water it recommends. Cooking time can vary depending on the brand.

wild rice in the pot next to a measuring cup with vegetable broth

Add ½ cup of the wild rice blend to a small sauce pot with 1 cup vegetable broth. Place a lid on the pot and heat over medium-high. Allow it to come to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 45 minutes.

Chopped apple and celery on a cutting board

While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of the pilaf. Dice one yellow onion, 3 ribs of celery, and one apple.

onion and butter in a skillet

Add the diced onion to a large skillet with 2 Tbsp butter. Sauté the onion in the butter over medium heat for about five minutes, or until the onion has softened.

apples, celery, and seasoning added to the skillet

Add the chopped apples and celery to the skillet along with ½ tsp dried sage, ½ tsp dried thyme, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Continue to sauté over medium until the apples and celery just begin to soften.

Cooked rice, walnuts, cranberries, and parsley added to the skillet

When the rice has finished cooking, add it to the skillet along with ¼ cup chopped walnuts, ¼ cup dried cranberries, and a tablespoon of chopped parsley.

finished wild rice pilaf in the skillet

Fold the ingredients together until everything is combined. Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Serve hot!

side view of a serving bowl full of wild rice pilaf
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  1. Yum!

    I used cilantro instead of parsley because I prefer the taste of cilantro. I also increased the cranberries in this dish as I just had a bit over half a cup remaining and wanted to use them up. I made 8 servings and am so glad I did!

    I was happy that the apples still had crunch to them at the end of the cooking. I used cheap red apples and I’ll definitely invest in higher quality apples next time I make this recipe as it would be worth it.

  2. Yum!

    I used cilantro instead of parsley because I prefer the taste of cilantro. I also increase the cranberries in this dish as I just had a bit over half a cup remaining and wanted to use them up. I made 8 servings and am so glad I did!

  3. You should have seen the look on my mother’s face after her first bite…

    A smash hit!!

    This was my first year cooking Thanksgiving and this dish served me well.

    Like Rose, I skipped the nuts and berries and it was still great. 5 Stars.

  4. This was a smash hit! Next time I’ll double or even triple the recipe, because this just *disappeared*. The rice is wonderfully flavorful, and the apples and celery still had some crispness to them. I skipped the walnuts and cranberries, but there was still plenty of sweetness and texture. I just know this is going to go over great at holiday parties and potlucks – it’s easy to make in advance, keeps well, and tastes great at room temperature. It’s already vegetarian-friendly, and swapping out the butter for vegan butter or another cooking oil will make it vegan-friendly as well (although it might be a little less rich).

  5. This is such a good recipe and very easy to make! I “leveled” it up with a “sauce” of apple cider vinegar, Dijon and maple syrup. I added some goat cheese crumbles that were sitting in the fridge. All of that combined was divine!

  6. This recipe was AMAZING and so easy. I made it exactly according to the specifications, and it turned out great. I doubled the recipe and used one honeycrisp and one gala apple. Will definitely add it to my regular rotation!

  7. This pilaf was absolutely wonderful. I used a honey crisp apple which was so juicy and sweet/tart. I did have problems with the wild rice mix out of a bin and it may have been a little on the older side but added more veggie stock to help finish cooking it. It makes plenty and we had it 2 nights in a row, 1 lunch, and the leftovers  went in the soup. I will be making this again soon!

  8. this looks so delicious!!! hoping to do this soon!!! thank you for the recipes and guides, make sure to follow this food site.

  9. Quite nice! My first time buying dried cranberries. I just wish I had paid more attention when I read through the receipe and realized how long the rice takes to cook! I’ll try it in my rice cooker next time.

    Made this with the pork loin recipe recommended and they paired very nicely – but needed a sauce of some kind (maybe cranberry next time?) as it was a bit dry.

  10. I got this recipe in my inbox today and knew I had to make it. I loved it! My husband not so much. I kind of figured he wouldn’t be into it as much as I was. That’s okay. Leftovers for me! That said, I hate walnuts so I substituted almonds. Otherwise everything worked with this recipe.

    Thanks Beth!

  11. This looks amazing – however I have a kid who is vegan – any ideas on the best plant-based butter substitute?  

    1. For something like this, I’d just use olive oil, but my favorite vegan butter subs are miyoko’s (spendy, but the most genuinely butter-like option, good for baking and spreading) and earth balance (easily found, more affordable, would be suitable for something like this recipe).

      1. Forgot to review! This is perfect for meal prep==I used farro this time in place of wild rice and ate it alongside some roasted acorn squash. Delicious! Next time I might even add some pan-fried veggie sausage. Thanks, Beth!

  12. Another hit recipe, I can already tell! Do you think this would be good meal prepped for the week’s lunches? These are all my favourite flavours, but I’m not sure how long it will keep in the fridge.

    1. I think this one would hold up pretty well. :) The colors might get a little less vibrant, but I think the texture would be great.

    2. Exactly what I was thinking. I’m making mine with just wild rice since DH is seriously watching carbs–not keto level, but diabetic, and that sort of moves it slightly out of budget range. I was thinking that this would pair nicely with roasted slices of winter squash (that Kabocha I bought at the farmer’s market last weekend, but any other variety would be fine). Maybe some bright green grapes for color and texture. I have no qualms about leaving the pilaf and the squash for 4 days in the fridge. This combo probably needs yet another note–gingersnaps? I’m sure Beth is loaded with ideas.