How To Make Perfect Wild Rice
If you have never cooked with wild rice – now is the time to try it! Wild rice – which is not really rice at all – is a firm, nutty grain that splits open when cooked, revealing the tender inner grain. It’s extremely versatile and hearty, and can be used in so many different dishes and recipes.
What Is Wild Rice?
Wild rice is one of two native grains commonly eaten in North America (the other is corn). It is not actually rice, but rather a grass.
It’s a sturdy, nutty, grain that has a slight tea flavor.
As wild rice is quite heavy, it is often served combined with brown and white rice as a side dish.
Here are some more interesting facts about wild rice:
- Wild rice is gluten free.
- Wild rice is higher in protein than most grains, and also contains high levels of manganese.
- Wild rice contains 30x more antioxidants than regular white rice.
- Wild rice is grown in 2 to 4 feet-deep water.
- Wild rice is the State Grain of Minnesota.
This site has a good variety of Minnesota-grown wild rice products.
How To Use Wild Rice
Having lived in Minnesota most of my life, wild rice is a food that has always been on my radar.
In Minnesota, perhaps the most popular way to eat wild rice is in a creamy wild rice soup.
But there’s more to wild rice than wild rice soup. Once you have mastered the art of cooking perfect wild rice, you can use it in all sorts of recipes:
- In soups (try this Minnesota wild rice soup recipe)
- In salads
- In pancakes or waffles
- In hotdish/casseroles
- In various side dishes
- In these fruited wild rice bowls
- To make wild rice burgers
- Added to quiches, meatballs, meatloaf, stuffing or oatmeal
Cooked wild rice is a great food to have on hand, because you can either make a meal out of it – or add it to whatever you happen to be eating. Add some to your morning eggs. Toss some in your pancake batter. Add some to your oatmeal. You can even add some to your chocolate chip cookie batter!
How To Cook Wild Rice
Wild rice is cooked with a 4 to 1 water-to-wild rice ratio.
The simplest way to cook wild rice is to simply boil the water with the rice. But I like to season the water to give the rice more flavor.
In the recipe below, I’ve added some flavorful ingredients and seasonings. You can cook the rice in all water, in all stock (vegetable, chicken or beef) or in a mixture of the two.
Yield: One cup of dry wild rice yields about 3.5 cups of cooked rice.
- 4 cups liquid (water or vegetable, chicken or beef broth, or half water/half broth)
- 1 cup dry wild rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Rinse wild rice under cold water.
- Place rice, water (or broth), salt, bay leaf, and garlic powder in a large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil. Place lid on the pot, and turn heat down to a simmer.
- Cook wild rice for approximately 40-45 minutes. Check around the 30 minute mark to check for doneness.
- Remove rice from heat, drain. Use right away, refrigerate for up to 5 days (tightly covered), or place in freezer bags for up to 6 months.
FAQs About Cooking Wild Rice
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions I get about cooking perfect wild rice:
Is wild rice an affordable food?
The price of wild rice varies greatly. While is may seem like a higher cost food, a little bit of wild rice goes a long way in a recipe so I would consider this a very affordable food. I typically buy wild rice in the bulk section of the local co-op. You can sometimes find broken wild rice which is cheaper than regular wild rice – the only difference is that the grains have split in half. The taste and the cooking process is exactly the same.
Can wild rice be made ahead of time?
Yes. You can make a large batch of wild rice and use some now – and freeze the rest for future use.
Can wild rice be frozen?
Yes. Wild rice freezes well. Cooked wild rice can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months, stored in a plastic zip bag with the air pressed out. Uncooked wild rice can also be stored in the freezer indefinitely to preserve quality.
What is the water-to-rice ratio for cooking wild rice?
The water-to-rice ratio for cooking wild rice is 4 parts water to 1 part wild rice. This ratio results in perfectly cooked wild rice that is tender but still firm enough to hold its own in any recipe. Follow the recipe above for best results.
What is the best way to use wild rice?
There are so many ways to enjoy wild rice: Plain, as a side dish; in chicken wild rice soup; in wild rice pilaf, in hotdish, in pancakes or waffles, in chocolate chip cookies, and more.
Does wild rice need to soak before cooking?
Wild rice does not need to be soaked before cooking. Soaking it can cut down on cooking time but may also adversely affect the texture. For this reason, I do not recommend soaking wild rice unless you are short on time.
Does wild rice need to be rinsed before cooking?
Yes. Rinsing wild rice before cooking will help ensure that any dirt or debris is washed off prior to cooking.