Tangy and tart cranberries and apples pair with nutty, wild rice to bring out festive flavors in Cranberry Rice Pilaf. The easy rice recipe is the perfect side dish for any of your fall and Christmas dinner!
If we had a Thanksgiving dinner filled with nothing but side dishes, I’d be a happy girl. I love it all, from the cheesy corn casserole to the traditional stuffing. And for sure the pumpkin snack cake.
This wild rice pilaf makes the list, too. Excuse me while I add it to our holiday dinner menu.
And rice is such a versatile dish, whether you’re serving up white rice or slow cooker brown rice. Plus, this dish is naturally gluten free which means everyone at the table can take a scoop and pass it on!
What is rice pilaf?
Put away the boxed stuff, I’m here to change your rice pilaf game forever! It literally means rice that is cooked in broth.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Festive food is a must for your holiday menu. The red cranberries, green herbs and crunchy pecans make me think party!
That’s right, this is easy and is the perfect side dish for your holiday dinner. Thanksgiving, Christmas, you name it!
- wild rice mix - any blend you like will work here. You can find them with other rice in the grocery store aisle, and sometimes in the bulk bin.
- chicken broth - we cook the wild rice in broth to infuse flavor from the inside out. You can use broth from the grocery store or homemade chicken stock.
- butter - adds a richness and is used to saute the vegetables
- shallots - these have a more delicate flavor than onion. They’re readily available in the grocery store. Red onion can be substituted if needed. I would half the amount used if you do so.
- Granny Smith apples - this particular apple has some tartness which is the perfect way to offset the richness of the butter and other ingredients. Similar apples you could use are Honeycrisp, Braeburn or Pink Lady apple variety
- dried cranberries - for tartness and sweetness, plus they add some festive colors. Dried cherries would taste amazing, too!
- pecans - add a little crunch. I often use sliced almonds in a rice pilaf recipe, but these pecans pair perfectly with the apples and cranberries.
- fresh herbs - thyme, tarragon, parsley add amazing flavor to this pilaf. I have substitutions in the recipe card on how you can use dried herbs. You know, for Tuesday night. But for a special occasion, go ahead and add the fresh ones to your shopping list
How to make Cranberry Rice Pilaf
Wild rice blends do take longer than plain rice, like a white rice, brown rice or regular long grain rice . But I promise, the results in this delicious rice dish will be worth the wait!
Step 1: Cook the wild rice blend. Pour your chicken broth and rice and into a medium saucepan with a lid. Heat to bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low. Simmer and cover for 45 minutes. Resist the urge to lift the lid and peek during cooking time.
Step 2: Saute the shallots: Add the stick of butter to a large skillet and turn on the heat to medium. Add the diced shallots and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.
Step 3: Add all the good stuff! Add the diced apples, cranberries and pecans and turn off the heat. Stir gently to combine.
Once the rice has cooked completely, stir it into the skillet. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Yes, go ahead and cook it ahead of time. You can store it covered in the refrigerator in a casserole dish. Cover it with foil and reheat it at 325°F until it’s just warmed through.
How to store leftovers
Store leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge for 3-4 days.
What to serve with it
Here are some main course ideas for you!
- Cranberry Orange Chicken - perfectly festive when you're not in the mood for turkey
- Simple Spice Rubbed Pork Loin
- Rosemary Beef Tenderloin
When you make this cranberry rice pilaf recipe, leave a comment or review below. I’d love to hear from you!
Cranberry Rice Pilaf
- 2 cups wild and brown rice blend
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 stick salted butter 8 Tablespoons
- 3 large shallots diced
- 2 Granny Smith apples diced
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup pecans chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add chicken broth and wild rice blend to a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium high until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add the lid and simmer for 45 minutes. Do not remove the lid during cooking time.
- While the rice cooks, add butter to a large 12" skillet over medium heat. Add the stick of butter to a large 12” skillet and turn on the heat to medium. Add the diced shallots and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.
- Add the diced apples, cranberries and pecans and turn off the heat. Stir gently to combine.
- Once the rice has cooked, stir the rice into the skillet and mix. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.