Food & Drink

Is It Actually Rice? All Your Wild Rice Questions, Answered.

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If you’ve ever been befuddled by wild rice, you’re not alone. Let’s start with one key fact: Wild rice isn’t rice at all, but a rather delicious seed native to North America. Although it cooks like rice, it takes a little longer, has a stronger flavor, and can cost a little more at the grocery store. Read on to learn more about wild rice and what to do with this tasty grain.

Wild rice is the seed of a semi-aquatic grass that’s native to North America; it grows in lakes, tidal rivers, and bays and has been growing in this continent for millennia. The Great Lakes region, Minnesota, and Idaho are some of the areas you’ll find this annual plant grown and harvested. Although not a true rice, the whole grain is categorized as such, as it has a similar shape and size to many long-grain rice varieties and can be cooked with the same methods. Fair warning, though: Wild rice requires a little longer cooking time than most rices.

The black grains are long and slender, and cook to a chewy texture with a pronounced nutty, earthy flavor. It pairs well with hearty flavors, making it a favorite for casseroles, soups, or Thanksgiving stuffing. You’ll often see it partnered with brown rice in pilafs — a good way to balance its strong flavor and offset its expense. 

Known for its health benefits, wild rice is rich in antioxidants and is a good source of vitamin B6, niacin, manganese, zinc, folate, magnesium, and fiber. It’s also higher in protein than most other whole grains.

How Should You Cook Wild Rice?

Stovetop? Oven? A countertop appliance? No matter how you cook wild rice, we have the best method.

How to Cook Wild Rice on the Stove

Because wild rice takes a long time to cook, and the cooking time varies depending on the age of the rice, it’s best to cook it a little more like pasta than classic rice. Measure 1 cup wild rice into a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse under running water; drain. Place the drained rice in a large saucepan, and add 4 cups of water or stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, cover the pan, and cook until chewy-tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Check often to avoid overcooking the rice.) Drain the rice, return it to the pan, and fluff with a fork before serving.  

Measure 1 cup wild rice into a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse under running water; drain. Combine the drained rice, 2 cups water, and salt to taste in the pot. Lock the lid in place and set to cook under High pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then carefully quick release any remaining pressure. Fluff with a fork before serving.

How to Cook Wild Rice in a Rice Cooker 

First, check your manual to see if it offers specific instructions for wild rice. Measure 1 cup wild rice into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under running water; drain. Add the rinsed, drained rice to the pot, then add salt to taste and 2 cups water. Close the lid, and set to cook using brown rice mode, or manually set the cooker to cook for 50 minutes. Let the rice stand with the lid on for 10 minutes after cooking. Fluff with a fork and serve.

How to Bake Wild Rice in the Oven 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Measure 1 cup wild rice into a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse under running water; drain. Place the drained rice in an 8×8–inch baking dish. In a small saucepan or tea kettle, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Carefully pour the boiling water over rice, stir once, and spread the rice in an even layer. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour. Check the rice after the first hour of cooking; if the rice needs more water, drizzle with 1/2 cup, cover, and bake an additional 30 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork before serving.

How to Cook Wild Rice in a Slow Cooker 

Although you’ll find lots of recipes online for slow cooker wild rice pilafs, soups, or casseroles, we don’t recommend cooking plain wild rice in the slow cooker. It needs a little more attention than most slow cooker recipes and gives mixed results.

Store uncooked wild rice in an airtight container in your pantry. 

How Long Does Wild Rice Last? 

Our Favorite Wild Rice Recipes

Wild rice’s earthy flavor and chewy texture is great in soups, casseroles, salads, and more.

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