Learn how to cook wild rice on the stovetop! With its chewy texture and nutty flavor, this whole grain is delicious in salads, side dishes, and more.
Wild rice is one of my favorite fall whole grain dishes. Its chewy texture and nutty flavor make it the perfect partner for seasonal produce like sweets roasted pumpkin and earthy root vegetables. Since I’ve found myself preparing this a lot lately, I thought I’d grab today’s post to give you some background on it. I also share a stovetop-proof cooking method and some of my favorite wild rice recipes.
What is wild rice?
You might think, because of its name, that this whole grain is related to white o brown rice you’ll find it next to it in the grocery store. In fact, wild rice is not rice at all, but a type of aquatic grass. It is native to the Great Lakes region of North America, where it grows naturally in freshwater lakes and waterways. Today, it is also cultivated commercially in the United States and Canada.
Wild rice, called manoomin in Ojibwe, is of great cultural importance to the Native people of the Great Lakes. This is part of the Anishinaabe creation story, and historically, it provided valuable sustenance throughout the cold winters of the upper Midwest. Native people continue to harvest the natural wild rice around the Great Lakes today, tapping the grass with wooden sticks to get the grains out of their boats. If you want to learn more about rice’s history and cultural significance, I recommend reading This article o this one. You can buy hand-harvested rice from Native Harvest in Minnesota here.
How to Cook Wild Rice
Harvested wild rice can be light or dark in color, while the cultivated variety is always dark brown or black. This cooking method will work with either type, but keep in mind that hand-harvested rice tends to cook faster. Depending on the variety, it can be ready in 20 minutes, whereas the cultivated wild rice you find in the grocery store will likely require 50 or more.
- Start by bringing a medium pot or saucepan of water to a boil. There’s no need to worry about a specific rice-to-water ratio for this recipe. We will use what I call “The Pasta Method,” which simply means that we will cook the rice in a pot of boiling water. While the water is boiling, put the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it well.
- Then, add the rinsed rice to the boiling water. Reduce the heat so that the water maintains a gentle boil. Simmer until the rice is tender but still has some bite, usually 35 to 55 minutes, although the cooking time may be more or less depending on your rice. Some of the grains will begin to split slightly.
- Finally, let the rice steam. Drain the liquid, return the rice to the pot, and cover it with a clean towel. Put the lid on the pot, and let the rice sit for 10 minutes, becoming completely soft and fluffy.
Fluff with a fork, and enjoy!
Favorite Wild Rice Recipes
With its nutty flavor and chewy texture, cooked rice is a delicious side dish on its own. When I serve it plain, I dress it with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and freshly ground black pepper and toss it with chopped fresh parsley.
It’s a great addition to larger salads, soups, and side dishes, too. Try using it in any of these recipes:
It’s also a great gluten-free alternative to wheat berries this fall wheat berry salad recipe.
More Whole Grains to Try
If you love this wild rice recipe, try one of these whole grains next:
How to Cook Wild Rice
This method of how to cook wild rice will work for both hand-harvested and commercially cultivated rice, although cooking times can vary greatly. I find that it usually takes 35 to 55 minutes for both types, though hand-harvested rice may require less time (start checking at 20 minutes if you have light-colored rice) and may require plant rice more, up to 70 minutes.
- 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
- Pot of water
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook until the rice is tender but still has a slight bite, usually 35 to 55 minutes. The grains will begin to split slightly.
- Drain and return the rice to the pot. Cover with a clean dish towel and then place the lid on the pot. Let it steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Yield: About 3 cups of cooked wild rice