This Cranberry Pecan Thanksgiving Rice is hearty and full of plant-based protein, yet lighter than most holiday sides. It’s vegan, gluten free, and so tasty!
This wild rice dish is nutty, tangy, and herby with a hint of sweet. It’s also very easy and almost all of the cooking time is hands off.
Be sure to include this Thanksgiving Rice on your holiday table this year!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Wild rice blend ~ Wild rice isn’t really rice at all. It’s actually a seed from a marsh grass. It maintains a nice chewy bite even after cooking.
While you can use all wild rice for this recipe, I prefer a wild rice blend for the most desirable texture. The one I use contains brown rice, red rice, and black rice as well as wild rice. The color and texture are perfect for this holiday Thanksgiving Rice dish.
Most blends are going to cook in about 45 minutes, but check your package directions for best results.
Dried cranberries ~ The dried cranberries will rehydrate as they cook with the rice, making them soft and juicy.
Dried cherries, golden raisins, or dried apricots would all make great substitutions.
Pecans ~ Buttery pecans bring a nice contrasting crunch. If you prefer walnuts or almonds, feel free to use those
If you need a nut-free option, try toasted pumpkin seeds.
Broth ~ I like use a low-sodium vegetable broth. You could also just use water, but the rice won’t be as flavorful.
Sauce ~ A quick sauce is made using dijon mustard, tamari, and pure maple syrup. The sauce is what take this Thanksgiving Rice over the top and makes it holiday worthy.
How to make the recipe
Place the dry rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse well with cold water until the water runs clean. Set aside to drain.
Sauté the shallots and garlic in a bit of oil (1) then add the rosemary by crushing with your fingertips as you sprinkle it in. This will help release the natural oils and make it more fragrant and flavorful.
Add the rice and sauté another minute or two until it’s toasty and fragrant (2).
Add the dried cranberries (3) and stir well to combine (4).
Juice the oranges right into the pot (5) and add the vegetable broth (6). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice is sit, covered, for about 10 minutes.
Drizzle the sauce into the rice (7) and stir well.
Add the chopped pecans (8), stir, and serve.
Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
You can even freeze this Thanksgiving rice. Let it cool then spread it out onto a rimmed baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen. Once frozen, transfer to freezer-safe plastic bags. Flatten the bag and squeeze all the air out. The rice should keep well for 3 to 4 months.
Please note the texture of the rice won’t be quite as perfect as when it’s cooked fresh.
Pro tips for success
~ Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it well under cold water until the water runs clear. This will remove some of the starch so the rice will be rice sticky.
~ Crush the rosemary between your fingers as you sprinkle it into the pot. This will release the natural oils, making it more fragrant and flavorful.
~ Drain off any excess liquid after the rice is tender.
~ Let the rice sit, covered, for about 10 minutes off of the heat after it has cooked. This will allow it to firm up a bit and become more fluffy instead of sticky.
~ Toast the pecans to deepen their flavor and bring out the crunch.
Wild rice is technically a seed, not a rice. It’s a complete protein, gluten free, high in B vitamins, fiber and iron, and low in fat. [source]
Wild rice blends usually consist of some combination of brown rice, red rice, black rice, and wild rice. While you could mix up your own blend at home, for convenience sake I always buy a package from the store.
More vegan Thanksgiving recipes
- Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce
- Vegan Jalapeño Cornbread
- Vegan Mushroom Stuffing
- Butternut Squash Mash
- Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
- Roasted Rainbow Carrots
- Garlic Green Beans
- Vegan Chicken Cutlets
- Vegan Apple Crisp
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Cranberry Pecan Thanksgiving Rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 cup wild rice blend rinsed and drained
- 2 ¾ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- juice of 2 mandarin oranges about ¼ cup
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1.5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans toasted, if desired
- Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat on the stove. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the rosemary by crushing it between your fingers as you sprinkle it in. This releases the oils of the dried herb and makes it more flavorful. Sauté 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the rice, stir, and sauté about 2 minutes to toast the rice and bring out the nutty flavors.
- Add the vegetable broth, mandarin juice and dried cranberries. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 45 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit, covered, for about 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the the maple syrup, dijon and tamari until smooth. Pour it into the rice mixture and stir until well incorporated.
- To toast the pecans, add them to a dry non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, for 3 to 5 minutes. You'll know they're done when they turn a shade darker and become fragrant. Add the pecans to the rice and stir to combine.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Storage/Freezing Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. You can even freeze this rice. Let it cool then spread it out onto a rimmed baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen. Once frozen, transfer to freezer-safe plastic bags. Flatten the bag and squeeze all the air out. The rice should keep well for 3 to 4 months.