Wild Rice Stuffing
Published Nov 14, 2022, Updated Nov 07, 2023
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This wild rice stuffing is packed with butternut squash, dried cherries and fresh herbs. It’s a delicious gluten-free and vegan alternative to traditional stuffing and is the perfect addition to your holiday table.
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner the sides have always been my favorite part. Well… maybe dessert then the sides because Thanksgiving desserts are seriously the best. Traditional bread stuffing isn’t usually my jam (although my sourdough stuffing is absolutely delicious!) but I can totally get down with some herby, wild rice stuffing. Probably because it’s similar to grain bowls and grain-based salads, two things I adore.
This particular stuffing is quite lovely because the base is a wild rice blend with five different types of rice, which offers a nutty flavor and a variety in texture. It’s also loaded with fresh herbs, roasted squash and dried cherries for a host of flavors that complement one another.
Why You Need to Try This Recipe
- It’s gluten-free and vegan!
- It’s a healthier alternative to traditional stuffing!
- Packed with loads of flavor and a variety of textures!
Here’s What You Need
- butternut squash – peeled and chopped into small chunks then roasted!
- olive oil – to sauté the veggies in. You can use whatever oil you prefer, but I recommend olive oil or avocado oil. Butter or vegan butter is a good alternative.
- garlic, celery and yellow onion – a savory base for the rice.
- sea salt and pepper – to season.
- wild rice blend – the star of the show! I love the Lundberg Wild Blend Rice brand.
- vegetable broth – the liquid to cook the rice in. Cooking the rice in a broth instead of water instantly amps up the flavor of this dish. If you don’t need it to be vegetarian or vegan you can use chicken broth if you prefer. If you don’t have broth on hand water will work, it just won’t add extra flavor!
- bay leaf, fresh sage and fresh thyme – deliciously harmonious herbs to flavor this dish.
- dried sweet cherries – adds a delicious hint of sweetness to this recipe and they’re full of antioxidants and nutrients! Dried cranberries are a great substitute. I just recommend grabbing dried fruit that’s fruit-sweetened instead of with cane sugar.
How to Make Wild Rice Stuffing
Prepare butternut squash: To start, preheat your oven to 400ºF. Chop your butternut squash into chunks and place them on a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon of oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss to combine. Roast the butternut squash for about 30 minutes (tossing about 15 minutes through) or until the chunks are fork-tender.
Cook rice: While the squash is roasting, heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add celery, onion and garlic to the pan and add sea salt and pepper. Sauté together for about 10 minutes. Add the wild rice, broth, bay leaf, and half of the sage and thyme and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed by the rice.
Serve: Once the rice is cooked, remove the pan from heat and remove the bay leaf. Let the rice mixture cool for about 5 minutes then stir in cherries, roasted squash and reserved sage and thyme. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed and enjoy!
- Swap the grain – if you aren’t a wild rice fan or don’t have any on hand I bet this stuffing would still be delicious with white or brown rice. If you’re looking for a stuffing recipe with quinoa you should try my butternut squash quinoa stuffing recipe.
- Swap the butternut squash – you could substitute the butternut squash with any hearty winter squash like Acorn squash or Kabocha squash. Sweet potato would be another great alternative.
- Add nuts – chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts or pecans would be delicious in this stuffing recipe!
- Add veggies – want to add more veggies? Go for it! Carrots or mushrooms would be my top choices.
- Swap the dried fruit – don’t have dried cherries on hand or can’t find them at the store? Use dried cranberries or dried figs. If you’re looking for a fresh fruit option chopped apples or pomegranate arils would add some freshness and be delicious in this stuffing!
- Looking for a more traditional stuffing? If you’re like Isaac and prefer more of a traditional stuffing with bread try my sourdough stuffing. It’s so good (and I’m not even a classic stuffing person)!
What to Serve With Wild Rice Stuffing
If you’re in the middle of planning your Thanksgiving menu this year, let me inspire you! I highly recommend skipping the traditional bread stuffing and making this stuffing recipe instead. I think you and your family will love it! Serve alongside:
- Vegan Lentil Loaf as the perfect vegetarian main dish.
- Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad for a delicious way to get your greens in.
- Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole because what’s Thanksgiving without a sweet potato casserole?! I also have a more classic sweet potato casserole recipe if you prefer.
- Green Beans Almondine for a French touch!
- Healthy Apple Crisp or Vegan Pumpkin Pie for dessert – personally my favorite part of Thanksgiving!
How to Store
This recipe is great for making ahead of time to free up prep time for your holiday meal! Just prepare as instructed and then keep covered in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, warm in the oven at 350ºF for 10-20 minutes or until the rice is warm.
Leftovers (if there are any!) will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. I haven’t tried freezing it, but I bet this stuffing would freeze well. Just let it cool completely and store it in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the oven.
More Holiday Side Dishes
- Healthy Green Bean Casserole
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- Vegan Cornbread
- Apple Cider Vinegar Brussels Sprouts
- Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
- Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
- Healthy Mashed Cauliflower
- Green Beans Almondine
- Healthy Cranberry Sauce
- Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
- Cauliflower Gratin
- Raw Collard Green Salad
- Pumpkin Rice
- Easy Pecan Pie
- Thanksgiving Salad
Wild Rice Stuffing
- 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small chunks
- 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil or avocado oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups wild rice blend
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided
- 2 teaspoon fresh thyme, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup dried sweet cherries
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Place butternut squash chunks on a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss to combine. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender. Tossing once around the 15 minute mark.
- While squash is roasting, cook rice. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion and garlic to the pan; toss and add 1 teaspoon sea salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Sauté for about 10 minutes. Stir in wild rice, broth, 1 Tablespoon sage, 1 teaspoon thyme and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil.
- Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Toss and remove bay leaf, then let the rice cool for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in cherries, roasted squash and reserved sage and thyme. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.