Wild Rice Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Sweet Cherries

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Your family will love this healthy wild rice stuffing with butternut squash and sweet cherries. Dried sweet cherries and roasted butternut squash add a hint of sweetness to this savory wild rice stuffing. Vegan + Gluten-free. This post is sponsored by Northwest Cherry Growers.

I can’t believe I’m sharing a Thanksgiving recipe right now. It’s crazy town how fast time flies by. It feels like yesterday we were celebrating the 4th of July. That said, I’m officially accepting that it’s November and time to start preparing for the holidays – first up, Thanksgiving!

Bowl of wild rice stuffing with butternut squash and sweet cherries topped with thyme.

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 my jam, but I can totally get down with some herby, 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.

I teamed up with the Northwest Cherry Growers to create this wild rice stuffing recipe so the dried sweet cherries are the true star here. Not only for their sweet taste but for the nutritional benefits they provide as well. I’m sure you’re aware that cherries are good for you, but did you know that they’re lower on the glycemic index than almost any other fruit as well as a good source of potassium, fiber, antioxidants and melatonin? Studies have shown that cherries may help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes and their anti-inflammatory properties can help control arthritis and gout.

Bowl of wild rice stuffing with butternut squash and sweet cherries topped with thyme.

Here’s What You Need

  • butternut squash – peeled and chopped into small chunks, you could also substitute with any hearty winter squash like Acorn squash or Kabocha squash.
  • coconut oil – to sauté the veggies in. You can use whatever oil you prefer, I recommend olive oil or avocado oil.
  • 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 like Lundberg Wild Blend Rice brand.
  • vegetable broth – cooking the rice in a broth instead of water instantly amps up the flavor for this dish. If you don’t need it to be vegetarian or vegan you can use chicken broth if you prefer.
  • bay leaf, fresh sage and fresh thyme – deliciously harmonious herbs to flavor this dish.
  • dried sweet cherries – delicious and full of antioxidants and nutrients!
Bowl of wild rice stuffing with butternut squash and sweet cherries topped with thyme before combined..

How to Make Wild Rice Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Sweet Cherries

Prepare butternut squash: To start, preheat your oven to 400ºF. Chop your butternut squash into chunks and place them on a baking sheet with a teaspoon of coconut 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, cook the rice. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high 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 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!

Bowl of wild rice stuffing with butternut squash and sweet cherries topped with thyme.

Thanksgiving Menu Inspiration

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 trying this wild rice stuffing instead. I think you and your family will love it! Serve alongside:

Bowl of wild rice stuffing with butternut squash and sweet cherries topped with thyme.

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.

Looking For More Side Dish Options?

For more inspiration, check out my Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes and Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Sweet Cherries

5 from 5 votes
Your family will love this healthy wild rice stuffing with butternut squash and sweet cherries. Dried sweet cherries and roasted butternut squash add a hint of sweetness to this savory wild rice stuffing. Vegan + Gluten-free. 
Bowl of wild rice stuffing with butternut squash and sweet cherries topped with thyme.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon coconut oil or ghee, 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
  • 1 32 ounce container of vegetable or chicken broth, about 4 cups
  • 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

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Place butternut squash chunks on a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon coconut 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

Serving: 1/2 cup Calories: 249kcal Carbohydrates: 48g Protein: 7g Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 4g Sodium: 673mg Fiber: 6g Sugar: 8g
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: butternut squash, Christmas, holiday food, thanksgiving, wild rice, wild rice stuffing, wild rice stuffing with butternut squash and sweet cherries, wild rice stuffing with sweet cherries

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Recipe Rating




    11 comments
    1. Ashley
      November 27, 2019 AT 4:11 pm

      5 stars
      Making this for the 4th time for Thanksgiving! My husband and dad go crazy for this. Thanks for a great recipe!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 29, 2019 AT 5:06 pm

        Oh yay!! This makes me so happy to hear, Ashley! I’m glad it’s a hit with your family. Thank you for coming back to leave a comment and star rating, it means the world to me. <3

    2. Trela Rogerson
      November 18, 2019 AT 8:50 pm

      4 stars
      I just mad this recipe as a test before Thanksgiving 2019 Dinner. It will most definitely be on the menu for Thanksging Dinner. It is yummy. And very seasonal dish. Thank you for the recipe. Trela.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 19, 2019 AT 2:26 pm

        Hey Trela, I’m so happy to hear that you tried and enjoyed this recipe! I really appreciate you coming back to leave a comment and star rating. <3

    3. Trela Rogerson
      November 9, 2019 AT 7:46 am

      Is the widrice stuffing freezeable? I like to do a lot of meal prepping. Thanks in advance.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 10, 2019 AT 7:00 pm

        Hey Trela! I haven’t tried freezing it, but it should freeze just fine. Just make sure it’s in an airtight container. 🙂

    4. Karah
      November 28, 2018 AT 12:20 am

      Is the wild rice blend a dry product, canned, or heat and eat?

    5. Amanda
      November 2, 2017 AT 7:27 pm

      This is my kind of stuffing! I just wish I could find dried cherries without added sugar.

      1. Melissa
        November 28, 2017 AT 11:48 am

        Trader Joe’s carries them if you have access to one!

      2. Brittany Mullins
        November 19, 2017 AT 12:22 pm

        Thanks Amanda. Check nuts.com. I just noticed that they have dried cherries without added sugar.

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