Wild Rice Salad With Dried Cranberries, Pickled Apples, and Pecans Recipe

Whether you call it a salad, a dressing, or a stuffing, wild rice studded with plump cranberries and tart pickled apples is the perfect addition to an autumn table.

Wild rice with dried cranberries, apples, and pecans side

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why This Recipe Works

  • Cooking the wild rice in stock imbues it with deeper flavor.
  • Cranberries and pickled apples both add their own kind of pleasant tart sweetness.

Wild rice is an important staple of many Native American tribes, primarily in the Midwest and Canada. It is harvested sustainably, via canoe and a gentle threshing of the wild rice grasses with sticks. Most of the grains fall into the boat, but some fall into the water, ensuring a future crop. 

close up of wild rice

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

For more information on wild rice, see my recipe for wild rice salad with mushrooms, celery root, and pine nuts. Be sure to purchase 100% wild rice, and not a blend with brown rice filler. Consider purchasing from a native source, like Red Lake Nation Foods

Instead of playing up the earthy notes of wild rice, as I did in the other recipe, this one goes for contrast, with a sweet-tart blast from plump dried cranberries and crisp pickled apples.

pickling apples in vinegar

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The apples are easy: I just soak them in a brine made from white wine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. I pour the hot brine on top of the apples, but then chill it all rapidly with an ice bath. White wine vinegar has a clean taste that keeps the apple flavor bright, but the relative neutrality of rice wine vinegar would be a good choice as well (and both help preserve the apple's natural color).

Collage of images showing the making of a wild rice stuffing/dressing/side dish.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

To balance out all that tangy, fruity brightness, I also add toasted pecans, and some diced red onion and celery that I sautéed in butter until tender.

October 2018

Recipe Details

Wild Rice Salad With Dried Cranberries, Pickled Apples, and Pecans Recipe

Active 60 mins
Total 90 mins
Serves 6 to 10 servings

Whether you call it a salad, a dressing, or a stuffing, wild rice studded with plump cranberries and tart pickled apples is the perfect addition to an autumn table.


  • 14 ounces wild rice (about 2 1/3 cups; 396g)

  • Chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water, for cooking the rice (see notes)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 6 ounces (350g) crisp apple (about 1 medium), cored and diced

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar (8 ounces; 235ml)

  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, divided

  • 4 ounces (115g) dried unsweetened cranberries

  • 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter

  • One 8-ounce (225g) red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

  • Three 2-ounce (55g) stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice

  • 4 sprigs thyme

  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

  • 1 tablespoon minced chives

  • 8 ounces (225g) pecans, toasted then roughly crumbled


  1. In a large pot, combine wild rice with enough stock and/or water to cover by at least 2 inches. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a simmer, then continue to cook at a simmer until rice grows tender and many of the grains have ruptured, about 50 minutes; add more water at any point as needed to keep rice covered.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine white wine vinegar with 1 cup (235ml) water, 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar, and 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.

  3. Place apples in a stainless steel mixing bowl nested in a larger mixing bowl full of ice water. Pour hot vinegar brine over apples, stirring to chill rapidly. Once cool, press a clean paper towel against the surface to fully submerge apples. Set aside or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

  4. In a separate heat-resistant bowl, pour about 1 cup boiling water over cranberries. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar until dissolved. Set aside.

  5. In a medium skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add onion, celery, and thyme sprigs, and cook, stirring, until tender but not browned, about 4 minutes. Discard thyme and set aside.

  6. Using a fine-mesh strainer, drain wild rice well; let cool to near room temperature. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with sautéed vegetables. Drain cranberries and add to rice. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pickled apples to wild rice, reserving the pickling brine.

  7. Add parsley, tarragon, chives, and pecans to rice. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in 1 tablespoon reserved pickling brine at a time until salad tastes bright and flavorful. Serve.


You need enough liquid to cover the rice sufficiently, the exact amount of which will depend on the dimensions of your pot; if using stock, 1 or 2 quarts (1 or 2 liters) will be sufficient, as you can always top it up with additional water as needed.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The entire salad can be mixed together, except for the pickled apples and herbs, and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance. The pickled apples can be made separately and held in the brine, refrigerated, up to 3 days in advance. Bring to room temperature, or warm slightly, before mixing in the pickled apples and herbs and completing the salad.

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
328 Calories
21g Fat
34g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 328
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 13mg 4%
Sodium 206mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 6mg 28%
Calcium 41mg 3%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 234mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)