Level up your holiday table with this deliciously easy Wild Rice Stuffing. A blend of wild rice, crisp apples, tart cranberries, and smoky bacon creates a stuffing that's both hearty and full of flavor. With its delightful mix of textures, this dish can be prepared ahead of time, marking one thing off your last-minute to-do list!
With the holiday season just around the corner, I couldn't help but share one of my all-time favorite holiday sides.
This dish has been a showstopper at our family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for years.
I think you are going to love this hearty and oh-so-delicious Wild Rice Stuffing recipe as much as we do.
- Bacon: Bacon adds that smoky, savory flavor that makes this stuffing irresistible. If you're looking for a vegan alternative, try using mushrooms and a touch of smoked paprika instead.
- Yellow Onion: A kitchen staple that brings a sweet, caramelized depth to our stuffing. You could substitute with red onions or even shallots.
- Celery: This humble vegetable adds a delightful crunch and fresh taste.
- Italian Seasoning: This blend of herbs gives our stuffing a warm, aromatic touch. Feel free to use your favorite herb mix if you prefer.
- Fresh Parsley: It brightens the dish and adds a pop of color. Fresh thyme, sage, or rosemary would also work well in this recipe - just adjust the number of your fresh herbs according to what you are using. (i.e. sage and rosemary are strong and you probably don’t want to use a full ½ cup)
- Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Adjust the quantity to suit your taste.
- Granny Smith Apples: Their tartness complements the savory elements perfectly. Feel free to substitute with any firm, tart apple variety.
- Lemon Juice: A touch of this citrusy goodness keeps our apples from browning and adds a zesty kick. Lime juice would be a great alternative too.
- Wild Rice: Wild rice blend has a nutty flavor and chewy texture that's simply delightful.
- Dried Cranberries: Dried cherries or raisins would make good substitutes.
- Broth: It adds moisture and depth of flavor to our stuffing. For a vegetarian version, you can easily swap the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
Step by Step
For the full recipe with measurements, see the recipe card at the end of the post.
First, preheat your oven to 50° F and give your favorite casserole dish a good spray with cooking spray. This will ensure our delicious stuffing doesn't stick.
Cook your bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it's perfectly browned. Then, remove it from the pan but keep those flavorful drippings. Crumble your crispy bacon and transfer it to a large bowl.
Next, add your chopped onion and celery into the pan and cook them until they're tender, about 8 minutes.
Sprinkle these veggies with Italian seasoning, fresh parsley, salt, and pepper, and give it all a good stir. Transfer this fragrant mixture to the bowl with your bacon.
If your pan is looking a bit dry, add some oil. Now, it's apple time!
Cook your chopped apples for about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
This will keep your apples vibrant and prevent them from browning. Transfer these zesty apples to the bowl with your onions.
Stir the cooked wild rice, dried cranberries, and chicken broth into your bowl. Give it a good mix until everything is well combined, then transfer your rice mixture to your prepared casserole dish. Cover it with foil.
Pop your casserole into your preheated oven and let it cook for 20 minutes. If you like, dot with butter or drizzle with a good-quality olive oil before serving.
Tips and Tricks
- Don't Rush Your Veggies: When cooking your onion and celery, give them ample time to become tender and release their flavors. This step adds a depth of flavor to your stuffing that's simply unbeatable.
- Freshly Squeeze Your Lemon Juice: While bottled lemon juice can be convenient, nothing beats the taste of fresh lemon juice. It will keep your apples bright and add a touch of tanginess to balance out the savory flavors.
- Add a Personal Touch: Feel free to add other ingredients that you love. Some chopped pecans or walnuts can add a nice crunch, or you could even toss in some chopped dried apricots for a sweet surprise. Make wild rice stuffing with sausage by adding in 1 pound of cooked and crumbled sausage.
- Make Ahead: If you're preparing for a big holiday feast, you can make this stuffing the day before. Just cover it and keep it in the fridge overnight. On the day of your celebration, let it come to room temperature and then bake as directed.
- Leftovers: If you're lucky enough to have leftovers of this gluten-free stuffing, they make for a fantastic next-day lunch. Just reheat gently in the microwave and enjoy! You can also freeze your leftovers. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw and reheat before serving.
Crockpot turkey breast is a match made in heaven for this stuffing. The turkey comes out tender and juicy every time and the flavors meld beautifully with the wild rice, crunchy apples, and sweet cranberries in our stuffing.
Looking for more side dishes? Don’t miss my balsamic green beans. Their bright, fresh flavor is a lovely counterpoint to the rich, earthy notes in our Wild Rice Stuffing.
Now, let's add some crunch to our plate with a refreshing broccoli apple salad. It adds a pop of color and a burst of freshness that balances the warm, comforting stuffing.
And last, but certainly not least, let's talk about Boursin mashed potatoes. These potatoes are creamy, dreamy, and oh-so-cheesy, thanks to the addition of garlic and herb Boursin cheese.
How long does rice stuffing last in the fridge?
Typically, your Wild Rice Stuffing will stay fresh and delicious in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Just make sure to store it in an airtight container to keep it at its best. Whenever I'm packing away my leftovers, I always reach for my trusty set of Pyrex containers. They're perfect for keeping your food fresh and ready for round two.
Is wild rice supposed to be crunchy?
Wild rice has a wonderfully chewy texture, but it should never be crunchy. If your rice is still crunchy after cooking, then you may not have cooked it long enough. To ensure it's perfectly tender and fluffy, make sure that you follow the instructions in the recipe and give your wild rice plenty of time to cook.
Can you use wild rice stuffing for turkey?
Absolutely! This stuffing with wild rice can be used to stuff a bird in the exact same way you would use traditional stuffing with bread.
Wild Rice Stuffing with Cranberries
- 8 ounces bacon
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- ½ cup minced fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 granny smith apples cored and chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups wild rice cooked (about X cups cooked)
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chicken broth
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until brown.
- Remove from the pan, reserving the drippings. Crumble the bacon and transfer to a large bowl..
- Add the onion and celery, and cook for 8 minutes, until tender.
- Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, parsley, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to the large bowl with the bacon.
- Add oil to the pan if needed. Add the apples, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off, and stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to the bowl with the onions.
- Stir in the wild rice, cranberries, and chicken broth. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish and cover with foil.
- Cook for 20 minutes and serve warm.