How To Cook Wild Rice on the Stovetop

Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

How often do you cook wild rice? Maybe once a year in the fall to make a pilaf of some sort? Or perhaps as an addition to your Thanksgiving stuffing? Maybe you don't cook it all... But maybe you should! This chewy, nutty-tasting grain definitely deserves a spot at the table year round. Shake up your side dishes! Here's how to make a pot of perfectly-cooked wild rice to have with dinner tonight.

What Is Wild Rice?

Wild rice is seldom truly wild these days, or at least ever since it was first cultivated in Minnesota in the 1950s. And of course it really isn't a rice either, although it is a close cousin. Wild rice is technically the seed grain of a species of grass and was once a staple of the Native American peoples living around the Great Lakes region. These days, most of the wild rice we find in the supermarket is cultivated in Minnesota and California.

Wild rice is gluten-free, low in fat and high in both lysine (an amino acid) and fiber. It is also quite high in protein, coming in behind oats and in front of quinoa as having the second highest protein content per 100 calories.

While wild rice is not cheap, a little does go a long way. Rarely served solo, wild rice is often packaged along with other grains, seeds, and rices and sold as a mix. It can be used in stuffings and soups, sprinkled on green salads, and of course, made into a pilaf.

Cooking Wild Rice

The classic way to cook wild rice is similar to regular rice: use a 3:1 ratio of water to rice and cook until all the water is absorbed. I like to cook it in a little more water, however. That way there is little danger of all the liquid being absorbed and the pot scorching, and I don't have to watch the rice quite as closely.

It's also nice to cook wild rice in stock for an added flavor boost, although it is not necessary. Wild rice has a nice, nutty flavor and pairs beautifully with many savory foods (see Notes, below).

How To Cook Wild Rice on the Stovetop

What You Need

1 cup wild rice
4 cups water or stock
Pinch of salt

Fine mesh strainer
Sauce pan
Wooden spoon


  1. Rinse the wild rice: Place the wild rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse in the sink under cold running water. Shake to drain.
  2. Bring the rice and water to a boil: Place the rice in the sauce pan and add 4 cups of water or stock, along with a pinch of salt (unless the stock is salty enough). Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Reduce to a simmer: When the water has reached a boil, lower the heat to maintain a slow but steady simmer. Keep the pot covered.
  4. Cook the wild rice: Cook at a simmer for 45 minutes. Check the rice. It should be chewy and some of the grains will have burst open. It may need an additional 10 to 15 minutes — keep checking the rice and stop cooking when the grains are tender.
  5. Drain the wild rice: When the rice is done, pour it into a strainer to drain off any remaining liquid.
  6. Fluff and serve: Fluff the rice with a fork and serve, or add it to any number of dishes for a delicious nutty taste and chewy texture.

Recipe Notes

  • Try pairing wild rice with any of the following: sautéed mushrooms; sautéed onions; fresh herbs such as thyme, parsley, or sage; dried fruits such as apricot or cherries; nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios.

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(Image credits: Dana Velden)

Per serving, based on 2 servings. (% daily value)
0.9 g (1.3%)
0.1 g (0.6%)
59.9 g (20%)
5 g (19.8%)
2 g
11.8 g (23.6%)
24.6 mg (1%)