This wild rice and butternut squash salad makes a great Thanksgiving side dish because it’s colorful and a little unexpected. Since this dish is vegan and gluten-free, everyone can enjoy it!

wild rice salad

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I love the tradition we’ve settled into over the years. My brother and sister-in-law host our family and my sister-in-law’s family, and it’s so fun having everyone together at one table! Alex makes his “famous” green bean casserole and I like to make something with plenty of vegetables!

This recipe came about because I wanted to make something that didn’t need to be served immediately out of the oven since I knew oven space would be tight. I settled on a recipe that could be served at room temperature. I adapted this recipe from Bon Appétit and it turned out really well! This salad has made an appearance at quite a few Thanksgiving holidays!

I love that this dish can be made in advance and it’s great for anyone with dietary restrictions. Since this dish is vegan and gluten-free, just about anyone will be able to enjoy it! I personally don’t miss the turkey on Thanksgiving because there are so many tasty side dishes!

Tips for cooking wild rice

Wild rice can be a little tricky to find, but don’t settle for a wild rice blend! The texture of wild rice is hearty with a “bite” to it that you won’t get from brown rice. I often find wild rice in the bulk bins at places like Whole Foods but I’ve also seen it at Trader Joe’s and Kroger. It’s often sold in a smaller sized package.

You can make wild rice in a rice cooker or Instant Pot! I prefer the Instant Pot because it’s the fastest, but if you don’t have a rice cooker or an Instant Pot, the stovetop works great, too!

wild rice salad in a bowl

Tips for the perfect wild rice salad

  • Be sure to cut the butternut squash into similar-sized pieces, so it roasts evenly.
  • To remove the pomegranate arils (seeds), cut it into quarters and submerge it in water while you pry the seeds away from the pith. The seeds will float to the top of the bowl!
  • I buy pre-shelled pistachios which makes this recipe come together much faster!
wild rice salad

Substitution Ideas

  • If you don’t have butternut squash, try using patty pan squash! It’s a similar, sweet squash that would be perfect in this recipe.
  • If you don’t have roasted pistachios, try using salted, roasted Marcona almond instead. They add the perfect amount of salty crunch to this dish.
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wild rice salad

Wild Rice & Butternut Squash

  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian, Gluten Free


This wild rice and butternut squash salad makes a great Thanksgiving side dish because it’s colorful and a little unexpected. Since this dish is vegan and gluten-free, everyone can enjoy it!


  • 2 cups uncooked wild rice
  • 2 medium butternut squash, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded (about 3/4 cup of seeds)
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave (or honey, if not vegan)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cook the wild rice according to package directions.
  3. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and spread the butternut squash into an even layer.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes then flipping the pieces over and continue to roast for 10-15 minutes. (You may need to roast it a bit longer, depending on your oven. Make sure it’s a bit brown on the sides.)
  5. Once both are cooked, spread out the cooked rice and butternut squash onto a baking tray or large piece of aluminum foil and let cool.
  6. Mix together the olive oil, honey, and vinegar.
  7. Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.


This side dish is perfect served chilled or at room temperature.

Keywords: Wild Rice Salad

Serving Suggestions

Although this recipe is great for the Thanksgiving table, it’s easy enough to make for any occasion! Try this paired with your favorite protein or add it on top of a bed of mixed greens to make a filling salad! 

minnesota wild rice soup

Looking for more ways to use wild rice? Try my Minnesota wild rice soup! You can make it on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker! Or turn your rice into veggie burgers with this Wild Rice Burger recipe!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?