This wild rice salad makes a great fall side dish! It’s filled with roasted butternut squash, sweet pomegranate seeds, salty pistachios, and a simple homemade vinaigrette.

wild rice salad
Save This Recipe Form

Want to save this recipe?

Share your email below & we'll send it to you! Plus, you'll get new recipes from us every week!

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!

wild rice

What is Wild Rice?

Wild rice actually isn’t rice. It’s a type of aquatic grass typically found growing in shallow water, such as in lakes, rivers, and marshes. The grains of wild rice are long and slender, with a dark brown or black outer hull and a lighter-colored inner kernel. When cooked, these grains can vary in texture, with a chewy exterior and a tender interior. Wild rice is rich in nutrients, particularly protein, dietary fiber, and various minerals, making it a healthy food choice.  It can be a little hard to find but using wild rice is essential for this recipe. If you can’t find it at the grocery store, you can order it on Amazon. If you have leftover wild rice, try this Wild Rice Burger or Minessota Wild Rice Soup!

Tips for Making 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

How to Remove Pomegranate Seeds

To remove pomegranate seeds from a pomegranate, first cut off the crown and score the fruit. Then, submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of water to prevent splattering. Break the sections apart underwater, which helps separate the seeds from the membrane. Gently pry the seeds from the membrane, and they will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the pith and peel float to the top. Skim off any debris, drain the water, and you’ll have a bowl of clean pomegranate seeds. This method minimizes mess and prevents staining.

Tips for Wild Rice Salad

  • Be sure to cut the butternut squash into similar-sized pieces, so it roasts evenly.
  • I buy pre-shelled pistachios which makes this recipe come together much faster!
  • You can make this recipe in advance and keep it in the fridge.
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 almonds instead. They add the perfect amount of salty crunch to this dish.
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
wild rice salad

Wild Rice Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 cups 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian, Gluten Free


This wild rice salad makes a great fall side dish! It’s filled with roasted butternut squash, sweet pomegranate seeds, salty pistachios, and a simple homemade vinaigrette.


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


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cook the wild rice according to package directions or make wild rice in an Instant Pot!
  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.

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?